The season change is almost here …

Another week just started and it is the last week of TMACL2020. The temperature is dropping here. Looks like it’s time for the season to change?

It is hard to believe we are already in the last week of the conference. How is it possible? The time is running so fast and I feel like we just started and now it is almost over. I am curious to see what this week holds for me and jump-start with the first day.

Monday, August 17th

The new week hold the session  “Transforming with Scaled Agile and Importance of Test Leadership” by Ali Khalid 

My key takeaways from Ali’s session are – 

Transformation = End User value

Servant leadership is a journey, not a concept. Practice it. It is necessary to build autonomy and mastery in every team during the agile transformation. All engineers should be able to perform the role of a tester.

Test architect Roles and Responsibilities:

Ali mentioned that technical training on test automation starts with teaching testing skills.

Even if you have a crystal clear vision, your journey will be unexpected. Don’t over plan, iterate. The self-autonomous team needs input from experts- on technical thought leadership and guidance. Get one, even for part-time. 

Later on the day, there was a session “Let there be light in your Performance Tests, Invade the Darkness” by Christina Thalayasingam .

Christina mentioned the goal of performance testing is to basically assess.

  • Reliability: How often
  • Stability: How long
  • Speed: How fast
  • Scalability: How much

Some tips from Christina – 

  • Assess production readiness
  • Evaluate against performance criteria
  • Compare performance characteristics of multiple systems or system configuration
  • Find the source of performance problems/bottlenecks
  • Support system tuning and detect memory leaks
  • Provide reporting regarding performance against expectations.

Starting performance testing you should ask these questions to yourself and your team:

  • How many loads can an application web system handle without exhausting or breaking the system?
  • Is the application stable or scalable?
  • What are the response times of the transactions under a load?
  • What is the client-side behaviour/ response times under load?
  • Can applications hardware handle the expected load?

Set the Groundwork and straighten up the existing test process and follow the performance testing process:

See if it is feasible to conduct the tests:

Before starting a strategy, make sure current testing tools/framework support on the application. This can be identified by doing a POC. This is not required or mandatory if the performance test framework is in place already.

To start POC

  • Start direct communication with the application team
  • Get the exact requirement
  • Select a complex and to end workflow (scenario) that need to be tested
  • Get a complete understanding of the scenario from the team
  • Get access to the test environment
  • Start the POC

Identifying the performance test requirements means to understand the business priority, application, the application environment, workload model, expected performance SLAs/SLOs and the growth pattern.

When we have answered all the questions we can look into the performance test scope.

Christina shared some tips if the application is already in the production:

  1. Get the most highly consumed business scenarios/services
  2. For a performance Test Plan, you need performance tests types that need to be performed and a performance test approach and the test execution plan for each item. 
  3. Identify the risk and decide performance test entry criteria and exit criteria

When you have done all of this you can start scripting. Christina mentioned not to forget to conduct tests with/without background noise. Trial/ Dry Run is important to make sure that the rest of the test is successful.

For performance test execution planning and test execution, it is important what we plan, the performance test execution time slots are important and so is to communicate it to the application team and the other teams who use that environment.

Get the confirmation from all the teams prior to performance test execution. Before kicking off the test please send a notification.

Christina shared the following performance metrics we need to collect in the process.

And then analyse and report and think of the other checks that you should add. e.g. client-side profiling, with load testing, component-level performance and endurance testing also as continuous sprint level testing.

An interesting session to end the day with, before the next day starts… 

Tuesday, August 18th

With “Growing a Culture of Quality” by Simon Prior another great session was held. 

Simion started an experience report with; “This works for me – it might not work for you.” What a great way to start a presentation! He suggested starting the quality of life narrative with misconceptions around testing and QA e.g. Simon said “The measure of whether the software meets the explicit and implicit needs of the customer and their ability to use it successfully.” 

I can’t reflect enough on the notes I took from Simon’s session. Check out my notes yourself –

A shared cross-team focuses on delivering high-quality software that meets the user’s needs is the highest priority, and all our practices support this, is cultural quality.

What makes your narrative?

