Category Archives: Presenting

My Experiences of WeTest 2016

tl:dr;

I really loved being a part of WeTest 2016. I gave the opening keynote at both conferences, as well as a couple of other talks at sponsor events. If you came to any of them then this post contains some useful links you may want to read. It was great to meet so many engaged and knowledgeable testers in New Zealand.

The Opening

I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to travel over to New Zealand and talk at the WeTest 2016 conferences in Auckland and Wellington. I mentioned my conference speaking goal as part of my presentation at both events – this was that one day someone would invite me to speak in New Zealand. And Katrina Clokie, on behalf of WeTest did just that earlier in the year. It didn’t take long for me to agree to be a part of the conference and being offered the opening keynote was a real privilege.

Now there is one thing that’s clear and that is that it is a long way to New Zealand (28 hours to be precise from the UK). So I wanted to ensure that I made the most out of my short time there and to give a presentation that fitted in with the conference theme of “Influence and Inspire”. Given that I have made a move out of a pure test role over the last few years then this seemed like a logical theme for the presentation, and an opportunity for me to give my views, gained from outside of testing, on how testing is perceived. I also wanted to show the audiences that there’s important leadership roles within testing to be taken and made the most of.

Preparation and Arrival For WeTest

I can say without a doubt that WeTest was the best organised conference that I have spoken at and it’s testament to the effort put in by Katrina, Aaron, Shirley and Dan. All too often presenters at conferences aren’t treated brilliantly by organisers – either by having a lack of support leading up to the event, being expected to pay their own way or by needing to foot the bill for travel and accommodation then claim back. WeTest was different – they organised and paid for all travel up front and sent detailed itineraries for each speaker, plans on how the conference rooms were to be setup, as well as ensuring that the simple things like a taxi to pick you up off a long haul flight was pre-arranged. It made the whole experience easy and it made us speakers feel valued. Other conferences should take note.

A really appreciated gift at checkin. WeTest was a great example of how to run a conference
A really appreciated gift from the organisers, handed out at hotel check in. WeTest was a great example of how to run a conference.

Up and Away?

My presentation focused on my views of testing from outside of just testing and how I made a move into software management and why. It was part of a clearly well thought out programme and the other presentations, whether focused on more technical aspects such as mobile testing, or other leadership presentation, fitted together really well. You can see the programme here to get a feel.

Great sketch notes of my presentation from Yvonne Tse
Great sketch notes of my presentation from Yvonne Tse

Highlights

People arriving for WeTest in Auckland
People arriving for WeTest in Auckland

I thought all the presentations were good but a particular highlight for me was Adam Howard’s “Exploratory Testing Live” where Adam took the really brave step of doing live exploratory testing on the Trade Me website in front of a conference audience. Fair to say it went a bit better in Wellington than Auckland, where he found a bug early on that blocked a lot of the rest of the session but he coped really well and there was value in both sessions. We don’t see enough live testing at testing conferences, it’s common to get live coding at development ones but hasn’t seemed to catch on. Based upon Adam’s session then it should.

Also I really enjoyed Joshua Raine’s really personal story about “Conservation of Spoons” which he did as a noslides presentation. Deeply personal at times and spell binding. I won’t give you the details because I’m sure he’ll do this one again and to know the story would spoil it.

A New Approach to Q&A

As part of my presentation I thought I’d try out the new Q&A feature in Google Slides. It turned out that this was a good move because it enabled me to get questions from the audience as I talked and also to keep a record of all of them for later. If you speak at conferences I’d really recommend it.

For those of you who attended then here’s the questions asked, my responses, and a little more information.

What do you most miss about your testing focused roles?

I guess I miss being the expert with the safety of many years of experience of testing. I also make sure I keep connected to the testing community because it’s great and if I didn’t then that would be the biggest thing that I’d miss.

It’s hard to find a balance between adapting and burning out when trying keep up with new trends and technologies. Do you have suggestions on how to manage that balance?

I make sure I do one thing well; that together with Jerry Weinberg’s Lump Law – “If we want to learn anything, we mustn’t try to learn everything” help me to maintain a balance. Trying to find the one thing to focus on is sometimes hard, but by discussing with your stakeholders and your team then you can usually come to find out what is the most important.

Do you have any resources/suggestions for learning to speak ‘Dev’?

