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I’m Rich, I’m a Quality Analyst at Co-op in our engineering department, where I’ve been working for the last 3 ½ years.  I’ve been a QA (aka Tester) for around 16 years, which when I look at it in writing makes me feel old as dust! People chose to work at Co-op for a number of reasons, but for me it happened after a friend approached me and said ‘you’ll love how we make software’ … a few pints later, I applied!

Why QAs are different at Co-op

As a QA it’s easy to feel like your role is an afterthought in the engineering process. You build your product and then someone sits in a corner isolated and tests it, right? But after speaking to my friend and going through the interview process at Co-op, my head was turned and I learned that things were very different here.

QA’s work as part of the team, right from the start. They are seen as coaches of quality and involved in the development process from the initial problem space, through to elaboration, design, development (with testing throughout) to release. Our goal is to embed quality into every stage of the development lifecycle, reduce feedback loops, and do the right thing for the right reason.

I’ve never had to sit in a corner and wait for a developer to just send a piece of work at me I had no idea about with a mandate of ‘test this’ or ‘put some automation round that’.  Everybody appreciates the part testing plays and how important it is to get it right.

Part of a community

We have a number of vibrant communities within engineering that come together regularly to help better each other. We share what we are working on through show and tells, pass on knowledge with lightening talks, we have a code club (where people come together and do katas), book club, video club… I’ve never worked anywhere that has such an inclusive collaborative approach to software development.

As a rule, we mob (put away your pitchforks, it’s not that kind of mobbing) where the whole team works on the same thing, at the same time, in the same space, and at the same computer. I spend a lot of my time as a QA challenging developers as to why we are taking a certain approach, getting them to ask of each other ‘are we doing the right thing here?’.

Something to be proud of

When I first joined Co-op, I was working on our funeral arrangement application for our frontline Funeralcare colleagues. Our team’s job was to make software and implement features that made our colleagues’ jobs easier – saving them time which they could better use to support grieving families.

This was amplified even more in recent times due to the challenges faced because of Covid. The new app features that the team delivered for our colleagues during this time were vital to their roles and to keeping our colleagues safe. Throughout the peak of the pandemic our core application had zero down time, something we can be extremely proud of.

Looking forwards

For me personally, Co-op is a fantastic company to work for, because our purpose is much more than just making money. We’re dedicated to building a greener future, to helping local communities, charitable causes, and having a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion.

We make software the right way, for the right reasons. And I’m lucky to work with some superbly talented, kind and thoughtful people in a place where everyone can be their true self.

Rich Henderson,
Quality Analyst

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