  • The Quality narrative is how quality is measured and perceived in your company
  • Understanding what it is and what you want it to be is the first step towards building the right culture
  • Who owns quality?
  • How is testing done?
  • What value does it provide?

Defending our utopian narrative – 

How do you want testing to be perceived? Can you identify tangible ways for value to be visible and is quality is seen at the level it needs to be?

Before changing the quality mindset in your organisation, define where you are now?  Where do you want to be? Be clear on it and then you can define how to come from 1 to 2!

You might ask yourself now, but how do we get there?

A great team starts with the leader- All starts with YOU!

Does the team believe in you, are you showing your passion and can they buy into your values? Simon shared his testing values he uses to get the team believing in what they want to achieve and it helps them to move forward.

EMPOWER – create a “safe to fail” environment for your team. Give them the confidence to speak up and talk about “testing” and give them the opportunity to show their passion.

Celebrate all successes no matter how small.

Once the team feels empowered, engage and inspire them by organising an internal community of practice. For example, you can invite engaging speakers from outside of the business, share blogs and online material for the team to learn. Learn by example, be active in the external communities and work as a great example.

Find every opportunity to speak about quality. Raise the awareness of what the team is doing and show what the team could do if given the chance. Find your allies and search out the voices within other teams who get what you are trying to achieve and convince them they will advocate for you within the wider business. The more people who believe in your message, the better it stands of being heard.

Speak the language of the business and find a way to articulate the importance of quality. Get quality/testing in earlier discussions and show the value of good quality to the end product.

How to make test process improvement visibly:

  • Collaborate in ideas to improve the process
  • Show business how they will help improve quality
  • Ensure everyone understands the value of measuring quality.

Get feedback and review – regularly ask for feedback from the wider business, send pulse surveys to key people and work through and improve on suggestions. Show that you take it seriously and work on it.

Keep going, because difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. Be ready for a journey. Continuously improving the process will be key, there will be rocky patches and culture doesn’t have a definitive end.

My key takeaway from this session:

  • Set the quality of narrative and vision.
  • Engage the team and get them focussed on the vision for quality.
  • Share, the vision and passion with the wider business
  • Build, relationships outside the test team and find allies who can help raise awareness
  • Drive, process improvements which are quality focussed and moving the org closer to the vision.
  • Iterate and reflect to reach success.

“From Manual to Humanual Testing” by Kirk Walton and Josh Brenneman from TapQA started the session asking us a few questions to come to know a little more about our backgrounds before they started their session.

One of the questions everyone was curious about was, what was humanual testing?

It is a collection of user-centric testing techniques, application of an empathetic mindset, founded on principles of design thinking and evolution of thoughts. It is not a model with a prescribed process, a stage of testing or a nice to have, you know if there is time, because there is never time. It is too important to ignore. 

Manual testing needs empathy in analytical skills because you can’t automate these steps.

“The human is more important than technology so you have to make technology more human” We need to make this product right, qualitative high end and to analyse where we want to go  We need user motivation and user frustration that helps enhance more empathy with users when building test coverage. 

Three humanual testing techniques:

  • Using Personas – it is nothing new in testing but still something that works. Here Josh shared an example which can help you to create your own specific personas for your daily basis. Also if you want to know more about using personas and creating them you can find more information in the late sessions I reported before in my reports here by Joshua Russell in and Jennifer Bonine

  • User-Centric reporting – Keeping the end-user in mind and asking yourself what you are observing, and how will it affect your user?
  • Using guided ideation – “How might we” works well for testers to brainstorm on test coverage and risks.

What do we need for our daily testing?

Humanual testing and design thinking, attributes of design thinking, Empathy – Is so important. Many people forget what you said but never how you made them feel.

How can this relate to how you make them feel, how the webpage made them feel? Non-judgmental mindset, holistic, constructive and collaborative thinking is the key.

Design thinking mindset

My key takeaways –

In our daily work with humanual testing we – 

EmpathiseDefine– using effective techniques creating opportunity statements. Putting a sentence into combining the role and challenge – Ideate – The best way to have a good idea is having a lot of ideas. Questioning also what could be a bad idea and – Prototype – Design thinking has a deep relation to Concept for what is for? Don’t be afraid to fail. – Test – Get positive and negative feedback. Try something else if the first idea is not working.

