By Matthew Heusser firstname.lastname@example.org for Tricentis
My first technical books were old IBM three-ring binders. They told you in very precise computing language what the function was and the inputs it took. What they didn’t tell you was how to use the method in context. The result was a great deal of struggle. Information that was actually useful was sparse and hard to get. Today, we have the opposite problem. “How to test software” in quotes yields two hundred thousand web pages and four thousand videos.
The problem today isn’t sparse information. It is too much information. Selecting the right information. Finding the needle in the haystack. Consider what happens when you pick the wrong advice; you could get something like this.
Solving the needle in the haystack problem, thus getting information you can trust, is the first reason to watch the Accelerate Livestream November 13-14.
Let’s talk about the rest.
Solving the price problem
The traditional way to get curated sessions is to attend an in-person event. A live, in-person conference is going to have expenses. Today the mainline public events are running five to seven hundred US dollars per day. When I was a working professional, the best companies I worked with would fund a big conference every other year … if the company was doing well. Ironically, because they did not fund travel in bad years, those companies tended to lose both the rock star employees and the potential for new ideas.
If the conference is not local, but instead something you fly to, then you can add airfare, hotel, and food to the total cost. Costs grew somewhere between 35 to 75%, depending on how frugal you were. A few years ago, I shared a room with Justin Hunter and carpooled with Selena Delesie and Lanette Creamer. Through the miracle of hotel points, airline miles, and also presenting, we managed to make it for the cost of food.
That isn’t exactly a solution for everybody.
Plus, there was the problem of time away from work.
Solving the time-off problem
Even if your company has a conference budget (or you fund it out of pocket), you still need to take a few days off work to attend the conference.
When you come back, the one thing your boss knows for certain is that all your projects lack three to five days of work. Plus, the boss had to either give you a couple of travel days (that he sees no value in) or you had to give up some weekend time.
With a live conference feed, you get real value (the attendees paid enough to make the event worth doing) without having to give up multiple days of work.
You will, however, have to give up some time. So you are likely wondering “Is it worth it?”
Let’s talk about the sessions.
With roughly twenty sessions to choose from, you’ll still have a little bit of a firehose problem. Here’s a list of five from just the first day that I’d say are worth special attention.
Introducing ACT: A Continuous Test Framework
Over the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion in frameworks and rulebooks for how to develop with teams of teams of teams: LeSS, SAFe, DaD, fast-agile, and SCARE. Most of those methods fail to deal with the real and difficult process of transitioning to doing more to integrate automated checking earlier. I know, because I’ve asked, and for the most part haven’t seen any articulated vision for what the investment in tooling should be or even which factors to consider. I’ve had a chance to review some of this material and even contribute a bit, so perhaps I am biased. If ACT can fill in a gap in how to implement Continuous Testing—and that is a big “if”—then it could make a real contribution to the community.
Tricentis – Driving Innovation
You may argue that a tool vendor CEO is going to give a biased talk, but let me tell you a secret: CEOs find out what the customer wants and figures out how to give it to them…or else they don’t stay in the role for very long. That means gaining a broader view of what is happening inside of test, figuring out what managers want, discovering where executives want to go, and navigating the path to get there.
Agile doesn’t require more testing or faster testing – It requires better testing
You’d be amazed by how many teams I work with that are simply doing the same thing they were doing before, only shrinking the waterfall to two weeks. Indeed, some Agile experts believe that just by getting everyone into one room and talking to each other, the “how” of generating the right test ideas will take care of itself. If all you get out of this is a few ways to shift the conversation and some related examples, this talk will be valuable in all but the most high-functioning delivery environments.
The Great Debate: How automation impacts jobs
Sometimes you just want a talk where you can pop some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show. Allowing futurists to bash each other over the head with their predictions might be exactly that. In my experience, if you synthesize the opinions of a panel of experts, and integrate them, you might just be able to predict where the market is headed. In the case of software testing, that might lead to a real insight or two. So sure, pop some popcorn, butut keep your mind open. You might find yourself taking a note or two.
You should, of course, consider the entire list.
Watch videos on demand
While I am using the term Livestream, the conference is in Europe, which is in Central European Time. That is six hours earlier than eastern USA daylight savings time. You can sign up and watch them as soon as they are available, which might be outside work hours. Or watch the videos on-demand, in the order you would like, as often as you’d like.
So forget the needle in the haystack. Invest a couple of hours in a few talks. If you have a little more time than that, look at the entire Livestream agenda, and select your favorites.
Either way, no more needle in a haystack. Just, please, no watching-in-your pajamas jokes. Unlike the original ideas at the conference, that one has already been done.
Solving the permission problem
Obviously, price and time off combine to form permission. By permission problem, I mean something more subtle.
When the company used to send me to conferences, I was, well, on the clock. The boss expected results and I would plan my sessions in advance to meet the immediate needs of my company. If I wanted to come back next year, I would have to prove the value vs. the costs. That meant writing an after-action report, planning how I was going to “teach” the team, and dealing with the inevitable resistance.
And there will be resistance.
After my first big conference, I had a bunch of ideas. We could try this new methodology we’d just need to invest in some training. Or buy some tools. Or maybe try something new.
The one thing the boss knew was, that the company had spent money, and because I was obligated to come up with ideas (to pay back for their investment in me), I wrote up a few. And, you guessed it, they all cost more money. The one thing that didn’t cost more money was trying something new, which would slow us down while we learned the technique. If it worked, I would want credit, and if it failed, well, the boss would take the blame, because the boss had given the experiment permission. Lose-lose for the boss.
As a result, little would change, and the company would begin to view conferences as a waste of money.
But a free Livestream doesn’t require anyone’s permission. You can watch as many videos as you’d like, on the topics that interest you. You can take the ideas you like and apply some of them immediately, without permission.
It’s only when someone asks where your cool idea came from that you answer the Livestream.
And that may just be how to get to go to Vienna in person next year.