Meetup “Testing is a fantastic career”
Learning happens in many ways and perhaps the most powerful way is to share your thoughts with like-minded people. That’s exactly what last weekend witnessed when a meetup took place in Islamabad where we broke participants in teams and gave them topics to discuss. The findings were then presented to all the audience and the awesome testers added their opinions. The result was just as fantastic as the title of the meetup was. One sign of it being that when it was announced from stage: “the time for discussion is over, so please conclude and get ready to present”, no body listened to the announcement and they kept talking in their tables.
It is difficult for me to say but the idea of such kind of setup was not mine 🙂 It was Taimur Sarwar’s brain child who coined this at our last meetup. As our previous efforts were to gather more and more testers in different cities, we thought it’s about time to bring them closer. S&P Global Pakistan was generous enough to offer their space to conduct the event. The settings were perfect, the food was delicious and the souvenirs given to each participant was cherry on the top.
To have this session in an effective way, there were a few VP (Planning & Coordination) positions which was happily accepted by Amir Shahzad, Sadaf Minhas, Dr. Zohiab Iqbal, Dr. Uzair Khan, Taimur and myself. At least I can tell people that I was once a VP in my life, though Dr. Zohaib being President of Pakistan Software Testing Board didn’t like the demoted title. But who cares.
This team met few weeks before the event and did what their title suggested. The plan was like this:
Bring in about 30 testers mostly in the range of 0-3 years of experience, break them in few teams, provide them topics, provide them a Facilitator who is someone with experience, they discuss the topic and present to the larger group. That’s it! and the result was amazing.
So here came the Facilitators with whom we had another planning meeting which in itself was kind of a mini-meetup where ~10 top brains of testing from the town pondered together how to best conduct the sessions. Along with VPs, these were Ahmed Mugheera, Haider Farooq, Kashif Butt, Hanan Atif, Hina Zafar and Farhana Adeel.
Enough for the preparations details, let’s move to the event day. As testers arrived, they were allotted tables and thus Facilitators with topics. Before the brain storming could begin, a keynote was delivered by Afif Zaidi, who is Director IT at S&P Global and started his career as a Software Tester. Afif recapped his illustrious career in few minutes and then shared his vision of testing. His description of Testing as a bridge between Business, Technology and Project Management was impressive and the tone was set for the participants to get knowledgeable about all of them.
There were two topics given to each table with one looking towards the testing career and other meant to increase the technical knowledge of the table. The full list of topics is below:
Career and Skills topics:
- What is Quality in general life? How do you differentiate between Quality Assurance and Quality Control?
- Importance of Communication & Collaboration and when to seek help vs. do yourself.
- Tester – Programmer relationship
- I’m bad at coding, can I still be a Tester? I’m not a developer, do I still have a career path?
- Role of tester in Agile.
Testing Techniques and Concepts topics:
- Exploratory Testing, Session based testing
- Bug life cycle
- Effective bug reporting
- How automation fits in? What to automate and what to not? What is possible vs. practical?
- How can I improve domain knowledge?
As you can imagine that each of the above topics is a whole day thing, but teams did an effective job to discuss them in ~45 minutes and then present in a few minutes at stage which followed by comments and questions from the audience. There were so much new ideas that flowed in and so many new viewpoints thrown in that I can think I can write blog posts for the whole next year if I keep covering them 🙂
Just to give you an idea of the proceedings, I’d like to share two takeaways. While discussing domain knowledge, the hall kind of agreed that Testers should do that in depth. In short, if you are serving a financial industry you need to learn different type of things than you’d learn if you are serving the health industry. Many testers don’t realize that their job is not to test the code, rather their job is to test the solution.
Another one was related to effective bug reporting where some believed that testers should write a super duper bug report that everyone could understand and is flawless. But reality is far away from this and a bug report initiates conversation within the team about an issue which is a potential threat to the release. Many testers don’t realize that bug report is not their accomplishment report, rather it is the starting point of evaluating the risks.
Other than the above, there was a table of senior testers who discussed and then presented their thoughts on Testing Strategy and Planning with some insights into estimation and prioritization of testing activities.
The closing keynote was delivered by Badar Khan who is Managing Director of NMX Global Software Islamabad center and he also started his career as a tester. Badar shared his achievements in a humble way and recapped his almost two decade’s journey as a tester. His advice was simple: you should always be truthful. Yes, as a tester don’t hide what you know and share it. He also shared a nice recent example where a higher up Manager could be wrong and send you in wrong direction; so what you should do in that case.
As you can imagine from this summary that it was hell of knowledge to digest in a day and we were lucky to have some brilliant testers present there who exactly did that. And more importantly they built new connections which will help them in their journey into the testing career.
I know we couldn’t invite all of testers in our network to the event due to the limited capacity. But don’t worry, we have plans to do more in coming quarters along with a national level testing conference towards end of 2016. Insha Allah (God willing).
How do you see such type of meetup compared to the one we had earlier? How we should do our next sessions?