Conference Presentations

STARWEST 2008: What Price Truth? When a Tester is Asked to Lie

As testers and test managers, our job is to tell the truth about the current state of the software on our projects. Unfortunately, in the high-stakes business of software development, often there is pressure--subtle or overt-to distort our messages. When projects are late or product reliability is poor, managers' and developers' reputations-and perhaps even their jobs-may be on the line. Fiona Charles discusses the importance to testers of refusing to compromise the truth, recognizing a potential cover-up before it occurs, knowing the legal position around securing project information, and developing a strategy to maintain integrity and still get out alive.

Fiona Charles, Quality Intelligence Inc.
STARWEST 2008: Five Things Every Tester Must Do

Are you a frustrated tester or test manager? Are you questioning whether or not a career in testing is for you? Do you wonder why others in your organization seem unenthusiastic about quality? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, this session is for you. Julie Gardiner explores five directives to help testers make a positive impact within their organization and increase professionalism in testing. Remember quality-it's not just time, it's time and quality; it's date and quality; it's functionality and quality. Learn to enjoy testing and have fun-the closest job to yours is blowing up things for the movies. Relish the testing challenge-it's you against the software and sometimes, it seems, the world. Choose your battles-take a stand on issues that are vital and let the small things go. And most importantly, remember that the only real power we have springs from our integrity-don't sell that at any price.

Julie Gardiner, Grove Consultants
Has the Time for the Adversarial Organization Passed?

The concept of an independent test organization is considered a "best practice" by many experts in the industry. Is this degree of autonomy actually a good thing in the real world today? In such a structure, some testers can only play "Battleship" with the delivered software, shouting gleefully when they find a defect. On their first tours of Toyota's factories, American automakers were astonished to find no "rework area." Toyota engineers didn't subscribe to the approach of inserting defects on the production line only to remove them later in the quality control and rework area. Yet this is exactly what the independent test group excels at! Is it time to discard this organizational model and focus on working together with developers to prevent defects in the first place? Gerard Meszaros examines the sacred concept of independent test teams based on experiences from the agile software movement and Lean production systems.

Gerard Meszaros, Independent Consultant
An Alternative to Consensus: Accelerating Effective Decisions

Software development teams don't always need, want, or have time to make decisions via group consensus. And project leaders often already feel over-burdened with the multiple decisions they have to make on their own. But there is a middle path-an alternative to consensus-in which shared responsibility for decision-making provides for input from many and one voice to represent the team and make the final choice. In this decision-making process, a team member volunteers to be the decision-maker on a particular issue with only one mandatory rule-seek guidance. The greater the impact the decision will have on the organization, the wider the quest for advice must be-all the way to the board of directors, if appropriate. Join Michele Sliger to learn how this approach to decision-making might be right for your organization.

Michele Sliger, Sliger Consulting, Inc.
Maximizing ROI on New Technology Acquisition

IT departments and software technologists must invariably navigate many challenges when planning to acquire new tools, invest in new technology, fund new technology projects, and introduce process changes. How do you get the most out of these investments without upsetting existing mission-critical processes or projects? Subsequently, how do you rapidly turn your new technology into a successful release that augments your product suite? Chris Ronak shares his experiences and offers his recommendations on how to best integrate newly acquired technology into mainstream development processes and projects. A strategic acquisition must provide missing functionality that enhances your existing product suite or technical framework-and it must be implemented without hindering or stopping progress on other business-critical projects.

Chris Ronak, Divestco Inc
Real Software QA

With the ever-increasing demand for software products, it is imperative for organizations to move away from trying to "test in" software quality and move toward adopting a comprehensive, total-life cycle software quality management approach. Such an approach is the basis of real software quality assurance (QA)-all the planned and systematic actions necessary to provide confidence that a system will perform satisfactorily in production. In contrast to software quality control (QC), which consists of detection activities such as testing that are product focused, software QA is process focused. Software QA includes defining, establishing, and monitoring the control practices that ensure policies, systems, and processes are effective and efficient across the entire software development life cycle. Linda Westfall focuses on defining the elements and techniques of a comprehensive software QA program.

Linda Westfall, The Westfall Team
The Leadership Imperative: Creating a Culture of Trust

In our personal and business lives, many of us know leaders who successfully foster environments of incredible creativity, innovation, and ideas-while other leaders try but fail. So, how do the top leaders get it right? Going beyond the basics, Pollyanna Pixton explores with you the ways that the best leaders create "safety nets" that allow people to discover and try new possibilities, fail early, and correct faster. Removing fear and engendering trust make the team and organization more creative and productive as they spend less energy protecting themselves and the status quo. Pollyanna shares the tools you, as a leader, need to develop open environments based on trust-the first step in collaboration across the enterprise. Learn to step forward and do the right thing without breaking trust. Find out when and how to acknowledge and reward trust in your team and organization.

Pollyanna Pixton, Accelinnova
Beyond the Mission Statement: How Values Drive Behavior

Companies often invest a lot of time and money into defining their mission statement, expecting it to drive employee behavior toward the stated purpose. Unfortunately this is a myth. Instead it is values that drive behavior, and corporate values are often not part of the mission statement. We'll look at what other companies have posted as their mission statement and their values and how that has affected their business. We'll walk through a common example of how a mission statement without values can lead to project failures. You'll find out how to determine what your company values and how to compare that to what you value-and what to do if they are different. Most importantly, learn how to apply what you've learned in your own situation. See how to define values at the team level, a must in order to ensure effective working relationships and that the right actions are taken by everyone to achieve project goals.

Michele Sliger, Sliger Consulting, Inc.
Your Attention Please: Concentration is a Learnable Skill

With the possible exception of the fakir walking barefoot on a bed of nails, no one can focus attention on a single object for more than about fifteen seconds. There's a practice, though, that anyone can learn to accommodate this fact and go on to solve vexing problems quickly and creatively. Lee Devin borrows from the skills that actors develop to direct their attention so their mind and body behave as if the imaginary world they've created is real. Similarly, when you watch a good movie or read a great novel, you direct your attention with single-minded intensity. Using theatre exercises, Lee introduces you to the techniques of warm-up and the skills of concentration. Although simple, they're by no means easy. Learn and practice these mind-bending exercises and take away a powerful tool that can increase your concentration both at work and in your personal life.

Lee Devin, Swarthmore College
Fifteen Tips for Speeding up Your Project

Faster is better for software projects-if and only if all the right elements are in place and ready to go. Sometimes your organization is in a sweet spot-that period of time when your project should start immediately. Other times, it's better to wait. Join Johanna Rothman to discover how to decide whether your project is ready to go, including how to help your managers define the project portfolio to see where your project fits in and how it supports your organization's goals. Johanna discusses fifteen ways to measure and steer projects to help you get to the end faster. Learn about rolling wave scheduling, continuous integration, time-boxing, and much more. In this interactive session, you'll discuss the meaning of "done" so you can help the team finish a project sooner and avoid having it drag on. Although you don't have to use all of the tips, the more you use, the faster your project will run.

Johanna Rothman, Rothman Consulting Group, Inc.


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