Harvey Nash Testing – Blog #1 – Forum

January 13, 2015

To set the scene, I’ve just left the inaugural Harvey Nash Testing Forum, hosted in collaboration with two market leading Head of Tests, Nigel Johnson and Ben William (me) – but more about us later. 

I was going to follow the Fight Club moto – the first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club – but that doesn’t quite work for testing, or any social testing network group, although I’m sure some Project Managers might disagree. 
As this is the first of what will become a series of blogs on the Harvey Nash Testing meet-ups, how did the first Test event go down… 
We had two presentations; one from Nigel Johnson (Agile Coach, HP) titled ‘Testing- Innovate or Die’ and one from myself (Ben Williams, Capita) titled ‘War of the Roses in Testing’. We had a good turnout with some interesting test people coming from different areas of the Midlands and wider, making for a good night of discussions and debates. By pure fluke both presentations flowed nicely together with the central theme that Test is in a state of flux, with fractions coming from different groups/schools of testing.
We were at the Birmingham Hub of start-ups, the home of Nick Holzherr start-up Whisk, providing a great setting for the first test forum and nicely fitting with what Nigel was talking about. 
Jessica Rose Quinney, Harvey Nash, who set up the Midlands Forum, had spent the last few weeks making sure details were right and everything was in place. She couldn’t have done a better job, especially as she also provided the beer, wine and food. Without her, it wouldn’t have happened, and neither will the ones coming up in the near future.
I kicked off the presentations with the general theme of ISO 29119 and the ‘Stop ISO 29119 campaign’. This was looking at two sides of a debate that has been gaining momentum and getting more ‘air time’ at conferences across the world. 
My point was and remains, although I can see both sides of the argument, I am not sure ISO 29119 is the best for testing as an industry. We as testers have worked hard to gain respect and recognition that testing is valuable and required in every project not just when a project has gone wrong. With what I have seen, read and heard, I think ISO 29119 is too stuck in the old ways of testing. This seemed to be the main consensus from around the room with discussions around the different standards, how they applied and if they provided any real value. While we know that standards are good, we also know they need to be able to cope with the wide verity of issues and risks that come up on projects.
After a short break with snacks and drink, Nigel took the stage with his ‘Innovate or Die’ presentation. The theme was about dragging testing out from V and Waterfall, and adding a different element to it. He also taught us about ‘Ice’, something I’ll leave out as he may wish to use that again and I don’t want to give away the ending.
He also showed how he had used different tools to show the progression of testing instead of the usual graphs and charts, but with the growing concept of using more visual tools like Mind Maps, and this is something I’ve started to experiment with since the presentations myself. 
Done well, and in the correct place, V model can work extremely well, so I don’t think the message was never use V again, but more think about what you are delivering, ask questions, find out what solution you are being asked to fix, and then look at what can be done to improve.  the project, the communication, the testing or anything else that you may see that is not in line with solving the solution you are implementing. 
The message of the night was if you have a forum get Jessica involved. Also, testing is going through a change with new roles and processes popping up every week, TDD, BDD, DDD, Dev in Test, gherkin, cumber, lettuce and a whole host of other salads.
It doesn’t really matter what delivery method you are using, the fact remains, it is going to seem like it’s changing, but when you break it down, not that much has changed at all.
Test is there to look at the ‘as is’ and compare it to the ‘as it should be’. We as testers are there to provide the stakeholders with information to allow them to make the best decision on what to do next. If that is to go live, ship the product, or go back to the whiteboard. It is still the case in TDD, BDD, Agile or any other process, it just changes the emphasis. This shouldn’t scare us or make us think we are going to lose our roles as testers, we are needed and always will be needed.
We need to ask the question ‘why’ a lot more and think how we can add value to projects through any methods that are being used. If automation can be used, use it, but use it in the correct contents. Challange views and ideas where appropriate and the good work of testers that has been recognised over the years will continue to grow. 
Happy testing and remember…why!
Ben Williams – Capita ITPS – Delivery Manager – Specialist Testing
LinkedIn –   Ben Williams  
Twitter –     @ben_k_w