For this episode of PQA Panel Talks, we’re excited to bring you the intro episode of a special series on software testing in the lottery and gaming industry. Our VP of Lottery and Gaming Jennifer Rushton is taking over as guest host to bring you panel discussions with interesting guests from across the industry to share their insights.

We’re kicking things off with two of our testing experts, Richard Bird and Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne, as they discuss what makes lottery and gaming testing unique, and brainstorm where our lottery and gaming conversation needs to go next

 

 

Jennifer Rushton:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of PQA panel talks. My name is Jennifer Rushton, and for this special edition of PQA panel talks, I am borrowing the mic from Mike Hrycyk to bring you a conversation with our panel about software testing and the lottery and gaming industry. So for those of you who tune in regularly, you might be wondering why I’m stepping in for Mike in this episode. Mike has been doing this for so long, it’s an old hat to him, but when I was given the opportunity to host a podcast on an industry that I have lived and breathed for the last 20 years of my career, I just had to jump in. My career started in online gaming in the industry before it really became mainstream. And since that time I’ve been serving casino and lottery markets globally with products and solutions that help operators and regulators and suppliers. Over the past few years in my role as Vice President Lottery and Gaming for PQA and PLATO Testing, I’ve had the pleasure of leading a team of QA and software testing consultants and building our center of excellence in lottery and gaming software testing. I’ve also been working alongside experts who provide testing services to the global lottery and gaming industry. And I am so excited to introduce two of those experts to you today. Joining me from each the east coast and the west coast as panel members are Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne and Richard Bird, associate manager, and senior manager, respectively. I’ll turn it over to our panel of experts and let them introduce themselves. Shawnee, let’s get started with you. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your career in testing.

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
Sure. Thank you, Jennifer. My name’s Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne. I am from Woodstock First Nation, and I’ve been working with the PQA/PLATO Fredericton team for just about five years now. And two of those years I’ve been working in the lottery and gaming industry.

Jennifer Rushton:
Thanks, Shawnee. Richard, over to you.

Richard Bird:
Good day. Thank you for, including me in this talk. I’m a senior QA Manager with PQA. I have been with PQA since 2013 and have been working closely with my current lottery and gaming clients since 2015. I have worked in various industries, software industry verticals over the last 30 years. And I’m originally from South Africa.

Jennifer Rushton:
We are so fortunate to have you both here with us today. Thank you both. I think that for the sake of getting everybody up to speed, let’s start at the most basic level. I mean, when we talk about the lottery and gaming industry, unless you’ve worked in it or for it or alongside it, you might immediately think of Las Vegas or the images portrayed by Hollywood in movies like Oceans 11 or Casino Royale. You know, endless banks of slot machines or a big cashier’s cage at the back of the casino, loud noises, flashing signs. But the lottery and gaming industry really is a complex and heavily regulated industry that’s much more than just the bricks and mortar casinos, and definitely more than what players or customers see on the surface. Richard, I’m going to ask you just to describe the lottery and gaming industry a little bit. When we talk about that particular domain, what does it include? What is the lottery and gaming industry?

Richard Bird:
So for the clients that I’m working with very much, it’s a provincial organization, and the area that we’re specifically working with, and that I’ve been working with exclusively, is around online gaming. So we have desktop and mobile gaming platforms in both of those, including obviously Android and Apple. But in included in those areas, we also have sports betting, lottery, tickets, and sales and payouts for those too, which is all controlled by the provincial organization. They are also responsible for the casino offerings that you mentioned. But though again, the areas that we’re specifically testing and working with are not necessarily those physical machines with, you know, as we would call them, one-arm bandits back in the day, which are now very much electronic, but we haven’t really been testing those pieces. Though we are working with the software that is used behind the scenes in those casino locations. And that’s really, to me what the area that we’re working with at this point.

