Post POST post – A Recap of Perspectives On Software Testing

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I recently attended Perspectives On Software Testing (POST)  in Calgary, Alberta.  POST is a one day testing peer conference/workshop that emphasizes interaction and deep discussion on Test Reporting.  It was a great day of conversation and debate. Some of the people that attended are old hands at testing and had large volumes of experience to rely on for their comments, while some of us are newer to the field; in either case, everyone was heard and everyone had a chance to speak.

Some notable discussions included:

– Nancy Kelln (@nkelln)’s talk about how the stages of grief/loss can be mapped to the responses that we get when people are told that their software has more problems than they thought. We realized that some professions, such as Doctors, are trained to give bad news and treat it as a regular part of their job, so we might need to step up our game and take some pages from their books. Many ideas came out of this session, but the one that struck a chord with me was this point about training ourselves in giving bad news.

– Christin Weideman (@c_wiedemann) lead us into an interesting discussion about how sometimes less is more for test reporting. Some times we report numbers that don’t mean anything to those that read the report. What does 85.478% tests passed really mean? Are we close to being done? How important are those tests that are failing? Some times a simple good, bad, ok or Red, Yellow and Green communicate more and encourage conversations about what the results really mean than giving out the results as tests passed failed for percentage of tests run and passed.

– Keith McIntosh’s (@keithpqa)  talk lead us into a great discussion about how to work with distributed teams, especially dealing with teams that cross time zones or cultures. Sometimes the culture shift can be just within our own country (i.e., try to book a meeting in Calgary during the Stampede).

– Janet Gregory (@janetgregoryca) lead us into a discussion about how we display and report our information. Context can be king. The test reporting that we provide to ourselves or developers may not be the best format for project managers or product owners, and sometimes the information overload can lead to reduced understanding or being ignored as noise.

All in all, POST was a excellent use of a Saturday (even if you’re not like me and can’t always talk 24/7 about testing). This is just a small sample of the talks and discussions that happened over the day; if you are interested, many of the attendees have active discussions on Twitter and LinkedIn. Just look for the #POST2013 hashtag to see some of the discussions from last weekend.