I got the chance to present at SoftTest in Dublin, Ireland in 2019. It was the last time they were going to host the conference, but unlike most events, they knew that even in 2019. So I was even more delighted to be part of it and finally see a bit of Dublin (the original Boston, MA if you ask me).
Janet Gregory gave a talk version of a workshop I'd co-facilitate with Lisa Crispin a few weeks earlier about testing in DevOps. She connected the questions we ask and the work that we do as testers to the business risk. Existential questions like "Why am I here?" and "Are we delivering the right thing?" are encouraged. Visualizing our work and collaborating allows us to get feedback from small experiments.
In one experiment, Conor Fitzgerald and Rob Meaney tried team-based testing. REcurring issues like build failures, end-to-end testing failures, and ultimately rework motivated their teammates to embrace change. They started from automation completely devoid of risk analysis and testing tasks invisible on the board. They used their crisis to build the new habit of radiating information about testing, making both their own work and the testing work to be picked up as visible and pick-up-able as possible.
Margaret Dineen spoke about making quality engineering visible and tagible, and connecting it to business value. The strategic intent of the organization informs what valuable software you deliver, and vice versa. Identifying the Impact, Confidence, and Ease of implementation (ICE) drives the software teams to actually deliver things the user cares about. Tracking outcomes across silos only works if you're open to measuring how badly disconnected software delivery is from the needs of your users.
Joe Joyce spoke about quality in an API's lifecycle something I would come to know and understand better in the time since this conference. He focused on getting the specs right, since they're faster to change and rollback, and serve as a point of collaboration even before the code or test code has been written. I couldn't agree more.
Hugh McCamphill's talk was about knowing your automation. Making abstractions, while inherently leaky, should be done at the domain rather than the implementation level to cut down on maintenance costs. Focus on saving time building; invest in learning.
Jean-Paul Varwijk gave a talk I remembered as a sweeping history of software testing, but see now in my notes that he called it "Testing as Advantage". Testing must be an advantage if it's stuck around this long, right? Build up collaboration skills to remove the separation needed to progress. Supply information continuously. Collecting sensible metrics and using them for the right purpose will tell you way more than tests will.
What a high-quality collection of speakers and talks for such a local community. This was one of the last places I got to travel before travelling became infitinitely harder. I'm so grateful to have been learning together in the same place at the same time as so many greats.