Jennifer Rushton:
Wonderful, thanks for that, Richard. It really is a deep and complex industry, and I know that we don’t have nearly enough time to get into all the nooks and crannies today. Shawnee, can you tell me a little bit about the area of the lottery and gaming industry that you’re currently working in? Maybe you can share a little bit about what your client does and about the project that you’re currently engaged in.

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
Absolutely. It’s very similar to what Richard was saying, but instead of provincially, we actually test games that are available globally. So the client that I’m currently working with has developed games, which we are testing and are available to different platforms across different continents. So, we would be able to test, go through all of these different games that may feature in certain jackpot games, could be games of chance, anything along those lines, but we’re actually focused on different rules and regulations for different countries, different states, different provinces and just different rules from across the world.

Jennifer Rushton:
So you’re testing against various requirements for different jurisdictions. What are some of the jurisdictions that, that these games are deployed to?

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
So some of the different jurisdictions for testing that we’ve been doing, we’ve been doing testing for some different states in the United States. We have different games from the east coast of Canada, all the way to the west coast, as well as some European games as well. Anywhere from Germany, England, and even all the way to Austria.

Jennifer Rushton:
Thanks, Shawnee. Richard, do you mind sharing a little bit more about your current project or projects that you’ve been involved in with your current client over the past while?

Richard Bird:
Sure. So my, my current project is quite a massive project undertaken for the organization. They’re looking to replace all of their lottery terminals, and that essentially it’s not just the actual lottery terminals themselves. It’s also the financial systems underlying those terminals. And the reporting that is such an integral part of the requirements for the organization. Additionally, I’ve been working on other systems, including evergreen projects, where we have to replace infrastructure on a regular basis for the organization, as well as other gaming, monthly release games.

Jennifer Rushton:
That particular project, the lottery terminal replacement project, Richard, that sounds interesting. I know that they’ve recently undergone a similar project here in the province of Ontario rolling out, I think 10 to 12,000 new lottery terminals to stores across the province. It really is a massive undertaking. The difference between the Ontario rollout and the BC rollout is that the Ontario rollout occurred pre-COVID. So I know it’s been more than a year and a half now, but it really is a constant topic of discussion, this idea of remote work and the impact that working from home has had on various industries. And as us as software testers, you know, with you and your team, working with your current client for many years, how has the pandemic and remote work impacted your approach, the work that you’re doing, and maybe how can, how can a test or test a lottery terminal when they’re working from home and the lottery terminal is sitting in the client’s lab in a different city or different area?

Richard Bird:
So, fortunately PQA and PLATO resources haven’t necessarily always been located at the client site. That’s one of the benefits to working with, with PQA and PLATO is the fact that we all spread across the country. And as a result, when we were forced to move into the remote work situation, our resources were actually held up as an example to the client staff of the best way and a really good way of how they could continue to work remotely as well. So it was really interesting because we have got resources working in this BC client. We have them working from New Brunswick from Ontario, from Saskatchewan, Alberta, as well as BC. So that was real benefit to the client and they definitely saw that they could benefit from following our example, as far as that was concerned. As you rightly pointed out there, there is still a requirement for people to be able to work locally at or near the client’s site. And we actually have a number of our staff who are based near the client office in Kamloops, what was required to help them continue working with various terminals and so on that were available to be used was working closely with the client technical staff who were on hand to be able to help bring the terminals to their home location and get them all set up and configured to enable them to continue to work as though there was no issue as far as COVID is concerned. And that has continued ever since they’ve had to work remotely.

Jennifer Rushton:
Wonderful. Thanks for that Richard. Shawnee, I know that your situation with your current engagement is a little bit different than Richard’s in that your engagement with your current client actually started midway into the pandemic. It was, you know, well into work from home or remote delivery of services. So how has working remotely impacted your client or your project, or has it?

