Agile Testing for Dynamics 365 with Emma Beckett

Agile Testing for Dynamics 365 with Emma Beckett

#139. Today’s guest is Emma Beckett, an experienced test professional who runs her own company, Fortitude 17, in London, UK. A professional footballer, Emma pursued a career in software testing, even though her first role in tech was in Desktop Support — hardware, not software!

As you’ll hear, Emma is a Certified ISTQB Test Consultant and trained in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&SCM, CE, and HR. She is currently training on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Ceridian Dayforce (HCM) solutions.

In this episode, Emma shares how she got into software testing and discusses 1) professional testing, 2) how she approaches business application projects, and 3) what testing at large can bring to Dynamics applications.

[01:06] How Emma came to open her own testing consultancy
[09:01] Emma’s approach to professional testing
[12:48] The qualities that Emma looks for in good test professionals
[18:09] The relationship between testing and training
[20:00] Approaches to acceptance testing that have worked well for Emma
[24:25] How Emma approaches other forms of testing on projects
[29:43] How Emma deals with testing challenges
[32:28] Other solutions that Emma’s consultancy has worked on
[34:22] Emma talks about her recently launched podcast


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[00:00:00] Emma Beckett: For me, testing is everyone's responsibility and I think the most successful projects or teams that I've been a part of, testing are onboarded very early.

[00:00:11] Neil Benson: I'm delighted to welcome onto the Amazing Applications Podcast today Emma Beckett. Emma is from London in the UK and she is a consummate test professional and the owner of her own business, Fortitude 17. Welcome to the Amazing Apps Podcast, Emma.

[00:00:24] Emma Beckett: Thanks so much, Neil. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:26] Neil Benson: It's great to have you on the show. I've been following some of your content on LinkedIn for a little while and I'm always intrigued by testers and their approach to our business applications projects. And in fact, a couple of the — I'm not a test expert, as you'll probably find out during the course of this discussion, but the kind of testing articles that I've written or the shows that I've had in the past have been really popular. There's a lot of people there's a lot of demand for improving our ability to improve the quality of our software. So, I'm really excited to dive into today's conversation with you.

[00:00:56] Emma Beckett: Great. Yeah, I did go through and listen to the Testing Heaven podcast that you did so be prepared. I'm gonna come back at you with some questions. I'm really interested to hear about the Agile side of things. 

[00:01:06] Neil Benson: Oh, I'm gonna get put on the spot here. Yeah, that was one of the most popular episodes from last year so I'm happy to get grilled on that. Let's start with an introduction. Can you give us your backstory and how you came to build your own testing consultancy? I'm fascinated to know your backstory.

[00:01:20] Emma Beckett: So, long story short, my best friend growing up, she did exceptionally well for herself. Carved out a career in testing. Started I think seconding as a test analyst at Volkswagen it would've been. Went on and has now got a great reputation in the testing world. Director of testing, heads up, huge teams now and yeah, I kind of thought to myself I'd quite like a size of that pie. So, for me, I was actually at The Open University during this time and I'd spent a little bit of time kind of between careers. Not really sure where I wanted to go with things. I'd reached out to my friend and said, look, any tips or tricks? And she said, look, employees are really hot on the ISTQB qualification. Go and have a look at it. So, I went away. I bought a book, self-taught, managed to pass the exam. Probably more luck than judgment at that point. But at The Open University, I kind of tried to progress and asked around in your kind of end-of-year appraisals, I asked if there's any chance that I can second my own way onto such a role. And unfortunately, it didn't quite come about. But to progress my career, I kind of decided in fact I'm gonna have to leave this company that I've grown to love. I've been there for a number of years at this point. Had some really good friends. The, you know, it's one of these jobs where the parks are fabulous. We worked on a great campus, you know, all this good stuff. And anyway, but as luck would have it, I decided to kind of start reaching out, put my CV about, and a test academy was launched within The Open University and there was a space of five. So, there was a space for five trainee roles. I was lucky enough to grab one of them after fulfilling a number of aptitude tests and interviews. I was actually only in the role for six months. So, kind of like I've done with my team now. Anyone that's kind of new to testing would go through a rigorous training regime to kind of bring people up to speed, particularly if people have transitioned from a non-testing role. And I sort of been in there for the whole year. I was in there for six months and I kind of got itchy feet and I left the contract. So, I, as a new kid on the block, decided to move from the training role that I was in to contracting. People were probably thinking that I'm mad and a little bit of a cowboy and I probably was a little bit those at that point.

[00:03:26] Neil Benson: With six months experience and a certification under your belt?

