Future’s so Bright, I gotta Wear Shades

Last week, the Mozilla Quality Assurance team came together for the first time in years to plot out a new direction for themselves and for Quality at Mozilla. We have dedicated ourselves to making a transition to a Quality Engineering team. There is more to that change than a simple word. For starters, we identified three areas to massively change and every strategic team inside of QA (Firefox, Firefox OS, Web & Services, and Platform) committed to making their own road map to implement these three goals:

Technical Acumen – The nature of the work done at Mozilla has shifted from when the QA organization first grew up. Back then, it was mostly focused on the piece of software that is the browser. These days, much more of our innovation is in the web platform that the browser allows us to expose, and less on the client (though cool things are still happening there too). Mozilla has grown in technologies and products, and the QA team has historically not kept up with that rate of change. We aim to change this. But we’re going to be smart about it–it would be a waste of our energy and a disservice to Mozilla if we suddenly became developers. Instead, we will focus on the elements of technical quality–we will ask the right questions, ensure test-ability, investigate issues more deeply using the same tools developers use, understand the specifications of the technologies we are enabling on the web, be able to review patches to automated tests, etc.

Data & Metrics – In the days that the QA team grew up, it was possible to keep the entire state of the Mozilla project in your head. That is no longer the case–it’s not even possible to keep one product entirely in your head now. We need to gather data and metrics for quantifiable elements of quality on each project we undertake. We will use these both to publicize the level of quality in our products and to ensure areas that need attention get it. Additionally (and just as importantly) we will use these metrics to help us prioritize our work to ensure we operate as smartly and as proactively as possible. We want to make our priorities data driven rather than routine driven.

Community – The QA organization has traditionally been a gateway to further involvement for many Mozillians (myself included). We used community to scale when no other means availed us. It’s time to do more than scale with community. We will grow our contributor community by offering them more impactful opportunities and delivering greater value to them as well as doing some targeted outreach as part of the Mozilla Grow program. Each team has a means for our community to help further the transitions we are making with regard to Technical Acumen and Data & Metrics. Additionally, we are creating a unified community strategy across all teams to ensure contributors have the best experience and the most impact possible. In short: It’s a great time to get involved.

Mozilla has benefited from Mozilla QA being a cohesive, cross-cutting team. We work with every product line, every product group. This enables us to share tactics, metrics, dashboards, contributor strategies, tools, expertise, and people very easily. It also enables us to take advantage of the fact that not every product is “hot” at the same moment. While we always have dedicated staff to each product, we also have several cross-trained individuals that swing between products, allowing us to flexibly and seamlessly scale, making us more than the simple sum of our parts.

This work week has set the stage for a new era with Mozilla Quality. We are still just as dedicated to our mission and to our products. We are still going to work across product lines to ensure the quality needs are met, but we will do so with a new focus on our community, on improving our technical acumen and on re-invigorating our metrics and using them in new ways. Join me in congratulating the team on taking these first courageous steps, and I look forward to a very bright future as we move from reactive quality analysis to more proactive quality engineering. Join us as we put on our shades and step off into what’s next.

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