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
I think it has impacted a bit, but at the same time, it hasn’t. My client is currently based out of the UK. So all the work, regardless if that was the pandemic, we would have had to work remotely anyway. But with that, it made us kind of appreciate more of the in-person communications and using resources for video chat and things like that. To get to know your client a little bit better. There were a few times where we did encounter a few challenges. Whether it was permissions, criminal record checks, when it comes to different areas of testing. So making sure that we could still be accessible for all of that. But I feel like it really let us get into the positions in a lot more depth than it would have been otherwise. Cause we’ve been starting to practice doing this remote work, and during these very strange times, being able to seamlessly move that into an actual client project, I think really benefited us in building those relationships with our client

Jennifer Rushton:

That’s another topic actually Shawnee. You must’ve been reading my mind. Another topic that I wanted to dig into just a little bit, something you said earlier in your most recent response was, you know, we use video chat and video conferences to get to know the client. The lottery and gaming industry is a massive industry. It really is a massive industry. But when you look at the key decision-makers and the key influencers globally, it’s a really small and tight-knit group. Folks know each other, they build relationships, they build trust amongst each other. And so it sounds from what you’re saying, that that building those relationships, while perhaps a little bit more challenging when doing so remotely still is important, right? Those relationships are still important. What role does trust play in the relationships that you’ve established or are currently building in the industry Shawnee or with your current client?

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
Trust is extremely important when it comes to any relationship, whether it’s with work or outside of work. But especially doing remote work, you have to be able to make sure that your client can trust the work that you’re giving them and that you’re making sure you’re hitting all the requirements that are needed. Especially in lottery and gaming. When you’re dealing with people’s money, whether it’s a dollar to a million dollars, they have to be able to trust you with that. So, you can show your responsibility in testing with the work that you put out, making sure that you cover up all of your screenshots. You make sure that you’re very thorough and very straightforward with everything that you’re delivering. As well as just trying to go above and beyond. So whether or not it’s hinting towards maybe something in their procedures that they do on the other side of testing. You know, how they’re writing test cases, or maybe making a brand new meeting where you can actually get to know the client that way you can just build those relationships. And, you know, it’s not always like all work and no play. It’s good to have a little bit of a casual, but professional conversation with your clients. That way you can continue to have a fun time at work with keeping it professional at the same time. And I think really that does help build those relationships because you’re all working on something that you can relate to, or you can have that conversation continuously throughout your whole project

Jennifer Rushton:
Building in that human factor. Absolutely. I think particularly over the last year and a half, that’s what has gotten a lot of us through, right? Having, having those interpersonal connections and, and folks that we can chat with that might be going through some of the same challenges or experiencing some of the same positives and negatives along the way. That’s good. Richard, what about you? What’s your perspective on trust and relationship building? I know that your current client, you’ve been working with them for many, many years now, you must have good relationships by this point or, they might not still have you around. Is that fair to say?

Richard Bird:
That’s pretty true. Yeah, we’ve definitely over the years, it’s been a real honor to actually work with the people that I work with. I regularly find when I’m trying to necessarily maybe find a replacement for a project or something, and people hear about how other staff have been working was the client that we have they absolutely want to jump on board and join because it can be a fun client to work with, obviously challenging at times. But I’m finding that it’s quite easy to find resources who want to join us on project or projects. So, what I’ve done previously and continue to do with this client is being as open and upfront as possible. And then ensuring that the honesty and integrity from both sides is, something that is imperative. So, as you say, I’ve been working with them for, for well over five years now and I’ve always tried to do the absolute best that I can for them. Whether that be trying to find the best resource to work on a specific project or whether it be going back and trying to ensure that a resource that they’ve used on previous projects is going to be available for an upcoming assignment. What I’ve always found though, is when dealing with the managers that I deal with at this organization is that they will regularly reach out to me and say, I need so-and-so to join us on this project. We know that’s something that they’ve worked with previously. We’ve got a lot of… Not just rapport, but also, they are completely aware that the resource will do the best that they can. They’ve worked with a lot of the same resources on the other projects as well, because invariably people are working in teams, as you say, they’ve built a rapport, with those teams and they want, they work well together. So when I know that we’re going to have a challenge with a specific project and/or maybe a certain resource isn’t available, then we absolutely do try and find the next best person available. And we have, we’ve gone through resources. Absolutely everyone does. But then we always try and go back and find the next person who will meet those, those needs for the client. And that’s how I’ve found that they’ve realized that, you know, when they come to us that we will find them the best resources available.

