I finished the Assurity Graduate Programme in January this year, so my evolution as a test professional this year can be summarised into three major themes – exposing myself to new ideas, improving on what I already know and challenging myself.
As a first time attendee at the Assurity-sponsored WeTestWW2014 on 29 November, it seemed fitting that the theme was ‘Evolve’ and the sessions I selected paralleled my experiences as a first-year test analyst.
Exposing myself to new ideas
As a tester currently working in a non-Agile environment, Sean Cresswell’s workshop on ‘Teaching non-Agile testers to open the kimono’ provided an insight into life on an Agile team. The analogy of the layers of fabric folded beneath a kimono was used to describe the ‘load’ of work that Agile teams can carry without being noticeable from the outside. By encouraging testers to ‘open up the kimono’ – essentially breaking down tasks further and visually representing these on the taskboard – an individual can communicate their workload in a clear and concise manner. The transparency of this approach enables the whole team to ‘share the load’, thus improving a team’s effectiveness.
Following this, I attended Chris Rolls’ ‘Using combinatorial methods in the real world’. Testers are often asked for coverage metrics that do not necessarily provide the most useful information. The use of readily available combinatorial analysis tools can help us provide good, pragmatic coverage by using different input combinations. However, Chris stressed that combinatorial methods are only as good as the tester who’s using them – well-defined attributes and good data creation often require business and technical knowledge.
Improving on what I already know
While I use Excel every day, I would certainly not call myself an expert. So Merridy Marshall’s ‘Data manipulation tips for testers’ was a perfect third session. Here, I was given the opportunity to practise my data comparison skills and picked up a few new tricks in conditional formatting and the creation of pivot tables. These tips have already proven to be useful on client site between the time of the workshop and now.
As a former accountant, the transition from the comfort of numbers to the unpredictable and exciting world of testing has been a challenge in itself. So to find myself co-presenting the last session with Joanna Yip after only 10 months of testing experience felt incredibly daunting. Our talk, ‘Venturing into unchartered territory’, summarised how we became ‘accidental testers’, our experiences to date and what makes us passionate about testing. Our session concluded with an engaging discussion with other test professionals who openly shared their tips and their best and worst testing moments. I left feeling encouraged and inspired by other passionate testers within the community.
Evolutionary theory often uses the term ‘survival of the fittest’. I strongly believe that, as within the rest of the IT industry, testers have to adapt to our changing environments to survive. WeTest Weekend Workshops allow for the sharing of ideas by local professionals on how we can continuously improve our craft. From a personal perspective, I was not only challenging myself by sharing my experiences, but, more importantly, I was challenged by others through their ideas and approaches to testing.
Bring on WeTest Weekend Workshops 2015, I say!