[00:03:28] Emma Beckett: Well, that's it. I've worked in desktop support just before that. I'd done a lot of self-teaching, self-reading on it and I know experience is very much one thing but I certainly had the theory to a great extent, you know, under my belt. But yeah, in terms of experience, I was severely lacking. I managed to get a contract straight away. I remember going to my parents' whom I was still living with at the time and I said, mom, dad, I've decided I'm gonna go break out on my own and coming from a Mancunian working class background, it was quite a conversation,.But I'm very lucky with my folks. And anyway, they kind of championed it and said, look, if this is what you wanna do, then here we are. We support you. And as you know, with contracting, you know, recruitment agents will only kind of touch you with a two-week notice period or so. So, I kind of handed my notice in with nothing to go to and I ended my employment at The OU on the Friday and started my contract on the Monday. So, I was very fortunate, as I said, more luck than judgment. But I was in that role for kind of I think about 15 months and then kind of went from contract to contract and project to project. And yeah, from that moment on, from my first contract, I'd had a limited company. My plan was to always expand and grow once I kind of felt comfortable enough to do so and kind of knew the direction I wanted to take my consultancy. And yeah, here we are today.

[00:04:47] Neil Benson: That's an amazing story. I really I've been a contractor in the UK and a lot of contractors will start their own limited company. Much more popular in the UK than it is here in Australia. Some UK contractors are gonna use umbrella companies and other things set up by agencies or accountancies. You had that vision from the very early days that it wasn't gonna be just you. It wasn't gonna be a freelance business. You were hoping to grow it into something more substantial.

[00:05:09] Emma Beckett: I've always been one of these people that like to trailblaze. I like to beat my own path. The term I kind of coined is shepherd, not a sheep. That's kind of how I've sadly always been. For good, for bad, no one knows. But that's the way I am. And yeah, I decided that it just so happened that I'd be in a permanent role for two years and it became unfulfilling to that point. You know, I'd kind of probably like most people, you get to a point and you've kind of milked everything you can in terms of, you know, knowledge and experience out of that role and you want something else that's fulfilling. And for me, I just kind of knew probably from a kid like preteen age that I wanted to venture out on my own someday, yeah. 

[00:05:48] Neil Benson: Now, tell me about some of the Microsoft Dynamics or Power Platform projects that you've been a part of and the testing regime on. I'd love to know more about some successes you've had there and any stories you can share about what to do or what not to do.

[00:06:01] Emma Beckett: Success is a bold word. Maybe I'll come to you for success. But in terms of my experience, my very first contract, the one I kind of aforementioned was an AX 2012 role. It wasn't quite testing as I know the job to be now. It was more kind of a test support role. There was kind of, you know, analysis work to be done within it, you know, the atypical testing role. But now it's, yeah, I'm much happier with D365 and that kind of stack. AX 2012 would die for a reason I think.

[00:06:31] Neil Benson: Yeah, that product's been around for a long time. In fact, there's still one of my customers here in Brisbane's replacing it soon. In fact, two are two of them are, so it's, yeah, 10 years old now, at least some of those deployments.

[00:06:42] Emma Beckett: Sorry, Neil. Talk to me about some of your successes.

[00:06:44] Neil Benson: Well, in terms of testing in particular, I think my teams are big fans of adopting an Agile approach and the testers that I've brought into those Scrum teams quite often haven't worked in Scrum before. In fact, I don't think any of them have. And they're shocked at first of all how early they're involved in the project. Like they're there during the discovery phase. During the discovery, we're uncovering the requirements but we're also setting up our test strategy, setting up our test plan. And I want the test professionals to be involved in estimating the size of the stories 'cause there are so many times when developers and app makers think it's a small, simple requirement. But if you've got a background in testing, you go, actually, there's a lot of negative testing to do or there's a whole bunch of test cases and test scenarios we need to imagine and write out and test against. In particular, you know, data migration work or security role testing, every time there's a permission given, you have to test it. All the other permissions are not given. So, you know, things like that, we found testers give us a great insight into. Another little practice we have is this when we start work on a new story, so it might be early in the sprint, we've laid out our sprint backlog with 20 or 30 stories in it. And as we start to develop the story, we'll get together in a little huddle called The Three Amigos. So, it'll be the business analyst or the product owner, whoever knows most about the requirement, the developer or the developers might be a couple of people who are gonna work on it and build it, and then the tester who'd be testing it. And they just get together to confirm their approach. How are they gonna build it? How are they gonna test it? Who's gonna test it? When's it gonna be ready? What's the time look like during the course of the sprint? And that works really well. Just kicks off that little communication cycle and so, everybody's clear about what they're doing, when it's gonna be done, how it's gonna be validated. Yeah, I'm sure you're gonna shoot me though and go, that's a really silly idea. You shouldn't be doing that. I guess the final piece of me is our testers are wonderful but they don't have the final say that this thing is good enouogh or valuable enough. That's really up to the product owner, our other stakeholders who we ask to validate the feature or we declare ourselves done. So, testing just says, yeah, it conforms to the requirement and it looks really good and it does what it says and it behaves appropriately. Is it valuable? Is it something that you really wanna use? Is it spelled correctly? Is it, you know, in the right place? We still have the final user doing the final verification. I don't know if your experience has been similar or different in some of your projects.

