Our partnership with PLATO Testing

Trevor Westerlund

our fictional aristocrat

I first heard about the PLATO initiative during a conversation with PQA Testing’s Co-CEO Christin Wiedemann about their business needs. I learned that PQA had launched a software testing program that would bring employment opportunities to Indigenous communities.

We listened to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action and asked ourselves what we as a business could do. The sustainable answer was that we can provide employment opportunities. But, contrary to popular belief, software tester is a profession that requires training. We soon realized, that to be able to hire Indigenous testers, we also had to train them.
- Christin Wiedemann, Co-CEO, PQA Testing

I have Cree and Métis grandparents, so I have some understanding of how geo-locational and social barriers can contribute to a lack of meaningful employment opportunities. I also have a teenage step-brother that lives in a remote community, and I know that he isn’t feeling positive about what the future holds for him. He is interested in working in technology, but right now pursuing it would require him to leave his community and move to a major centre.

PLATO Testing is unique in that it wants to find, train and support Indigenous software testers in their own communities, thereby establishing tech hubs in some of the most rural areas of Canada.

I was invited by Christin to join a graduating PLATO class as a guest speaker. My original plan was to lull the class to sleep with an in-depth, day to day description of business development, but the group was more interested in the app projects I had worked on and Radical I/O’s current projects. We had a great conversation about mobile VR/AR applications and their impact on the iOS and Android world. The questions from the group were very thoughtful, and they showed a real interest in the platforms and on the business at large.

Radical I/O was onboarding the BC Lions to develop their VR/360 app at the time, and I thought this group would be a good match for our software testing needs.

To test new or enhanced software like apps, it can often make more financial sense to use a software testing service instead of a software developer’s dedicated hours. Software testers have not seen the app, so they can better simulate the experience of users, plus breaking things (on purpose!) and pushing for quality is their craft all day, every day. Developers are too familiar with the app and usually don’t want to break their own product, so it’s helpful to have a dedicated team to find those bugs. It can also speed up the time to market because developers typically only have time to do testing after building, whereas QA testers can work in unison.

The specialist knowledge of the PLATO testers was particularly appreciated by Radical’s developers. Android developer, Christine Kelly, and iOS developer, Kelo Akalamudo, both commented on the capabilities of the testers:

The software testers at PLATO were instrumental in supporting our functional testing needs for the app. They tested 1000 cases on four different iOS devices and 2000 cases on eight different Android devices, generating bi-weekly Defect Reports, including detailed descriptions of the issues with steps for reproducibility, noting the devices and software versions.

PLATO’s testers were flexible to our accelerated schedule, availability and tooling, and they demonstrated real innovation in the unique bugs they uncovered - bugs we didn’t anticipate and had not encountered before.

In a previous blog post, Co-founder Briana talked about Radical I/O’s commitment to creating positive change in our community:

PQA Testing seeks to provide meaningful training and employment to Indigenous Peoples through the PLATO program, so I was thrilled when Trevor suggested bringing them on board for this project. The PLATO team really came through for us on an accelerated schedule, and we look forward to working with them again in the future.
- Briana Sim, Co-founder and COO, Radical I/O

Our collaboration was a successful one - the app went live and it was a big hit with BC Lions’ fans. Our first experience working with the PLATO team has blossomed into a long-lasting relationship, and we really look forward to working with them again.