Jennifer Rushton:
Richard, it really sounds like you’ve prioritized trust and integrity with your client. And I think those are really common themes across PQA and PLATO. Probably also ones that are transferable to any industry vertical or client that we serve, not just a specific client in the lottery and gaming industry or the lottery and gaming domain in general. I do wonder if there are factors in lottery and gaming that are unique from other industries. I come from the industry. So my perspective is a little bit different. I might be a little bit biased and skewed and think that, you know, lottery and gaming is good and great and very unique. But I do wonder if there are items that are really unique about testing in the lottery and gaming domain. Shawnee, from your perspective, are there items, approaches, or tools that are unique to testing in the lottery and gaming domain?

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
From my experience, the tools used within lottery and gaming aren’t necessarily unique, but there are certainly topics that I found were more important to pay attention to while testing with my current client. For example, one of the most important things that we’ve had to really, really focus on was trying to prevent the defect leakages. Which I know is important for all projects, but specifically when it comes to numbers, especially while I am working with clients and projects that are working across multiple different countries, they all use different currency formatting. So for example, in the U.S. And Canada, we may use a decimal for a dollar value. So a 1.5 would be a 1.50. Where if we were going to look at it in a German or in euros or pounds or anything like that, they usually use a comma. So for paying attention to those kinds of details are extremely important because it could make a difference between a user winning a 1.50, or they could win a $1,500,000. So making sure that those type of defects don’t leak out into production and that we’re double checking our work and making sure that we are a hundred percent precise and confident in what we are delivering I think that is one of the most unique and most important thing that I found with testing within this industry.

Jennifer Rushton:
Now, many of our listeners will be familiar with user testing or user experience testing, but what does it mean to test with a player perspective? And why does that matter in this industry? Certainly player perspective testing must be unique to lottery and gaming. Why does it matter?

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
And this is kind of on the same topic as before. So with the player’s perspective, one, you want to make sure that you’re winning the correct currency and the correct amounts that you’re betting or anything like that. But you’re also want to make sure that the player is still engaged in the game. So with playing from a player’s perspective, you want to be able to be entertained. You want to make sure that the games topics are relevant and not outdated, the animations and all of that. You just want to make sure that the players continuously being engaged. So playing with the player’s perspective, you’ll be able to pick and choose what you might think will be something as a suggestion to maybe make the game better or along those lines.

Jennifer Rushton:
Thanks, Shawnee. Richard, I know that you and I had chatted prerecording. And when, when we talked about this particular topic, there wasn’t a lot that came up, but are there areas that you’ve worked in, in the past, in terms of other domains or other types of projects where you’ve brought best practices or your experience into your current client or your current project?

Richard Bird:
So working closely with the managers we work with at this current client, we have helped to develop processes for staff to follow as well as providing the various means to track the progress or lack thereof of, of both staff and other metrics. Metrics has been very helpful. We’ve had quite a few challenges in the past to deal with and being able to quickly identify and resolve these issues has been very important in helping to mature the relationship. It absolutely helps that over the years, we’ve had a large number of staff dedicated to the client who have proven that our resources are very capable and competent.

Jennifer Rushton:
Thanks for that, Richard. For my next question, I’d love to hear from each of you one fun fact about the industry. What is one thing that you have learned since working in lottery and gaming, since testing on various projects with various clients that you’d love to share with our listeners. Shawnee, do you want to share first?

