The dark art of testing in agile

***I am now back at Software Education teaching and consulting around testing and agile . I’ve just recently rewritten our Agile Testing course (ICAgile accredited) and this is my blurb on the course before I teach it on the 7th October for the first time (see http://www.SoftEd.com). Also I haven’t written anything here in a long time and being prompted by something else I sent to Lee Hawkins, I thought I would post this here as well***

Testing is like the dark arts. It hides in the shadows of projects probing silently, mocked openly and looked down with disdain by those who think they know better. But do they?

Testing was seen like this even by testing consultancies as they espoused the rhetoric that testing is simplistic, mechanical and artifact driven. The implied idea was that ‘any one can do testing’ was prominent. Fortunately two communities began to challenged these ideas. The context driven community broke the fallacies of mechanical, simplistic testing to human based, skill based, thought provoking investigations of self, product and relationships. The second community was the agile community who helped challenge the ideas of heavyweight documentation and adherence to process to one of experimentation with short feedback loops. With this came a more technical approach to testing using tools to assist (though sometimes there is an overreliance on these tools).

Our agile testing course looks to combine these two communities together by building key skills around critical thinking, using heuristics to build solid testing models and focusing on quicker feedback and leaner documentation. In turn, building these key skills then help testers to be better equipped to understand the agile context. Testing in an agile context requires quick, critical, skilled thinking and combined with some technical understanding enables testers to answer this question – How do I add value to my team today?

Our agile testing course is very hands on and experiential and looks to increase testing skills that help you become better in your role and add value. Testing is no longer in the shadows – it is front and centre and is our mission to help you to become indispensable to your team.

The question for you though is – how much better do you want to be as a tester?

My experience of the magic of StarWest 2012 – Day 2

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***Apologies for the delay in getting this out – a rather hectic end to 2012!***

Day two started off much like day one – a ton of testers milling around, talking, networking, listening to talks, taking on testing puzzles and (mostly) looking to improve their craft in someway.

For me, the highlight was delivering my talk Using agile techniques to manage testing – even on non-agile projects. The talk was scheduled to begin at 1500 hours which was plenty of time to enjoy other talks and ease my way in the event.

I got to the room early, set up and met Martin Pol who was a very gracious host.  Feeling the butterflies a little (which is a good thing) i began to run through my talk in my head, greet people as they entered the room and waited for the fireworks to start!

After the introduction, I was away…

I won’t get into the presentation per se (please email me if wish to know more) but what I did was draw on a real life project with real life examples to demonstrate how we (test team) overcame the challenges placed before us (I was the test manager on a project that used *agile techniques* even though we weren’t *agile*). The most interesting thing for me was the number of people in the audience that shared similar project pain.

Some were able take parts away from my talk and attempt to implement them in their projects, some just wanted to talk (and it is always great to talk to fellow testers about similar things) which  i think that is part of the responsibility of speakers – to help those with questions after the presentation.

I have seen some presenters at conferences leave almost immediately after their talk and thus denying further questioning, understanding and enlightenment.  Those that stay help increase their reputation as someone who is willingly to help. This is a very good attribute!

Speaking is always a buzz and i was thrilled that it went so well. One tester in the audience wrote a rather nice compliment on their evaluation form (there were a number of them)…

One of the best presentations in this conference! very inspiring and valuable. Thanks!

and from another tester…

I’ve had very little interaction with agile testing but after hearing your presentation I have a lot better understanding on how it works. Thank you very much!

And there were others like them which is always nice to hear.

After my talk i joined everyone else in the main hall and listened to Doug Hoffman give his keynote on how to Leverage your test automation ROI which i really enjoyed.

In summary, Star West 2012 as a great experience and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. IF you get the opportunity to attend a testing conference then I encourage you to do so (and meet fellow testers and increase your network and opportunity to learn) and then after you’ve been to a few, share your experiences with others – we want to hear you!

Agile @ StarWest Software Testing Conference 2012

In my experience, what makes agile so powerful is the  encouragement of rapid, effective communication to achieve, uncover and discover what is wanted, what is being built and what could be going wrong. Practices such as collaboration and co-location can be effective tools for any project regardless of whether your project is agile or not.

I will be at Star West 2012, Anaheim, California next week (1 October 2012 – 5 October 2012) and will be speaking Thursday on how I borrowed some agile practices for a non-agile project and the lessons that I learnt.

If you’re attending Star West, come a long and say hello otherwise I will blog and tweet where I can!

See http://www.sqe.com/StarWest/Concurrent/Default.aspx?Date=10/4/2012#T19

SDC 2010 – BUSINESS ANALYSIS GETS AGILE!

Following on a from two very successful conferences SDC and STANZ 2009 (in both Wellington and Sydney), SDC 2010 has been annouced with the theme – Business Analysis gets agile. This will no doubt be a fantastic conference! Start planning to attend now!

See SDC 2010 for more details!