[00:09:01] Emma Beckett: Very good question. Actually, rule of thumb, I very much agree with what you've said. For me, testing is everyone's responsibility and I think the most successful projects or teams that I've been a part of, testing are onboarded very early. You know as well as I do testing in the if you talk about the whole holistic life cycle, we're right at the very end. So, in terms of where we're onboarded, I've had experience of working with some PMs that actually decide to bring us in post-development, you know, and that way you — for me, it's very, very late in the day. You obviously kind of work probably more to a risk-based approach because you're kind of late into the requirements. You don't have visibility of kind of what's gone on before. You know, you're reading probably historical documents at this point, baseline at best. But for me, the best and most successful projects have been in is where testing has been kind of kicked off at conception.

[00:09:50] Neil Benson: So, the two projects my team's currently delivering at the moment, the testers are part of our team, so they're employed by my consultancy, Superware. In other big projects I've run, University of New South Wales and at RACQ, I was working for a Microsoft consultancy and the customer had hired a third-party testing consultancy. And initially, I was a little wary, a little reluctant to work with them but actually it worked out really well. I loved having a third party who was independent from my team testing the quality of our work and we worked really well together. There was never them and us but there was that little bit of a tension, a little bit of friction that I think held us to account really well. Do you find that working with Microsoft partners, are they initially wary and do you eventually win them over?

[00:10:35] Emma Beckett: I'd like to think so. We're certainly the elephant in the room. It comes with the territory, you know, essentially when people outside of testing or outside of tech, that's what I do. I, you know, in a nutshell, my response is, yeah, I'm paid to critique someone else's work, you know, and it sounds like such a get-out-of jail card and it probably is. I've played football and I've grown up in teams and for me, there are ways to talk to people though not everyone is gonna respond in the same way and people are gonna be sensitive. You know, it is their work and very, very understandable. If someone critiqued me for a pass I play in football, you know, I'm probably gonna turn around and give them a bit of a look. But it's the same with tech, you know, it's quite translating in such a way. I think for me, I love kind of being brought in. The buzzword you said is independent. You know what? Our job is not really to kind of hot anyone up or call out any mistakes, you know? It's really the common goal between all parties and I'm talking about all partners. I'm talking about BAs, PM testing development. Everyone has the same consensus and that is to deliver quality software. Our job is to really, you know, we do hold people accountable, I guess you can say that. But again, it's never personal. It's always our job is to really uphold reputation by delivering to the client as best as we can.

[00:11:45] Neil Benson: Do your teams ever get hired by a Microsoft partner, or is it nearly always the end customer who's engaging with you and asking you to be involved in the project?

[00:11:53] Emma Beckett: Honestly, we work across both spectrums there. We work and have collaborations with partners. The best way about that is that when we go on site with a customer or a client, provisional client, we've already had discussions about processes and we've kind of underlaid them so we're not going in Day One trying to beat a path of quality or you know, in terms of how do we go about defect handover, it's none of that. We've already got those processes established early doors. When we work with clients, so when we go kind of B2B, we work a similar but different way. You know, it's not for us to dictate, as I said earlier. Quality is everyone's responsibility in my book. We certainly guide and handhold but as you said, as you rightly said before, in my opinion, in our opinion, when it comes to quality, it's not testers that have the final say. It's actually down to the product owners. It's down to the stakeholders within the business. You know, is this good enough, yes or no? It's on their terms.

[00:12:48] Neil Benson: Yeah. Interested in — you talked early on about bringing on new testers into your team and training them. What are the qualities that you think make for good test professionals and what additional training do you typically give somebody joining your team?

[00:13:03] Emma Beckett: I don't think there's a typical template or fit that I look for when hiring. For example, for me, there are some skills that I would like to kind of find in every tester and those are attention for detail, patience. If you ask any of my friends, they'll say that's really an ironic statement. But actually for me, it's both of those things. I think everything else can be taught, you know? I'm sure you've had conversations with people. Have you used this particular solution? Well, no. I've used a kind of pre-historic version and then it's like, oh, well, you know, you haven't actually got experience with this. But with testers, the good ones, they should be able to take any system and interrogate it in a similar, honest, and independent way. The kind of training that we offer my team is we have access to DevOps, we have access to a live F&O environment, and we are working through things like Microsoft Learn, the pathways there. We work through in a similar way BC, Business Central. And again, we have recently started working and partnered with a company that offers a very good automation test door. I can't share too much on that just yet because it's not been announced by Fortitude 17. But breaking news. They're actually one of the few automation pieces that can stretch across all Microsoft Solution. So, we are working with them to deliver a great quality of automation testing, you know, particularly around regression and things like that. So, we spent a lot of time branching out. So, my team don't kind of follow one particular template. We do whatever class is the basics or the standard. We have all the essential training that I've just kind of mentioned there. But one of my team who has come from, again, a pro athlete, she is. She's now retired and studying a degree but simultaneously, she's actually writing a dissertation as we speak. She is now the kind of lead on tech so she has fallen completely in with Selenium. She's looking after the test door and she's looking after the automated training software that we have, too. So, yeah, she's the one that's loading the GitHub pipelines. She's actually done incredibly well and picked that up.

