In my last blog post, I recapped the results of our 2018 Client Satisfaction Survey. I noted that one of the top 4 areas of importance to you was the quality of our products and services.
I wanted to share with you how we are focusing on quality – directly from Ashley Hunsberger, Blackboard’s Quality Architect. I recently met with Ashely Hunsberger to get a greater understanding of the testing process and how Blackboard works to deliver quality software.
This will be a two-part blog post! Part I is to introduce you to Ashley and Blackboard's framework for defining quality. Part II, which I will post next week, will focus on how we deliver quality software.
Q&A with Ashley Hunsberger, Blackboard’s Quality Architect - Part I
Tell me about your background?
I was born and raised in Reston, Virginia and now live in Raleigh, North Carolina. I went to a small, all-women, liberal arts school (Mary Baldwin University) where I studied Computer Information Systems, which I see as the intersection of people, organizations, and technology. I’ve had various roles in tech throughout my career, though my first job in testing was not software! It was in vehicle safety research at the University of Virginia’s Center for Applied Biomechanics (read: car crash testing with cadavers). That was a job I’ll never forget! I still remember being asked, “Ashley, what do you think will happen to the tibia and fibula during this lower extremity impact test?”
But my love of testing and experimentation grew from there – I worked with the Federal Communications Commission as a Business Analyst, then worked in medical technology as a Quality Analyst, and then on to Blackboard!
Tell us something interesting about yourself – outside of work?
I consider myself a pretty boring person but personally speaking I’m a mother of two brilliant little girls, Emma and Layla. I love to play the piano, and play field hockey. I love traveling, and am so thankful my speaking and work has allowed me to see the world. (I find Ashley the opposite of boring!)
Describe your role at Blackboard, and how long have you worked here?
I’ve been at Blackboard since 2005. I started as a Quality Analyst on the Learn product team and have progressed over the years to my current role as a Quality Architect in our Engineering Quality and Productivity department. I like to think of my role as a combination of research, strategy, philosophy, and leadership to help drive quality improvements across the company. One of the main ways I do this is with the Test Steering Group, where I get to work with some amazing people to discuss testing practices, challenge thinking, and roll out ideas through experiments. And I engage directly in the education community and across the software development industry as well, sharing my experiences in testing at various conferences around the world. I believe very much in contributing to Open Source Software (a way to give back to the software community), and sit on the Selenium Project Leadership Committee, where I primarily co-chair their conference. Being involved beyond the walls of Blackboard has helped me bring new ideas back to the company that will benefit our users – faculty, students and administrators!
What are we doing at Blackboard to deliver quality products?
Let’s talk about what quality is. To us, it’s the degree of excellence that a system displays. We consider various aspects of quality that help us understand that degree of excellence, such as:
- Functionality (Do we meet stated and implied needs?);
- Reliability (What is our fault tolerance? How fast can we recover?);
- Usability (Are our products understandable, learnable, and usable? How delighted are our clients when they use our product?);
- Efficiency (Can we perform appropriately relative to the amount of resources?);
- Maintainability (How do we handle changes to the system?);
- Portability (How adaptable is our product? Can we transfer from one environment to another?).
Now that Ashley has provided a frame for how we think about quality at Blackboard, in next week’s blog post Ashley will share specific thoughts on the tenets that drive quality in our work. Stay tuned!