There’s not one clear answer to this – it depends on your context, languages and architecture that you are dealing with. When I started then I tended to use google a lot and base my searches on discussions I’d had with the dev’s in my team. I’d also ask them what they thought I should be learning and why. I’ve also found sites like Hacker News and Stack Overflow to be great for keeping up with what’s happening. Talking Code also comes recommended.

Was your career path in the same company or different? Would you suggest to change companies or progress in one?

It was in the same company and I think it’s much easier to make a change from one path to another when you are in the same company. You have that reputation to use and you are a known quantity. It’s also likely that you’d been working towards such a change as part of your personal development anyway so the company will be confident in your plans.

Since we are talking about change, at any given point during those career changes did you resist the change? How did you over come that? Were you specifically looking for change?

I talked about how it can be scary to make changes but trying something new for 6 months is key. You need to understand that you will go through a change curve just like anyone else and things will feel extremely uncertain as a result at the beginning. I knew what to expect since I’ve been through other changes.

In this case I wasn’t specifically looking for change, more for an opportunity.

Thank you for the nice talk If you had to recommend doing ONE PRACTICAL exercise to raise awareness with the team that WE ALL own quality – what would it be?

I like the idea of whole team testing and bug bashes are a great way of starting.

What do you think testing will be like in 10 years time?

I think we’ll see less traditional testing roles and the focus on automated checking will become more of a development activity. This may mean that there are less testing roles in total but good, exploratory, coaching testers will always have a place in teams. I think the biggest change will affect Test Managers, with far less of a need for them and a transition to coaching roles.

How do you avoid being typecast as just being a tester and overlooked for other career opportunities?

Show that you have an interest to others in your company. Work with your manager to map out your path to a new role and start to show that you are learning the skills that will be required in order to be successful at it.

In short – you own the responsibility for your own career.

A lot of people in this company are transitioning from Waterfall to Agile. Some of the people in the room might gain from you talking to how you see that transition working from the experience you bring, especially if they’re concerned about career development and management.

It does depend a lot on how the management structure adapts. In agile transitions that I have been a part of we’ve changed to autonomous, cross-functional teams with single managers, who have been supported by coaches for both agile, testing and development. This support network is key, as is the establishment of discipline based communities. A strong testing community for example, allows testers whose roles are changing to adapt.

I’ve spoken before about the effect of removing Test Managers from an organisation and the biggest takeaway for me was the need for a strong support network for testers afterwards.

Support from coaches allows not only testers to be supported but also means that someone with testing experience becomes responsible for establishing career paths, competency expectations, etc that can then be used by other managers who are not experienced in managing testers. It also helps maintain a ‘voice of testing’ towards senior management and to enable activities that help testers grow within an organisation.

And Repeat…

Parimala Hariprasad is full flow!
Parimala Hariprasad in full flow!

The first conference was in Auckland and we repeated the experience again in Wellington three days afterwards. This meant that the whole WeTest circus upped sticks and set off for Wellington for a repeat performance. I also did an “Understand Your Mobile Users” presentation at a sponsor the night before, plus the same WeTest presentation at a sponsors internal conference the day afterwards. Four presentations in one week was something new to me and actually pretty interesting to do as I got into the speed of things. It almost felt like being in a band on tour 🙂

Closing Thoughts

WeTest was great. I met some great people and learnt some new things. It was extremely well run by a passionate bunch of volunteers who knew how to treat their speakers well and how to organise a great programme for the conferences. The testing community in New Zealand is really engaged and it’s clear that there’s some really forward looking testers pushing the boundaries here. If you get yourself over to New Zealand then I’d certainly recommend it. It’s not that far. Really 🙂

TestBash – The Friendly Conference

It’s taken a while to write this. Not because I don’t have a head full of new ideas from TestBash but simply because it’s taken time to digest everything, put everything into a sensible order in my head, and come to come conclusions about the day.

If you hate long blog post then just read this bit 🙂

The Condensed Version

TestBash is great. It’s one of the friendliest conferences I’ve been to – people talk to each other, most people are really engaged in what they do, and it’s really easy to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger about something that you’ve seen or experienced. You should go if you haven’t already. Plus they video everything (and hopefully it’ll be online here soon).

The Long Version

Still here? Then read on….

I was lucky this year – I had the opportunity to speak again. Last time, in 2013, I was petrified. This time I’d spoken at a few more conferences and so I was altogether more calm and collected. From a personal point of view, one of the main reasons this was great was that it meant I focused more on the presentations that were on before mine. In 2013 I couldn’t tell you much about any of them. This time more of them went into my head 🙂

As usual I tried to write some mindmaps as the presentations took place. One great thing about TestBash is that there is only one track – and this means no difficult decisions about who to see, or annoying clashes. And from a presenters point of view it means you know how many people you will present to, i.e. everyone 🙂

So, here goes, my take on the day and what I saw.

