So last week I was lucky enough to attend my first ever TestBash!! This event comprises of a WorkShop day + Conference Day aimed at teaching new and experienced testers alike new skills and approaches to their role.
I was TERRIFIED.
I’ve been a tester for a little under 2 years now. I was recruited internally, coming from a support role and knew our product very well but have very little knowledge of test methods, strategies, tools, global terminology etc. I’ve found myself starting to expand my skill set only really in the last 8-12 months but to a degree I still feel like a very ‘new’ tester! So the thought of attending TestBash was a little daunting to say the least!
ALAS! I arrived in Brighton Wednesday night, 8:30pm and somehow pluck up the minerals to walk into a pub by myself where the first ‘Meet Up’ was being held. Thankfully I was greeted by a group of the loveliest, most welcoming people and didn’t end up leaving till gone 12am! The workshop day was brilliant, I attended 2 classes, ‘Thinking and working visually for software testers’ with Huib Schoots and ‘Critical Thinking for software testers’ with Michael Bolton (not the singer 🤣). I found both extremely useful – I work quite visually anyway in terms of I like to draw things out when I don’t understand them and it helps me learn, so attending the first course gave me some additional tips on how I can further illustrate my note taking, use mindmaps more effectively as well as introduced me to some new mindmap software I had never heard of.
Critical thinking with Michael Bolton was an eye opener. He discussed ‘System 1 vs System 2’ which was a way of explaining how we think. System 1 is your initial reaction to a task/ question, your instinct perhaps. And System 2 refers to the afterthought that has a slightly delayed contribution but is able to thinking rationally, not just jumping to the obvious. It made me realise that I use System 1 a little too often in a role that should really be taking a few minutes to process the ‘what ifs’. I am unsure you can ‘teach’ critical thinking, but his talk has definitely made me very conscious of this and second day back into work I am already pausing before blurting out the ‘obvious answer’ to make sure I have considered everything – so thanks Michael!
I had gone to TestBash with the intention of bringing back to my team any new methods/ ideas I had learned, and during the talks on Day 2 I took many notes to present to my team, including:
- Ensure that we invite all relevant stakeholders to meetings – not just the obvious attendees
- Back up testing – we should adopt ‘fire drills’ to ensure we are prepared for the worst (even if we think our back up process is working!!)
- Ethics – do we discuss the ethical implications of our work often enough? Do we cover ethics in our own work policies?
- Attitudes towards others, especially devs – the manner in which we talk to people and avoiding the ‘blame’ mentality is vital for maintaining our working relationships
- 🛠 LEARN ALL THE TEST TOOLS 🛠- even if we don’t immediately need to use them, get skills under our belts so we have more options when testing old and new things
The cool thing that happened during these talks was that I found myself nodding along to a lot of recurring topics and mouthing ‘ we do that’ … ‘we do that too’ … ‘ our team is pretty good at that’. And I feel like that is EQUALLY as important to tell my team as the new ideas. You don’t always know you’re doing something wrong or right until you’re given an alternative solution and I was so happy to realise that we’re actually doing plenty of things that some teams seem to be aspiring to.
- “When introducing new test team members, take them to your customer service team so they are exposed to the client side, client needs etc” We do this for all testers. As I myself came from the client side of the business, the skills I brought to the team were primarily around UAT – I knew our clients needs inside and out, I knew recurring topics and enquiries and I could test these areas knowing what was ‘acceptable’.
- “Get to know your devs and work with them whilst they are coding, not after”. We have been moving closer and closer to what could be described as ‘agile’. Iterative work, going from monthly deploys to weekly has been an incredible achievement for the department. Aside from automation, which has reduced our manual regression to make weekly deploys achievable, I think another factor is that our test team work so closely with our dev team. Perhaps this is something more difficult to achieve in larger companies. We are lucky that we have a small enough team and close enough relationships that we can easily go and perch next to a dev to ask them any questions on their work. We openly communicate about the length of time work will take and both devs and testers offer each other help during a project to ensure that we are all happy that we have a safe and shippable product at the end. Some of the talks seemed to indicate that this isn’t something that happens in all companies, in fact some, the dev and test team can be in different countries! Madness to me but I’ve had such a limited exposure to the industry that it was so interesting to find out how differently other teams work and I now appreciate even more, the relationships I have with our dev team and I am proud that our dev and test team are able to facilitate a happy working environment and true sense of the word ‘team’.
Number 1 thing I have learned from TestBash…
…is that this community exists!!! I literally had no idea. On arriving Wednesday night, one of the first questions I was asked was “Which testers are you looking forward to meeting the most?” and I literally thought “What?! That’s a thing? Like… there are famous testers?!” I was flabbergasted (I love that word). I have been so naive to the importance of a testers role, to the industry and network of testers, to the history of the testing career and to the amount of help and support that is available. NO IDEA WHATSOEVER. So I would say the most beneficial thing I will take from TestBash, is TestBash!!! Thank you for opening my eyes and for teaching me the scope of my role. Thank you for introducing me to some of the most inspirational and kind people I have ever met. And thank you for accepting me and not making me feel inexperienced and not good enough (which was my ultimate fear, anxiety inducing panic on my journey up to Brighton! 😅). I know I have a lot to learn but I know I’m on the right path and I now have a great network of people around to help me if I need it.
So again, thank you fellow test community and I can’t wait to meet you all again at the next event!