KWST2 – The NZ Peer Conference On Real Testing

The Kiwi Workshop on Software Testing is a dream come true for New Zealand testers. It represents an opportunity for the thought leaders and community-driven testers to gather and share war stories. But it’s so much more than that. James Bach has attended for the 2nd year running which adds the momentum and rich test ideas that gets the minds of the participants revved up.

KWST lets us debate on friendly turf. Through using turn-taking coloured cards, heated testing topics can be fully explored, and talking turns can be controlled. As a facilitator, I thoroughly enjoyed watching heated discussions progress until the deep issues came to the surface.

It is through KWST that we get to know the dominant thought leaders of New Zealand, including:
– Oliver Erlewein
– Andrew Robins
– Sheryl Toenders
– David Greenlees
– Mike Talks
– Andrew Black
– John Lockhart
– Aaron Hodder
– Brian Osman
– Katrina Edgar
– Katrina McNichol
– Liz Kitching
– and others…

Although I am currently living and testing in Sydney, I was invited to attend this years KWST2 to add some overseas experience to the mix. I was happy to fund the trip myself, as the outcome of the conference is very valuable to the growth of good testing in New Zealand.

It is no secret that ISTQB offer a weak set of ideas that are incorporated into a ‘certification’ that can be mass produced and sold for profit. It is also very disturbing that so many companies and government departments in NZ are being taken for a ride. It is very concerning to see ‘must be istqb certified’ on job ads in NZ.

However, on the flipside, it is fantastic that so many consultancies know about this problem and are starting to realise the old profit-focused model of using the same set of ideas for each and every testing project and writing 60-page test plans is outdated, and does not fit current needs.

Such issues are discussed deeply at KWST. We saw a wide range of participants from banking to r&d, testers to test managers, permanent and contract staff, and functional to automation specialists. Its with this diversity that leads to a flood of ideas entering the circle of discussion. Amazingly, we did not experience any total meltdowns. But boy did we come close! And there were plenty of nods of understanding others ideas.

The growth of peer conferences for testing is something to watch out for. We are in our youth but there is some building interest to discussing the big testing topics.

So what can you do to get noticed and invited to attend one of these conferences?

1. Do not limit yourself to understanding istqb tripe or factory shop dribble that will only guarantee your testing job being moved offshore. Learn stronger principles of testing including context-driven testing ideas.

2. Do something for the testing community. If you want to get big points, then lead or help organise testing events. In the least, attend Meetups, TPNs, WeekendTesters, Skype coaching, or blog about testing.

3. Read a book on testing. Then don’t believe a word you’ve read. Anyone can write a testing book. Be critical of what you read. But some testing books that I value are “Lessons learned in Software testing, Perfect software and other myths.

4. Open your mind. Testing is not a commercial product that can be repeated for each and every testing effort. Learn what it means to analyse the context, learn about how to measure testing without meaningless metrics, and stand up for good testing.

5. Work on your testing ethics. If someone asks you to alter severities of bugs so you can go live, learn how to handle your response. Knowing testing ethics means you also have excellent knowledge on testing concepts.

Richard Robinson was the co-facilitator at KWST2 and is co-organiser of the Sydney Testers Meetup group. He has received an advanced istqb membership and does not believe it is of any value. He has also done Rapid Software Testing, and the Black Box Software Testing course by the Association for Software Testing. These are very valuable testing courses and teach you important concepts such as the testing mindset, and gaining confusion confidence in times of chaos.

About Richard Robinson

Richard is a thought-leader in testing strategies, and an inspiring test manager. His philosophy is "better, faster, cheaper" testing that pushes the maximum business value and product quality out of a product. This approach not only satisfies the end user, but also brings a high return on testing investment to the customer. Richard is the President of the Sydney Testers Meetup group, and holds a black belt in the Miagi-do school of software testing. He also contributes to the testing community through blogs, forums, online testing events, facilitating international peer workshops and conferences.

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