LET´S TEST 2015 – DAY 3

After two really intense days of Let´s Test it was time to get out of bed and muster up energy for the last day. The first session of the day was Baldvin Gislason Bern talking about his struggle to “Find purpuse in automation”. Baldvin is a former colleague of mine so I might be a bit biased but I thought he delivered a great presentation. The theme was revolving how he got assigned to different automation tasks in his organization and his struggle to understand why that automation was important, i.e. what purpose it served. I could not agree more about the importance to find out why to automate. All too often automation efforts seem to start with “we need to automate” instead of “how can we test better?”. Baldvin also managed to provoke a little by bashing the test automation pyramid, the Agile movement and also by telling us about how he told his automation team to throw away 10% of their checks. These deliberate provokations sparked a great discussion after the presentation and it felt like everybody got something to think of from this session.

Finding purpose in automation

What made me reevaluate my thoughts the most was the critique against the automation pyramid. I have always found it a useful model to apply for trying to “push tests down the stack”. I like the idea of having a few high level checks to find problems with how the different parts of the system interact, but to test the bigger set of variations on a lower level to reduce execution time, feedback loop and debugging. But I can agree with Baldvinds points that it cannot be applied in all contexts and that in some contexts comparing unit checks with higher level checks is apples and pears (my rephrasing). I guess it comes down to what checks you have control over in your context. If you work in a context where the development team is separate from the test team and the checks on different levels are divided between development and test, it is much harder to keep an overall strategy of how to distribute the checks. So I feel that the pyramid is valuable to illustrate an important principle, but that myself and many others might have been throwing it around too easily without providing the right context for it.

I have often felt that it is really important to understand the roles of people around you in your organization. Having only worked as a tester I don´t have the luxury to have gained that knowledge by first hand experience. So that was why Scott Barbers session “Experiencing product owners” appealed to me a lot. Scott, known as the “performance tester guy” had recently worked as a product owner and wanted to share his experience from that. I was surprised of how much stuff the product owner is involved in besides prioritizing the backlog for the development team and communicating with customers. It seemed like he needed to be everywhere discussing revenue, packaging, support issues, marketing etc, etc. If the normal product owner role has only half of the responsibillites that Scott´s role had, it is still baffling that they have any time for the development team at all.

The yellow part in the upper right corner is supporting development, the rest is other stuff.

The main purpose with the workshop was however to get to understand the perspective of the product owner so that we as testers can learn how to provide useful information to her/him. This was acheived by a couple of a simulation where we got to play different roles on a fictive team during different times of a project (just started, close to release etc). We made stuff up about our progress and Scott told us how he would have replied. As an extra dimension, Scotts answers in the beginning of the workshop simulated how he acted in when he just started as a product owner and in the end of the workshop he acted as he acted as he did after gaining more experience. I liked this workshop a lot since it did not only bring insight in to the role as a product owner, it also provided good tips on how to handle status meetings, distributed teams etc, all in Scotts very entertaining way. Favourite quote of the session:

“Done doesn´t mean done and I´m not talking about the whole ‘done’ versus ‘donedone’ thing” – Scott Barber on when things are really done for a product owner   

Now the end was near, only the final keynote before it was time to split up and go back to reality. The keynote by Tumo Untinen told us the story about the finding and publishing the famous Heartbleed bug. It was interesting to hear about how it was exposed and how the release to the general public was handled. An interesting subject but I feel that keynote would have been better if some technical details had been left out.

A heartbleeding goodbye to Let´s Test 2015

As always (I get to say that now since this was my second Let´s Test) it was sad that the conference was over. Unfortunately I had to leave immediately so no time for huging and goodbyes this time. Thank you all you awesome peers who enriched my conference experience, hope to see you next year if not sooner!


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