Summary of Agile2017 Conference | What You Missed & Why You Should’ve Been There
by Janna Sokolow
One of the biggest conferences in the industry, Agile Alliance’s Agile2017 just wrapped up and it was a major success! It brought together members of the Agile community from all over America, including Project Managers, Testers, Scrum Masters, and Developers. And it featured inspiring talks from keynote speakers such as Angie Jones, Jess Lancaster, and Paul Merrill.
We’ve done the dirty work for you to summarize the key takeaways from the testing & quality track of some superstar speakers.
We ask you, our readers to think about these and share your thoughts in the comments!
What new practice will you take back to your Agile teams?
What are you inspired to bring up at your next Scrum meeting?
And how will Agile2017 help you make better software? (Whether you were there or not!)
Summary of “Building Agility into regulated mobile software testing projects”
It all starts with a story. Something to grasp onto, something human to inspire the development of the app. As a tester, you’ll answer:
Who is the user?
How will they use your app?
What are their usability requirements, and how do you define their priorities and severities?
JeanAnn’s talk provided direct advice to the development teams working with regulated mobile software. This category is mainly medical app creators, who must adhere to a strict set of regulations on top of the already demanding app specifications.
Add on inter-dependency with full systems, constantly changing environments, and the fast-paced demands of the software world and Agile becomes a necessity.
JeanAnn made the talk even more powerful by providing opportunities for audience members to engage with one another and come up with their own concepts for how to tackle these issues.
She had the audience wrapped around her fingers as she honed down her main point:
If you implement your tests early and focus on the stories, functionality, and usability will come naturally. Not to mention upholding regulations will become a breeze.
Summary of “Use Tables to Drive Out Ambiguity/Redundancy, Discover Scenarios, and Solve World Hunger”
The humble spreadsheet. You wouldn’t think it could hold as much power as it does, but to veteran Agile Coach Kenneth Pugh, he’s discovered the magic that tables can have to connect members of an Agile team. You throw your test scenarios into Excel and all of a sudden you have an analysis matrix – a no-nonsense visual of where your tests are going.
Ken highlighted how you can easily search for words and phrases unique to your domain-specific language, and use these when returning to code for review. Ken also noted how tables allow Agile teams to be on the same page about identifying any errors or lapses in test scenarios.
So for those who missed out, I offer you Ken’s overarching words of wisdom: forget complicated tools, simplify your test organization with tables, and let Agile be the star of your development cycle. And who knows? — You may even knock out world hunger in the process, too.
Summary of “How ATDD Fixed Your Agile Flow”
Agile teams may not always be looking for ways to increase efficiency and productivity in their practices. We get it: They can be complicated, expensive, and require an increase in manpower that simply isn’t worth it for teams to take on. Yet John Riley, Scrum Expert at Safelite Auto Glass, is here to tell you (after telling those at Agile2017) that implementing automation becomes obvious with the test-first mindset of ATDD (Acceptance Test Driven Development).
This method is not the easiest sell, but John was able to drive home the appeal of this highly collaborative Agile methodology:
He warned his audience of the dangers of ping-pong communication between developers and testers, changing requirements, and insufficient amounts of regression testing — This is where bugs begin to crawl through the cracks.
If you begin the development process with the entire team in agreement on how the product should function and where the finished product should succeed/fail, you can better engineer tests in the first place. Once you have the test cases, the next priorities become speed and regression testing to get the most of the Agile experience and deliver the best software quickly and easily. Leaving automation the only solution.
John’s talk was a great one, with clear and interesting examples — a real treat for testers and Agilists alike.
Graphics courtesy of John Riley
Summary of “How machine learning will affect agile testing”
Paul, like many of us, heard the growing hubbub of machine learning from all around. Yet once he got to 5 major industry leaders who all had the same view on machine learning, he knew he had to take the investigation into his own hands and find out if testers will soon lose their jobs. With limited knowledge and an inquisitive mind, he managed to make a pretty believable prediction of what machine learning will mean for testing one day.
He took us along on his journey to learn just how fast and successful machines are at testing. He believes testing will expand into new realms and new methods due to machine learning. He also believes jobs will not go away. But this is only if we adapt to these changes in technology — if we grow with our algorithms and become smarter than the machines we’re creating.
So machine learning technology may take over your job one day, but that is only if you give up the fight to keep up.
Summary of “Evolving Your Testing Strategy: Mapping Now, Next, and Later”
David’s talk, “Evolving Your Testing Strategy,” had semblances of a “Who Wore It Best” critique at its core. He analyzed popular patterns and anti-patterns as he puts it, (and what the latest trends and statements are, as I put it) such as the pyramid, inverted pyramid and even the cupcake model. He also touched on how company culture affects the testing process through specific mental models and attitudinal approaches, and what effect this will have on the eventual finished product.
David’s main takeaway: Like a good trail mix (with chocolate bits), the best testing plans are a diverse customized combination of the best of all these strategies.
Graphics courtesy of David Laribee
Summary of “Pairing – The Secret Sauce of Agile Testing”
The testing world experienced its very first cooking class this week, thanks to Jess Lancaster’s talk on “The Secret Sauce of Agile Testing”! Pair testing is Jess’s secret to help testers mentor and learn from one another, all while catching bugs and improving software quality.
His method involves one tester and either another tester, or a project manager, designer, or developer sitting “side-by-side in testing. One operates the keyboard in exercising the software and the other participant suggests, analyzes, and notates the testing outcomes.” Through his method, he advised, “managers how they can improve work culture by fostering teamwork and co-worker relationships.”
He capped off his lecture with an in-depth tutorial and real-life anecdotes of times he’s implemented this process. Those lucky enough to have attended walked out with a “pairing recipe” card to take back to their work teams.
So let’s recap what we know about Agile’s Secret Sauce, pair testing.
More productive? Check.
More fun? Check.
Filling, delicious, and nutritious? Not quite. But we’ll let it slide for the sake of Agile.
Does this convince you…?
Do you now realize all you can learn from attending an industry conference? Let yourself be inspired – maybe now you’ll make the move and get involved in supportive, active communities like this one.
This was merely a summary of a few of our favorite speakers. For more information, and to see what else this conference had to offer, head over to their website to read more.