After much anticipation, myself and three of my colleagues embarked on the Software Testing World Cup journey in the European Preliminary. We had prepared, strategised, booked rooms/monitors, bought supplies and all the other (actually quite long list) of tasks to get ready for the big day. Armed with the knowledge that I would be jetting off on holiday the following day, we entered the (metaphorical) arena to give it our all and hopefully have a little fun. Here are my thoughts about 3 interesting (exhausting) hours.
When I reflect.....
- Over my testing career, I have learnt to really value time to reflect. Study a problem, sleep on it, speak to peers for advice, come up with an approach. The time just doesn't really exist (in the amount that I needed it) during the competition, which made me uncomfortable. A little discomfort can teach you a great deal, and indeed amplified the more instinctive part of my testing brain.
- Following on with the above, I'm happy to say I kept my shape. When your instinctive side (coupled with the deep rooted, long learned behaviours) becomes more prevalent, you can, well, go to pieces a little. I didn't. I listened to the initial discussions with the Product Owners, stuck to time limits, continued to communicate, maintained the Kanban board we had set up, all healthy indicators of some useful learned behaviours!
- We did quite a lot of preparation and research. We met up a couple of times as a group to discuss approach and the rules of the competition which helped massively, it helped me to discuss the rules as a group and we quickly built a common understanding. Our preparation went beyond the competition, discussing bug advocacy, the principles of testing in a mobile context to name but a few. However, as we know, very few strategies survive first contact, and our overall strategy was no exception!
- HOWEVER, I do believe we pivoted our strategy nicely on the day, enabling us to broaden our focus due to the scale of the application and number of platforms. As a team, we decided to familiarise with each area (we had broken down into chunks) on our desktops within a browser, then move on to a specified mobile device (given a steer that iOS would be critical).
- Finally, I thought it was a really great thing that we decided to be in the same room as a team, really boosted our ability to validate each others defects and check in at important times, such as when we were adding to the report.
Now, about the competition itself......
- Adding a mobile aspect really created fertile ground for bugs. In fact, I could have raised bugs for the full 3 hours, but the competition was about much more than that. This made the challenge a little different, as it would have been easy just to bug away and lose all perspective.
- The small hints before the preliminary were helpful too, allowing us to queue up devices and reach out to our colleagues who had done mobile testing in depth.
- We had our HP Agile Manager (good grief, the irony in that title) test login's nice and early which was really helpful for familiarity, although a part of me wished I could have tested that system instead! We got logged in to the real project on the day without any issues, although I'm not sure it was the same for everyone.
Could be better.....
- A narrower focus of application would have improved the quality and challenge of the defects. To slightly contradict the above, the scope of the application under test was TOO wide! Perhaps a narrower challenge with slightly more gnarly, awkward bugs to find, I guess I felt I didn't have to work hard (at all) to find bugs, never mind the most important ones.
- Engaging with the Product Owners was a challenge. While I can see that having one giant pool of questions was advantageous to the wide dissemination of information, I would have liked to have seen teams assigned to one (or a pair of) Product Owner. This would have enabled building up more of a rapport, especially as this was one of areas teams would be judged on.
- Practically speaking, the start was a little chaotic, moving from streaming URL to streaming URL, but after 10 minutes or so we go there. This reflects so many experiences in the software development world (projects) where we need to find our rhythm.
I think I (we) could have done better. However I always think that about everything I do, part of what keeps me pushing forward with my career. To participate was the key here though, plus I always appreciate a little testing practice, now I'm a little more 'senior' don't always get the chance!