ProdPerfect Review and Interview
Founded in 2018, ProdPerfect is a test automation solution. It is an excellent resource that cleverly and effectively analyses your software’s live user traffic, using patterns on the application to deploy end-to-end (E2E) test automation, given you detailed feedback with “unparalleled accuracy”.
I caught up with Erik Fogg, who kindly answered all of my interview questions so that I could learn more about the company.
An Interesting Story Of ProdPerfect’s Inception
Erik explained to me how the CEO of ProdPerfect founded the company:
“This is an interesting two-part story. My CEO, Dan, was a software engineering Director for years and before that an engineer himself, as well as a performance consultant for Fortune 500 companies. In his experience, testing was where great software teams fell apart, and it happened all the time. Bad testing meant production issues and fire drills that led to a breakdown that looks a lot like a highway pileup; when this happens repeatedly, engineering teams burn out entirely.
The flash of insight he had in 2017 was that engineering teams had access to a lot of data that, properly harnessed by machine learning, could massively improve both the accuracy and cost of testing, and turn it into a strength of an engineering organization. He believed we could build the machine learning tool sets necessary to harness data and fix software testing once and for all.
My own background came from fixing factories (refineries, automotive, etc), but I’d worked with Dan before. He brought me in because I see factories everywhere I go… including in software deployment pipelines. The belief I have is that any tooling or technology is insufficient to really solve a production problem. To succeed, you need to deploy tools and technology with a design and strategy in mind for the entire production line. A big part of my job is making sure our customers point ProdPerfect to the right part of their deployment pipeline. So, I want to make engineering teams smarter, as well as better tech-supported 🙂
Together, what we realized, was that not only could we make software quality assurance (QA) testing more accurate and cheaper: we could use machines to entirely automate the process of building and maintaining it. Then we really knew we were on to something, and got started in early 2018″.
A One-Of-A-Kind Solution
Erik had some exceptionally impressive things to say about ProdPerfect. The product itself is the only one like it in the whole world, which is a massive achievement. Here’s what Erik told me about the company’s greatest strengths:
“As a product: we are the only solution in the world that uses data to determine what to test, and it’s a huge advantage. We collect product analytics data from our customers’ application, and our machine learning engine analyzes this data constantly to determine what functionality is important to our customers’ users, as well as understand how they use those features. It means we can provide far better test coverage with far fewer tests than our customers can do on their own”.
“As a team: it’s our humility, individually and as a group. Humility is a core value of ours, and it contrasts sharply with engineering cultures elsewhere. Our humility means we’re more interested in learning than being right, and this means we can learn a ton from our customers (as well as the folks who don’t buy!), and our team learns from each other at an alarming rate. We’re able to retain and grow and nurture talent unlike anywhere I have (or anyone on the team has) ever seen because we check our egos at the door and work together exceptionally well. It makes ProdPerfect a great place to work and agile enough to learn at a lightning pace”.
A Resilient Team At Its Core
Erik is incredibly proud of his team and the resilience they’ve shown throughout their employment. In fact, everyone enjoys being part of ProdPerfect so much, that not one person has left of their own accord in the three years since its inception. Erik gave me a detailed insight into the team behind the company:
“RESILIENCE. Like many teams, our growth plans got a hard kaibosh this year from the pandemic and global recession, and we had to lay off some incredible people. Our team rallied to help them get employed as quickly as possible. Internally, we had to make a lot of field promotions to get the work done with a much smaller crew. Young folks with a lot of chautzpah but not a ton of experience had to step up big. They needed help from everyone to succeed. And this summer became our finest hour: we improved all sorts of critical parts of our product and business, and we’ve come out healthier than we were before the pandemic hit. Dan and I get to work with some truly incredible folks. Fun fact: nobody has ever quit ProdPerfect after 3 years in business (even though I encourage people to be thinking about what they will do after ProdPerfect and how their work here will support them). People know they’re working somewhere special”.
Striving To Help Customers
ProdPerfect uses Slack to maintain an open channel of communication between customers and engineers. This ensures that there is always someone knowledgeable on-hand to help whenever they are needed. Erik spoke more about ProdPerfect’s customer service:
“I think everyone thinks their customer service is a 10 out of 10. One thing that makes us special is that we embed our reporting and our engineering team into our customers’ Slack channels. We make a big promise: “we’re going to handle QA testing for you.” It turns out our customers have a bunch of their own idiosyncrasies and have made unique decisions about their testing infrastructure, deployment process, and data management which cause integration challenges. These challenges are just as real if they’re building their own QA test automation code, and we need to make sure our engineers are fully present and able to chat with our customers to problem-solve on the fly. Our customers see us as teammates more than vendors, and because of the support we provide, we’re a solution rather than a product. In our line of work, this is table stakes, but compared to a lot of toolsets that you can buy where you submit a ticket and hope whenever you run into a problem, this delights our customers”.
It’s really great to see that the relationship between ProdPerfect and its customers is more of a partnership. This shows the high level of mutual respect from both sides.
Plans In The Pipeline
I was interested to learn about what plans are in place for the company in terms of growth and developments. Erik explained:
“Right now our focus is “putting our customers in the pilot’s seat,” so they’re less dependent on our (amazing) customer service to adapt the test suite to major changes they make to their application, infrastructure, and deployment processes. After that, we’re going to be rolling out our current technology (which tests web applications) to mobile testing, performance testing, load testing, and likely even accessibility testing. Soon enough, we’ll be a one-stop shop for our customers to make sure they’re shipping top-notch quality to their users!”
These all sound like amazing plans which I’m sure customers will hugely benefit from. I especially like the idea of “putting customers in the pilot’s seat”.
Last, but not least, I would like to say a big thank you to Erik for his cooperation and for answering my questions so thoroughly!