What Executives Value In Testing / StarWEST / MindMap

I’m at StarWEST this week so thought I’d make the effort of taking some notes of some of the sessions/talks I’ve been attending.  I don’t have the stamina to do it for all of them, but here’s my mindmap and some relevant photos from Mike and Jeanette’s talk.  I was particularly interested in this one as I’ve always been keen to hear more about testing related to startups.

This is not a replacement for the talk and may not be entirely understood without context.  Just saying 🙂

Download the PDF / Download the text file.

What executives value in testing Michael Kelly Jeanette Thebeau


Abstract of the talk:

Professional testers and test managers are feeling the pressures of low-cost competition and tools that claim to replace them through automation. So, how can test teams add more value to their projects and organization? In a recent survey of executives and testers, Mike Kelly and Jeanette Thebeau found major disconnects between what executives and testers believe are most important to the business. They explore new insights into the risks and concerns executives perceive and what you should do differently. In the survey, most testers believed that finding ways to cut operational costs was a low priority test objective, but executives listed operational cost reduction as a high value testing activity. On the flip side, testers believed that regulatory compliance was a high priority, while most executives reported compliance testing was a low priority. Join Mike and Jeanette to find new ways to help ensure the products you test solve the business problem, meet customer needs, reduce operational costs, scale easily as demand increases, and are built to quickly add new features over time.

A Story of A (Testing Planet) Bug

I’m a tester. I run websites aimed at testers. Strangely testers seem to get this weird pleasure reporting bugs to me. I won’t tell you of all the bugs that I know exist, but I can tell you of one.

The one that made me laugh at first then wonder how we were going to fix it. The one bug that was a real pain in the *** to fix. The one that was the equivalent of finding a bug once the CD-Rom had been shipped. The one that happened at the busiest time of my working year. The one that led to great conversations. The one that will mean we will hire some extra help for the next issue.  The one that highlights that content bugs can be hard to catch.

A Bug on The Testing Planet

It was a bug on The Testing Planet that we failed to catch before it went to print. We’ve had typos before. Wrong dates. But this one was different, not catastrophic, but more embarrassing to see go out. It was a few lines of editing notes that were left in at the end

of Lisa Crispin’s article. Ooops we say. We fixed the digital version easily. It took about an hour to do all the necessary work.

The fix we came up with was to design a sticker to promote TinyTestBash to go on top of the unwanted text, the effort that went into it:

  • This sticker had to be designed (1 hrs effort).
  • It had to be printed on to label sheets and precisely cut, this actually took a long time! 4 hrs to create a sticker for each copy of The Testing Planet, to date I’ve only done it for half of The Testing Planets we’ve ordered. So the total will be 8 hrs.
  • We then had to stick them in each of The Testing Planets, this was time consuming too, especially as the stickers were manually cut which made them difficult to peel. Total time for (half of The Testing Planets) was 8 hours.
  • I needed some help as I had very little time that week to deal with this issue (it was in the run up to TestBash), so I called upon Mauri’s help who was conveniently attending the RST course.

Total cost to fix half of the bugs: 17 hours. As I distribute the rest of The Testing Planets that we have it will likely double.

Great conversations and making a new friend with Mauri, priceless 🙂

(I won’t mention Mauri getting to see my boys fight in the back of my car!)

So if you have a copy of Issue 10 of  The Testing Planet you now know why that sticker is there! 🙂



Join Me In Some Testing Photo Fun

In the testing community, sometimes I feel like we all don’t know what we all look like. Is it important?  Maybe or maybe not, either way I think we could have a bit of fun along the way whilst getting to know each other a bit better.

So next week, when I meet and speak with you (Coaching Testers, RST & TestBash) I will ask you if I can take a self potrait of me and you. Or maybe a group of us.  I would like to publish them straightaway via my Flickr account alongside names of people, otherwise I may forget! At the end of it I hope to have a nice collection of photos of all the great people I’ve met.

There’s a deeper reason here too – I hate my photo being taken, but I need to get over it.  And perhaps, as I’ve learnt over the years, if I feel this way, then others do too.  So here I am saying it publicly – lets get our camera (phones) out and show the world who we are!

I hope you will consider joining in with me.

2012-07-28 17.14.33

Conference Observations

During my limited time of running conferences I’ve come across some observations that I thought I would share.  This is from experience of organising TestBash.

People Advised Me Against It

Before starting TestBash I spoke to several people about the idea.  Many of them told me to be very careful. That conferences are very hard to make happen.  It’s hard to get the numbers right. Get the attendees and the sponsors. Etc.

This is them:

Camera Roll-485 Camera Roll-484

But then there was me.

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Sure I listened to the people warning me, but I also listened to my heart and what I felt was right for the community I was serving.  I believed there was a need, there were signs from within the community that people wanted a UK based software testing conference from STC and friends.  So I followed my heart.

Organising Conferences Is Like Child Birth

Ok, it’s not really.  But the topic came up whilst I was having a chat with a Test Ninja. I thought about it and made a diagram/mindmap thingy.

