Throwback to Deezer ConTEST: the first hackathon for Product and QA

co-authored by Anna Louis & Baptiste Villain

Deezer has a long tradition of hosting and organizing tech events such as internal or external hackathons, meetups, and more. Our motivation is to offer our people learning experiences by connecting them to external communities. Deezer ConTest was about encouraging our QA and Product communities to collaborate with three goals in mind: to be fun, inspiring, and useful for our mobile application development.

It’s one thing to measure employee engagement; it’s another one to assess the impact of an event on the quality of our platforms. We knew beforehand that results would only be measurable in the mid-term but we wanted to give you our initial feedback on the journey.

Our agenda for the day

Work as a team

We had the idea for the project during our previous internal hackathon, but it was really set into motion in February 2019. It was the first time our Product and QA teams worked together on designing and planning an event, and I believe they did a great job co-organizing it. Basically their two common goals were: learn together and from each other, and enjoy the day!

Some of our Deezer coaches, from QA & Product teams

Support communities

Our event took place in our Paris headquarters on a weekend…because one evening would not be enough time for people to feel comfortable and properly connect with other participants.

The support of two other well-known communities, Product Stories and Agile Testing Paris, made it possible to get in touch with potential participants more easily. It was a great opportunity to gather our Product and QA teams, as well as host a “big family reunion” for external Product & QA people.

We received 81 subscriptions beforehand, and invited 54 participants to attend. In the end, 38 people came to our office on the day of the event.

Learn together

This event showed us that we could learn a lot more with the support of our communities. The feedback from our Deezer ConTESTants was great and we couldn’t be happier to read some of their posts afterwards (here, here and here).

The roundtable was practical, without waffle or prevarication, and the proximity with our 5 speakers was precious to our participants. Mentors discussed their own experiences and offered professional advice to our attendees, who in return had the opportunity to share their difficulties and ask questions.

Round table with Product & QA Managers

Let’s test 🕺

Baptiste, Release Manager at Deezer

“We would like to thank every participant in the very first Deezer ConTEST! Thanks to your dedication, we were able to significantly improve our JIRA backlogs and ultimately make our customers’ experience better.

Let’s start with a statistical overview of the current status of the JIRA tickets you raised… in the form of a tasty donut:

You can see that only a very small portion of the 405 JIRAs were instantly rejected.

  • On the bugs’ side, if we don’t take into account the issues that were already known to our teams (yes, our teams also work on bugs here!), a bit more than 60 reports have been added to our backlogs, and almost two-thirds have already been addressed.
    Some concrete examples of this? We fixed a lot of things on our search engine, when searching for an empty string for instance: it no longer sends users to a 404 page — a miracle! We also handle apostrophes better and certain numbers in artist names are also more easily recognized.
  • Regarding feedback and suggestions, it’s not possible to sort them statistically but rest assured the most relevant proposals and ideas that emerged from the brainstorms are being used by our Product team.
    A lot of surprises are in the works and I suppose people focused on Freemium in particular will find many of their suggestions in the Deezer app in the upcoming months…

We will get back in touch with you later, as most topics all of you identified have been handled and developed by our teams.”

Let’s think Product 🥚

Anna, Product Owner at Deezer

“There is no way to improve a product without knowing it inside out, that’s why I believe Quality Management and Product Management teams complement each other and should work hand in hand. Yet these two teams often work in a linear way: PMs imagine a solution and send it through the QA process once it’s ready. Most of the time, valuable QA knowledge and experience of the product aren’t applied as QA people are not involved in the conception of new features. It’s a shame, for QA analysts are often a gold mine of information when it comes to identifying all the product use-cases. With an event like Deezer ConTEST, we hoped to be able to go beyond the usual barriers and bring QA and Product together.

To keep the participants focused during the day and quickly onboard them on one specific subject, we assigned each group one of the 4 available topics that we selected for investigation on the Deezer mobile applications (both Android and iOS):

1: the freemium experience

2: usage under bad network conditions

3: offline mode usage

4: the search experience

Once all the teams tested and retested all our products, hunted for bugs and other types of inconsistencies in our user journeys, they took the time to prioritize issues and choose which major pain point should be tackled first. Finally, they imagined solutions to this problem and submitted their best proposal to our jury. After several rounds of iteration, all the solutions were presented in front of everyone in a short pitch.

After assessing the relevance of the chosen pain point, the feasibility of the solution and the storytelling of the presentation, our amazing judging panel chose the best pitch by topic.

Our jury composed of experts of Product Management and Quality Assurance

Making the most of their knowledge of the product and using effective methodology, Quality Assurance Testers and Product Managers all worked together throughout the day to design the best experience for our apps. For example, one of the teams who were working on offline mode usage decided to focus on discovering new songs in airplane mode. They came up with the idea of sharing a discovery playlist with peers around you thanks to local bluetooth connection. Clever!

In the end, Deezer ConTEST seemed to be a very enriching experience for the members of both communities, during which they became better aware of their mutual dependencies and of the importance of collaborating better in their day-to-day work. Mission accomplished!”

The Deezer ConTEST participants and coaches 👌🏼

What’s next?

You asked for more and we’ve heard you. We are planning to host Deezer ConTEST #2, probably with a few organizational changes. Rest assured that we will keep you updated when things come together, hopefully in the next few months.

Until then, here is a video sum-up of this first Deezer ConTEST edition:

Many thanks to all the partners and speakers who made this fun and inspiring day possible: Victoria Bocquet, Yann Person, Florian Zilliox, Geoffroy de la Rochebrochard, Clément Falchier, Jean-Pierre Lambert, and Thomas DIDIER.
🙏 to Pauline Munier for her continuous help on this project and Luis Carlos Garelli Boada for the pictures.