Lean Coffee

If you come to TestBash and you don’t get up early and go to the Lean Coffee then you are really missing out. In fact more this time, there was also bacon 🙂 I love Lean Coffee, it’s a great way for people to get together and talk about what interests the group. We had some great discussion on a variety of testing topics and the whole event was really well attended this year, with lots of tables full of happy testers.

Then it was time to head on into the main auditorium for a day of talks.

 The Rapid Software Testing Guide to What You Meant To Say – Michael Bolton

I started off trying to mindmap Michael’s presentation and then remembered why I don’t try and write mindmaps for Michael’s presentations 🙂 There’s so much information that it’s much better to sit back, watch, and then wait for slides or videos afterwards. In this presentation Michael took us through a whole bunch of statements on testing and software development, then dissected them, put them into Rapid Software Testing context, then reassembled them to show what should have been said. There was some great stuff in there – watch the video from the TestBash website when it is available. If you want to see a very small mindmap then here it is 🙂

What you meant to say

Bug Detection – Iain McCowatt

Iain always gives a good presentation and in this one he took us through bug detection, from the perspective of tacit and explicit knowledge, the work of Harry Collins, and Dual Process Theory. Click on the thumbnail to get a full sized mindmap.

Bug detection

 

Re-running the ‘Are you a mac or a PC? battle … for iOS and Android – Sally Goble & Jon Hare-Winton

Sally and Jon from The Guardian took us through an entertaining presentation about the differences between iOS and Android, and how The Guardian approach mobile testing as a result. There were some interesting points in the presentation, and I really liked the gameification in the presentation as well, even if it did end up as a draw 🙂 Given more time then it would have been great to have seen some more detailed mobile testing information, but it was a fun presentation nonetheless.

Click on the thumbnail to get a full sized mindmap.

Mobile testing

 

What’s In a Name? Experimenting With Testing Job Titles – Martin Hynie

I’d not met Martin before TestBash but got talking to him at the tester meetup the night before. His presentation was fascinating and explained how he had experimented with job titles and the effect that it had on how testing and testers were perceived. The results he presented were really interesting and certainly made me think more about what job titles and names really mean. I’m sure we’d all like to think that being called testers is great and people will always accept the value we know we bring, but perhaps that is not always the case.

I didn’t mindmap Martin’s presentation. It was before mine 🙂

Why I Lost My Job As a Test Manager and What I Learnt As a Result – Stephen Janaway

I spoke about my experiences of losing my job as a Test Manager. and shared my experiences of going through the transition. Being someone who now works in an organisation where there are no Test Managers meant that I was able to give my take on the future of Test Management, a future that I think does not, and probably will not, include the Test Management role in the way that it does today. I spoke about the changes that the organisation made in order to keep a focus on testing; things like test communities, a coaching role, and mentoring.

No mindmap obviously. I was busy 🙂 If you’d like to see the presentation then there will be a video on the TestBash website but why not come and see it live? I’ll be presenting a longer version at both Nordic Testing Days and EuroSTAR this year.

Myths and Legends of Software Testing – Vernon Richards

The legend that is TesterFromLeicester confronted some of the myths that we all experience as part of testing. With added tutu gags. Vernon gave us some great ways of confronting common myths and challenging those who share them. Watch the video – it’s great.

Quality doesn’t belong with the tester! – Maaret Pyhäjärvi

Maaret gave a really interesting presentation on how she has tested in a team with one tester. She gave some great hints and tips, and explained how her approach changed as a sole tester, and how the developers also approached quality as a result.

Getting Rid of Release Candidate Testing – Matthew Heusser

Matt’s presentation really interested me because we’d gone through the same transition in the past year and so I’d seen the arguments for and against. Primarily it was the testers who were more concerned about getting rid of release testing, and so it was interesting to see Matt’s take. I also liked his presentation style, using no prepared slides but drawing them on a iPad as he went. Really unique and it worked.

Click on the mindmap to get a larger version.

Getting rid of release testing

Automation in Testing – Richard Bradshaw

Richard took us all through his experiences in automation. I found it really interesting that he had first tried to ‘automate everything’ before understanding more about the differences between checking and testing, and how automation should be used to add value to software testing, not ‘be’ software testing. I didn’t get the chance to mindmap Richards presentation so take a look at the video when it’s available.

