Conference Presentations

Moving to an Agile Testing Environment: What Went Right, What Went Wrong

About a year ago, Ray Arell called his software staff together and declared, "Hey! We are going agile!" Ray read an agile project management book on a long flight to India, and, like all good reactionary development managers, he was sold! Now-two years later-their agile/Scrum process has taken shape; however, its adoption was not without strain on development, test, and other QA practices. Join Ray as he takes you on a retrospective of what went right and, more importantly, what went wrong as they evolved to a new development/test process. He introduces the software validation strategies developed and adapted for Scrum, explains what makes up a flexible validation plan, and discusses their iterative test method. Learn how they use customer personas to help test teams understand expectations for quality in each sprint and employ exploratory testing in the Scrum development flow.

Ray Arell, Intel Corporation
STARWEST 2009: The Marine Corps Principles of Leadership

Even with the best tools and processes in the world, if your staff is not focused and productive, your testing efforts will be weak and ineffective and your finished product will reflect this. Retired Marine Colonel, long-time test consultant Rick Craig describes how using the Marine Corps Principles of Leadership will help you become a better leader and, as a result, a better test manager or tester. Learn the differences between leadership and management and how they can complement each other. Discover new approaches to energize your testers and learn to avoid some that won't. Rick explores motivation, morale, training, span of control, immersion time, and how to promote a consistent testing discipline within your organization. He addresses the role of "influence leaders" and how to use them as powerful agents of change.

Rick Craig, Software Quality Engineering
Software as a Service: What You Need to Know

Many familiar products, including email, instant messaging, search, and e-commerce sites, are actually implemented as services rather than PC-installed software. The shift to services now extends to everything from office productivity tools to utilities like storage, authentication, manageability, and application hosting. Engineers who want to build highly available services with a positive user experience face unique design, testing, and operational challenges. Ibrahim El Far and Venkat Narayanan discuss aspects of configurability, including the ability to turn off features quickly or redirect traffic that minimizes the impact of defects on the user experience. They discuss the importance of fault testing and explain why testing a service must happen everywhere from the workstation to the live site. Learn best practices in operations, including automated deployment, monitoring services, and service repairs.

Ibrahim El Far, Microsoft Corporation
How Others See You: Seeking Personal Feedback

Has this ever happened to you? You've just finished an important presentation. As you return to your seat, a colleague leans over and whispers, "You've got spinach in your teeth." Even if you haven't had this experience, you've probably lived through something similar in which you're the last to know something that is obvious to everyone else. Unfortunately, we never exactly see ourselves as others see us. Gaining insight into how we affect others and how they view us provides us with new awareness and greater choices about how we act. Johanna Rothman shares a feedback model that focuses on describing behavior and the impact of behavior-not evaluation and blame. She discusses different ways for you to seek information that helps you improve your personal effectiveness. When someone gives feedback that, at first, feels like an attack, learn to ask questions that will elicit useful information.

Esther Derby, Esther Derby Associates Inc
A Solid Foundation for Quality Improvement

Many managers look to formal techniques-requirements reviews, code inspection, and testing-to improve the quality of their software. While these techniques are valuable, they only evaluate the state of quality rather than improve it. The key is to create quality software in the first place. This can only be achieved by a change in management style. Jason Bryant proposes a set of simple and effective principles you can employ to produce high quality software. First, you must foster a culture where people are given the freedom, time, and resources to do the job correctly the first time. By embracing user centered and incremental development practices, you will go a long way toward ensuring accurate and timely software delivery. Focus on training your staff to become masters of their craft and invest equally in architecture, new features, and maintenance.

Jason Bryant, Schlumberger Information Solutions
Getting to WOW! Gathering User Feedback for Better Designs

Today's users are savvier than ever-you can't hide poor design behind fancy features. A good user experience isn't optional anymore-it's mandatory. But if you ask four users how to improve a product, you'll get four different answers, and you'll be lucky if one of those is helpful. When designing the user experience of your products, the challenge is to understand the difference between how customers say they will use a product and how they will actually use it. To accomplish this, we must research our users and gather information. Scott Plewes shares useful techniques for collecting user feedback, including field research, interviews, focus groups, and usability testing, and explains how to get the most from them. Great research isn’t about pie charts, graphs, and massive reports. It's about discovering those few key aspects of your users' needs and behaviors that will differentiate your product from your competitors.

Scott Plewes, Macadamian Technologies
Guiding Your Personal Life: "Plan-driven" or "Agile"

Some interpreters of history believe that the Industrial Age could not have happened without coffee and tea. That daily jolt of caffeine enabled workers to be more in control of their waking hours-not to mention killing the nasties in the drinking water. While the Industrial Age was all about staying awake and working long hours, cognitive psychologists tell us that working short cycles with frequent breaks is not only healthier but also more productive for knowledge workers. Linda Rising describes the costs of force fitting Industrial Age-read “plan-driven”- living into our now knowledge-based-read “agile”-world. Although choices at the personal level are best made by individuals, Linda offers specific suggestions for working in short cycles and the proper place for caffeine, naps, short breaks, and sleep. We have seen the benefits of agile processes in our organizations.

Linda Rising, Independent Consultant
Successful Teams are TDD Teams

Test-Driven Development (TDD) is the practice of writing a test before writing code that implements the tested behavior, thus finding defects earlier. Rob Myers explains the two basic types of TDD: the original unit-level approach used mostly by developers, and the agile-inspired Acceptance-Test Driven Development (ATDD) which involves the entire team. Rob has experienced various difficulties in adopting TDD: developers who don't spend a few extra moments to look for and clean up a new bit of code duplication; inexperienced coaches who confuse the developer-style TDD with the team ATDD; and waffling over the use of TDD, which limits its effectiveness. The resistance (overt or subtle) to these practices that can help developers' succeed is deeply rooted in our brains and our cultures.

Rob Myers, Agile Institute
Agile, Lean, and the Project Management Office

PMOs usually think they are out of business when agile rolls into town. But the reality is that the PMO can play a pivotal role in successful agile adoption in large organizations. Jean Tabaka shares her knowledge about how to engage your PMO for agile adoption by using three primary Lean Principles: "Eliminate Waste," "See the Whole," and "Amplify Learning." Jean gives examples of how PMO members can act as the "systems thinkers" for their organizations, pulling successes from the engineering group and instilling them into the entire enterprise. Learn the role of the PMO within agile-how the PMO pulls standards versus pushing them; how the PMO provides product backlog prioritization guidance regarding architecture and governance; how the PMO serves its agile community by facilitating release planning across teams; and how the PMO creates and maintains product councils.

Jean Tabaka, Rally Software Development
Successful Software Management: Seventeen Lessons Learned

Wouldn't it be nice to know what your staff is doing without looking like a micromanager? Have you wondered how to treat people fairly while still giving them what they need? Would you like to spend a week out of the office, but you're worried your staff won't be able to manage while you're gone? Johanna Rothman explores questions that face software managers every day. Gain new insights through the mistakes she made and the lessons she learned after she became a manager and then a consultant after years of hard-core technical work. Johanna describes seventeen technical management tips and tricks she has learned through trial and error, including the dangers of extended overtime, the value of one-on-one meetings, ways to build trust, and many others. Learn about a manager's job, how to create an effective work environment, and how you can help people do their best work.

Johanna Rothman, Rothman Consulting Group, Inc.


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