Category Archives: Testing

I’m Speaking at EuroSTARonline – 16th September

Some exciting news – I’m going to be presenting a webinar at the EuroSTARonline Software Testing Summit on 16th September. The virtual, online, conference is free to attend and there’s some great speakers. You should sign-up. You really should :)

I’m presenting a talk about “The Current State of Mobile Testing” and answering questions afterwards.

I’m interested to know what people are most interested in knowing about. Have you just moved into mobile testing and want to know the basics, or are you a more experience tester who wants some detailed information about a particular area of mobile?

Are you starting to use, or already using, automation for mobile?

Are you testing phones, tablets, set-top boxes, smart watches or Google Glass applications?

If you want to play a part in helping to define what I talk about, and hopefully learn something that will really benefit you, then get in touch.

 

Episode 7 of Testing In The Pub Is Now Available

Episode 7 of the software testing podcast that I record with Dan Ashby is now available. In this episode we talk about the idea of ‘schools of testing’ and compare and contrast approaches such as those from the ISTQB and context-driven communities.

You can download it from the site, via RSS or it’ll shortly be in iTunes as usual.

The End Of The Road For Test Managers?

I’ve been reading a lot about test management recently. There’s some excellent posts out there, in particular I’d recommend you look at this one from Katrina Clokie, explaining the changes that are required for test management to remain relevant in the world of Agile software development and continuous delivery.

She also links some other articles which I would definitely recommend you read, if you are interested in the subject.

My Interest

So why am I interested? Well for starter I’m a Test Manager. Over the last couple of years I have seen my role change, from one of leading a separate, large test department, to one of managing testers across a number of project teams. It’s about to change again.

I’ve seen the challenges being a Test Manager in an Agile environment brings, in particular the difficulty in remaining relevant in the eyes of product and development managers, and the challenges of understanding enough about multiple areas in order to be able to support your team members. Being a Test Manager in a Agile environment can be isolating at times, particularly when the department is big, and the number of agile teams is large. It requires an ability to balance a lot of information, priorities, and tasks, across a number of areas. Stakeholder management and influence become key. Context switching comes as standard. Often it’s not much fun.

Through discussions with others, and looking at my own situation, I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that the new ‘Agile Test Manager’ positions that Test Managers are moving/ falling into just don’t fit with the ways that teams want to work anymore. The team is more important than the manager, and, for example, choosing to keep discipline based management because it means testers are managed by testing ‘experts’ isn’t enough to justify it. Managers are not able to effectively support their people if they do not have the time and energy to keep fully in the loop with the team. As Test Managers get split across multiple teams, (primarily because having one Test Manager per Agile team is massive waste),  then it becomes nearly impossible.

Continuous Delivery

Moving to Continuous Delivery complicates matters further. Giving a team complete autonomy to design, build and release it’s own code is an extremely motivating way of working. Do Test Managers fit in with this ? I’m not sure they do. Where independence and autonomy are key, management from someone from outside of the team just doesn’t fit, particularly when that management is only part-time.

Change Is Coming

So how do we change? Do Test Managers merely become people managers, desperately trying to understand what their people, spread across multiple teams, are up to? Are they there to help manage testing but not people?? What about the coaching and mentoring, the sharing of knowledge and expertise, and the personal development of testers?

As I see it I think we’re going to see a lot more of this sort of setup:

  • Engineering Managers, who line manage an entire team. They understand the people best because they work with them day-to-day. No need for handovers, no need for performance feedback requests to other managers at review time, and no need to waste time and effort with coordination. Engineering Managers manage the whole delivery process and people involved. They may have come from a background of expertise is a particular discipline, but now they need to be able to represent all. But crucially they are focused on the management of a team who own a particular product or component and so share a single focus with their team.
  • Test Project Managers, who manage larger testing projects/ programme’s and dedicated testing phases such as UAT and customer acceptance. No people to manage, just deliverables. This role is very dependant on the nature of the software/ hardware solution being delivered. It’s most likely not needed in a lot of companies.
  • Test Coaches, who help organisations deliver the optimum testing possible. This means through coaching, mentoring, advising and working with engineering managers and whole teams in order to help them optimise their testing effort. Similar to James Bach’s idea of Test Jumpers, but with more focus on providing advice, guidance and strategy. In smaller companies they are much more likely to be exactly like the idea of Test Jumpers. Call them Test Jumpers, Test Managers, Heads of Testing or whatever, but the key point is that they are test experts who have the mandate to support testers in multiple teams but do not manage them. They can assist with recruitment and personal development if required, but are not a particular person’s official manager, and may get involved more with recruitment and personal development process, rather than people.

What Next?

The dedicated Test Manager, who manages testers and testing is not a role I can see continuing for too much longer. It is a hangover from the past, when large, dedicated test teams needed management, and it simply does not fit with how a lot of teams work anymore.

