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STANZ speaker profile: Karen Johnson

If you’re interested in testing you’ll want to hear what testing experts have to say on the subject. At this year’s STANZ (Software Testing Australia New Zealand conference) there will be presentations from four international testing experts. Each week we’ll tell you a little bit more about each of them. This week we’re introducing Karen Johnson.

About Karen:

Karen is a software test consultant. She is based in Chicago but travels to speak at conferences around the world and work with organisations planning test strategy.

She has worked as a software tester or test manager since 1992 after catching the testing bug (pardon the pun) while writing technical guides.

Karen’s testing history is very varied. She has worked with banking, manufacturing and ecommerce software as well as content management systems, medical software and business intelligence initiatives.

As well as teaching and testing Karen is a contributing author to the book Beautiful Testing released by O’Reilly publishers. She has published numerous articles and blog posts about her experiences with software testing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on August 11, 2011 in STANZ 2011, Testing

 

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STANZ speaker profile: Jan Jaap Cannegieter

If you’re interested in testing you’ll want to hear what testing experts have to say on the subject. At this year’s STANZ (Software Testing Australia New Zealand conference) there will be presentations from four international testing experts. Each week we’ll tell you a little bit more about each of them. This week we’re introducing Jan Jaap:

About Jan Jaap

Jan Jaap is an extremely accomplished testing consultant, trainer and commentator. He is interested in testing, quality assurance and requirements. He is from the Netherlands and has worked for local government agencies, Dutch Tax Administration, various ministries, the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, Postbank / ING, Rabobank, ABN AMRO, Corus, Central Book house, Swiss Life, Cordares, Achmea MortgageDutch National Railway, KPN, Tele2 and Ziggo.

Jan Jaap is a trainer who delivers courses and workshops in Quality Assurance in ICT and requirements. He has co-authored eight books and written several journal articles. He has spoken at international conferences such as Testnet, ESEPG, SPIder, PROFES, Dutch Testing Day, LaQuSo and Prince 2 User Group.

He is a member of the executive board of SYSQA B.V., an independent organization specialising in requirements, testing, quality assurance and process improvement. Within SYSQA he is responsible for knowledge management, product management and quality management.

Jan Jaap will be delivering a keynote presentation and workshop around the TMMi (Test Maturity Model integrated). He was part of the development group for TMMi level 4 and 5 and co-author of “The Little TMMi”, the first book in English about TMMi, so it’s a topic he knows a lot about.

Test Process Improvement: Testers Get Out of Your Cave!

Only by involving stakeholders outside of test processes will an improvement in the test processes be accomplished. The process areas we as testers can fully control are pretty mature. The process areas where we need other stakeholders like project management and general management are less mature. Consider results of Test Maturity Model (TMMi) Assessments and learn that if we want to make testing more mature, we have to get out of our cave.

TMMi (Test Maturity Model integrated): Valuable Practice with Quick Scans

This is a hands-on interactive session useful to all organisations and test groups. In this session Jan Jaap will demonstrate the Quick Scan tool which allows you to gauge your levels across a number of key areas which in turn allows you to discover where you should focus your efforts. By the end of the session you’ll know how to get the most out of Quick Scans to benefit your organisation.

During the workshop you’ll also have an introduction to the basics of TMMi, the history and structure, a comparison between TMMi and other test process improvement models.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2011 in STANZ 2011

 

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STANZ speaker profile: Goranka Bjedov from Facebook

If you’re interested in testing you’ll want to hear what testing experts have to say on the subject. At this year’s STANZ (Software Testing Australia New Zealand conference) there will be presentations from four international testing experts. Each week we’ll tell you a little bit more about each of them. This week we’re introducing Goranka:

 About Goranka:

Goranka is coming over to Australasia prepared to cause controversy with her keynote speech on The Future of Quality. She will also run a workshop teaching the skills to find and develop skilled testers.

Goranka is interested in performance, capacity and reliability analysis, as well as test planning. She is currently the Capacity Planning Engineer at Facebook but she has also spent five years performance testing at Google and worked for Network Appliance and AT&T Labs so she has lots of real world testing experience. Before becoming a tester she was an Associate Professor at the Purdue University Schools of Engineering so she’s pretty smart too.

Somehow Goranka has also found the time to write papers, presentations and two textbooks. She regularly speaks at conferences around the world and spoke at STANZ in 2007. After that event the feedback was so fantastic that we’ve been trying to get her back ever since and we’re very excited to see what she has to say this year.

The Future of Quality Keynote:

This talk addresses the impact of changes such as Cloud, Open Source and Software Complexity on testing and test professionals. Goranka has spent two years researching this topic and spoken to hundreds of testers about it.

The future can seem scary, with start-ups popping up everywhere working out how to offer the same product or service as you for less money by using Cloud or Open Source to drive down costs. At the same time established companies have extremely complex software systems within which it is almost impossible to isolate single layers and identify what they do. Goranka is going to discuss quality in the context of our changing world and technology. And when we say quality, it might not be what you have traditionally thought of as quality because quality the way you may currently think of it doesn’t count anymore. Find out why.