[00:15:03] Neil Benson: Yeah, very good. I think you're right. There's an element there of, you know, you don't have to know the entire stack but you have to be great at learning new technologies. Whether it's a new application you're gonna be testing or new tools you're gonna be testing with or new approaches, that ability to not be afraid to pick something up and to grab it and dive into it I think it's essential for a lot of us in our jobs today — test is included. And when it comes to automation, there's I think the pace of change there is probably the fastest. There's new tools every couple of months and we're using new approaches. Microsoft's come out with test engine for canvas apps today, which I haven't explored at all. Looking forward to finding out more about that one. And we got tools like EasyRepro and lots of third-party things as well so there's just so much to keep abreast of. And that's just when it comes to kind of the functional testing stuff. When it comes to, you know, performance testing and load testing, there's different tools again so you really have to be adaptable and pick things up quickly.

[00:15:56] Emma Beckett: Yeah. You know, an awful lot on testing it seems, yeah. 

[00:15:59] Neil Benson: I try to keep up with my team. 

[00:16:02] Emma Beckett: No, very good. In your Testing Heaven podcast, you made a really interesting point about QA professionals writing the best test cases. I hope you don't mind me kind of putting you on the spot with this question. But coming from someone that coordinates and leads a team, it's great to have, you know, the value that and the opinion that testers bring so much value to a project and have that actually acknowledged so thank you for that, on behalf of testers. In my opinion, testers clearly have a trained method of approaching certain testing scenarios. However, what we achieve as test folk is really underpinned by the knowledge of SMEs and CEOs and — oh, sorry — functional consultants and BAs and what they hold in terms of knowledge around the system and how best to kind of help us formulate tests. Do you agree with that, or do you find — I'm just interested to kind of get to the bottom of your point. Do you think it's a real standalone thing for testers, or do you think there's more value when it's a collaborative approach?

[00:16:52] Neil Benson: Definitely a collaborative approach. And when it comes to the relationship between a tester and the SMEs, the subject matter experts that are typically experienced users out in our business units, I love it when the testers joined my team said, oh, you know, I used to work in a contact center or I used to, you know, I was a sales analyst way back when. When they have that real business experience and they've come into testing and there's lots of roles in the Business Applications industry when people go, oh, I just fell into this. It wasn't my ambition when I was studying third-year English at high school to become a software tester. But when they find their home as a quality professional, I love it when they have that background or have a mixed background of having worked in other industries and other roles 'cause you can just bring that different perspective. As a user, what frustrates me when I'm trying to export things to Excel and the date format is stuffed up, people with who've come from, let's say a developer or a business analyst into a testing role, they have quite a technical perspective and that empathy with our users is sometimes not quite there. So, I think if you have a test professional with that kinda mixed background and they're getting out there and they're talking to the users and the subject matter experts and working within the team, that seems to work really well for me. 

[00:18:09] Emma Beckett: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You kind of touched on something there. That's actually why we offer training services as a group now as a company because there is such a close parallel between testing and essentially training. You know, we spend so much time with the users. As you say, we, you know, there is a certain level of empathy you kind of take on board speaking kind of openly with test folk. We are often the people that kind of take technical information from developers and BAs and, you know, functional consultants and we relay it to users in a sensical way, a way that actually resonates with them. So, for us, it was a natural segue probably based on the empathy we kind of encounter having such close relationship with the end user.

[00:18:50] Neil Benson: And talking about testing and the relationship between testing and training, I think one thing I need to improve on is when we ask our users to do acceptance testing, I'd love if the users would do acceptance testing with us every sprint. So, we've got a 10-day sprint. We're hoping to be releasing finished features pretty early in the sprint, at least halfway through. Some features should be finished, little ones. The bigger ones might be finished towards the end. But please, you know, test them and validate them as quickly as we can develop them. But I don't think I've done a good enough job on my our teams have done a good enough job of training our users how to do acceptance testing and just throwing them a feature with an assistant test case isn't really very fair, I don't think. But this is also, it's gonna take 6, 9, 12 months of application development. Users are gonna have to be in this for the long haul and they're gonna see a lot of features with rough edges and there's a lot of optimization yet to do. What approaches have you seen to acceptance testing that have worked well, especially projects where the acceptance testing is not just a big lump of deferred activity at the end of the project, where it's an integral part of the development process? I'm missing a trick here. I'd love to get your advice and expertise. 

