When the Marketing/PR department was trying to transition to the company’s new project tracking system, it was difficult explaining how each task in our department can be so unique... but that didn’t phase Lukas, who (like me) was still fairly new at AVAST. He helped us determine an overall scheme, with variously detailed project subcategories that made sense. He suggested solutions that could be more easily optimized in the future. And, in terms of QA, that’s exactly how you want to handle things. –Jason Mashak
1. The “QA” in your title is a bit abstract – what types of projects at AVAST are you responsible for the quality of?
In terms of avast! 6.0, we test the antivirus regularly and report any bugs in new features. As avast! is the most widespread antivirus software, the product also has great community support that includes a group of avast! Forum evangelists who help with the testing of every new Beta release. The community makes good suggestions and their help allows us to verify that avast! works on thousands of different configurations.
There are also other projects being built in AVAST's offices that we put our hands on, such as testing the upcoming Business Protection and Business Protection Plus (administration console) for small business customers. And Mac users should start looking forward to a new version of avast! for Mac.
In general, the QA team cooperates on most of the projects that are being built by AVAST Software. We play user advocate at the very beginning of the project, then we get our hands on the product prototypes, and in the end we certify the readiness of the software before its official release to customers.
2. You’ve been helping to develop the QA team… what do you focus on in terms of employee strengths, in order to fulfill QA functions?
We are building a new team, and therefore I'm focusing on the skills that aren't only technical but are required to be a great tester – ability to work on a team, communicate with other people… listening skills, questioning mindset, critical thinking. As you've probably noticed, AVAST developers are mostly geeks. It's not an easy task to work with these people ;) Therefore, our QA engineers must be technically educated, yet with a bunch of soft skills. Some days you have to play a lot of roles – e.g., developing test scripts, reporting new bugs, communicating with a geek, or being a user advocate. QA is sometimes shortened to "tester." However, there is a huge difference between "testing" and doing "quality assurance." And that's something that I want to continue to build at AVAST – a great Quality Assurance department.
I almost forgot to mention we are looking for new team members for our QA team – feel free to contact me with your CV.
3. What have some of your biggest challenges been so far at AVAST, and how did you resolve them?
The most important and biggest challenge was to settle the position of the new QA team. Finding the right place between developers producing code and customers waiting for their product is always a challenge. And I think that the developers got used to working with the QA team very quickly. We had to convince them that we are competent, responsible, and very useful in the product lifecycle. The whole QA team is working hard to not frustrate them. :)
I’m looking forward to the response from customers about avast! 6.0. If there won’t be too many complaints, then it means that the team succeeded. I say “too many” complaints because I’m pragmatic – there is no such thing as bugless software.
4. In your previous experience at Sun Microsystems, and now with your time at AVAST, what observations have you made as to why Central Europe (or Prague, in particular) is such a great hub for technological innovation?
I think that the reason why a lot of IT and general tech companies are building their development centers in Prague (and Czech Republic) is the Czech nature. Czech engineers are educated, but not tied to conventional thinking. They are always trying to find the most effective and shortest way to solve a problem. Sometimes it requires breaking the rules… or, let me rephrase it, it requires redefining the rules. It probably has to do with the history, but this is something that makes Czech mentality good for technological innovation. It’s probably not an accident that three of five best antivirus companies are located in Middle Europe (2 of them in Czech Republic).
The Avast team reminds me Sun’s NetBeans team when I joined it 10 years ago. And sometimes it seems that we are facing almost the same issues (again). I hope that I’ve learned some lessons :D
5. How would you describe your ideal day away from the office?
An ideal day away from the office means a day without a computer (or internet connection), but it is difficult to achieve with so many smartphones around. :D
I would take my son and wife for a bicycle trip on a sunny day to the countryside. And I would end the day with a few glasses of wine.
Or, if I’d receive a day off from family, I would go bowling and have some beers with my friends.
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