Testing Skills: How to Find and Develop Skilled Testers:

Anyone who has recruited in the testing space will be familiar with the following questions:

  • What are the characteristics and skills of good software testers?
  • How do you check or interview a person for a testing position?
  • What types of people make bad testers?
  • How do you develop potential, if you do not have an experienced team?

If you work in testing you’ll have no doubt come across other testers with incredibly varied levels of skill and knowledge. It can be a frustrating thing. Goranka will introduce simple methods of checking if someone has a developer or tester mindset. She’ll also give you a list of topics, games and exercises to sharpen the skills of your testing team.

Book your ticket for STANZ, go on, it’s going to be awesome!

In conclusion Goranka is a clever and engaging speaker who will deliver two useful and inspiring presentations. And she is only one part of a packed two-day conference, so go and book your ticket for STANZ.

Still need convincing? (man, tough crowd) Then watch this video of Goranka give a talk about open source tools for performance testing at Google:

Did you watch it? Great speaker, isn’t she? Now book your STANZ ticket. Thanks.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in STANZ 2011

 

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An Inspirational Visit to the Powerhouse Museum

It seems I do most of my blogging on airplanes – this is another blog post written while crossing the Tasman.

Last week the Software Education trainer team had a rare opportunity to get together for some professional development and R&R together. We try to do this on a regular basis, but it’s been quite a while since we got it right.

Nine of us met in Sydney for three days; we spent the first day sharing ideas and talking as a team. The second day Clarence White from The Actor’s Studio took us through some exercises to extend our classroom delivery skills, and on the third day we did touristy things in Sydney: a visit to the Powerhouse Museum followed by a Harbour Cruise lunch.

I really enjoyed opportunity to spend time with my colleagues – we tend to be a fairly solitary bunch, and seldom get the chance to work together simply due to the nature of our work. We travel to venues around Australia and New Zealand (and beyond) delivering courses and consulting with companies and teams on our own, so being able to spend three days in each other’s company is a real privilege.

We debated the content of courses, delivery styles, and the state of the world at length – it would be impossible for us to get together and not have intense discussions as we’re all so passionate about our work.

If you think the testers and developers in your company sometimes have passionate discussions you should see a bunch of testing and development trainers talking about the merits and flaws of each others topic areas:-). Fortunately we value diversity and embrace free thought and the sharing of ideas, and we have a social contract that sets the framework for debate so the discussions were interesting, fun and respectful.

On our third day together we visited the Powerhouse Museum and had a Curated Tour. This was generously organized by Damian McDonald and we were guided around the museum by Matthew Connell.

Matthew is the Principal Curator for Physical Sciences & IT and he took the time to not only show us around the museum, he explained what the exhibits are, what they represent, and the process the curators go through to identify and select what goes into an exhibition. This was a fascinating tour and the insights Matthew shared with us were inspirational both in terms of how the ideas apply to what and how we teach, and about the lifecycle of technology and innovation.

I didn’t take many notes (too absorbed in listening) but fortunately Sharon and Anja were armed with their iPhones and they did take notes of some of the key points Matthew made. So, thank you ladies for sharing your notes with me.

Here’s what Sharon had to say (she summarizes so well I’m not going to try to paraphrase)

  • The museum had to focus on “less consumption and more interaction” – I thought that was a good analogy for software also, particularly the development of Agile software – less “take what you are given and be happy with it” more of “what do you want out of this and how can we provide it”. Less spoon feeding more designing the menu.
  • “Living laboratories” in the museum – I could also draw the analogy back to software here –our solutions should be built with this in mind – particularly with an Agile solution – let’s hypothesise and experiment with the solution and use the results of the experiment to determine our next steps.
  • “Technology at a cultural level – what is the context, purpose, persistence of the technology” – it was a great trigger for thinking about how long any solution will be around and why is it being used. So often we see our solutions not providing a single solution but being built as a package of solutions – is that the best way?
  • “Significance is not a universal concept – it varies over time”. I thought this was very insightful as you can see this is software when the priorities change at the micro level and when the technology changes at the macro level – iPhone and iPad aps are the example that came to mind – we have moved away from complex multi-function software to small, simple aps that deliver the required solution
  • “The Rubbish Phase” of a product or an artefact – this made me think about good software solutions that do not survive the “rubbish phase” and are thrown away before people realise their value or potential value [Editors Note: the Rubbish Phase is the period between an idea being innovative and it becoming an important part of history. Matthew spoke about some of the material the museum has in storage that runs the risk of being discarded to saved space, and then becomes rare and historically significant]
  • “Innovation is something that changes human thinking” – I thought this was a great definition and would love to do some blogging and working on innovation in IT and what is it and how do we recognise it?
  • “The deficit model of scientific communication – we know everything and we will tell you what you need to know” – Matthew was talking about climate change as his example but I could see us in IT doing that to the business and our end users – only telling them what we think they need to know.

Anja posted her thoughts to the Software Education Yammer stream:

I felt inspired by our Powerhouse Museum visit in Sydney
that was guided by Matthew Connell, the principle curator.
He was an excellent speaker - now that means different
things to different people. 

