Reflections on the Next Generation Testing Conference 2014

By The App Business under News, Agile, Engineering 14 July 2014

Two weeks after the Next Generation Testing Conference 2014 (26th June), and I’ve finally found a couple of minutes to reflect on what was a very busy day full of knowledge sharing and networking with people from the testing community. As a tester myself, it was a great opportunity to attend and explore the headlining topic, Testing as an Activity, with notable speakers and topic gurus.

The UNICOM conference opened with Dave Snowden on The Internet of Things. His talk offered a really interesting approach: drawing on ecology and evolution, Dave explained the idea that we’re on the verge of an IT revolution. At TAB, we believe software is ‘eating the world’, so the viewpoint rang true. He explained how exaptation - a term meaning ‘repurpose’ - was the cause of that evolution, and how that concept was relevant to IT structures.

I also enjoyed Stephen Janaway’s well-considered presentation on Testing as an Activity. Here, he presented the idea that the Quality Assurance (QA) of a product is the responsibility of the whole team and not just the test engineers – a belief that’s very familiar to us within testing and wider development teams. He discussed how collaboration between the developers and testers produce better products, and the ways he encourages the test team to drive collaborative QA.

But perhaps the speaker I was most keen to hear was Dan North, having enjoyed his blog and case studies. He presented Testing as a Cultural Norm, which was an impromptu talk referencing both Dave Snowden and Stephen Janaway’s delivery. He spoke about approaches to testing and a key learning was the idea that testing should focus on impact, in order to minimise likelihood. Based on the context, this arguably lowers the impact and also lowers the likelihood by building in safety nets as you go. In his talk, he also reiterated that testers should pair with developers, stakeholders and product owners to build quality products.

After the many interesting talks, it was time for the panel discussion. Having so many ‘topic gurus’ with areas of specialist interest and expertise made for a lively Q&A session. After a brief introduction by all panellists – including our QA Manager, Christina – the floor was opened for questions. It was interesting to see the varied level of discussion and how each panelist approached the topics, including how to get more involved in Automated testing, and how to prioritise testing in complex projects.

Overall, the conference made an excellent forum for debate. The key insights that I took away were that testing as an activity is crucially collaborative, where testers have to drive the QA process across the project. With the changes facing IT an important imperative, testers should also be able to de-risk projects by doing an impact-likelihood analysis. The case studies provided valuable insight on how to improve the quality of products and projects. All in all, it was a day well spent!