Smashing Spotlight: Heath Lombard, Quality Assurance Manager
Wonder what makes Smashing Ideas so smashing? Our people! We sat down with Heath Lombard, Quality Assurance Manager, to talk shop, how a former goat farmer and New York baker made his way in the tech industry, and why quality is the name of the game at Smashing Ideas.
Quality Assurance – basically you get paid to break things…all with the intent of getting our products as close to perfection as we can before the general public experiences them. What’s a typical day like for you as QA Manager?
A typical day starts with a mystery I have to solve. The first clue I have is with my project schedule. With this I know where the mystery will take place. Next I go through build notes, this helps me to know who all the players are in this mystery. Now that I have these things I build a plan to test and find if there was a crime against functionality. When a victim is revealed I have to go back to my notes and build a suspect list. With more tests and sleuthing I help to find the culprit that needs to be dealt with. Finally I work to validate that the rehabilitation of the culprit in fact worked, and that it can be released into society.
Your career path is not a typical one. You were once a baker in New York. How did you go from making bread every morning to the wild world of high-tech?
Well, you see, making bread was great and all but it was the same thing over and over, and could drive a man mad over time. I decided to lean on the fact that I have a strong family history of very technical people that I worked with: my father, grandfather, and stepfather. I knew I had a love for taking things apart and seeing how they work, so I wanted to turn this hobby into a job, and my job of baking into a hobby. With that I left the goat farm and headed to Austin, TX at the suggestion of a friend, and the rest is history.
Why is QA so critical in the launch of a successful product?
The ‘Q’ in QA says it all really, QUALITY! Quality is many things, from performance, usability, functionality, and compatibility, to overall stability. QA at Smashing Ideas is the part of the team that verifies that applications meet all these standards of functionality set by the product owner while keeping in mind who the intended end user will be. QA, as I see it, is also there for helping with sharp wit, sarcasm, and over all shenanigans to keep it fun.
What’s the craziest problem you have dealt with when testing products?
Wow, I have been at this for almost 20 years now so there is a lot to sift through in my dusty old brain. I would have to say that one of my favorite situations, that caused many issues and lots of time, was working in a non-branched environment. The problem here would be that we would be testing off a live branch that was actively being developed on. This would cause great madness, as QA would find issues and try to show a developer or isolate it, but they would be gone shortly after seeing them. Finally after much time and head scratching it was found they kept building and pointing to the active development branch, and no one was really, in fact, going mad. Long story short, branching is one of the first things discussed now with every project I work on.
Your job is such a vital and unique part of development that it was featured in The Seattle Times’ Cool Jobs section. What’s the best part of what you do?
The best part of what I do is that I get to point out when people did things wrong. I kid! I would have to say the best part of what I do is I have gotten to work with some of the most creative and innovative people in the industry. With these people I have gotten the chance to help make some amazing products.
What is unique about the way Smashing Ideas approaches quality, as compared to other digital agencies?
To be honest Smashing Ideas has me, and that outshines all other agencies’ approaches to quality! I ingrain myself into all that is SI so I don’t just QA our products, I QA our company as a whole.
**editor’s note: permission to begin massive eye-roll!
Summer is finally here! The best thing about summer is….
Well, obviously the best part of summer is sporting my speedo while at the beach sipping mojitos with friends and family.
Since you work with so many gadgets on a daily basis – some even before they’re launched to the public – what piece of technology, personally, can you not live without?
Hmm, I can’t say I have one piece of technology I can’t live without. I do know I have become lazy and use map apps all the time and never take the time to remember where I am going or where I have been.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title would be?
Goat Boy Making It In The Tech World.