Testing across the IT landscape

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Good testing is much more than confirmation of explicit requirements. It’s figuring out the implicit requirements, what blocks the business and what drives the business. Businesses are not driven by SDLC’s but by decisions and strategies. IT road maps are just a representation of the business strategy, an engine to build business solutions on. The is much more to the business than the software solutions and related risk mitigation.

Very often the biggest business risks are outside the project scope. When we look at it this way we see that testers and testing activities has an opportunity outside the classic project life cycle. Testing is about experimenting with a IT solution, to evaluate if it fits the business requests. IT solutions that supports the business exists in many forms, I am certain that explicit testing (*) can add value in other parts of the IT landscape.

Here is a model of an enterprise IT landscape consisting of business ideas, solution development, operations and end user devices + support. Solution delivery is boring in the sense of well-known software creation and maintenance. What if the item under test and the requirements are around network, servers, end-user devices and IT support tickets. I am certain that it’s valuable to test business cases before the project is even formally assembled.

 

*: implicit testing in the form of critical evaluation always happen. .. similarly does checking.

The Shift-Coach Testing Trend

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Shift-Coach is when testers and test managers trends towards being coaches and facilitators of the testing activities. Shift-Coach is more about leading the testing than leading the testers to paraphrase from @DevToTest Joe DeMeyers blog post.

The ground breaker for this trend, is to me, the talk “How I Lost My Job As a Test Manager” presented at Test Bash 2015 by Stephen Janaway. Stephen explains how reorganization of the test manager role forced him to be more a facilitator than embedded in the teams. Similarly many other great test managers talk more and more about people skills and coaching, especially in agile projects. I want to define shift-coach around the facilitation testing activities, and place testers that doubles as scrum masters in the Shift-Deliver trend.

In traditional (v-model) projects testing has often included people that were not professional testers; – in user acceptance tests this has often been business subject matter experts. The testing was done by someone with the best knowledge of the topic, and that may not have been the professional tester. That more and more projects do this – more and more, is a big challenge for many testing folks. But it is a significant trend in testing world of 2016.

Shift-Coach trend is visible when Alan Page  talks at Test Bash Philly 2016:

You’ve heard the rumors, and you’ve seen it happen. An organization or development team decides they don’t need testers, and you have big questions and massive concerns. Is quality not important anymore? Are they irresponsible or idiotic? Are their hats on too tight? Do testers still have jobs?

Alan Page is a career tester who has not only gone through the “no-tester” transition, he’s taking it head on and embracing it. Alan will share experiences, stories, strategies, and tactics (and failures) on how he’s taken everything he’s learned in over twenty years of software testing, and used those skills to have an impact on software engineering teams at Microsoft. Whether you’re going through this transition yourself, think it may be coming, or just want to tell someone what an absurd idea this is, this is the talk for you.

This trend goes along with Shift-Right, Shift-Left and Shift-Deliver discussed separately. I discussed these trend labels at Nordic Testing Days 2016 during the talk “How to Test in IT operations“ and coined the labels on the EuroStar Test Huddle forum.

legocoach

Drive the Testing – Coach!

Chicken for Christmas – Tradition is a choice

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TL;DR: Testing is always something that we choose to do – and how we test is similarly a matter of choice. As is Christmas traditions. .. it’s just man-made rules, we can choose to change them.

So I was discussing what we should have for Christmas with the stakeholders. One of them wants the traditional rice pudding, the other wants – untraditionally: chicken. And you know what – that’s ok. Traditions are guidelines, not rules – we can make new traditions, just by choosing to.

Testing in production used to be a great no-no. I’m still feeling odd when we do it, but I have come to see it as another tool of the trade. It has a name now “testing in the wild” TTitW as has been presented at EuroStar 2015. Also this is how Netflix have been testing for years, from GitHub, as it is open source too (!).

You might argue that changing testing (in the wild) is not allowed. I will challenge that assumption – being allowed to do something is a choice too. You choose to follow the the process frameworks, requirements, rules… and you can choose not to. The tradition of manual predefined testcases are so four years ago!

Sometimes it’s just a matter of saying up-front, that you are tailoring the process. So choose an approach that actually gives meaning and value to the stakeholders and context. Deconstruct the traditions and commercial bodies of knowledge and make some new!

