Eurostar Conference 2011

Eurostar conference is one of the biggest testing events in Europe and it was my pleasure to attend it this year and it has been my first conference ever.

After a quite long journey (no direct flights from Czech Republic) I finally arrived to Manchester at Sunday noon. I went for some sightseeing but to be honest Manchester did not impressed me at all.

I will not go into details but after each short day summary I am going to place some ideas which I consider to be interesting. I am challenging you to think about them.

„Think about“ points are usually quotes from speakers I have wrote down.

Conference Day – #1

First day, each attendee chose one of six available full day tutorials. My favorite one became  “Using business stories” provided by Paul Gerrard. And it was a perfect choice.

The first few hours dealt with explaining what business stories were and how to write them in order to capture real business needs.
After lunch we played some games and we finally came to the point how to use business stories to test requirements. When stories are well defined following a pattern “As a <role>, I want <goal/desire> so that <benefit>“ then it is pretty easy to test whether the requirements are correct, without conflicts etc.

Tutorial was about business stories but there was also second idea which accompanied whole conference – “What is the future of testing?”. I hope that each participant feels what the future will be and how he or she can contribute to it.

Think about

  • Changes in our business demand a re-think of when testing fits in systems projects.
  • Testers are assurance we are producing good quality software. That is not about finding bugs, it is about preventing them.
  • TDD has nothing to do with testing, it is a design process technique.
  • Developing without Unit testing is like when children need diapers.
  • How many Project Managers understand what Test Managers do?
  • How many business people are interested in testing?
  • Business story is a trigger for conversation.
  • Do not think about users, they are to abstract. Focus on personas.

Conference Day – #2

Second day was split into two parts: A half-day tutorial in the morning was followed by speeches.

Tutorial – Management Issues in Test Automation

Do you know that automation is great but you do not know how to convince your manager or developers about it? Or do you have no clear idea about how to measure ROI of automation? This tutorial substantially enlightened me possible answers on above mentioned questions.

People

  • Automation needs technical skills. Indeed it is closer to development. That is the why we have to consider resources carefully.
  • Be aware that a lot of testers do not want to be automators.

Automation mission

  • Frees testers from repeated boring tests execution to spend more time in test design and exploratory
  • It is not about finding more bugs – it should bring bigger confidence in system and allow us to sleep better.

Pilot project

  • Choose a pilot project to start with automation
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Start from easy positive tests
  • Define rules and standards
  • Be aware of the fact that to make it real will represent a bigger challenge
  • Pilot will not be ideal. Consider it more as a playground.

Real life

  • Failure analysis takes a lot of time → Context has to be a part of failure log
  • Maintenance represents the biggest time consumer → Keep everything what can be changed at one place and reuse it.
  • Choose carefully between sensitive and specific tests.
  • Classify tests

ROI and measures

  • Choose a small set of metrics which help you and others to understand the progress
  • EMTE – Equivalent Manual Test Effort – how many runs have positive ROI
  • Effort to create a new automated test
  • Effort to maintenance
  • Effort to analyze failure

Think about

  • Automated chaos is only faster chaos
  • Automated Functional Testing is not correct term. Automated Functional Validation is better
  • No error does not mean it passed

Keynote – Testing Is Death

Second part of conference started after lunch containing many speeches but I will focus only on the most interesting ones (at least from my point of view).

It is obvious that time of old testing phase by the end of project is over. The software development is shifting towards Agile and sometimes it looks like we (testers) do not care.
What does it mean to be agile for tester? Isn`t it a big change? We have iterations, developers providing us with builds in regular basis and more often, we are testing more often… No. This looks like small waterfalls.

Everybody used to have testers as their own safety nets. They do not care about quality too much because they have confidence that if they miss something we will find it (or we should). We made  them lazy – it is our fault.

Agile tester

  • Perform critical testing
  • Understand how the system should be tested and shared with the others
  • Validate business assumption
  • Visualize quality
  • Walk a mile in user`s boots
  • Teach yourself to read the code and to recognize the buggy one

Think about

  • Testing in the end get squeezed because it has no value
  • Testing itself does not bring any quality. It is only measure

Conference Day #3 and #4

Last two days consisted of a collection of many talks and few keynotes. I am not going to describe speech by speech but I will divide these days to some logical blocks.

Prevention before cure

  • Developers are allergic to sentence “Your software has bugs.” That is why the expected answer is “We knooooow!!!!”
  • When I was pissed off because of too many bugs in one concrete software my son asked me “Daddy, what part of this whole system did you make?”, “Oh, shit…”
  • Stop finding bugs and be proud of it – it is your fold to – you allowed developers to write it this way.
  • Identify you by a product not by a role
  • Value of testing lies in activities, not in artifacts
  • Enable others to test and to be focused on quality

Communication

  • Get to know your customer as personas. Spend some time with them following their daily piece of cake
  • Virtual testing – play process games with stakeholders
  • Remove all added communication barriers between development team and stakeholders
  • Make sure everybody in your team understands how the system will be used
  • Visualize things to make them clear
  • Be honest to everybody. If there are problems, let everybody experience them
  • Increase transparency
  • Be sure you are familiar with basics of others jobs
  • Standups are more about listening than about speaking

Power the people

  • Frustration is a good motivator for change but you can easily miss the timing
  • Heavy process kills relationships
  • Happiness is also a quality measure
  • Link people or community with concrete actions or ideas. Let them feel it is their child
  • Test managers should test. Lead by example

Think about

  • Finding bugs became annoying
  • 80% today is better than 100% tomorrow
  • One team, one task board
  • Ban to use other best practices. Make your own set of good ones
  • When you should produce detailed test cases? Only when you are going to offshore your testing
  • Testing certification is like when you mum said you that you are handsome

Summary

It was an amazing experience. Perfect speakers and great networking opportunities. To met with a lot of colleagues and to learn from each other is what I consider to be the most valuable about the conference. We are a community. It is great to know that we are not alone and the most of us are facing the same challenges. I suppose together we can face them more easily and we can succeeded in transforming us to become a valuable part of each agile team where everybody knows how to contribute to build a high quality software.

Thanks to everybody and see you next year.