The Art of Asking Questions – Karen Johnson

We finished up the presentations with Karen, who sat on the stage and quietly and confidently gave us some great advice. She explained about how to ask questions, gave us a lot of really useful reading material, and explained in lots of details why asking questions in the right way is so important. You can find her slides on Slideshare and I’d really recommend reading them and following the links.

And the Rest

The 99 second talks were really great as usual. A real mix of topics, delivery styles and delivery. If you haven’t presented before then 99 second talks are a great way to get started and seeing so many new people up there and speaking was good to see.

Overall I love TestBash. It’s a conference that is so friendly. There’s lots of social events, it’s single track which means everyone sees the same presentations, and the lunch really helps to get people together. If you went this year then you’ll know how good it was. If you didn’t then why not? You should go next year. You won’t be disappointed.

You reached the bottom. Here’s your ‘prize’. TestBash makes people feel like this sometimes.

testbash

EuroSTAR 2014 – Day 2

This is the second part of my review of EuroSTAR 2014. Check here for day 1.

Day 2

Day 2 started with Isabel Evans giving her experiences of a change project that went wrong. There was a lot of things to learn from here experiences but the main thing I took away was “it’s alway about the people”. People are the main factor in software development and the main factor in change. Understanding them if the key to effective change.

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Here’s my notes from her session.

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Next up I saw Michael Bolton give a very interesting and interactive session called ‘Every Tester Has a Price: Sources of Product and Project Information’. In it we went through different information sources and produced a large and detailed mindmap. I captured some of it below:

IMG_20141203_084802

Note – it’s not complete and I need to get the rest of it from Michael.

Following Michael’s session I caught Kristoffer Nordström’s session on Gameification. This was a great personal account of how Kristoffer introduced gameification to a project he was working on, and what the results were. Certainly something that I’d like to see if I can use where I work.

IMG_20141203_084813

My final session of the morning was another case study, this time from James Christie. James gave a very detailed and interesting study of a project he worked on for the UK government, whose primary goal seemed to be for the project not to appear in the UK news/ satire magazine Private Eye. While the project did not fail, (the programme it was part of did), it placed a great strain on the people involved and certainly was not the sort of project James would want to be involved with again. There were some clear lessons to learn, hopefully captured in my notes below.

IMG_20141203_084824

After lunch it was my turn to talk about “Understanding Your Mobile User”. I was lucky, I had a good audience and they asked some great questions. IMG_20141126_130709

I spoke about ways you could understand mobile users, and why understanding the user is so important when mobile testing.

The final keynote of the day was from Julian Harty, who spoke about ‘Software Talk: Are We Listening’. Julian gave us some hints and tips on how we can listen to software, through analytics for example.

What happened next was a little bizarre. A guy from Smartbear got up on the stage and sang a song about testing, to the tune (and inspired by the lyrics) of Frozen, the Disney kids film. Not my cup of tea but some people enjoyed it I guess.

IMG_20141126_170317Then it was time for the Gala party – a great night at Croke Park, home of the GAA.

Note: Updated 11th Dec as a result of James’ comment below.

 

London Tester Gathering Workshops 2014 – Mobile Software Testing

Later this week it’s the London Tester Gathering Workshops. I attended this event last year and it was great. There was a brilliant variety of workshops, and a lot of great testers to talk to. Very recommended.

The Workshop

This year I am giving a workshop on Mobile Software Testing. It’s on Thursday 16th Oct and I have four hours in which to give an intro to mobile, and give the attendees the opportunity to try out some common mobile tools.

The workshop will focus on giving you a basic overview of mobile testing but then will focus on you discovering how to test mobile websites and applications using the tools below. It’s not a lecture and I won’t give you all the answers, but I hope we’ll have some fun along the way as we discover more about mobile testing.

What You Should Bring

If you are coming along then it’d be great if you brought with you:

  • A laptop with:
    • The latest stable build of Chrome on it.
    • VirtualBox.
    • The Genymotion Android emulator.
    • At least one device image (I’d suggest the Samsung Galaxy S5).
  • As many mobile devices as you have.

If you haven’t got the Genymotion emulator then I will bring along a standalone version that can be installed for Mac or PC from a USB stick. But if you have already downloaded it then that would make things much smoother and you’ll have more time to use it.

There will also be a bit of a competition at the end so have a think about what application or website you might like to test. You’ll be able to choose anything you want 🙂

Hope to see you there.

