West London Lean Coffee – 9th June

I’m the organiser of the West London Lean Coffee meetup and I thought it would be good to do some short write-ups of the events and an overview of what was discussed. Useful for those who attended and hopefully also for those who didn’t.

lc(If you are wondering what a Lean Coffee is then take a look at the Lean Coffee website to find out more).

 

Topics We Discussed At Lean Coffee

Applying Agile To Non-Software Tasks

A good discussion about how you could apply agile to HR, finance, change management, etc. It got me thinking about this TED talk about how you could use agile to plan your families tasks.

What Is The Easiest Way To Transition To Cross Functional Teams

We got talking about how you could transition teams from being discipline focused, i.e. development team, test team, etc to cross functional agile teams. There’s some good examples in this blog post and also it’s worth thinking about skills mapping as part of the exercise.

Sizing In Points Vs Time

Is it best to size in points or time? Or both? Or neither? We talked about how you might bring two teams together who size differently, why the most important thing about sizing is not the method you use, but the fact that it gets the team to think about the tasks, and how that can help drive commitment.

Topics We Didn’t Get To Talk About

  • PO = Business?
  • Does agile estimation bring value?
  • Idea to bring a good but impersonal team together.

Hope to see everyone next time. If you haven’t been before and fancy coming along then join the meetup group.

Technical Mobile Testing At The Test Masters Academy Masterclasses

Technical Mobile Testing

I’m really excited to be partnering with Richard Bradshaw, a.k.a. Friendly Tester for some Technical Mobile Testing tutorials this year. The first one will be in New York as part of the Test Masters Academy Masterclasses on 25th and 26th April.

Technical Mobile Testing

Technical Mobile Testing builds on the Mobile Testing tutorial I’ve taught over the last couple of years, and is aimed at those who want to go deeper into mobile testing and get more technically focused.

If you have found yourself testing on mobile recently, you have probably considered or tried introducing some automation or tools into your testing efforts. You are probably thinking along the lines of, how can I make this easier? But it can appear a daunting task; there are so many frameworks and so many tools out there, so where do you start? In the tutorial we will try and help you answer that question.

What The Tutorial Covers

In this tutorial you will pick up useful hints and tips, learnt from within the industry. We plan to cover the following areas over the two days.

  • The Mobile Market and How It Affects Testing.
  • Why Get More Technical and How To Start.
  • Using Chrome Developer Tools and Safari Web Inspector to test mobile websites
  • Utilising XCode / iOS Simulator.
  • Android Virtual Devices, Emulators and Genymotion.
  • Getting the most out of Android Debug Bridge (ADB).
  • How to utilise proxying when testing mobile.
  • Recording your testing from the device.
  • Using GUI automation frameworks available.
  • Creating some GUI automated checks using Appium.

We’ll look at how to use simulators and emulators, simulate networks, fake locations and a whole lot more. You’ll pick-up tips on how to use the developer tools and SDKs, build apps, deploy apps to devices and view and change the network requests that apps make.

If you come along then you’ll leave with the knowledge needed to get far more technical with mobile and a great toolbox of hints and tips and hand-ons experience.

Coming Along? – What To Bring

We’ll be using the common SDK’s for iOS and Android so you’ll need to install XCode and Android Studio, and have Chrome and Safari installed. We’ll help you with the setup and get you started.

And bring devices. Lots of devices 🙂

Stay For The Conference

Test Masters Academy have a great line-up of both tutorials but they  also have a one day conference on 27th April. Have a look at the line-up – there’s some really interesting stuff on the program.

Hope to see you there.

State Of Testing Survey 2016

Update: The survey is now live. I’ve just completed it, hope you will too.

The guys over at QA Intelligence and Tea Time with Testers are running The State of Testing Survey 2016 again this year.

A survey which allows us to get a wider view of our profession and our community can only be a good thing in my book. It can help us understand our joint challenges far better, and to set the future direction. I’ll be a part of the survey and I hope you will be too.

The survey is not currently open but it will be soon. You can find out more information at the QA Intelligence blog.

Note: I’m not affiliated with the survey or those running it, I think the survey is a good idea so I’m supporting it.

Talking About Testing

Have you ever said “I’ll just have a play with the software….”?

As testers we are generally really bad at explaining what we do and the value it brings. In fact we are usually pretty rubbish.

This makes stakeholders take us less seriously, and can affect career prospects, position within the team, or even a job itself. Outsourcing what is perceived to be low skilled work is tempting, especially when times get tough.

