1. What’s your background that’s led you to your current position at ProdPerfect?
I came from a completely weird gig doing natural language processing, machine learning, and healthcare-related work. And then Co-founders Erik and Dan told me: “Hey, we’re working on this project, it’s really interesting.” And then they pitched it to me. And I was like: “Oh, that’s absolutely boring. That’s a brilliant business.” A lot of people go after these hyper-local, social, global kind of businesses. This is the exact opposite of that. It’s not particularly interesting, which is exactly why we want to automate it. I’ve built some of these regression tests before. It’s not a fun gig. It’s tedious, painstaking work, and that’s why we are making it go away.
2. Can you paint for me a picture of what life is like in your role?
My day-to-day is an adventure. My role straddles a lot of lines between doing the grunt work of coding and the people management side of making sure my team is happy and knows what they’re doing. In QA, so much of your job is being this relaxing force for the customer that you in turn want to make yourself a source of calm. But the company is changing so fast that the delivery team is constantly on fire. That’s the heart of opportunity right now: making it so that we live by our philosophy of avoiding burnout and automating menial labor. So what we’re working on is building up internal tools to make it easier for the delivery team to address what happens when a client’s test fails. Getting as much as we can into a process that’s at least scalable, if not truly automated.
3. What are some elements of a “typical” interaction with customers and/or product?
Our team tends not to have direct interactions with customers. As far as product: we’re the “secret sauce” of the company. We have this thing called the analysis engine. It’s where all the automation happens. The analysis engine takes in all the client’s data, slurps it all up, and says: “Okay, here are all the tests you actually want to run.” And it does this by performing this analysis saying: “Let me map out your website, and then look at the most popular flows through it.” It’s like looking at where the most congestion is on a roadmap. And saying: “This is what we need to be watching.” That’s what gives us our coverage. Currently, we generate what’s called test cases that get turned into tests. The goal over the next couple quarters is to move directly to generating. Generation and automation is a big part of what we’re working on. Also, improving the quality of the results: making them robust and scalable and all those magical things.
“That’s the heart of opportunity right now: making it so that we live by our philosophy of avoiding burnout…”
4. What intrigues you about engineering at ProdPerfect?
My role is very multi-faceted. The job has two different sorts of challenges. The technical challenges are pretty straightforward. The human relationships and management side is more butt-kicking—making sure everyone feels like the company is following its values, knows where they’re supposed to be, and turns into this harmonious hive. Whereas everything is already built out in a bigger company, here we’re growing together as a family. We’re learning that what you focus on is everything. This is definitely a values-first company. So making sure what we focus on aligns with our values. From building culture to building internal processes. And making sure our product reflects those values.
5. How do you explain to people the value of ProdPerfect?
You don’t need to be technical to appreciate ProdPerfect’s value. The value of ProdPerfect is that it keeps peoples’ websites up. We find bugs. That’s what we do. Our job is to make sure that when people make changes to their websites, they don’t break them. We find problems with peoples’ websites before they do. That’s what our tooling is about: analyzing a website’s traffic, building up a set of test suites so we understand what works and what doesn’t. And then quickly informing the customer when it doesn’t. The fact that it’s such a straightforward value proposition is why I joined ProdPerfect.
6. In your own words, how would you differentiate ProdPerfect from competitors?
A lot of folks who generate tests tend to put a lot of the labor on the customer – they are product companies. Whereas we are a service company. As much as we are converting into a product company over time, because we’ve had a background as a service company, that’s going to shape the DNA of the product to be much friendlier. We will continue to provide support. Because being there for the customer matters. There’s also a difference culturally. We’re in a different phase than our competitors. They’re a little bit more mature, and that’s why they’re going to need to figure out where they’re going next. We’re going to wake up to that same problem one day. But I believe that because we’re self-aware, when we enter that world we’ll be prepared.