Child Birth:

Camera Roll-486

Organising Conferences:

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Remarkably similar, no? 🙂

TestBash Buying Cycle

I started promoting TestBash in September 2012.  It is happening next month (March 2013).  I’m actually starting to freak out a bit at what I’ve let myself into.  The event is bigger (and will be better IMHO) this time around.  With bigger comes more costs, more risk and of course more stress for me.

I’ve put some thought into how the ‘buying’ cycle happens and drew a picture. (Can you tell I am liking drawing pictures at the moment?), what I noticed was:

  • many of the people who bought the super early bird tickets went to last years TestBash or are known to me via Software Testing Club
  • people actually pay attention to these (super) early bird rates – most of the sales happen a week before them.
  • I laugh at this now, but no tickets sold between the 10th of December and the 20th of January.  I actually started to worry a bit.  I knew it would be quiet around that time, but the complete lack of sales between that period stressed me out.  I felt much better and on track after January 31st.
  • Point above is that people really do listen to the messages I’m sending out (it’s hard to know sometimes) and a cheaper ticket price gives people real motivation to get those tickets booked!

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About Goals

One of my main goals was to achieve a certain number of attendees.  For a bit of perspective TestBash 1.0 had just under 70 people attend.  I set myself a goal of 150 this time around and am pleased that we have achieved that.

To keep me through the stressful and worrying times I had the following as a background image on my iPad – constantly reminding me what I wanted to achieve.

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Thank you for your time! </end>

Child Friendly Meetups

I have 3 kids.  And lets face it, it’s hard to get out meeting people sometimes.  I’ve long wanted to do some kind of networking/meetup that welcomed kids.  It seems that the time has come for testers of the world/UK 🙂

With TestBash happening in March I became aware that a few of the attendees were coming to Brighton with their family.  My ears and neck naturally stretched when I saw this and I thought it would be an ideal time to meetup casually and with kids (both big and small!)

So on the Saturday morning a few of us are meeting up – do come along if you are around (whether you have kids or not!), I’m still trying to think of where the ideal venue would be, it’s always a tricky thing in Brighton…most places are not child friendly and are very tight in space.  So my hunt begins! (And I must focus on not getting a hang over the night before!)

Thoughts On Conferences

Yeah, I’m running a software testing conference.  It’s only our second one. It’s still nerve racking. There’s still alot of work to do, it doesn’t ‘just happen’ and we are still learning with each thing we do.

We want to make it something we are proud of and this in my heart especially means giving people great value for their money plus having an experience to remember.

In my effort to create a great experience I’ve been to 3 conferences in the past 4 months.  All Brighton/local ones. Not testing related. One was web, one was business and one was UX.  I was interested in the topics, but was also interested to see how some very nice local conferences are run.  I was being an observant little Rosie.

As a consequence I’ve been thinking a lot about conferences and I think the market is changing.  The newer conferences know this.  The more established ones are yet to catch up.

What Are Conferences About?

Conferences are not about learning stuff from the talks.  How can it be if in most cases you can watch the videos for free shortly after the conference has ended?

Perhaps it’s about meeting people.  Organisers will claim that, but all too often I’ve seen attendees being bored. Not knowing what’s going on outside of the conference. Not feeling comfortable to network with others. Or not knowing where to go.

For the vendors they get to market themselves to the attendees.  Come look at us they will say. The only conversations had there are so sales driven that it doesn’t feel genuine.

So it kind of looks like below. There’s the speaker speaking. The people watching. Then at break times there are the vendor stands that the attendees all too often ignore and either end of speaking to other attendees or to no one at all.


The speaker gets value, it’s hard not to be seen  and get noticed if they are speaking.  The attendees hopefully get some good learning value, but social experience could often be better.  The sponsors often are completely separate. They don’t go to the talks. They don’t really know what’s going on, are out the loop and often cannot connect with the attendees.

If I Could Design My Own Conference…


Oh no wait, I am…

Sales & Marketing Should Be Integrated

Seriously, why do the people at the stands not attend the conference talks or social activities?  People buy from people. Generally from people they like or trust.  Trust comes with time and building up relationships with real conversations and common interests.

Instead of trying to sell stands to sales & marketing departments, why not sell them tickets? Encourage them to get involved. Learn from the talks. Have real conversations and build up relationships with the attendees?

We are trying this out with TestBash.

Sponsor Stands Are Old School

They must go.  I’ve heard from too many people that each year they provide less and less value.  It also puts pressure on the event organisers to provide value – often spending huge amounts of time and money on it.

One of my pet peeves is that some sponsors can buy their way into talks, allowing attendees to get stuck listening to a 20-45 minute advert.

Perhaps replace them with activities, games or try out micro-sponsorship – it’s easier to make lots of small sales than many large ones – it’s also much more inclusive for everyone.

Outside Activities

Create social things around the event and talks.  Not only are these attractive to the attendees, but they really bring the community together.  Often these are what attendees remember the most.

If you are not doing anything, then at least know if people are doing their own on the spur meetups and get involved!

Still A Lot To Learn

I’m not claiming to be an expert.  Far from it. What works for my community may not work for others.  And that’s cool.  But in Rosie Land I’m looking to the future and trying to do my best to create a great experience, even if I find it difficult when I really see myself as a  quiet introvert 🙂