Quality Collaboration: FCV goes to TestBash New York

November 14, 2015

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TestBash is one of the premier testing conferences in the world, bringing testers together from all walks of the Quality Assurance community. Founded by Ministry of Testing in Brighton, England, the UK's best testing conference is now in its fifth year, and for 2015, made its US debut in New York. Held over two days at two different locations, the event covered a variety of topics to help empower testers with the information they need to become better testers and ultimately, to ensure that the products they help test are of the highest quality. We were there to learn more about what we can do to make life better for all of our customers by putting quality first.

Quality isn't the responsibility of testers alone

One of the key takeaways from TestBash NY is that quality isn't improved by testing alone but within decisions made during the development process. Testers and developers working alone in isolation is not as constructive as working together to help improve quality. "Strong Style Pairing" is a concept that speakers Maaret Pyhajarvi & Llewellyn Falco talked about during their presentation, "Tales from Developer Tester Collaboration." Strong Style Pairing occurs when developers and testers pair together to help de-bug code. Llewellyn's pairing method helps both parties to decrease the amount of defects found during project development and also helps to create a bond between teams. Llewellyn's basic premise is this: "For an idea to go from your head to the computer it must go through someone else's hands." He summarized, "It's about getting the best (not the most) out of everyone. It's easy to be complacent when you work by yourself." 

Another key point was that we also need to think about the long-term investment of a project and not just the current task at hand: "Farming will allow you to eat next year, hunting will only allow you to eat today." With developers and testers working together, quality is improved as we help establish long-term investments and learn from each other.  

At FCV, we’re always looking for ways to improve our cross-team collaboration and bring value to our clients and their users. As users’ needs change and websites become more capable, we think it’s important to remind ourselves to stay vigilant and keep collaboration a priority.

Make the most out of testing

The guest speakers at TestBash NY had many great suggestions to help improve all aspects of Quality Assurance. Automation testing is a simple concept. It allows a tester to run automated test scripts that execute a set of repetitive steps that would otherwise take a longer amount of time to execute manually. Automation testing is typically thought of as "the ultimate solution" for testers but a tester needs to make a judgement call as to which tasks need to be tested manually and which tasks need to be automated. Speaker Tanya Kravtsov: "Sometimes we automate something that doesn't need to be automated." This time could be better used for other important types of testing, such as exploratory testing - to which Tanya also raised the point: "Only humans should do exploratory testing." Kate Falanga backed up this point with her statement: "Free up a human to do what a human does best and let a machine do what it does best."

Another key point of Tanya's was: "Any improvements made anywhere besides the bottleneck are an illusion". Automation testing needs to focus on higher-priority tasks and on bottlenecks, not on numerous smaller tasks. A tester shouldn't spend a lot of time writing automated test scripts for less important tasks: "Automation should be maintenance free," backing up the principle that a tester's free time can be used for more useful tests.

How testers can improve their craft

The speakers at TestBash NY mentioned many ways that testers can help improve their skills. Kate Falanga stated that certifications and standards are important but not to rest on your laurels as it's more important to demonstrate and actually know what you're talking about by having real-world experience with testing. She also made an important point that all testers should live by, that there's a difference between testing and just "checking" -  don't be a "checker" and "don't write bugs without thinking." Testers could be more pro-active by learning the developer's code so that they have a better understanding of the project and that can help come up with a better approach for testing. 

Speaker Keith Klain stated that testers need to stop and continually ask themselves why they're testing the way they're testing. "Can we do it or should we do it" and "refocus why you're doing things regularly" are examples of questions that testers should ask themselves. 

Our takeaway from TestBash New York

Being adaptable by choosing the best testing method for each testing task is essential for all testers to learn to better their craft. Collaborating with other team members is another technique that helps improve quality as a whole and helps build relationships. These key takeaways from TestBash New York are yet another way of how we continue to make life better at FCV.

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