Written by: Michał Zaczyński, Test Automation Domain Expert
This year’s edition of EuroSTAR, the largest testing conference in Europe, was held under the motto “Software development is a social activity.” A main theme ran throughout the lectures and workshops, which, this time, emphasized more the soft side of everyday work rather than the strictly technical aspects of testing. This article summarizes some observations from the perspective of a tester-practitioner who manages QA teams.
Michael Bolton tackled test metrics. Participants learned that even the fanciest and most accurate metrics are nothing more than a meaningless collection of numbers if given without context and explanation. A metric should only be used to convey information to decision-makers and address management concerns, not to collect data for its own sake.
Andrew Brown delivered a compelling lecture using a maritime disaster as an example. He explained tunnel vision, i.e., maintaining a plan despite changing conditions. Sometimes the plan must be adjusted, and in some instances, it may also be necessary to revise its goals. A situation like this is not a failure. We encounter such problems practically every day in the world of IT projects, as it is an adaptation to the changing business environment.
During his presentation, Rob Lambert outlined the ten most essential behaviors to consider when working in a team. If one were to pick a single, most critical one, it would be communication, without a doubt. Nothing works without it. Communicate clearly and understandably, adapting the style to the situation. That’s all there is to it.
Thomas Shipley showed how persuasion (sometimes bordering on manipulation) can be a powerful tool for obtaining the information we need to continue our work. Similarly, he pointed out that sometimes it isn’t worth waiting for information or a decision but rather acting simply because “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.”
Also worthy of mention is Jo Dalton’s outstanding lecture on cyber security and adult toys. She discussed this topic in a fun and thoughtful manner. Without delving into details, it is essential to remember their safety for our health and protection from possible data leakages such as photos, videos, or sounds. These things happen and are not uncommon.
A noteworthy opening lecture was given by Isabel Evans, who explained that we should not look for exceptional people – geniuses for their teams, using examples from artists of the 17th and 19th centuries. We are all unique, have different characteristics, and are experts in our fields. In other words, only a team of people who are entirely different from each other can become brilliant. Diversity gives strength and builds the team’s advantage.
Trying to describe all the speeches would be impossible. I listened to more than a dozen valuable points of view over three days, and these are only the ones I found most interesting. I think I can sum it all up with the words uttered by conference chairman Kristoffer Nordstrom – “It is all about people.”
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Michał Zaczyński – has been with Solwit for over ten years. He’s a flesh and blood tester – his experience includes Quality Assurance activities, work with IEEE/ISO standards, and supervision of test projects. In his view, a competent specialist combines practical experience with theoretical understanding, seasoned with a dash of “that something” one must possess.