TestBash Time

This coming March will be the 5th TestBash Conference organised by the Ministry of Testing.  It will actually be the fourth successive conference I have been to in Brighton.

So I thought now was an appropriate time to reflect on how TestBash has helped me expand my horizons on testing and given me the opportunity to meet new testing friends and colleagues…..

A Little Bit of History

Back in March 2013 I had been working in software testing for roughly 10 years.  I had worked my way up through various testing roles from Test Analyst becoming Test Manager in the middle of 2010.   As a manager I spent the majority of my time either planning testing, attending meetings or being involved in general day to day management.  Our testing process was very much driven by requirements, detailed test scripts and we followed a waterfall approach where we focused on separate build and test cycles with significant time spent on writing plans and reports to support our testing.

The downside of this was I found myself with little or no time for actual hands on testing. If I’m honest I probably didn’t find the time I probably should of done to look beyond my day to day role and understand how other people were approaching testing outside of my workplace.

Discovering TestBash

I first heard of the Ministry of Testing through Kim Knup who I was working with at the time.  Kim told me about the Ministry of Testing and that there would be a testing conference happening in Brighton during the March of 2013 and suggested I look in to getting a ticket.

I had gone to a couple of free Text Expo conferences in the past but the TestBash conference looked really interesting as it included a range of talks on various testing topics and was focused on talking about testing and not pushing any particular vendors product.   I really enjoyed that first TestBash conference as it showed me there were different approaches I could take to testing that did necessarily need to include the use of well defined requirements, test cases and scripts.

Wanting to know more about other ways of approaching testing, later in the year I enrolled for a one day Rapid Software Testing for Managers course with Michael Bolton. Although there wasn’t enough time to go into the Rapid Software Testing approach in detail I took away new ways of creating and developing test ideas and could see the benefits of using focused testing sessions to test products rather that having a reliance on high maintenance test scripts.

At this point in time within our team a lot of focus was being put on looking at moving towards a more agile approach to development and unfortunately it was not until several months later that the changes to how we tested began to take shape.

A Chance Meetup

By the time of Testbash 3 the following year a number of changes and events took place that proved to be the trigger for change.

We had recently had a change in Development Manager and he was very open to looking at the alternative approaches to of testing. In addition to this I had taken a personal decision to change my role from Test Manager to Test Lead.  I was keen on doing more hands on testing whilst coordinating testing and supporting other testers within our development team.   It felt that this was a good opportunity to finally move away from test scripts and seek alternatives.

Whilst the TestBash conference was once again excellent the event that sticks in my mind was the meetup on the Monday night.   At the time James Bach was delivering a training course on Rapid Software Testing course in Brighton and on the Monday there was an evening of talks, including talks from James Bach and Simon Knight.

As it happens at that particular time we were looking to recruit a new tester into the team.  Whilst chatting afterwards Rosie Sherry introduced me to a testing newbie called Emma Keaveny, who had just won a scholarship with the Ministry of Testing and was attending both the conference and the training courses around it.

Subsequent to that meeting in Brighton Emma joined our company as a tester and together we set about the task of moving on from test scripts and taking on board some of the ideas presented in the RST courses we had both gone to.  Having someone like Emma with her unique mix of energy, enthusiasm and new ideas was great! Not only has working with her helped change the way we approach testing at our company it has also inspired me to think differently about testing and get more involved in the testing community.

It wasn’t long before I found my myself getting involved in regular Testing Couch calls, Weekend Testing sessions and going to the monthly #TestActually meet-ups in Brighton organised by Emma and Kim.   By the end of that year I’d also got myself onto twitter and was starting to connect with other testers around the world.  Getting involved in these certainly helped me find new energy and enthusiasm for testing.

TestBash 2016

Despite the fact I have been testing for well over 10 years I do appreciate that there is always more to learn about testing and ways we can all become better testers.   At this years TestBash there is a great line of workshops in addition to an excellent line up of speakers for the main conference and I am sure I will learnt something new from the event.

For me 2016 is going to be about looking at ways to get more involved in the testing community and other events as well as finding time to read and learn more about testing.

I will be honest I have been guilty of not feeling confident at times in sharing my views and experiences on testing.  It can sometimes feel a little daunting with so many experienced and well known testers our there in the wider testing community.  But this year I intend to look to overcome this as I know I have useful experiences and knowledge that I can share.

I am very much looking forward to Testbash 2016! 🙂



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