We then complain that we are not being taken seriously, and we feel ignored, undervalued and sad.

And so we retreat into our bubbles and the whole thing repeats itself.

So How Can We Change This?

We can get better at explaining what we do and the value we bring as testers.

Keith Klain sums it up nicely here

What is Testing?

“Testing is the infinite process of comparing the invisible to the ambiguous so as to avoid the unthinkable happening to the anonymous”

James Bach

A great definition but not one that lands well with non-testers in my experience. It’s like when myself and Dan Ashby tried to get a company to stop saying ‘manual testing’ and instead say ‘sapient testing’. It made perfect sense but it just didn’t land. People didn’t see it as important. They didn’t see a need to change because we were trying to take a leap that was too large, from what they thought was correct language to what we thought was correct language.

When I’m explaining testing I prefer to start by asking “Do you care about quality?” The usual answer is “of course”, in which case I can then use the Weinberg/ Bach/ Bolton definition:

“Quality is value, to some person who matters”

“So what’s testing then?” they will ask.

Well.  “Testing helps us uncover risks to product quality. It’s about investigating software, in order to discover those risks, enabling others to make decisions about whether it’s suitable for release”.

We Need to Talk More Technically

But that is hard. Just see how complicated it is to explain the Heuristic Test Strategy Model in two minutes for example.

(OK – I know the whole point with this video is that it is impossible, which proves a point I think :))

What Value Do We Bring?

When explaining value, it’s all about the words we use, and the angle we take. It’s about the audience – don’t explain testing to a developer in the same way as you would to the CTO.

Again, Keith Klain nails it with this talk.

So, think very carefully about how you explain your testing. Perhaps, just perhaps, ‘playing with the software’ isn’t what you mean.

So – how do you talk about testing?

A Christmas Retro

Ho, ho. ho, Merry Christmas!

At this time of year it’s a great opportunity to sit down with a team and reflect on the year that has been, and to look forward to the year to come. And being Christmas then it’s also a great opportunity to look a bit silly, dress up in Christmas hats and jumpers and have a  bit of fun.

With that in mind, I decided to organise a Christmas retro for the team I’m working in. We are responsible for a brand new product  which launched this year, so we’ve had a very busy, very exciting and very experimental year. Getting the team together to reflect on that year was very important.

The Idea For a Christmas Retro

My first step was to look round for inspiration for Christmas themed retros. Had anything like this ever been attempted before? Fortunately I was in luck, both Em Campbell-Pretty and David Manske have both written about a great way to run a retro at Christmas, based upon the Dicken’s book ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Em’s blog article, where she applied the technique to a large group was my first inspiration, and then I stumbled upon David’s article as well, which helped to add some more details, and was helpful for the smaller (15 people) group that I work with.

Basically speaking, the idea is that you base the retro around the ideas of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come. In A Christmas Carol, the main character, Scrooge, is visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve who show him how Christmas was, how it is presently for others who rely upon him. and how Christmas will be, were he to continue on his current path. It’s a great book and I’d definitely recommend reading it. Or, watch A Muppet’s Christmas Carol. It’s great 🙂

present

Adapting It For a Retro

Since the Muppets theme seemed to be a fun way of introducing the idea of the Christmas Carol retro format then I went with that. The team love Muppets.

Adapting the story to use in the retro was pretty straight-forward and heavily based on Em and David’s ideas. In order to get the team thinking about everything that had happened throughout the year then myself and our Product Owner prepared a set of posters, one per month of the year and then pinned them up on the wall of the room where the retro was to be held. It was pretty amazing to look back at everything that the team had achieved throughout the year. We focused on delivered work; features, numbers of tickets, etc, and then interspersed this with press cuttings from the year that mentioned our products, team details and fun stuff, such as number of Percy Pigs sweets eaten, etc. Which is important to this team, believe me 🙂

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We also bought lots of Christmas hats, food and even a Father Christmas beard for yours truly, then invited the team into the room to start the retro.

Christmas Past

past

For Christmas past we got the team to look back at the year and then think about whether there was anything that they regretted or wish had gone differently. They wrote these on post-it notes and kept them to themselves.

Christmas Present

present2

Next I explained the idea of Christmas Present, and encouraged the team to think about what had gone well throughout the year, what had made them feel good, and who in the team they would like to thank for helped with particular pieces of work. Again, they wrote these on post-its.