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
Sure. I actually have two things that I’ve kind of thought were fun from my experience testing in the lottery and gaming industry. One of my most favorite parts was seeing games that I grew up with, or that I was familiar with with companies in my area and being able to see the work that I’ve done in that for my location. Just knowing that I’m in a part of something that is so big, and that has been a part of my life almost my whole life has been really impactful. And it really makes me feel like I’m doing a great job in working alongside these companies. Another fun fact that I really enjoyed was I’ve actually learned some of the key word languages in different languages. So words like go, stop, play things like that. And being able to read it in German or Norwegian, Italian, French, English. So seeing them in all the different languages and seeing them over and over again had really made an impact. So now I can recognize it when I’m looking at other websites or just accidentally changed the language on my own browser when doing my online searches.

Jennifer Rushton:
Awesome. Should we launch like a spelling bee now? Should you tell us how to say go in Italian or something?

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
I can’t say it, but I can definitely recognize it.

Jennifer Rushton:
You can recognize it. That’s good enough. That sounds like a trip to Italy should be in the works

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
Fingers crossed.

Jennifer Rushton:
Richard, what about you? What’s something that you’ve learned or experienced from the industry that you’d like to share with our listeners today?

Richard Bird:
Sure. So this was interesting because I discovered pretty early on having been new to this industry was the fact that the owner of the organization, which is the provincial government slash the residence is the same as the user. So in theory, we have the same owner and end-user of all of the products that are developed by the organization. Which is kind of different from anywhere else that I’ve worked because invariably it’s going to be a software company or some sort of organization that’s developing it for an end-user who’s got nothing to do with the actual organization. That was interesting. And then knowing that it was the provincial residents who ultimately we as an organization, we being the client in this case, have to report to and ensure that the money that is being spent to develop software and various other systems is being spent wisely and not wasting their money. So that was kind of different for me. The other thing that I have that was a big challenge for me with the very first project I worked on sort of covered all of the domains of the clients. So it was a new game that was being developed that was going to go live within the casino, online desktop and online mobile, which hadn’t been done by the client before. And I was then basically thrown in at the deep end and having to learn everything about gaming, but that covered all of these various domains of the client on this one specific project. So that was kind of interesting as well as the fact that there was millions of dollars that you could win in prize money, which was nice when you were testing it. Wasn’t going into my bank account, unfortunately, but I made sure that it worked properly and that it would be able to be paid out if it was in fact won.

Jennifer Rushton:
So someone was able to benefit from it, which is great. There really is something special about seeing a project or a product that you’ve worked on or supported in one way or another come to fruition. And to actually see that out in the market. Particularly when we’re talking about provincial operators, which across Canada are investing their revenues back into the communities in which we live and work. That’s really good. Thanks for sharing Richard. On the flip side of things, there must have been challenges that you have faced during your time working in the industry. I would love to hear from either one of you Richard or Shawnee, do you have a challenge that you’ve overcome and can you share what that challenge was and what you needed to do to overcome it?

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
Absolutely. So one of the major challenges that our team had come across were time constraints. We found that there were times where we would have to have certain items completed, whether it was a top priority item or it just needed to be completed ASAP. So having to pause what you’re in the middle of working on in order to pick up those tasks can be stressful. And for some times it leaves room for errors. So sometimes you feel like you might’ve missed something because you’re trying to get them completed in the required amount of time, as well as doing it thoroughly, trying to keep in mind, quality over quantity. However, there are still end dates and end times that you have to meet. So, in order to make sure that we were testing a 100% and making sure that no defect leakages or anything were able to escape through in these specifically high priority items, we would mostly do a lot of peer review. We would ask our team members, “Hey, can you take a look at my items, take 30 minutes. Whatever time you have, just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. And if I did, please call it out as soon as possible. So I can make sure that I can get the defect logged or make sure that the client is aware of anything that I may have missed.” And majority of the time nothing was missed. And, and a lot of the times we were able to complete it without any issues. However, the rare chance that an item did come up, it gave us that advantage to continue to build that trust with the client. Say, “Hey, it looks like I did miss one thing. Do you consider this to be a high priority bug that you’d like to fix on this iteration? Or would you like to wait for something else?” And we would create that defect and then let them make that decision. But a lot of the time it went really smoothly. So I was very grateful for that, but I know with time constraints, it can create a high stress time. So when you have a good team in order to lean on when needed, I think it was very beneficial for our project.