But, and this is a big but, I work in web, web services and mobile. I’ve seen the push for Agile and the push for Continuous Delivery because it fits the nature of the projects and technology used in these areas. Team’s are lean and projects are short. Almost certainly this makes me biased.

I would be interested to know what you think. Do you think the traditional Test Management role is reaching the end of the road?  Or is it alive and well, and relevant in the area that you work? Why not leave a comment below and get the conversation started.

Live From Nordic Testing Days – Day 2

I’m back at day 2 of Nordic Testing Days. I’ll be around until lunchtime so expect mind maps and photos from this mornings sessions here.

I am now in Raji Bhamidipati’s note taking workshop. It was a good session.

First up, Anto Veldre, talking about Software Errors As The Founding Pillars Of Modern Society. Wow, he had a lot of slides! I caught bits and pieces in this mind map but it’s by no means the whole story.

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Great party last night and a more muted start :)

Live from Nordic Testing Days – Day 1

I’m here in Tallinn for Nordic Testing Days. I will be blogging and posting mind maps here throughout the day.

Last up, Pete Walen and Matt Heusser, talking about complete testing. This one is much more Q&A based so no mind map I am afraid. You need to be here. We have sweets :)

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Gitte Ottosen is talking about Pragmatic Testing. You can find my mind map here.

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I talked about Testing Your Emotions. You can find my slides here.

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Interesting session on Drawing To Learn from Ruud Cox. My mind map is here.

Next up Beautiful Builds with Roy Osherove. My mind map of his session is here.

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First up, Testing In The Automation Age from Jevgeni Kabanov. Here is my mind map.

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Check back for more later.

Forthcoming Speaking Engagements

I’ll be speaking at a number of conferences in June. It would be great to catch-up with you if you’re there.

Testing Your Emotions

Thursday 5th June – Nordic Testing Days – Tallinn, Estonia

In this talk I intend to explore the situations that projects teams typically encounter and how these impact the emotions that everyone in the team faces. I will explore typical dimensional models of emotion such as those proposed by Robert Plutchik and Hugo Lövheim and use these, and others, to help explain how we can better understand the emotions that we face, and the emotions that we raise in others.

More details here.

Best practices in managing QA testing for the multi-device nightmare

Wednesday 18th June – Enterprise Apps World – London

  • How many devices do you need to test from?
  • How effective is the emulator as a substitute or support to testing on actual devices?
  • How do you balance the functional, compatibility and performance testing requirements across devices?
  • Determining the severity of bugs– How to go about analysing the number of devices affected, the device configurations and ultimately the user base affected.
  • Consideration of issue resolution strategies post launch.

More details here. 

Testing As An Activity

Next Generation Testing Conference – Thursday 26th June – London

Recently I’ve started to come to the belief that we can solve a lot of our problems if we just start to think differently about testing. Instead of thinking about software testing only as a distinct discipline, we should to start to think about it as an activity. After all, testing is just that, an activity. It’s something we do. Something we’d love others to do more. James Bach likes to define software testing as a performance, and what is a performance without some activity to perform?

In this presentation I will explain why we should start to think of testing as an activity, what the benefits are that this could bring, and discuss how teams can work in a more efficient and cross-functional way as a result.

More details here.

Live From The Romanian Testing Conference

I’m speaking at the Romanian Testing Conference today and I’ll make it along to as many sessions as I can. Check back for my mind maps throughout the day.

Next up, Rene Tuinhout talking about “Passionate Dating for Testers”. My mind map is here.

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After lunch I gave my talk on “Mobile Testing, That’s Just A Smaller Screen, Right?”. Obviously there’s no mind map from me for that one. Here are my slides.

The session before lunch – “Continuous Integration for Mobile Test Automation”. Here’s the mind map.

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Next up, “A Healthy Approach To Test Automation”. Here is my mind map.

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First up, Tony Bruce, with “What Testers Do”. My mind map is here.

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Live from Pipeline

I’m at the Pipeline continuous delivery conference today. I’ll try and mindmap as many sessions as possible and post updates here. Scroll down to see the earlier sessions.

It’s All About the People

Last up – Tomas Riha, talking about why its All About the People. A good presentation about moving to Continuous Delivery at VGT. My mind map is here.

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Big Ideas, Small Company, Moderate Heresy

Next up, Big Ideas, Small Company, Moderate Heresy from Alex Wilson and Benji Weber from Unruly. A very interesting presentation on their approach, particularly their synchronous processes. My mind map is here.

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Ship It!

Next up is Phil Wills from The Guardian, talking about “Ship It!”.

Here’s my mind map.

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The Rational for Continuous Delivery

First up, The Rational for Continuous Delivery from Dave Farley.

Here is my mind map.

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