StarWest Software Testing Conference – What a week!

Wayne Kelly recently attended StarWest in Anaheim, LA – one of the longest running Software Testing and quality assurance conferences.   

First of all what a week I have had at a Software Testing conference in Los Angeles.  It’s been non-stop from 8.00am in the morning till later than 7.00pm some nights due to a full on schedule.  With over 100 opportunities to learn and network Wayne Kelly had exposure to everything from Testing in Dev Ops, Big Data, Analytics and AI/Machine learning for Testing.  I met some amazing people from all sorted of industries: Military (creating drones to shoot down other drones), financial, pet food, sporting ….the list goes on.

What I found particularly interesting:

The main message was all about Agile, shift left there still remained an old team structure with test Managers, Leads etc and still a demand for people at that level, something we seem to be moving away from in New Zealand.
Another interesting observation that I noticed from a show of hands in group question in answer was around automation. There seemed to be an absence of automation and teams still doing projects in a waterfall approach. 
The theme seemed to be companies are saying they are doing Agile but the people still felt very much a waterfall methodology was the order of the day.  Obviously, there were those companies, although the minority from what I observed that we well advanced in Agile, BDD, TDD etc and looking for the next steps.

Main key learnings part 1:

– Automate.  
There were some amazing tool demos.  Vendors have also identified this trend and most of the tools had a non-code ability, a lot more advanced than simple record and playback functions previously seen.
– Upskill. 
Its essential to remain relevant – a message driven home by almost all of the speakers.  But as one speaker pointed out, often it’s about learning to apply your skills in a different way, which required a different way of thinking.  An example being in the way tests are created using BDD.

Main key learnings part 2:

– Less is more.  One of the tutorials I attended was about Heuristic Test Strategy Models.  The speaker, first of all, managed to drive down a 25-page document to 5 pages. As a result of using mind maps to drive coverage and scope.  Another example of doing less with more was a move from detailed test cases to checklists.  Some rather powerful techniques.
– Collaboration.   Furthermore a big theme throughout the conference was collaboration and as a result, this tied in a no blame culture.

Wayne Kelly.

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