[00:20:00] Emma Beckett: Well, I think you're being a bit cruel but I'll certainly chip in. So, I think in my experience, the more successful projects and outcomes in terms of user engagement certainly when it comes to acceptance testing is the same with testing, as you mentioned. The earlier they're onboarded, the better. That's certainly how I found it true to be. The way that I like to work, I mean, coming purely from a test from someone that coordinates such like acceptance testing, I love to work with the user and I love to get to know them on a kind of human level. And as it kind of transpires, you'll get people that are kind of stronger within the group, people that are kind of named as SMEs or super users, as we kind of tend to call them in my projects at least. And the idea being that you champion those, you've empowered them, and you appreciate that when the time comes, when the system's live, the chances are these super users are gonna be the ones that people turn to, that people want extra guidance from and a little bit more support. So, yeah, I would say in terms of, you know, project management engagement, the sooner the better and kind of identify early doors who might those users be, you know? For me, I work with key stakeholders, whether it's an IT systems manager or someone that kind of works closely with the business but from a technical end point and they can kind of marry up, you know, the successes there. One thing we've actually we offer as a company and this isn't a selling opportunity, it's just very topical. We offer workshops. So, funny enough, tomorrow I'm actually delivering a three-day workshop with an end client and it's really focused around acceptance testing. So, the things we'll cover are things like what a test plan looks like and this particular client isn't dedicating budget towards testing, so they're all they're doing it in-house, hence the workshop. So, I'll be there to kind of talk through how to kind of formulate the strategy and in a kind of basic non-technical approach and what designing your test plans look like and how you include data, you know, how you kind of think of different nuances and how you kind of structure and pin all that together, entry and exit criteria. So, we talk through a lot of these things and, again, it's really just about empowering. One of the things I like to do and as a company, we, you know, it's something we kind of beat into ourselves, you know, from top to bottom is to be able to conversate with people in a way that makes sense, you know? The example I use is if someone in HR doesn't care about my risk-based strategy, we need to deliver it in a way that actually they wanna hit, you know? I'm sure that you can attest to most projects or a lot of projects you've been into, the end users don't really want the change. They kind of know that I'm quite settled in my job. Maybe I can come in and not have to think about it. I can just go through the motions, you know, which is like any of us on a good or a bad day. But there's a, you know, when it comes to actually evolving the system, you know, my job and something that I kind of and love to kind of explore and kind of put across is that actually, whilst I'm not your line manager, like there is so much value in your participation here. You may not see it in this instance and I can completely concur that you don't wanna do acceptance assessing when you've got eight hours of your normal day to do, too. However, it really is for your benefit in the long run.

[00:23:12] Neil Benson: Yeah, I think there's something to be said there for trying to allocate somebody's time as an acceptance tester. And I quite often challenge managers to say, look, can we free up some of Fred's time or some of Susie's time to sit and work with us during the course of the sprint? So, every two weeks, if we can just have them for a Thursday afternoon, you know, the first and second Thursday afternoons of our sprint, that would be great and we can sit beside them, show them the functionality, demonstrate it to them, ask them to run through a couple of scenarios, and give us their feedback. And we're gonna capture their observations and their thoughts and any bugs that they find. And what we love to do is to try and jump on those things quite quickly within the sprint if we can and just fix them straight away so that the person can see, oh, my feedback's actually having an impact on the quality of the application that they're building. That's awesome. Other times where it's maybe a bigger issue or we haven't quite got a business process quite right or something like that, then we'll take it back and we need to consult with some people. But I think showing them the value of their contribution early and often is pretty important.

[00:24:13] Emma Beckett: Yeah. Yeah, I think it's so spot on. Everything you kind of mentioned there from the Agile approach to how quickly people are onboarded, if you can replicate that and have the SMEs or end users or super users, whichever you know term we use, only bodes well I think.

[00:24:25] Neil Benson: Switching back to some of the other forms of testing on projects, so as well as the kind of functional testing and maybe some integration testing if there's gonna be systems that are integrated with our Microsoft application, how are your customers on things like performance testing and load testing and even security and penetration testing? Do those things come up in your projects? Are those services that you offer? Because I sometimes — I've just got a couple of clients who think that, oh, performance testing is Microsoft's problem. It's all hosted on their cloud. They'll deal with it. Do you have customers who take that approach or something a bit more rigorous?

