SIGiST Conference Report: 11 March 2010

I went to the SIGiST conference in London yesterday and, as usual, got a lot from the day. It was nice to meet a fellow STC member but it would have been good to see a higher representation from the Club.

The opening keynote speech by Wayne Mallinson was very thought-provoking focussing on avoiding waste in our development processes. The concepts were originally developed for the manufacturing industry and the main example given was Toyota. Given the difficulties faced by Toyota recently the cartoons published recently were shown at the beginning of the presentation to inject extra humour to the talk.

After the break we had two talks: one from Neil Pandit from Sopra illustrated the use of heat-charts to highlight areas where testing should be focussed and provide information in a way that all audiences can understand - after all nobody has especial difficulty with a temperature chart on the weather forecast.

We also had a talk from Mo Shannon and Lucy Heenan from BT about Customer Experience Testing. I found this really interesting especially as it is something that I am trying to get into at work at the moment. The main emphasis was on building customer experience into the requirements for the product - for example how is the customer going to use the product? Will the customer feel they have got what they want when they receive the product after reading an advert?

Lunch was, as usual, excellent and afterwards we had a short review of "Managing the Test People" from Tonnvane Wiswell from The Post Office. It sounds like a very interesting book and I will probably try to get a copy.

Following this I went to a workshop - somewhat amusingly in the "Surgical Skills Suite" - entitled "Don't Shoot the Messenger" where we focussed on how we can improve the way we communicate and understanding the way other people's minds are likely to work when they get a missive from us. Again I found this very worthwhile.

The final keynote speech was given by Paul Gerrard on test axioms. His view is that there are key areas in which all testers should agree if context is taken out of the equation. Like the opening keynote this was very thought-provoking though I am still pondering the conclusions reached. Paul bought supplies of book he has written "The Tester's Pocketbook" and I intend to spend some time reading that and pondering his views.

The event concluded, as usual at The Volunteer, and it was nice to continue chatting with other delegates and speakers.

The June conference will mark SIGiST's 21st birthday and should be really good. Unfortunately I am on holiday on the day so will not be able to make it :-(

I highly recommend that anyone that can attend, goes to the conference.

Stephen

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Comment by Anna Baik on March 20, 2010 at 20:13
Hi Stephen,

Yes, glad I bumped into you at SIGIST! And it would have been nice to meet a few other STC folks too - did attendance seem a bit low to you or was it just my imagination?

Sounds like you went to different talks/workshops - I was sorry to miss the two morning talks, but had booked into Wayne Mallinson's workshop on Lean production. Which was interesting, as although I've read a bit about it, trying it out makes it "stick" more - it could have done with being a bit longer though, to allow us time for another iteration. I was intrigued to discover a few days later that Toyota don't actually use Lean for their software development! They actually use a waterfall process.

I also went to Tom Quinn's workshop in the afternoon - he was very apologetic about being on his own, as Rob Lamber/Anthony Gardiner hadn't been able to attend with him - but no need! It was a really interesting workshop and probably the most worthwhile bit of the day for me. Working through real examples, and watching Tom write fixtures for tests in response to tests suggested by the group was just much more effective for me than all the other stuff I've read about DSLs (yep, this does say a lot about how I learn, doesn't it?)

Afraid I bounced off Paul Gerrard's talk - perhaps I was just really tired by then. I wanted to engage more with the talk, but couldn't quite get into it. I also just hate use of physics terms when we're not actually talking about physics - makes my teeth hurt, which made it much harder for me to listen to the content. I did pick up the Pocketbook and will sit down and read it properly at some point.

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