The WeTest Weekend Workshop rises to the challenge

explore-assurity 9 December 2013 Katrina Clokie

As one of the organisers of the first WeTest Weekend Workshops conference, I was nervous and excited as the last Saturday of November fast approached.

Aaron Hodder and I had done a lot of planning to ensure the event ran smoothly, but it all felt very unreal until people started to actually arrive. It was a relief to welcome the 54 testers prepared to give up their Saturday afternoon to talk testing. Our theme for the event was ‘Challenge and Change’.

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Katrina at registration (Photo by @AWGHodder)

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Aaron opening the conference (Photo by @craigmckirdy)

The conference included three parallel tracks that each ran four 50-minute sessions. In the first session, I facilitated for Rupert Burton who spoke on Automation. Rupert shared his experiences with test data and shared his pros and cons of hard-coded data versus a set retrieved by database queries. The following discussion covered:

  • How we use production-like data responsibly in our testing

  • How we can test using system-generated databases

  • Techniques for mocking data

  • Whether automation gives you more time to test or ties you down

  • Where bugs are found by automation

In the second session of the day, I facilitated for Oliver Erlewein who bravely stepped in as a last-minute replacement to speak on organisational change. Oliver spoke of his experiences in implementing change at a large organisation and shared his insights into why his attempt ultimately failed. The discussion that followed covered:

  • The differences between change instigated top-down vs. bottom-up

  • How to influence change outside of testing practice

  • The differences in influence between a separate testing team and an embedded tester

  • How testers are seen as interchangeable, rather than skilled professionals

  • The difference between evangelists and stakeholders

After a short afternoon break, the third session kicked off. In my final facilitation role of the day, I enjoyed listening to Craig McKirdy speak about his journey in testing. He talked about his education path from a traditional testing environment to an awareness of different practices. He cited Brian Osman and James Bach as key members of the context-driven testing community who inspired him to become passionate about his craft. The following discussion covered:

  • Training vs. certification

  • How we teach our junior testers

  • How we influence the certification syllabus

I was free to enjoy the fourth and final session of the day as a participant. Anna Marshall spoke on her varied role as a test manager. She discussing the challenges of knowing exactly what a test management role entailed, her previous experience including line management, process improvement, resource scheduling, training, forming strategies and attendance at many meetings! The discussion that followed covered:

  • How the market sees a test manager

  • How to responsibly communicate metrics as a test manager

  • Whether it was possible to shield a team too much

  • The conflict between each responsibility within the role

The day finished with short and eloquent closing remarks by Aaron, followed by pizza and drinks for all participants.

A big thank you to Assurity for supporting a growing community of thinking testers and providing great t-shirts for all attendees.

To join our events in 2014, sign up for WeTest Workshops.

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