[00:25:02] Emma Beckett: It's very interesting. I thought that, you know, the Microsoft responsible for performance testing was only a European thing but good to know it stretches as far as Australia. A very good question. In terms of security testing, that's something we very much do in-house and I talk particularly around the roles and security matrix and making sure that — you mentioned negative testing quite early on. Gosh. Security and negative testing is such a huge thing, you know? I worked on a, you know, quite recently, a three-year HR project and if you can imagine people being able to access sensitive data, my gosh, you know, it's testing's on the hook, you know, my team would be on the hook. So, in terms of security, gosh, that is a huge risk in any project and something that I've talked about, risk-based approach, that is something that's up there, up and amongst it for me. In terms of performance, it's a really good question. I know a lot of the clients and projects that I've worked within, they do rely on Microsoft for that. There are tools, you know, that you can use from a performance testing in particular load but you kind of — it's difficult. With a Microsoft stack, you're kind of limited, you know, in terms of automation as we spoke about earlier for example. Our site was the original test door and that wasn't something you can use across every solution in the stack. So, it is difficult to find a tool that actually fulfills the need. I think if, I'll be honest, if certain clients have a serious demand or, you know, a business requirement that kind of really does require levels of kind of pen testing, penetration testing, then I would outsource, you know? I'd rather kind of make sure that I advised adequately than got it wrong. Yeah, my gosh. With testing, I don't think you can kind of necessarily take those risks, certainly not on behalf of a business, no chance.

[00:26:45] Neil Benson: Speaking of a risk-based approach advice on doing third-party penetration testing, anytime there's a portal involved, anytime there's any kind of external access being provided, when it's purely an internal application, we might take a lighter touch to that. When it comes to performance, I do like to test our APIs and make sure anything that we've built is able to handle the load that we're gonna throw at it. When it comes to the Microsoft APIs, one person's performance test is another person's denial of service attack. You have to be a little bit careful. And I know that particularly some enterprise customers will work pretty closely with Microsoft, maybe through the FastTrack program to say, hey, on this date and time, we're gonna be doing some performance testing just to let you know and they'll make arrangements with Microsoft so that everybody's aware of what's going on.

[00:27:30] Emma Beckett: Yeah, that's a great kind of point you brought up. Something I like to encourage during and facilitate during the UAT cycle, for example, is such an event. So, for example, I'll kind of use the HR project I mentioned. We had people from Buenos Aires and the Americas all the way through to Beijing and we had every I think between those two kind of prime locations I'll say we had a hundred of those dotted, you know, sporadically, you know, throughout the continent. And one thing that we kind of said is, look, if you want to replicate, with considerations for all localizations load on the system, replicate something that's actually gonna be quite realistic for the business when this is live, then what we can do is everyone kind of facilitate their own roles so we have testers set up and aligned with a user particular security role, what they would actually do on a day-to-day basis, the rates that they would tend to kind of see per day. And we would get everyone to kind of hit the system within that two-hours window, for example. And Microsoft, per the FastTrack program, would monitor that, you know, and that's kind of one thing I would say has been quite beneficial, certainly for me as the task manager, is because you kind of get real-life situations occurring. I would say that's kind of one of the best ways. I mean, gosh, if you know any particular Microsoft load testing tools or performance testing tools, I'm all ears. That's hence why we've kind of branched out to other automation tools. 

[00:28:52] Neil Benson: I wish I had a magic solution but like you say, it's rapidly evolving. There's always new tools coming to market and people trying to help us solve that approach, which is great. You mentioned getting lots of users around the world to, you know, simulate their daily activity and try and make sure the system's gonna stand up. Do you see a lot of issues with things like browsers or different locales when it comes to like, especially when we're doing testing of public applications rather than an internal employee-focused application? You know, the general public who might use our application through a portal, through some kind of native device, we can't govern what version of Android they've got or how old their iPhone is or the fact that they wanna run an iPad in portrait mode versus landscape. Do you come across a lot of those kind of issues or because we're building business apps, is it mostly for employees where we've got more control over the devices?

[00:29:43] Emma Beckett: Very good question. I think for me certainly the projects I've been on have very much been employee in-house. So, in terms of governance and what versions can be controlled and things like that, it's very much an IT policy-wide global approach. So, we have had people, for example, who are part of UAT try and fulfill the testing roles on handheld devices. So, I don't even mean iPads. I'm talking about iPhones or Android phones and, you know, gosh, that creates its own difficulty. You know, it's a in a backwards way, it's quite a good test because you kind of find out quite quickly what you can and can't do and if there's any access problems and kind of — it sounds crazy, but like the more simplistic backdoor things, you know, sometimes the most obvious bug is the one that you miss because you're kind of thinking of all these kind of strange, funny permutations and, you know, you're negative testing and taking on outside-of-the-box approach, you know, and sometimes it's actually right in front of your eyes. So, yeah, sometimes it does kind of pose a good challenge. But, I mean, in terms of bandwidth and what's kind of best to use with Dynamics, you know, the browser I kind of promote the most, and I'm not sure if I'm allowed to, is Chrome. You know, that's kind of the best results I've seen. So, whenever I kind of take an approach to testing, it's a bit of a cheat actually of mine. But I have this thing that I called a runbook and it's like a tester's project plan, that's what I'll call it. So, it's kind of got a lot of linear and chronological activities that I would tend to do there. It's obviously bespoke and change for every project that I do. But in terms of things to consider, I have the runbook as I call it and I also have a lesson learned book. So, within the lessons learned, it's things like when you're sending out engagement for acceptance testing, does it include we're gonna use this browser, we're gonna focus on these times, we're gonna do this, that, and the other. And it's just really a refinement of sorts, you know, as you kind of move through project to project. It's making sure that I'm on top of things as best as I can be. It's making sure that my team have a uniformal approach so everything we do is structured and it's not just kind of me and a head full of magic. It's actually something that we promote as a team. 

