The Unicom Testing Summit

I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at the Unicom Testing Summit in London on 11th April, which meant being able to attend the day long event.

For anyone who hasnt been before, there is a joint morning session with 4 talks and a panel session, and then in the afternoon there are 3 parallel sessions – Agile, Devops and Testing.

From the talks and discussions, I am going to call out two things in particular which I found really thought provoking – not that the others were not interesting, far from it, but there will always be certain talks that are more relevant to our particular circumstances.

The first talk was a Keynote from Zuzana Sochova on what it takes to be a Great Scrum Master. This isnt a role I have done, but two of my current team have taken on Scrum Master roles alongside their Testing role, so I was interested to find out what Zuzana was going to tell us.

She shared her thoughts on the role being one of a coach, teacher and mentor, creating an environment to help people to remove impediments. This was different to what I had heard before, where the view is that a scrum master removes impediments from the team, but Zuzana’a rationale was that creating a self-service culture and allowing people to remove their own impediments is an important part of helping people to learn for themselves rather than create a dependency culture. The phrase ‘servant leader’ was also used to describe the role, and this makes sense. Everything that you do as a scrum master helps the team in some way.

The other interesting thing that Zuzana said was that she recommends that the role NOT be shared with anything else. This is a difficult one, as I understand the reasons for saying so – that the time devoted either to being a scrum master or to the other role may be compromised in some way and time not apportioned appropriately. It all depends upon the structure of the organisation so I dont believe that this can really be a hard and fast rule, but it was an interesting point to bear in mind.

The second thing I want to mention was a round-table talk that took place before the split into the different tracks, and I joined one entitled ‘No place for manual testing in DevOps – is a myth’. Understandably this was very well attended with an interesting debate from most of the people sitting round the table.

There are a lot of people in the industry who believe that automated testing can replace manual test effort, and this came up from a number of people who feel pressured to learn automation in their organisations. One person said she really didnt want to learn to code – she enjoys testing (she used the phrase ‘Star Shaped Tester’), and I sympathise. If I wanted to write code, I would have been a developer, but things have changed, and we have to recognise that testing in 2019 with a move to a DevOps culture means that there is a clear need to embrace automate testing to cover regression type checks. But it is also clear that there remains a place for manual (human) Exploratory testing, and I had a light-bulb moment during this discussion.

We, as an industry, do not make enough effort to showcase where Exploratory testing brings benefits, therefore those in management who hold the purse strings also cannot see where manual testing adds value, so they only push for automated testing. Fundamentally it is OUR fault for not doing enough to demonstrate the value of manual and automated testing and the drawbacks of each as well.

We need to educate, and I am going to do something to show internally to my management team, and also plan for a conference talk to try addressing this, so keep an eye out. We have a lot to do!!!

Just to finish, I presented my talk on how to Talk Testing to Non-Testers, and at some point soon I will type up some of my thoughts on this, but I was really pleased that about a quarter of the 24 or so attendees came up to me afterwards to say that they enjoyed the talk and found it useful/helpful/. It’s always great to get positive feedback, so am glad that the work I put in was well received.

Thanks so much to Narayanan Palani for taking the photo of me in action and kindly sharing it.

My next talk is at the #NationalTestConf at the British Museum, 21st-22nd May, where I’ll be speaking about how to become a better tester. I look forward to hopefully seeing you there!


One thought on “The Unicom Testing Summit

  1. Pingback: Testing Bits – April 14th – April 20th, 2019 | Testing Curator Blog

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