Wednesday, August 19th

Today’s session “Leading the New Generation of Software Testing” by Mike Lyles was highly recommended by many participants on twitter and I was sure I did not want to miss it.

From Mike’s session –

Mike on what defines a good leader –  A good leader is listening, has a high level of understanding, uses his empathy, knows his people inside and out, is constantly coaching, mentoring and guiding. A good leader is transparent and inspires and motivates his people.

Mike on the values of great leaders – He gives his service to others by assisting and inspiring the team and helping them to grow. Evaluate the skills of the team and take chances on those with high potential.

Virtues of bad leaders – 

  • Micromanagement
  • Threatened
  • Does not share information
  • Plays favourite/favouritism 
  • Unclear
  • Cares about who is right
  • Fails on commitment
  • Thinks “they work for me”
  • Fails to delegate
  • Rejects change

“Bad leaders care about who is right. Good leaders care about what is right.” – Simon Sinek

A great leader uses the 4 magic words, what do you think?

Giving and accepting feedback, honestly, holds the team accountable for continuous training and education with open door policy. Trust – without trust you will spend lots of time trying to regain it and if you lose it, it may never come back.

“The best leaders know when it’s time to be big and when it’s time to be small and let others step up” by Liz Wiseman

Some more words of wisdom by Mike –

Protect your team and know what motivates your team. Constructive criticism is imminent, but remember, praise in public and criticize in private. They will respect you for doing this.

DWYSYWD means Do what you said you would do. To whom are you committed, what time. It is a simple process to follow.

Never say “they work for me”.  Say they work with me instead to build confidence in and with your team and make them feel part of the team. Be consistent/dependable, the team knows that you are guiding them to success.

Mike shared the eight steps for leading (testers)

  1. First things first – Check if your team is in sync, do they speak the same language and do they follow the same goal of success? Find out what they believe.
  2. Education – Great teams are never satisfied, tech the schools of testing and encourage community engagement.
  3. Play well with others – Coaches want their team to win – but fairly. Let your team see your engagement with others and place them in the same situation. 
  4. A fool with a tool is still a fool – Digital Age has increased the dependency on electronics like calculators, smartphones, e-books. With any tool, understand the needs and the process first.
  5. Send them to camp – Camp allows social interaction collaboration, send your team to conferences and training and encourage collaboration with the community. Focus on the quality of training, which is needed for your team.
  6. Nothing fails like success – What works today, may not be good enough for tomorrow. 
  7. Share with the whole family – Team interaction is so critical, encourage teams to share with peers and stakeholders to become a collaborative organisation. Agile is dependent on Partnership, stakeholders need to understand the value to foster a culture of quality.
  8. Find what you love – “You’ve got to find what you love… Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do…If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you`ll know when you find it. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

Have you ever been walking through a corn maze? You may have two options. First – using a map or second – follow the way your inner voice tells you and trust it fully. What would you choose?

Using a map takes away your creativity, you might get through it quickly, but you will not fully explore the whole field. You may miss some very interesting and important parts of the maze if you just try to find the fastest path out.

Running into a corn maze is like walking on the path to success. What you see, may not be what you get. But sometimes, changing the path ahead of you can lead you to beautiful destinations. Love the journey not just your goals to success, in every mistake or wrong decision, lies learning you might have missed if it would not have been done. 

Mike asked us this question, Do you have a mentor? Do you have one?

“A good way to learn how to deal with something is to listen to those that have been through it themselves.”, said Mike.

Personal growth has a high impact on you and the question, “What do you want to achieve in ten years?” If you want to see growth in your career, help someone else to grow in theirs. Helping others will always help/heal yourself in the end.

There will be times when you will have to modify your communication to help others understand” – added Mike.

Mike also said he doesn’t use metrics all the time, but when he does, he tells a story.