[00:31:47] Neil Benson: That's good. It sounds like you've just taken some time and effort to document your best practices and build those into, you know, a way of working that you can train your team upon and help your clients benefit from.

[00:31:58] Emma Beckett: Yeah, I think with testing in particular, it's — gosh, you know, when you're the one that's critiquing everyone, you kind of need to make sure you're double-checking your work at least twice. And, again, it's not because we're faultless again but if you're kind of leading the charge in terms of quality and all that good stuff, you wanna make sure that actually you are leading by example. You know, we are human at the end of the day. But in terms of kind of beating the path when it comes to quality and making sure that, you know, the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted, then you really have to kind of take charge. That's kind of certainly my opinion on it. 

[00:32:28] Neil Benson: Fortitude 17 doesn't just test Microsoft Business Applications. I don't know if you test anything and everything but it's certainly not the only type of application you'll offer testing services around. Can you ever share with us some other stories about other apps you've tested? And I'd love to know how they compare in terms of quality. Is Microsoft great to work with? Is it terrible to work with? I'd love to hear more about what else you do.

[00:32:49] Emma Beckett: So, the main solution that we support, aside from the Microsoft stack is Ceridian's Dayforce HCM. That really came about because a prospective client of ours said, okay, I understand that you guys are kind of pro-Microsoft, if you like, you know? And we're a kind of real quiet partner of Microsoft. Nothing exciting. Sorry, long story short, this prospective client came to us and said, look, do you support Dayforce? It's something we're really considering. We, you know, we are very it's a HR-centric software so we're really considering that at the moment. Is that something you support? So, as a business, we went away, spent a lot of time with Ceridian to understand the system, you know? Thankfully, coming off the back of a thre-eyear HR top to bottom implementation. It's good for understanding HR policy and process. So, the translation, well, a technical comparison was very slim. I will say that Dayforce is probably my favorite software to work with, though not the one I work with most. It's all front-end. So, in terms of testing and things, there's no back-end. You don't have to really worry so much in terms of that. Everything is really right before your eyes — any customizations, anything you wanna do, it's really there to be done. In terms of other things, gosh, this is kind of beyond 12 years now for me. I've very much been in the Microsoft space and now Dayforce space for that long. I think the last thing I tested prior to that was The Open University Student Inquirer's website. So, yes, that's a long time ago now.

[00:34:22] Neil Benson: Emma, I'd love to share some links to Fortitude 17 and your website there, which I think you've just launched a new website a while ago. But you've also launched something else. You've launched your own podcast recently. Tell us about that. 

[00:34:33] Emma Beckett: Thanks very much. Yeah, it's as I was saying in the kind preamble, it's not quite a patch on this but thank you very much for bringing it to mind. It's something I actually feel quite passionate about. I'm an avid podcast fan. I love to listen to all sorts of stuff, anything that's kind of centric to business or lifestyle. I'm very pro self-development. I'm one of those people. So, I very much love any podcast that's kind of cool to me in that vein. 

[00:34:57] Neil Benson: What's your favorite podcast at the moment?

[00:34:59] Emma Beckett: Oh, that's a killer question. God, that's like asking me what dog I like the most. Gosh. The ones I listen to the most are Steven Bartlett, The Diary Of A CEO. I've been a fan of the app for a good few years, yeah, prior to Dragon 10, and you'd get some great guests on there. Mindset Mentor, School of Greatness. I mean, there's a theme here. Mel Robbins, all that kind of stuff. I don't listen to very many good relaxing podcasts actually. It's all pro self-development. My podcast, it's just been launched. It's with a nod to Fortitude 17 and I like to talk about business and testing. Those are kind of key to who I am. But on the flip side of that, like I'm also an athlete. I also have a whole other side of life. And for me, you know, I wanted to kind of step away from Fortitude 17, my baby, my work baby, and kind of deliver a podcast that kind of calls to all the things that I am, you know, whether it's sport, whether it's in particular football, whether it's business, you know, I hope you'll do me the favor of returning and being in future a feature on my podcast. I'd love that. 

