Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Cambridge Lean Coffee

This month's Lean Coffee was hosted by DisplayLink. Here's some brief, aggregated comments and questions on topics covered by the group I was in.

Are testers doing less and less testing?

  • The questioner is finding that testers today are doing more "other" activities, than he was in his early days of testing.
  • Where's the right balance between testing and other stuff?
  • What's your definition of testing?
  • I think that exploring ideas is testing.
  • I fall into a "support" role for the team; I'm the "glue" in the team, often.
  • I focus on the big picture.
  • I am thinking about what needs to be ready for the next phase, and preparing it.
  • I am thinking about information gathering and communication to stakeholders.
  • Is there a contradiction: testers are a scarce resource, but they're the ones doing "non-core" activities.
  • Perhaps it's not a contradiction? Perhaps testers are making themselves a scarce resource by doing that other stuff?
  • Doing other stuff might be OK, but you want others to take a share of it.
  • Doing some other stuff is OK, but perhaps not all of the housekeeping.
  • I want to focus on testing, not housekeeping.
  • Seniority is one of the reasons you end up doing less testing.
  • Less testing, or perhaps you have less engagement with the product?
  • I am doing more coaching of developers these days, and balancing that with exploratory testing.
  • In the absence of an expert, people expect the tester to take a task on.
  • Are developers more hesitant to take on other tasks, generally?
  • Or is the developer role just so much better defined that it's not asked of them?
  • Are you sure developers aren't doing non-development work? What about DevOps?
  • The tester contract at my work includes that testers will support others.
  • Is there a problem here? Perhaps the role is just changing to fit business needs?

How do you differentiate between a test plan and a test strategy?

  • What are they? What are the differences between them?
  • Why does it matter?
  • Plan: more detailed, acceptance criteria, specific cases, areas.
  • Strategy: high-level, test approach, useful for sharing with non-testers.
  • ... but most people don't care about this detail.
  • Do any of the participants here have required documents called Test Plan and Test Strategy on products? (Some did.)
  • Most projects have a place for strategy and tactics.
  • ... and the project context affects the division of effort that should be put into them.
  • ... and ideally the relationship between them is one of iteration.
  • Ideally artefacts are not producted once up-front and then never inspected again.
  • You might want some kind of artefact to get customer sign-off.
  • Your customer might want to see some kind of artefact at the end.
  • .... but isn't that a report of what was done, not what was planned (and probably not done)?

Can testing be beautiful?

  • When it returns stakeholder value efficiently.
  • When you've spent time testing something really well and you get no issues in production.
  • When you identify issues that no-one else would find.
  • When others think "I would never have found that!"
  • When the value added is apparent.
  • When you can demonstrate the thought process.
  • When you make other people aware of a bigger picture.
  • When you uncover an implicit customer requirement and make it explicit.
  • When you keep a lid on scope, and help to deliver value because of it.
  • OK, when is testing ugly?
  • When you miss issues and there's a bad knock-on effect.
  • When you have reams of test cases. In Excel.
  • When testing is disorganised, lacking in direction, lacking in focus, unprofessional.
  • Is beauty in the actions or the result?
  • Is beauty in the eye of the artist, or the audience?
  • Or both?

What is a tester's role in a continuous delivery pipeline?

  • When the whole pipeline is automated, where do testers fit?
  • There's an evolution in the tester skillset; the context is changing.
  • Shift left?
  • Shift in all directions!
  • Testing around and outside the pipeline.
  • Asking where the risks are.
  • Analysing production metrics.
  • Are we regressing? Isn't CD a kind of waterfall?
  • Less a line from left to right, and more a cascade flowing through gates?
  • ... perhaps, but the size of the increments is significant.


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