Christmas Yet To Come

yettocome

The third piece, Christmas Yet To Come, was about the hopes for the next year, What did they want for the team, themselves and our product? The idea was to get them thinking about future priorities and to work on putting together a short list of what we, as a team, think is important for the future.

How It Went

So the stage was set, people were wearing silly hats and eating Christmas food. More importantly they could also see how much we had achieved throughout the year, and they were thinking about how we could work in the future.

The Grinch

grinch_by_crazymic-d6yvfkp

Once everyone had written down their thoughts on Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come I introduced a fourth category, The Grinch. This was an idea that David explains in his blog post and the intention was to get them thinking about what could happen to us, as a team, that could threaten next Christmas. Essentially  it was about identifying project and team risk. So everyone also had a think about that and wrote down their ideas.

The Retro

We then went through Christmas Past, Present and Future, and The Grinch in turn.

For Christmas Past everyone was expecting to come and pin up their post-its, rather like a usual retro. But instead, being Christmas, it was time to let go of regrets and so I encouraged everyone to tear up their post-its and throw them away. When I was planning the retro I wasn’t sure how people would react this – would they view this as a waste of their time in writing the regrets down in the first place? It turned out they didn’t – after much hilarity with people throwing post-it’s at each other, the feedback was good, with some people saying that the idea of throwing away regrets rather than sharing them, was the best part of the retro.

For Christmas Present and Future everyone came up in turn and discussed what they had written on their post-it’s. People thanked each other for work that they had helped on. We talked through trends and actions that could be taken from what had been discussed. This gave everyone a great view on where we are as a team and where we want to be going.

For The Grinch we talked through the risks that everyone saw, and how we could deal with these in the next year.

From all of this we were, as a team, able to decide on what was important to us going forward; with actions that were both product focused, and also team focused, such as organising more social events and sharing the responsibility for doing so.

Merry Christmas

We finished by thanking the team for what they had done and explained how they should all be very proud of what they had achieved throughout the year. Then it was time to go off on our team Christmas event offsite.

Overall I think that this retro format works very well. By combining something seasonal, fun and focused, it made looking back on a whole year much easier and more exciting than a more traditional retro format would have done. The format engaged people and made it easier to share experiences.

And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like wearing silly hats and Christmas jumpers once in a while? 🙂

A Mobile Testing Cheatsheet from EuroSTAR 2015

I was lucky enough to be at EuroSTAR 2015 last week. As well as presenting my experiences and thoughts about the future of Test Management, I also spent most of my Wednesday in the rather excellent Test Lab.

We found lots of bugs in the DrinkedIn app during the Mobile Testing sessions that I ran. The first session was for beginners and to help us along I prepared a mini cheatsheet for mobile testing, listing some popular mnemonics and heuristics to use. I thought everyone might find it useful – so here it is.

Mobile Testing Cheatsheet – Stephen Janaway

Comments, suggestions, etc are most welcome.

Teaching Mobile Testing in the EuroSTAR 2015 Test Lab

I was lucky enough to be at EuroSTAR 2015 last week. As well as presenting my experiences and thoughts about the future of Test Management, I also spent most of my Wednesday in the rather excellent Test Lab.

testlab4

If you go to EuroSTAR, or any other conference for that matter, and you don’t take the opportunity to do some testing, and talk and learn from people whilst doing so then I think you’d be really missing out. The Test Lab is a great place where you can just hang out with other testers, speakers and guru’s. It makes everyone really accessible. You can learn a lot.

testlab1

You can also get extremely frustrated trying to figure out the various black box machines, other testing challenges and even how you might go about firing a rocket from a tank.

testlab5

I did a couple of Mobile Testing sessions, the first for beginners and then the second one as a mob testing effort. We found lots of bugs – our app of choice for the testing was DrinkedIn (the drinkers LinkedIn – check, it’s a real thing and available for both Android and iOS :)).

testlab2

I had great fun teaching, and I hope those who came along to my sessions went away knowing a bit more about mobile testing. If you are at EuroSTAR next year then be sure to get along to the Test Lab. Hopefully I’ll see you there.

 

Live From SoftTest – Transforming Business Users Into Test Drivers

A really interesting presentation and case study from Claire Goss.

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Using real users is a really important change that’s happening in testing in general, and it’s great to see where it’s worked.

Here’s my mindmap: Transforming Business Users Into Test Drivers

There’s some close links to a presentation I saw from Katrina Clokie at Nordic Testing Days so it’s worth looking at that too.

Mobile and e-commerce technical leadership, coaching, training and presenting