Cost considerations for conferences

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So we have identified the conferences that fit’s our business strategy and the people we aim to meet. So let’s look at costs:

  • Cost of attendance: Usually there is training, courses or workshops available. Consider them an optional add-on, but there just might be a great opportunity to get into a detailed topic. Coaching for Testers and Scrum Master training are some great offers in it self. For the comparison below I will look for 3-day conference only.
  • Flight: In comparing GOTO and OREDEV, I have made the assumption that I was living in Berlin, Germany. To rule out the advantage that GOTO have of being in my home town. OREDEV recommends landing in Copenhagen, while for most people outside Denmark probably would prefer Aarhus Airport, where connections are required. So it depends
  • Hotel I will recommend staying in the same hotel as the speakers and the conference, not only for the ease of getting ion touch and hanging out late, but also for the simple facts of local travel costs. A hotel away from the conference will cost taxies etc, and will easily eat up the savings on the hotel bill. Still if you have a specific town in place – work the numbers to see the differences.
  • How many days? For a 3 day conference I would probably do 4 nights: one day arrival  – 3 conference days – one day going back. For longer trips definitely the travel day in the end, for shorter trips I’d leave right after the last conference talk / session. I will always insist on arriving the day before the conference to settle in.
  • Transport from and to the airport I would compare to be approximately the same in both locations.
  • Consider other local travelling Will there be a need to make trips outside the conference location?
  • Cost of meals and drinks (outside hours) are probably the same on both conferences. Still if you have an invite for a special dinner, you might want to vector this in too.
  • Missed billed hours: Going to conferences means that your company earns less money in the short run, actually it’s a sunk cost. Not only for the conference total cost, but also for the hours that you cannot bill. Consider if you can add in billable hours or shorten the trip to make up for billed hours or similar deadlines.
Oredev GOTO
Conference pass €1537 €1895
Flight SFX-CPH €50 TXL-AAR €290
Hotel, 4 nights, near Conference Comfort Hotel €391 Scandic aarhus city €246
Transport to-from airport Same Same
Meals and drinks Same Same
Transport locally Same Same
Missing billede days Same Same
Cost €1978 €2431

Disclaimer: GOTO Aarhus 2013 is sponsoring my attendance as a blogger.

Align conference selection and business strategy

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In most companies there is a budget to attend conferences, so we can work on how to apply the conference budget. But really if the company is true to the value of developing the company competences in software development and testing – you have to send people to the game changers (Lets Test, OreDev) and trend setters (Agile Testing Days, GOTO Aarhus).

EuroStar have some excellent templates for getting approval but for this exercise, let’s dig a little into the hard numbers. First up: align the conference attendance to the business goals and visions. I’ll pick some here as an example, and let me use them to compare  OreDev and GOTO. These are not as such testing conferences, but very useful as cases anyhow for these topics: 

  • Better solutions faster
  • Going mobile, Going Cloud
  • Build in Business Value

A simple little trick when browsing the conference session titles: try searching for words “value”, “business”, “agile”. As I expected Scott Barber is the only Oredev speaker with both “value” and “business” in his bio. And a search for “value” in Goto turned up nil, until I reread “ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards” :-).

But there may be other criteria – people for instance, cost and timing.

 OreDev 2013  GOTO aarhus 2013
“Better solutions faster”Testing, Agile, Process, Delivery
  • Tracking and Improving Software Quality with Sonar
  • Curiosity killed the cat, but what kills curiosity?

  • The Beauty of Minimizing Effort
  • Adopting Continuous Delivery

  • Balancing ATDD, GUI Automation and Exploratory Testing
  • Refactor your specs!