What is your story? Does your customer have faith in you and do you know what to report? Are you being asked to do something you know is not right? Always keep in mind, your customers are hungry for information and they are waiting for you to do the right thing.

Here is something more that I learned from Mike’s session – 

Practising the GQM –

  1. Determine the goals of the stakeholders and/or project team.
  2. Define, from each goal, which question must be answered to determine if the goals are being met.
  3. Document what must be measured to accurately answer the question.

Understand your team’s why by using Simone Sinek’s “Golden Circle.

  • Outside in (conventional)
  • Inside out (remarkable)
  • What – every single person knows What they do.
  • How – someone knows how they do What they do.
  • Why – very few people can articulate why they do what they do.

Mike Lyles said you’ve got to feel empowered to suggest a different design or approach. 

You have the potential to change the world and it is all in your hand and people will know you for what you’ve done, not for what you plan to do.”

What a great way to end the session leaving us wondering with many questions we needed to answer for ourselves. I am curious to find my own answers. What about you?

Tuesday, August 20th

For me, that was last day at TMALC2020 and we started the day with “Keynote: The Great Accelerator” by Jen Scandariato

Jen shared lots of interesting insights into her electrifying talk.

“There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks when decades happen” by Vladimir Lenin.

Jen suggested some great tips to create your leadership resume such as expand in multiple roles, put the areas of your focus, not just your existing expertise. It is important to create a community at this time. A community you can lean on and support others as well.

On Leadership in a pandemic, Jen shared it is a new experience. Yes you don’t know exactly what you will be doing (technically) but providing goals is a very important (being strategic)

Jen’s advice to managers: Spend time with experts in your team, learn from them.

When encountered with the question how are you managing your leadership in these times, Jen said –  Be real, be you, I have no idea this is my first pandemic.

Leadership in the time of uncertainty differs from “normal times” – we don’t have the “map” but we have the vision. It’s important to instil confidence in your team so that everyone aspires to your vision.

We are working from home and it is important to show that we are empathetic, kind and caring.

Empathy – show empathy around the circumstances your team is facing. Schedule 25 min breaks for your team working remotely throughout the day.

More learnings from Jen’s keynote – 

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You have to keep this winning mindset. It is hard, the world is getting smaller so we have to start to stand together. We need our community, it is important to lean on others and ask for help. If you help someone else with their issues, it will also help you with yours. Pay more attention to communication.

Be someone who can solve a problem. Break out of your mould (your role, the way people see you) to get your career advances. Make mistakes- to reduce anxiety about new roles, new skills. Step out of your lane – people will perceive you are more capable. And remember always, sometimes you have to change the company, to change your role.

Jen’s advice to women, dealing with stress, especially in this pandemic – 

The strongest people are the ones you have to check on the most. Build trust, follow your metrics and express it. Communicate with people to influence others and go on different reactions. Women in tech, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable now, ask for more flexibility from your manager. You have to deal with a lot of things now, be open.

New Skills for leaders to do well with more remote work- you are on TV. Learn skills, be more animated, entertaining, open and empathetic.

Raise your hand and volunteer for work and try to find something how you can move the team forward.

Career advice: state what you want to your manager, don’t wait until the manager does it for you. Say what you want, don’t wait for your manager to sense it.

Mentor others, help your team, and it is important for you to say Yes – even if you don’t know yet, is what you feel. Take the opportunity.

Right after this great keynote speech, we had the chance to listen to “Keynote: The Testing Profession: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. An opinionated tirade of strong opinions and rants” by Paul Holland

My notes from Paul’s talk –

Language – People often use language in non-precise ways and some of them complain about others pointing out their sloppiness. Where is the problem? It is a poor use of language which can lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

Paul argued that if you call yourself a QA (question asker, quality assistant) – people hear QA and assume quality assurance anyway. Ad hoc is for a purpose, it’s not random when we talk about testing.

