Learning to test, Testing to learn

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At the end of July, four of us from Comtrade Sarajevo (Adisa Sinanovic, Amela Teftedarija, Nadzida Koljenovic and Darko Nikolic) decided to participate in TeamSTAR Competition 2016 in hope to win the tickets for EuroSTAR Conference 2016 that will take place in Stockholm from October 31st – November 3rd.

We organized the local meetup on August 23rd, 2016 with the EuroSTAR 2016 conference theme “Learning to Test, Testing to Learn”. The plan was to have guided discussion regarding the testing experience from different perspectives, with a focus on agile methodologies.

 

Promotion of the meetup

As soon as we submitted the details about our meetup to EuroSTAR, promotion of the event on social networks has started. The event was created on Meetup page and on Facebook. At the very beginning, the promotion was very successful on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google +. People started to follow our pages, share our posts and we received a lot of positive feedback for organizing the event.

Video meetup announcements were also a big success:

flasagoodnews

 

(check hyperlinks on pictures)

 

We were waiting to receive goodies which EuroSTAR sent us, but unfortunately, this got somehow lost on its way to us 😦

But nevertheless, we have created flyers with our own design.

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The proof that our promotion was a huge success was a remarkable increase of visits on our ShareIT Sarajevo Facebook page in the week of the meetup.

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Preparation

Before the event, we met once a week to discuss the agenda, the flow of the meetup and what was needed to offer a successful and high-quality event. We wanted to have a casual and relaxed atmosphere since we planned to have an open discussion with all participants.

In our company, most of the projects use the agile approach. That was the reason we wanted to focus on testing in an agile environment and how testers add value. The plan was to share experience and knowledge about problem-solving on different projects. Also, we planned to discuss test automation, since we feel it is an important part of testing in agile projects, in order to have quick feedback on the quality status of the product.

We decided to include the Agile Mindset workshop into meetup, to be sure that all participants understand the basics of Agile. For this purpose, we created our own cards for the game.

We also prepared name tags, sticky notes, markers and everything else what we needed for the meetup.

 

Hosting the meetup

Since we are members of ShareIT Sarajevo group and we usually organize meetups in Comtrade in our fun room, we decided to keep this location.

Our fun room is very casual, bright and conformable, so it was ideal for this kind of event. We decided to serve some refreshments and snacks (coffee, tea, juice, croissants, and cookies) before and during the event, so we created a self-service desk. (Thanks to Comtrade, our sponsor 🙂 ).

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On the day of the meetup, we prepared the room for the event. We added additional chairs, arranged the tables for the Agile Mindset workshop. We also had flip charts to add sticky notes with topics for discussion and expectations, table with “to do”, “in progress” and “done” columns and space for feedback.

According to the meetup event, 22 people signed up, and in the end, 23 came to the meetup. Counting 4 of us, that was 27 attendees in total.
For starters, we asked everyone to briefly introduce themselves and write on the sticky notes their expectations of the meetup and list of topics they would like to discuss.

This way we learned a lot about our colleagues, what are they actually working on and what their expertise is. Most of us are working in the same company, but not on the same projects, so it was nice to hear from others what they really work on every day.

Among the attendees we had junior and senior testers, developers, team leads, as well as representatives of management.

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We had a short presentation about the purpose of the meetup and what we want to focus on.
There was a lot of talk about what testing represents to attendees. It was interesting to hear different definitions of testing, and how people with different roles within the team view on testing. They all had different points of view, are facing different problems related to testing, but still came to the same conclusions on how the problems and obstacles can be overcome and get resolved. We all agreed that testing is necessary and important part of software development and that the quality should not be only the tester’s responsibility.

In the discussion, we mentioned some of the approaches for including testing from the very beginning of development cycle. People told their stories and experiences.

We also mentioned working in multi-site teams and how to overcome the challenge of the distance between different locations.

For purpose of playing the Agile Mindset workshop, we split into four groups (groups of 6-7 people). The purpose of the game was for everybody to participate and share their opinions, thoughts, feelings, ideas and practical use of the agile manifesto and its principles. Each group received 13 cards. Agile manifesto was written on the first card and 12 principles on others. They read the manifesto and matched each principle to one of the manifesto’s item. They shared their own experience about how they have used each of the principles. Each team tried to answer these questions:

  • Do we understand each of the principles?
  • How can we apply them on a daily basis?
  • Is it really needed to associate every principle to a single rule from the manifesto?
  • How our daily work would look and feel like if we did all this?
  • What are the obstacles we have to overcome to get there?
  • What can we do as a team and individually to contribute to this ideal goal?

 

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We asked each group to visualize what they had discussed. Teams started working on posters, and further discussion opened. Everyone was satisfied with the final result.

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Conclusion

Overall, we can say that we are happy with the event. It has made us question ourselves as individuals and team members, our testing routines and passion for testing. We believe that we have met the expectations of the attendees, as we can see by the positive comments that have been left on our meetup page. The conclusion of the meetup was that everyone has a different definition of tester’s role in the team, but we all agreed on one thing: everyone should be in charge of quality. Also, we all agreed that testers need to constantly work on improving themselves and need to have technical awareness. We must never stop learning about testing and testing to learn. We must constantly acquire new skills and knowledge. We should take responsibility as a team and as individuals.  One way of learning is being an active member of the local testing community and attending meetups like this.

Thanks to all who were a part of this project, we had a lot of fun working on this. Also, we hope that everyone learned something new. One meetup wasn’t enough to cover everything that we wanted to talk about, so we will definitely have a few follow-up meetups. Thank you EuroSTAR for this opportunity to be a part of the TeamSTAR competition 2016. We are waiting the 28th September keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best outcome for our team. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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