I’m At Mobile App Europe – Day 2

So it’s day 2. I’ll be blogging as much as I can, scroll down for the earlier sessions.

Dr Cheahan So talking about Why We Are Wrong When We Think We Are Right.

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Next up – Peter Varhol, who is talking about Mobile Apps and the Role of Load Testing. Here’s my mindmap.

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Stefan Gwihs and Philipp Strelka talked about the use of emulators and simulators in mobile testing.

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Some interesting stuff, particularly about how a test approach should not be purely UI driven. My mindmap is here.

First the keynote. Unfortunately Daniel Knott couldn’t make it  – fortunately he put his slides up on slideshare.

Everything is not lost 🙂 – we have a new keynote – Mobile App Quality at Paypal.

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I’m At Mobile App Europe – Day 1

I’m at the Mobile App Europe conference in Potsdam.

This morning I gave my presentation ‘Mobile Testing, That’s Just a Smaller Screen, Right?’ – you can get the slides on slideshare.

I’m here for the rest of the conference and I’ll try and mindmap a few sessions.

Martin Wrigley is now talking about ‘Effective QA – Is It Really Necessary?’ Hint, yes it is 🙂

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This afternoon I spent some time in Bill Matthew’s Security Testing Workshop. I mindmapped his slides.

Next Up – Christian Kaar from Runtastic with 10 Ingredients to Rock the App Store with Your App. Here’s my mindmap.

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The first one is ‘All Together Now – Apps for the Next Platform: Making Watches, Wearables and Web Work’ which was presented by Lars Kamp. A very interesting and informative presentation about wearables.

London Tester Gathering Workshops 2014

The London Tester Gathering Workshops 2014 are nearly here. Last year I had a great time at the event – it had a really inclusive feel and I learnt a lot from the sessions that I attended.

My review is here, if you want to read about how good it was last year 🙂

This year I’m running one of the workshops. It will be about Testing Mobile Software, and promises to be a lot of fun (I hope).

Want to take part in a hands-on workshop and get an overview of mobile testing? Stephen Janaway will explain some of the common mistakes that are made when starting to test mobile, and will give you the opportunity to put into practice what you learn straight away.

We are increasingly moving towards mobile devices to fulfil our day-to-day computing needs. More smartphones are sold than PCs but many people are unclear on what changes to test strategies are needed when working with mobile.

We’ll spend a majority of the session testing a mobile application across a variety of platforms, and reporting the results in real time to the rest of the group. All you need to bring along is an open mind and as many mobile devices as you can get your hands-on.

Tickets are currently a bargainous £250+VAT until 19th September, and for that you get two full days of workshops, covering everything from mobile to automation, exploratory testing to creative thinking. Well worth it.

What are you waiting for? Sign up 🙂

Interviewed for Computer Weekly

I was recently interviewed for Computer Weekly, about the test strategy at Net-a-Porter, and my forthcoming talk at the Next Generation Testing Conference. It was an interesting experience and not one that I have done before.

I spoke about why I believe that Testing As An Activity is important, and why we should all test. The old axiom that “Testers Test and Programmers Code” is so outdated now and everyone needs to change. Testers are the testing experts in a team, and can help enable the whole team to own quality but they are certainly not the only one’s who should be testing.

You can read the interview itself over on the Computer Weekly site, and you can find the slides from the presentation at the Next Generation Testing conference over on Slideshare.

Speaking At Mobile App Europe – Discounts

I’m going to be speaking at the first Mobile App Europe conference, which is on 28th September – 1st October in Potsdam, Germany. My presentation will be about mobile software testing and I’m part of what looks like a great conference, with keynotes from Jonathan Kohl, Dr. Chaehan So, Jesse Freeman, Stefan Bielau and Christian Kaar.  There’s also lots of other excellent looking talks and learning opportunities on offer.

I’m really looking forward to it.

The early bird pricing ends in two weeks time and I also have a speaker discount which will get you another 10% off the ticket price. Let me know if you’d like it and I’ll share it with you.

Interviewed For the uTest Testing Blog

I was interviewed recently for the uTest blog. I’ll be speaking about ‘Testing As An Activity’ at the forthcoming Next Generation Testing Conference, and so they asked me some questions about the topic, as well as some more general one’s about my thoughts on testing and how I started in the industry.

Worth a read I reckon, (I am biased of course). You can find the uTest blog post on their site.

More details on the Next Generation Testing Conference are on their site.