The first ever uTest Meetup @Bangalore!

uTest is the most wonderful community of testers from across the globe where passionate testers connect, network, discuss, learn and of course – Test!

uTest recently initiated a drive to have meetups across the globe and a result of that was the first ever uMeet organised at Bangalore. It was a fun and wonderful event where utesters shared their stories and journeys with uTest. I too got a chance to speak on my favorite topic of Agile testing and discussing practical agile testing challenges.

Thanks a lot to the organiser Yamini and her friends who chipped in with the setup. It was great meeting the people we know in the community, some of whom are really rising the ranks in uTest. I sure hope to continue my journey with uTest and now Applause.com writing for the forums and also doing some happy testing!

Here’s a sneak peak for you!

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Cheers!

Nishi

 

11th ATA Meetup – Feb’17 @Epsilon, Bangalore

ATA strives to spread knowledge about agile testing and aims to create and nurture a community of agile testers by organising events like conferences, contests and meetups. ATA meetups are free open events which bring testers together for thought provoking talks, discussions and networking opportunities to passionate testers in the area.

18th February 2017 was a great day with the 11th ATA meetup organised in Bangalore courtesy the wonderful team at Epsilon. ATA community got together at the Epsilon venue for some good discussions and talks, one of them being mine!- on the topic “Agile vs Traditional Testing”. Other speakers who graced the occasion were Shanthala and her team from Epsilon talking about “Campaign Testing” and Amit Vyas from Moolya talking about “Client side Performance Testing”.

Here are some pictures from the day-

Stay updated at www.agiletestingalliance.org for upcoming meetups and events. We are looking for volunteers and organisers for our next events, and also reach me in case you have ideas to present on our next meetup!

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Cheers,

Nishi

Awesome day at NFTCon 2016- Great Event and being Awarded by UNICOM!

I had the chance to partner with UNICOM recently to help plan out a new event called NFTCon 2016 (Bangalore)- i.e.Non Functional Testing Conference 2016.

It was a niche idea for a one-of-its kind event catering specifically to non-functional testing, with main focus on Performance , Security & Usability testing along with Accessibility and Reliability testing. It was designed to be a 2-day event with 2 tracks on each day, with many great speakers, some wonderful round table talks and a zealous audience.

I was also felicitated by the nice team at UNICOM for my contribution to the event and chairing one of the tracks. It was such a nice gesture and kind words, I thank the team for their efforts and I look forward to our next association pretty soon! 🙂

Here is a peek into the event —

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Cheers

Nishi

5 Ways Agile Testing Is Different from Traditional Testing

My latest article for stickyminds.com focused on the essential differences between Agile and traditional approach of testing >> published here

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The agile world is abuzz nowadays with talk about agile testing and the key role of testers in an agile project. Some even say testers are the key piece of an agile team, arguing that they define the success or failure of the team’s attempts to be agile.

But what makes agile testing different from traditional testing? It’s the distinctions between the agile and traditional software development approaches, but also the adaptability of testers in these very different environments. Agile demands more from its testers, and, in turn, it values them more, too.

Let’s look at five main things that make an agile tester’s life different from that of a traditional tester.

Continuous Involvement

In traditional projects, the test team works mostly in a silo, and there is little or no interaction needed with developers or other teams on a daily basis. But in agile, the test team is integrated with the Scrum team instead of being a separate unit. They need to be continuously involved in all aspects of the project, starting with the requirements and design of each feature. This makes the testers’ days busier with discussions, meetings, and interactions where they need to put forward their opinions.

Agile necessitates that everybody report to the Scrum team first and their separate testing or development team later. In my experience as a part of a Scrum team, we would discuss our vacations or skill training needs first within the Scrum team, then inform our test manager afterward.

Essential Tools

Agile needs tool support more than traditional projects do because of the pace of development and continuous iterations. Each iteration brings along some regression work from the previous iterations that needs to be automated quickly.

The same is true for test data generation, white-box testing tools, and static analysis tools, which become a necessity in an agile system. Given the time and quality constraints, performing white-box tests using control flow or data flow analysis, static analysis of code, or reviews for code and documents is no longer optional. Instead, it’s a mandate to prevent defects and ingrain quality into each work product.

While in traditional projects, tools may be a luxury we might not be able to afford, in an agile project they become a necessity. Testers need these tools’ abilities in order to achieve their quality targets.

When my team began our agile transformation, we had one automation engineer who would work on automation scripts for the entire project. But when pacing through the sprints, we quickly realized that one automation engineer was not able to keep pace with automating all features in all sprints. So, everybody started pitching in by scripting the features they tested, and eventually it was mandated. The automation expert was only used for framework-level implementation, and later he was absorbed as a functional tester.