Jennifer Rushton:
Thanks for sharing Shawnee. I cannot believe how quickly time has passed. We are coming up on the end of this podcast, but I would like to ask one final question in a future podcast, focused on the lottery and gaming industry. What should we be talking about? What’s important to the industry? What are the trends? Who should we invite in the future? Shawnee?

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne:
Yeah, from my perspective, I really think that we should be listening to what some of the users or the players have to say, or maybe even different perspectives of the development process. So look into the clients, maybe the developers who are helping us create these games. And definitely keeping up with different trends, whether there were games that had themes, logos, things like that, maybe some games that are popular out in the world right now. I don’t have anything off the top of my head for that one, but I definitely would like to hear a different perspective from the clients.

Jennifer Rushton:
Yeah. In terms of popular games, there are a lot of branded themes out there right now. I would love to dig into that a little bit. Richard, do you have any thoughts on what our next podcast should focus on?

Richard Bird:
I’d be interested to hear from various execs, how they consider things have shifted from casino-based gambling to online based gambling, how that has affected the bottom line. How that has affected the monies that they need to spend to try and improve the offering that they have online. Because obviously there’s a massive amount of money that’s been spent to develop casinos, but at the same time with COVID etc., that income has massively dropped off. How are they covering the online offering and making sure that it’ll actually improve as time goes on? That’s an area that I’d be interested in.

Jennifer Rushton:
Thanks, Richard. I want to say thank you so much to our panel for joining me for this great discussion about lottery and gaming and thank you to our listeners for tuning in. We’ve heard that relationship building in this industry as in others, is key to earning trust. And that through those relationships and trust opportunities are created. We’ve heard how our testers were able to pivot to remote delivery of testing services and not really skip a beat. We’ve really barely skimmed the surface on the lottery and gaming industry. There are so many other topics that I’d love to cover in the future. I’d like to dig into compliance, testing, and its role in the industry, how we test for responsible gaming measures. And it might be fun to even talk about what’s current and what’s next in the industry. If you had anything you’d like to add to our conversation, we’d love to hear your feedback, your comments, your questions. This is our first episode looking at software testing and the lottery and gaming industry. And I’m confident that we’ll be back to explore more on the podcast in the future. You can find us at, @PQATesting on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and on our website. You can find links to all our social media and website in the episode description. If you are enjoying our conversations about everything, software testing, please, please, please rate and review PQA panel talks on whatever platform you’re listening on. Thank you again for listening. And Mike will be back to talk to you again next month.

 

Learn more about PQA’s testing solution

PQA’s software testing experts assess and test games to ensure they are performing at their best, through quality assurance, software testing, and verification. Book a chat with our lottery and gaming team to learn more.

In her role as VP, Lottery & Gaming, Jennifer oversees the growth of our Northern Ontario operation. Applying her 20 years of experience in the lottery and gaming industry, Jennifer leads the development of our lottery and gaming industry strategy and ensures client engagement and satisfaction within that sector.​

Richard Bird is a Senior QA Manager at PQA Testing, with over 25 years of experience in software testing, test team management, project management and project implementation in various environments and industries. This experience has been gained by managing and leading software test teams in a variety of commercial, financial and local government sectors of the IT industry around the world.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/richard-bird-b9997b1b/

Shawnee Polchis-Lanteigne is an Associate QA Manager from Woodstock First Nation and is a part of the PLATO Testing Fredericton team. She started testing when she took the Indigenous Software Tester Training course in 2017 and since she then, Shawnee has been working on Agile focused projects. Shawnee enjoys speaking as an advocate for software testing careers and has spoken on multiple panels about diversity, and to different communities to inspire future testers. When she is not testing, Shawnee enjoys exploring local events, learning new art mediums, and any outdoor activities.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shawnee-polchis-lanteigne-11733512b/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/shawneebearxx

Categories: PLATO Panel Talks