He was fluid, and was able to provide knowledge in context
of historical, current and future changes within the
engineering space. 

Moreover, he was very personable - or, he was in the moment,
very approachable and humble about his knowledge trying to
connect to us by giving us his focused attention for over
an hour. And no GAMES!

In his words, displayed work ("art") is not just about
communicating and interacting with people, but to engage
them in context of their realities, their lives -
how and why we are evolving.
Innovation in his own words he described as providing a person
with a new understanding of the world and themselves, their
culture with the main objective to have a social impact.
Innovation can be gradual or big bang. 

The main message I took away from "new approaches to teaching
and learning" is that of an intuitive journey -
to provide for the individual as opposed to mass!

So we had a great time, learned a lot and gained an insight into the historical and scientific mindset. If you’re in Sydney and have some time to spare go and visit the Powerhouse – it’s a great experience. I certainly plan on returning to see the new exhibitions.

Thank you Matthew and Damian, and thank you to my colleagues for sharing the time. Thank you James for the idea of visiting the Powerhouse.

Thanks too to Martyn & Phil for giving us the time and money to be able to get together in Sydney. Now, where should we go for the next trainers session (Fiji anyone?)

Oh, yes – just in case you think we were purely focused on work and learning, I can attest to lots of banter and laughter over great German food and a wonderful cruise on the Harbour. Significant quantities of good beer and wine somehow appeared on the bill at each meal we shared 🙂

The photo was taken on the first day when we were behaving ourselves because the boss was there with us. There will be no published record of the later events. 😉

Posted by Shane Hastie

 

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‘Soft’ skills or dealbreakers?

A few weeks ago the Australian sales team headed down to Sydney to attend Agile Australia 2011. They had a busy couple of days meeting and talking to Agilests from all over the country and noticed a common theme. Lots of companies have adopted the practices of Agile without accompanying them with the necessary cultural shift that they needed to make things actually happen. Anyone working in software development will have heard that story before and it always makes me wonder why we still use the term ‘soft skills’. Soft skills are not a small, unimportant or unnecessary thing to consider, they are the crux of your organisation’s ability to succeed. If you can’t talk to people, listen to them and work together you’ll never get anything done!

With regards to Agile, in order for projects to be successful you need support from your business and investment in training and coaching so that all staff members come along for the ride. The processes of Agile and Scrum are important, but without understanding why you are following these processes it’s going to be almost impossible to make anyone do them (which is the reason SoftEd’s Agile training courses focus on awareness as well as process).

What else did they see at the conference? First of all keynote speaker Alistair Cockburn talked about Agile UX Design as an ‘up and coming’ area of interest. They listened to Rob Thomsett‘s presentation on whether your business is ready for Agile According to Rob, “implementing Agile practices is a disruptive cultural revolution” and Agile business models are based on simplicity and transparency. Daniel Oertli, who has made big changes at REA Group, promoted the value of planning (not plans necessarily, but the actual planning process) and of being customer centric rather than customer driven (an important distinction I think, after all you can’t and probably shouldn’t do every single thing that every customer requests, but you need them at the heart of your organisation to make sure you’re going in the right direction).

According to Michael Bromley Agile isn’t the point, better is the point, and his organisation (NBN-Co) believe that Agile is radical and will take time to develop, but the only way to make this happen is to get started and go for it because you learn Agile by being Agile. Just as you learn, fail and improve in Agile projects you must learn, fail and improve at doing Agile itself, “Agile is a way of thinking”.

There were a few other things you see at most conferences nowadays: panel discussions, game playing (the marshmallow challenge) and the usual buzz-word bingo (everyone has their favourite terms!) which keep us entertained over the two days. Thanks Agile Australia!

And just one last thing, we at Software Education run conferences as well: SDC, focusing on business analysis and Agile and STANZ, our testing conference. We are really proud of the calibre of international speakers who present at these events and the high quality of the event, the material and the discussions which is always reflected in the feedback we get so if you’re interested in coming along, or want to know more about us in general please go to www.softed.com. Thanks!

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Agile, Culture

 

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Andy Cooper joins SoftEd as Sales and Marketing Manager

Next Tuesday we will welcome Andy Cooper to SoftEd. Andy has extensive international experience in sales and marketing with Computer Associates and Oracle in both Australia and New Zealand. For SoftEd he will be splitting his time between our Wellington and Brisbane offices. He has a BCA degree in Marketing and Management, and a BA in Psychology from Victoria University of Wellington. We hope he’s looking forward to starting this exciting and demanding role as much as we’re looking forward to having an extra set of expert hands in our ever-growing business!

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Software Education People

 

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New Board Member – Paul Reid

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Paul Reid is joining the Software Education board. Paul is currently the Group Manager, Technology and Innovation at NZ Post, as well as a director of Maven. Prior to this he was CEO of the NZ Meteorological Service and prior to that he held a senior management role at Air New Zealand. He joins current board members Martyn Jones, Brian Steele and John Matchett and with his vast experience including building business in the Middle East and Europe we’re positive he is a great addition to the team!

 

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