Due to frequent changes in the application within the sprint, we would follow an (n–1) approach to automation of our product, automating the features of the nth sprint in the next sprint, then subsequently using them for regression. But due to overload of regression building up as we progressed, it was crucial that each tester be able to perform and use the tools effectively, building up the test suites every sprint.

Multidimensional Skills

A traditional project has set expectations from the testers and testing activities. Each phase of testing gives set outputs, such as test design and specifications in the design phase, functional issues and defect reports in the execution phase, regression tests and retest results in reruns, and acceptance test reports in the end phase. This pattern does not leave much room for anything else because the project is already hard-pressed at the deadline.

But an agile tester’s viewpoint covers not only the functional aspects of what he is testing, but also many broader aspects of the application. He need not be a performance testing expert to suggest during the design discussions that the design might not be able to support too many users. He may not be a usability expert, but he can suggest better ways to design the web form of their user story. He may not be a technical writer, but he may be required to review the installation guide steps. An agile tester has to have a broader perspective of quality in his project’s context and possess skills in all those areas.

Effective Communication

Agile requires effective communication among the team members at all times, and testers play a key role in establishing and maintaining that. For example, as a part of a Scrum team, a tester will be required to wear many hats: that of a requirement critic for the product owner, of a design reviewer for the developers and architects, of a functionality expert as a tester, and of a release adviser to the manager. Testers have to give their opinions and ideas at all stages of the project, which may be not required (or even much welcomed) in a traditional project.

Testers act as the binding force of the team when they work in pairs with developers, sharing their test cases and ideas, as well as when they work as a quality reporter for the manager, with daily statistics and defect metrics for each sprint. The art of verbal and written communication is essential in an agile project.

Quick Feedback from Testing

The most important difference for agile testers is the quick feedback being given from the testing perspective at every point. The agile timeframes are shorter than on a traditional project, and testing needs to provide feedback about project quality on a regular basis. Daily stand-up meetings, design discussion or review meetings, the user story verification status, and sprint retrospectives all require constant feedback from testers.

There is some additional pressure because the direction of the project gets defined by this feedback, and there is no final “quality gateway” at the end if the project does not meet the deadlines or quality goals. This keeps the testers on their feet at all times, unlike in traditional projects where testers are required only at the end of the project for a sign-off.

Working in an agile environment can be challenging for testers coming from traditional projects, but by being open, flexible, and adaptive, they will find that an agile team is a wonderful place to be a tester.

Do share your views!

Cheers

Nishi

Agile Tester, ISTQB and more – What I gained v/s what I didn’t from all these certifications

 

I am glad to share the latest article I wrote for utest.com forum of testers globally as a part of their #BackToSchool campaign – where writers are sharing their experience with formal education , degrees and certifications on their profession.

I was excited as soon as I read about the #BackToSchool campaign on http://www.utest.com. As someone who has 5 certifications and numerous conferences to my credit, I definitely needed to share my insight and experience here.

Please read and like my article on the forum at

https://www.utest.com/articles/agile-tester-istqb-and-more-what-i-gained-vs-what-i-didnt-from-all-these-certifications

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For a background – I am certified by ISTQB at – Foundation Level (CTFL), Advanced Level Test Analyst (ISTQB Adv TA) and Certified Test Manager (ISTQB Adv TM).

I am also certified by Agile Test Alliance ATA body at 2 levels—Master Agile Tester (MAT) and Automation Agile Tester (AAT)

Just to clarify– none of these certifications were a mandate for my job or a part of my yearly ‘goals’ as some companies I have now heard do to their entry or mid-level testers.

Why did I take these up?

I took up all these certification exams at different points of my career for different purposes.

When I started out my career, I was working as a tester in a start-up like company where I had minimum guidance or hand-holding into the testing world, its terminologies and processes, during being responsible for a huge project in its nascent stage. After about a year of working I had begun to realize that there were some things missing in my knowledge. Though I had learnt about writing test cases and had gotten pretty good at finding bugs and reporting them, I hardly knew the broader perspective of why we did what we did and what the industry outside was working with. I did not have any software background before that and did not study it in my college course too. So I decided to take up some kind of course of learning about the basics to gain confidence about my own work. I looked up online and found out about ISTQB which seemed to be the most popular course and certification for entry level software testers. I started to study for the same. I bought a book, researched online, and did self-study instead of taking up a training course. The course is designed to open up the complete picture of software testing world in front of you so that being in any industry or domain or level of testing, you can relate to where you are and what is the process around you. Every day I learnt about more types of testing that can be done, what they meant. I appeared for the exam and cleared it. But the purpose it solved for me was more than the certification. It was making me confident about what I was doing, what improvements I could suggest in my processes and even what terms we were using wrongly in our team. It also made me stand out amongst my peers – not because of the certificate only (start-ups hardly care about that right) but because of this drive to improve myself and my team and the knowledge I could now share.