  • Symbiotic relationships between testing and analytics
  •  
 Track: When the Agile Manifesto isn’t enough (5)Track: Lean IT Enterprise (2)

  • Why Agile doesn’t scale, and what you can do about it
  • Do’s and don’ts for Distributed Scrum
  • ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards
  • JS Unit Testing Good Practices and Horrible Mistakes
 Going mobile, Going Cloudmobile, cloud
  • Track: Mobile (16)
  • Track: Cloud (10)
  •  Track modern OS: 5
  • OpenShift Primer – Cloud development has never been easier
  • Continuous Deployment and Automation on Distributed Cloud Environments
  • Windows Azure Mobile Services
  • What’s next for Mobile?
  • Developing Java Applications for the Cloud, present and future
  • Run your Java code on Cloud Foundry
 Build in business valuebusiness, value
  •  Value driven development
  • Are Agile values universal?
  • ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards


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Disclaimer: GOTO Aarhus 2013 is sponsoring my attendance as a blogger.

Who is on your conference conferring card

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Conferences are for conferring – and meeting people. Looking at the coming fall season of conferences – whom of the speakers will be on your dance card for a chat. There are two columns for each conference:

  • What speakers have you previously met, so that they know you?
  • What speakers have you had contact with on twitter & blogs, so that they know you?

The list with a good portion of wish-full thinking and pixi dust, currently at 2 confirmed participation in the below conferences.

 

 Who have your met?

 Who will you meet IRL?

 Star West,October 2013
  • Rob Sabourin
  • Paul Holland
  • Scott Barber
  • Dorothy graham
  • Johanna Rothman

  • Dawn Haynes
  • Pradeep Soundararajan

  • Griffin Jones
  • Jon Bach
  • Julie gardiner
  • Geoff hoerne
  • Lee coupland
  • Karen N Johnson
  • Alan Page
  • Michael Kelly
  • Matt heusser
  • Christin Wiedemann,
 GOTO Aarhus, October 2013Going – yearh!
  • Aino Vonge Corry
  • Shmuel Gershon

  • Karsten Telling
  • Martin Brynskov

  • Dan North
  • Mads Troels Hansen
 Agile Testing Days, October 2013Going – yearh!
  • Markus Gärtner
  • Meike Mertsch
  • Huib Schoots
  • Jean-Paul Varwijk
  • James Lyndsay
    • Dan North
  • Lisa Crispin
  • Janet Gregory

  • Peter Walen
  • Matt Heusser

  • Adam Knight
 Oredev, November 2013
  • Julian Harty
  • Michael Bolton

  • Scott barber
  • Ann-Marie Charrett
  • Michael Larsen
 EuroStar, November 2013
  • James Lyndsay
  • James Bach
  • James Christie
  • Pradeep Soundararajan
  • Michael Bolton
  • Paul Holland
  • Johan Jonasson
  • Huib Schoots
  • Johan Åtting
  • Jean-Paul Varwijk
  • Carsten Feilberg
  • Rob Lambert
  • Fiona Charles
  • Zeger van Hese
  • Morten Hougaard
  • Andy Glover
  • Paul Gerrard
  • Anne-Marie Charrett
  • Keith Klain
  • Anna Baik
  • Amy Phillips
  • Stuart Reid

Disclaimer: GOTO Aarhus 2013 is sponsoring my attendance as a blogger.

Yes, non-tech people can be testers

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Why You Should Consider Non-IT Professionals for QA Roles | Posted on 10/08/2012 | http://blog.utest.com by Jamie Saine ]

Combining traditional QA practices with non-traditional players helps companies test products from all angles. 
 Two attributes are critical for good testers regardless of academic background, which non-IT persons can develop and receive training, he pointed out. … The first is domain knowledge, …  the tester must also understand the SDLC processes or models for the app as used by their employer, such as agile, iterative or waterfall, he said.

Software testing is a skill of many skillsJesper Ottosen on the EuroStar blog ]

Business skills or domain know-how … Application skills or technical know-how … software testing itself and the skill of software testing tools … Project management or task coordination know-how … Notice that the above skill areas are very “hard” skills as compared to “soft” or personal skills. All kinds soft skills come into play in software testing for me to single out anyone. Some situations you have to be flexible, others stern. Some situations require results orientation and some situations require attention to all details. I can see the skills of all personality in play in software testing – as software testing is a skill of many skills.

Testing AND Checking]:

You apply both your left and right side of the brain – you check and test – you do tasks and seek value – you apply routinized and bespoke activities. You can use the distinction to guide you to a context-driven testing approach. 

2013-01-04 11.01.50

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