ConTest – a very short summary from 2013-09-05

I was asked by @TestPappy to blog about the last ConTest meetup and I will try to give a short summary on what happened. Unfortunately I had forgotten my note book and I am only left with trust in my memories from the meeting, so please if YOU were there feel free to add to the post in the comments.

If you haven’t heard about ConTest you can read about it on Sigge’s blog.

The theme this time was very broad; Planning, strategy and organisation. About thirty people showed up but only two lightning talks (of 5 minutes each) was suggested. It turned out to be enough though to cover the entire meetup.

Baldvin Gislason Bern was first to give his lightning talk about  “The rise and the fall of the test plan”. He shared his story on how he went from introducing an ISO standard inspired test plan template to getting rid of it. The test plan that he is working on to introduce in his organisation, is based on a lot of questions  to trigger the test leaders to think.

The insights he shared from this journey was:

  • Introducing the test plan template had one positive thing in the organisation. Showing the existence of software testing.
  • Introducing the test plan template was also positive triggering discussions to avoid shallow agreements.
  • The test plan was/is not a living document. This is something Baldvin wants to change with his new format. This is the fall of the test plan template. They have now reached a plateau where change is needed. Either change of the template or perhaps eliminating the test plan itself.
  • The test plan template was much appreciated by some managers who used it as a contract for allocating resources.

The open season trigger many questions and comments. Some of the discussions were about:

  • What is shallow agreements?
  • What do you mean by test plan? We had any different views of what a test plan is.
  • Who is the test plan for? If the stakeholders are not interested who is it then for?

After the break where carbs, carbs, carbs, grease and a few slices of protein were served it was time for the second lightning talk by Håkan Ramberg.

Håkan shared his experience from being a very administrative test leader. He worked in a project where he had testers in five different scrum teams. Håkan coordinated test activities, got rid of obstacles and coordinated activities with different stakeholders.

The insight he shared from his experience:

  • He prefers to be a hands-on test leader. He does not like to work as an administrative test leader
  • The test plan was some sort of a contract with the customer.
  • The set-up with one test leader, one project leader, scrum masters for each team and testers in each development team worked very well for this project.

And sorry to be honest some where by 19:30 I went in to a carb coma…

Next ConTest is honoured by James Bach’s presence. See you there!

(I will try to bring my notebook next time)


Introducing Lean Lunch at work

Lean Lunch

“What do you mean? I always have a lean lunch” was the response I got from one of the testers when introducing this new forum for meeting and discussing test related topics at work. Well I actually did have a lean meal during Lean Lunch but this is not about food…

So what is Lean Lunch?
Lean Lunch is a forum that I just started at my company. The purpose of this forum is to be able to meet and discuss testing at work in a relaxed and non-compulsory get-together.

Having this get-together with testers that works for the same company eases the discussions since we don’t need to think about confidentiality.

The concept is the same as Lean Coffee but since the get-together is during lunch I call it Lean Lunch.

How we did it
All testers were invited. Out of a group of sixteen, five turned up which was a really good number since everyone got the opportunity to talk.

1. We brought our lunch and occupied a conference room
2. We chose two topics each (max per person) and wrote them down on a post-it.
3. We then very briefly explained our topic
4. We got three points each to use to vote on the topics we wanted to discuss ( at first we had two but too many of the topics got the same amount of points)
5. We started of with the topic that had the highest number of votes
6. We did a quick recap on what the topic was about
7. We set the timer to 5 minutes and started the discussion
8. When time was up we voted whether to continue or not,  using the thumb-up or the thumb-down sign.
9. If thumbs-up then we went on another 5 minutes.
10. We then went on to the next topic if we were finished with the previous.

Then we continued until the Lean Lunch was over (after 60 minutes).

The topics
We had time to go through four different topics:

1. The difficulty of taking notes while testing.
2. Shifting between details and overview when testing
3. How much test design is needed. And what happens when you have very little time?
4. How do we handle system testing/integration testing now that both the team and our system is growing.

I will go through our discussions on the topics in another post.

Reflections over our Lean Lunch
The testers that attended enjoyed the get-together.

My personal reflections are following:

I am very happy I initiated the forum
I am happy that there were testers that came to Lean Lunch. It almost got cancelled since several of the testers that intended to join said that they hadn’t prepared any topics. I said: ” Well just bring your concerns that I know you have and write it down on a post-it. You don’t need more than that”
The group can’t be much larger than five people. It might depend on who is joining though. This was a great mix of testers with different views. There was no one dominating the discussions and everyone was let to talk.
I learned what concerns my team members.
I had to hold back several times to only listen instead of talking though I many times wanted to just talk since I get so excited when talking about test.
Note taking was difficult when eating at the same time. And sometimes talking was difficult too.
It is good to point out someone as a facilitator, to keep track on time and staying on the topic. In this case I was facilitating mostly since I was the one introducing the concept. There were a few times were the discussions drifted away in to something different and then I cut them off.