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Meet the Keynote Speakers: An Interview with Kaushal Dalvi

Rachael Lovallo

PNSQC 2022 Keynote speaker, Performance Engineering enthusiast, developer and computer games enthusiast Kaushal Dalvi took the time to answer some questions to share with the PNSQC community. If you hadn't already made a note to attend his talk in October, you will after reading the following interview! If you don't have your conference tickets yet, there's still plenty of time to sign up here.


Interviewer: You mention that quality and performance are first to go when development teams try to move quickly. How do you rank quality versus performance, or are they equally important?

Kaushal Dalvi: The simplest definition of quality that I have found myself using more and more is Josephs Juran's "fitness for use" definition. In that view, quality is an all-encompassing umbrella term that covers all of the '-ilities'. However, in most day to day conversations when one speaks of quality, the intention is to speak of functional correctness, as opposed to conformance to non-functional requirements.
From that perspective, I would still point back to Juran's definition of 'fitness for use'. If an application does not function correctly, it is not fit for use even if it is extremely performant. And an application that functions correctly but takes too long to return the response in a usable time-frame is again, not fit for use. So, long story short, there are thresholds of functional correctness and performance and the other '-ilities'. If a system, app or functionality falls outside this fitness for use threshold, then the other '-ilities' may not matter in that case.

Interviewer: Why do you think quality is initially undervalued as popular development methodologies catch on?

KD: I see it almost like moving to a foreign country and learning a new language. The initial focus is on learning the basic words and being able to speak just enough to get by, and not so much on structure, grammar, etc. The sentences formed in the beginning will not be high quality prose. But as the language starts to get more familiar and expertise increases, the next focus shifts to the quality of the sentence in terms of structure, grammar, etc. This effect is usually compounded by tight timelines, budgets and other similar constraints.

Interviewer: Your talk is about maintaining quality and performance in our era of hyper-efficient software development and delivery. One challenge of working in such an environment is staying on the task at hand. Can you share a couple of tools you use to focus when there are time-sensitive testing tasks to accomplish?

KD: That truly is a challenge in the current landscape with Slack, Discord, Email, and a ton of other notifications going off on the phone at the same time. One of the things I try to focus on is 'focus'. The tool I use is a small timer that I can quickly set 3, 5, 10, 15, 25 minute timers on, and do my own modified version of the Pomodoro technique. And while that timer is going, I avoid all other distractions. I have also found it useful to write out thoughts, ideas and task-lists using an iPad and pencil as a tool to cut through the chaos.

Interviewer: Do you still play computer games? Which game is your favorite, and why?

KD: I absolutely still play games, all the time. I attribute a lot of the qualities that I have gained over time to gaming, mainly focus, concentration, resourcefulness, creative problem-solving, adaptability, and being a team player. I don't have one favorite as such, I have been playing Counter-Strike, StarCraft and Diablo for the last 20 years and I am currently playing Overcooked 2 with my wife. I am most looking forward to God of War Ragnarok later this year and Hogwarts Legacy early next year.

Interviewer: What is your favorite part of your current job?

KD: Unquestionably, the people that I work with and what we have been able to create - namely, a one of a kind, automated performance test asset generation system. I have done some talks around that so I will not go too deep here, otherwise that can turn into a full interview on its own :)

Interviewer: What is the number one piece of advice you'd give your younger self professionally, or anyone just starting their career in Quality?

KD: Never stop learning, never stop plugging away at things, the effects may not be easily visible in the short term but it compounds and grows.

Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge, Kaushal! You can follow him on LinkedIn, and on Twitter, and can learn more about his work and upcoming PNSQC 2022 Keynote here