[00:35:59] Neil Benson: Oh, for sure. What's your show called? 

[00:36:01] Emma Beckett: It's the elbeckio show. 

[00:36:03] Neil Benson: The elbeckio show. 

[00:36:04] Emma Beckett: Yeah. And so, long story short, I climbed Kilimanjaro for charity a few years ago and I wrote a blog while I was kind of in and amongst it for anyone that had donated. So, as part of fundraising, I committed to writing a blog and the elbeckio show was the name of it. And this is elbeckio show 2.0 I guess. Yeah, it's really something I kind of thought about. That's probably the hardest thing about starting a podcast — picking the right name.

[00:36:27] Neil Benson: And you mentioned sport a couple of times. You're a professional footballer, semi-professional footballer? You've, you know, tell us about that. 

[00:36:34] Emma Beckett: Yeah, gosh, gladly. As I said, it's really kind of the other half of the coin for me. Yeah, so I've been a professional footballer for as long as I can remember. I've recently come back from playing in Norway for the second time and fortunate enough to represent the Republic of Ireland at one point in my life.

[00:36:52] Neil Benson: I was gonna say, are you you're not playing against Brazil in a couple days' time. I think England's playing Brazil. You play for the Republic of Ireland, is that right? 

[00:37:00] Emma Beckett: Yes, once upon a time. That's certainly true. I'm in my swan song years now, I'm sad to say so. I'm a big advocate of kind of making the most certainly of a sporting career. I appreciate that it's such a short stint in your life, concerning how long hopefully life is for everyone. So, I'm just trying to maximize it as best I can, you know?

[00:37:19] Neil Benson: What do you fancy are the chances of the Matildas picking up the World Cup in July? 

[00:37:25] Emma Beckett: Oh, I have to say I probably fancy England more to kind of beat Australia to that point, I'm sorry to say. And this is from one of the people that played for Ireland. No allegiance to England other than being born here. But it's something that I very much monitor and keep on top of women's football. So, yeah. I just have a feeling that sadly, the Matildas won't fare as well as other teams might, if I can say.

[00:37:49] Neil Benson: Oh, I don't know. They scored a couple of cracking goals against Spain last night or the night before. Just absolutely pick it out of the back of the net type. Shot some 20, 30 yards away. So, if they keep playing like that — although they led in a couple of soft goals at the end. But if they can play like that, we'll see. Hopefully, it's a big home advantage. Women's World Cup has been played across I think New Zealand and Australia in July. So, good luck to the Matildas on that one. But I think the England women's team, European champions at the moment, is that right? 

[00:38:19] Emma Beckett: Correct. Yeah. Very good. 

[00:38:20] Neil Benson: Yes. So, yeah, it'll take some beating. It'll be a fascinating competition. We'll see. I'll hopefully get some tickets to take my kids along.

[00:38:27] Emma Beckett: Very good. Yeah, it's certainly something that — I mean, gosh, I think everyone, unless you've been living under a rock, can appreciate that there's been substantial growth certainly in England in terms of women's football, you know? You mentioned the Matildas and there's a nice influx of Aussie girls playing in the UK at the moment. But yeah, the England girls winning the Euros, gosh, it's kind of done nothing being in UK when it kind of happened, you know? Even as an Irish player at one point in my life, it's incredible, you know, the kind of noise around it now, it's I'm sure kind of five years ago, there's no chance that I'd be on a podcast talking about women's football. The growth has been kind of phenomenal and long may it continue.

[00:39:03] Neil Benson: Yeah, well, hopefully the sponsorship will follow and then some of the incomes to some of the players as well. I think it's there's very few sports, maybe tennis is almost there in terms of parity between the amount of income that male players can achieve versus female players. So, I think we've got a long way to go in a lot of sports but it's improving, I hope. 

[00:39:20] Emma Beckett: Yeah. In the nicest way, it's not really about putting it down everyone's throat just to kind of about slowly increasing awareness. And again, the parity is something that I believe will come with time and again, it's difficult, you know? You kind of weigh up what each prospective sport brings in men versus women in that respect and it's not comparable at this point. However, if you look at opportunities, you know, one little fact that not a lot of people know is that actually women's football in the 1900s was bigger than the men's football. And actually, long story short, the FA kind of stopped women playing football for a substantial period of time in the UK. And, you know, it is kind of on a second resurgence now, if you like. But yeah, a little fact that not too many people know. 

[00:40:02] Neil Benson: I did not know that myself. There you go. I learned something today. Emma, thanks very much for joining us on Amazing Applications. It was a pleasure catching up with you and learning a lot more about professional testing and what that can bring to our Dynamics applications so I really appreciate you coming on and joining us.

[00:40:16] Emma Beckett: My gosh, the pleasure was absolutely mine. Thank you so much, Neil. And I really appreciate it. 

[00:40:20] Neil Benson: Thanks so much.