Paul on – Good Bug Report

“I write my bug reports as if they were going to be read by a mind-wiped version of myself. by Hilary Weaver Robb

Components of a good bug report:

  • The problem Clearly and concisely describes the issue
  • Example – Recreation steps like you’re new to the team
  • Oracle – Why is this a bug?
  • Polite – Avoiding emotion and blame.
  • Literate – Tell a story. Proper spelling and grammar.
  • Extrapolate – What else might be related?
  • Workaround

Test escape – It may not be worthwhile to create checks for escape that are: 

  • Critical path
  • Recurring issue
  • Potential revenue impacting
  • Otherwise important enough

Metrics – 

A standard of measurement. No metric exists that can be applied directly to happiness. 

A mathematical function that associates a real non-negative number analogous to distance with each pair of elements in a set such that the number is zero only if the two elements are identical, the number is the same regardless of the order in which the two elements are taken and the number associated with one pair and a third element is equal to or greater than a number associated with the other member of the pair and the third element.

Goodheart’s law states:

Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once the pressure is placed upon it for control purposes. And to me, this is seriously something we should keep in mind in our work.

“When a measure becomes a target it ceases to be a good measure” (this is gold) 

Elements of bad metrics – 

  1. Measure and/ or compare elements that are inconsistent in size or composition – 
  • Impossible to effectively use for comparison 
  • How many containers do you need for possessions?
  • Test Cases and Test Steps 
  • Bugs

2. Create a competition between individuals and o/or teams.

  • They typically do not result in friendly competition
  • Inhibits sharing of information and teamwork
  • Especially damaging if compensation impacts.

3. Easy to “game” or circumvent the desired intention.

  • Easy to be improved by undesirable behaviour
  • Pass rate Execute more simple tests that will pass or break up a long test case into many smaller ones
  • Number of bugs raised: Raising two similar bug reports instead of combining them

4. Containing misleading information gives a false sense of completeness.

  • Summarizing a large amount of information into one or two numbers out of context.
  • Coverage (Code, path) Misleading information based on touching a path in the code once
  • Pass rate and number of test cases

Impact of using bad metrics –

A good test report should tell a complete story about the product/feature that will include

  • Status of the product – in words, not numbers.
  • Testing coverage (especially what wasn’t tested) Considering using a product coverage outline mind map.
  • Indication of the testing effort
  • Risk status
  • Other bugs – if warranted to be in the report

About the “best practices” – if something is the best, it cannot be improved upon. Using “best practice” will inhibit improvement and limit.

Some more notes –

What is your biggest fear? Answer to this question gives you more input into your testing strategy and coverage of the required documentation.

UI automation is often used too much and created by non-developers. When you take a tester away from testing and have them write automation you likely lose a good tester and gain a bad developer.

Automation will likely not increase your coverage, decrease your costs, save your time or allow you to reduce headcount. Unless you also increase risk.

Automation can give you a decent sanity check of your product and execute in less time than a human performance the same checks.

My key takeaway was a word of advice to leaders and testers – do your best to fight for good.

Wow, what a sentence to end one month, four weeks, twenty days full of knowledge on leadership and testing! What an amazing time we had together and how much wisdom we managed to take with us.

What was your favourite moment at this conference? Please share your favourite moment with us and send a tweet out to our community @testmasteracad @AstridWinkler4 and as always, don’t forget the #tmatlc2020

I would like to thank Anna Royzman and her team who did an amazing job organizing and leading this conference in such difficult circumstances and never losing their smiles. 

I want to conclude this last report with this quote – “Leadership is the process of creating an environment in which people become empowered.” – Gerald M. Weinberg from his book “Becoming a Technical Leader”

For all of you, I wish great success in testing, creating personas or for great leadership. I am looking forward to meeting you again and listening to your new experiences. Till then, stay safe, take care and love what you do.

Until next …

(Oh, by the way, we will be back on  September 1st with Jennifer Bonnie in her Tutorial: Leadership IQ in the Age of AI and with many more interesting tutorials. I hope to see you there again.. stay tuned!)


Astrid WinklerAstrid Winkler is a budding freelance journalist and content writer from beautiful Switzerland.  Creativity is her passion and writing is her lost-and-found love which she is willing to develop with more care.  Connect with Astrid on Linkedin or follow her on twitter @AstridWinkler4