Why should we test, and other topics we discussed as a group

At the start of February in my local Community of Practice I hosted a session where I had a group of almost 30 testers (mostly System Test with some User Acceptance Test, with a mixture of permanents and contractors), which I split into four groups to discuss one of four topics. To avoid people wanting to cluster into friend groups, or choosing/avoiding specific topics, I went with assigning people to a group as they walked in.

Each topic was assigned a symbol – square, triangle, circle, square (yes, I have a Playstation). I then wrote each symbol in order on a stack of Post It notes, and as people entered the room I gave them a symbol in order, so I know each group would be within 1 person difference of each other. I wanted to avoid using ABCD or 1234, so no-one would think the topics were graded in quality in any form. Even subconsciously people may like the idea of being in group 1 or A, over 4 or D.

The groups were given 10 minutes to talk between themselves and write out their answers to the topic they were assigned to. The critical thing I made sure to remind everyone of is that there are no wrong answers or stupid questions, so they shouldn’t be concerned about the answers that they give. Then, I gave each group to read out their answers, any logic or reasoning behind them, and then opened the floor to allow people to offer their own additional answers, challenge any they disagreed with, or wanted further elaboration on.

Below are the topics that were discussed, and the answers they gave.

Why should we test?

  • To ensure things work
  • To find faults/issues
  • Functionality & quality
  • Customer experience
  • Fit for purpose
  • Auditing
  • Confidence
  • Mitigate risk
  • To ensure functions work under stress/performance
  • Saves the business money/reputation
  • Impact assessment
  • Saves time
  • Continuous improvement
  • End to end processes work across all areas
  • So we have a job
  • Prevention better than cure

Why be a tester?

  • Think out of the box
  • Flaw detection
  • Cost of quality
  • Touch i.e You like touching things, like the big red button
  • Personal development
  • Application bottlenecks
  • Multidimensional learning
  • Domain expertise
  • Evolution
  • Job satisfaction

What are the differences between ST and UAT?

  • ST – Did we build it right?
  • ST focus on “back-end” impact
  • UAT – Is this the right change for the business?
  • ST – Starts early (caveat – depends on model being followed. i.e. Agile, waterfall, V, etc)
  • ST – To break things
  • Different source documents. i.e. Functional spec vs Business requirements
  • Shared end result – Quality solution
  • UAT – Concerned with BAU
  • UAT more rigid than ST. e.g. Agile/waterfall
  • NFT testing sits under ST Scope

What are the differences between waterfall and agile?

I colour coded the answers below, as they grouped them on the image above for when they were discussing agile and waterfall.

  • Defined delivery stages
  • Testers & developers working separately
  • Defined components
  • A lot of documentation
  • Automation on regression testing
  • Testers are involved from design stage
  • Waterfall is restricted
  • Agile is a principle
  • Greater scope for cross-skilling
  • Working collaboratively – Testers involved from the start
  • Quick to production
  • Short deliverables
  • Flexible & adaptable – Release components quicker & faster changes
  • Minimum documentation required
  • Relies more on automation from the start of development

For a first attempt at doing something like this before, I think it went very well. I’ve been involved in ones where the groups were split up, but it was based on where they were already sat. or multiple groups talked about the same topic, leading to people feeling like they were repeating others.

I had no plan or intent of what I wanted to achieve with this, simply hoped it would get everyone to think more about what we do, why and how, which would then either lead to people asking more questions or answering any they may have had. I also have no intent other than to share what happened here with you as a reader, but I hope it may lead to you thinking of your own answers to the above topics, or even trying it where you work.

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