Note – That is why I suggest the best time to do this exam is at the onset of your testing career, probably up to 2 years into it.

This later inspired me to take up the next level (ISTQB TA) which is supposed to be an extended level for functional testers at a senior level. I studied for the course just the same, but the exam experience was a lot different from the foundation level. It was a more scenario based exam wherein I had to apply the learnt lessons into real-world like situations and exercise decision-making. That was fun – and probably that is a reason why the pass-rate is so much lower for advanced levels.

After a couple of years of doing both these, I felt now I had reached a place where they did not suffice my needs. I was in a dynamic team working in Scrum and needed a more hands-on learning. I wanted to interact with people outside my team. I looked up online and stumbled upon ATA and their 3-day program happening in a nearby city. I talked to my company and being the supportive group they were always, they agreed to sponsor me! So, I went and participated in the CP-MAT (Certified Professional-Master Agile Tester) program by ATA. Now, that was fun! I met a small group of people from different companies and had deep discussions on their experiences, the trainers who had fun team exercises planned all along and a very hands-on final exam which required actual agile tester skills.

A month after it, ATA approached me and invited for their next level training and also offered me a train-the-trainer program since they liked my drive and skills. I was interested to give it a try and so decided to go for that. I did not ask for sponsorship again from the company though, just the leaves for those days. So, I went ahead and did the CP-AAT program which was based on behaviour-driven development using Cucumber tool and its integration with Fitness tool. Since my team was not into any of these practices, I never got to use the knowledge I gained in this program. So I thought it was too specific and confined.

So, now you know about why I did each of these and that they just sort of happened over my 8+ years in the industry.

What I gained from them?

As I explained, from my first ISTQB CTFL and TA certificates, I gained insight into correct testing processes and terms, and knowledge about the things that were not happening in my team. This gave me confidence that I was relevant around the industry and to share opinions in the team at an early stage in my career. But yes, it definitely also was a plus that I could put it in my resume and increase my chances of being shortlisted for interviews, because many companies find it as a plus.

From the Agile Testing certifications I gained the insight into agile and how testing should fit in and all the hats a tester must wear for the team to succeed. Since then I progressed into a mentor and leader’s role and also acted as a scrum master and agile pod leader, so it must have helped in some way.

It didn’t hurt that it also brought some credibility and value to my profile. So, when I had to move to another city and find a new job a year later, I wasn’t worried about the switch because of the background I had created for myself. It also pushed up my biography when I wanted to submit proposals to talk at national level conferences and I got the opportunity to speak there.

What I did not gain from them?

Please be sure that though some companies may give preference to certified candidates or they may get shortlisted quicker, but a certificate can never replace actual knowledge. The interview process has to ensure that you have practical experience and knowledge instead of just having cleared a few exams.

Agile teams, start-up teams and communities like u-test do not require any kind of certificates, they need real skills.

If you have worked extensively around the industry and gained that experience, good enough!

If you have self-taught yourself by keeping updated with different skill sets, good enough!

If you have had great mentors who have guided you through the learning, good enough!

If you have studied for different courses and learnt the skills of the industry, good enough!

Conclusion:

All study must be done with the aim of learning and gaining some skills and not to get some certificate. The advantages of having the certificate are shallow and short lived as compared to the learnings you get. Do a course only if it has relevance for the level and point in your career and if you have learnt enough without it, so be it. Some certificates even require to keep upgrading or reappearing every few years to ensure that your skills are still relevant.

The real knowledge will come from practical application of the learnings and skills and that is what will distinguish you from the crowd!

Happy Learning!

 

A day well spent at the STeP-IN Summit 2016, Bangalore

I recently received an invite to the prestigious event STeP-IN Summit 2016, since my training company was one of the Gold sponsors of the event. It is an annual event organized in Bangalore by the STeP-IN Forum, and the workshops also extended to the cities of Hyderabad and Pune where the forum has its local chapters.

The event was a full-house with 400 delegates, 35 speakers and meet and greet sessions. Though I happened to attend only one day of the 2-day event, it was a great experience listening to some amazing keynote speakers and talks. One talk by Mr. Wolfgang Platz from Tricentis on ‘Ninja or Samurai? The Art of War and the Future of Testing‘ was an definitely an eye opener into the future of our industry. The event also saw some excited participants from across the country for the Automation Contest where the best minds came together to live up to the challenge.

I also had a chance to attend a pre-conference workshop on Exploratory Testing by Ajay Balamurugadas, which was a good hands-on session on practical aspects of testing.

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