Kent Software Testing Meetup – An Update

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who has expressed an interest in putting together a Software Testing meetup in Kent. There was definitely enough interest to consider moving forward and putting something together, so that’s what I’ll try to do after Easter.

In preparation for that, it would really help if you could let me know which town you think would be best for such an event, and the sort of things you’d like to see covered. I want this to be right for as many people as possible, and I can only do that if I know what people actually want.

I’d be grateful if you could keep any requests and ideas to the comments for this post on my blog page. My posts get shared across a few branches of social media, and I don’t want anyone’s feedback to get lost, or to have to check all over the place if I can help it.

Thanks again!

Software Testing Meetup – Kent / South East

In London, it seems that you can’t throw a brick without it crashing into the middle of a Software Testing / QA Meetup*. But once you get outside of the big cities, things tend to thin out quite a bit. And as far as I can tell, there’s absolutely nothing going on for Testers / QAs in my neck of the woods – Kent.

So, are there any Software Testing / QA meetups happening in Kent that I don’t know about, and that I could get involved with?

If not, would there be any regular interest in either attending or speaking at one if I were to organise it?

If I were to put a meetup together, I’d like it to be an open, friendly environment where junior testers can seek advice and learn their craft, where experienced testers can help mentor while sharing experiences and ideas, and for all involved to discuss any recent innovations or working practices they’ve found which worked really well, any issues they’re facing, any interesting articles or media they may have found and so on. As a result, everyone involved would be helping to build and contribute to a local support network where questions and ideas can be floated, issues can be discussed, and feedback and answers given in a positive and productive way.

The contacts I’ve made in my other life mean I’ll have no problem getting a room sorted out in a pub somewhere, so we can get together and talk about our industry, and our particular discipline within our industry.

As for location, if I were to put something together in Ashford, that could potentially capture Canterbury, Folkestone, Hythe, Romney Marsh, Dover, Deal, Thanet, Tonbridge, Maidstone, Tenterden and Tunbridge Wells – so, the majority of South Kent.

If the interest is there, I’ll happily organise the meetup via… erm… – but I need to know the interest is there first. So feel free to share this post far and wide with folks in the Testing / QA industry across the South East – the interest it receives will be the key factor in deciding whether or not to go ahead with a dedicated meetup in Kent.

*Please note – I do not advocate the throwing of bricks in London as a means of finding a Testing Meetup.

Being Seen To Be Doing

It’s fair to say that I’ve neglected this blog a little – so it’s time to rectify that, and give a bit of an update on what’s going on in my world.

First things first – The SDET & Automation Network Meetup, hosted by Testing Circle in collaboration with & is undergoing a bit of a revamp. The plan is to relaunch in March, with a wider scope to cover all of software testing rather than just the SDET & Automation area. We’re still working on some finer details, and I’ll shout when we have something concrete to share. But we will be looking for speakers on all subjects connected with software testing to come and present to our audience.

Things are changing in my role as QA Evangelist too. I spent a decent part of the last year acting as… well, the best analogy I can come up with is that I’ve been kind of a roadie for the teams I work with. Staying out of the way, working out of sight to make sure that my charges can get on with what they do best with minimal disruption.

This, of course, is not the best course of action for a QA Evangelist. Mine is a role that requires active engagement, visibility, and promotion of what I’m doing, as well as providing support and sharing my knowledge and experience with my teams. While I’ve had good ideas about things I can be doing as an Evangelist, I haven’t really followed through on them, and as a result, I’ve got a lot of half-finished stuff floating around, and concepts that I haven’t fully fleshed out. So rather than concentrating solely on working behind the scenes to make my teams look good, this is to be a year of execution, and of visibility through achievement – and I’m already making moves in that direction.

First of all, I’ve also established a series of ‘Lead Amigos’ meetings with the Dev Managers and Scrum Masters in each of the teams I work directly with. This is a fortnightly series of 30-minute catch ups to discuss what’s happening in the teams, how we can support each other in our roles as technology managers and leaders. This will help keep lines of communication open with my teams, to get information about their achievements and milestones, and to pick up information and techniques that may be relevant to the rest of the company.

In terms of communication and presentations, I’ve now resurrected our Technology Podcast. This is published directly to the company’s internal blog, and is a series of sit-down talks with folks from all areas of our Tech Org to talk about their career path, their team and its function, the good stuff they’re doing, and whatever else comes to mind. The feedback for the first couple of episodes has been good, and I’ve already recorded a few more so I have a buffer in case I can’t get guests to sit down with me at any point. Speaking to folks on the record about their areas of technology has served to increase my knowledge about other areas of the business, and putting the podcasts out on an internal platform has both shared that knowledge, and helped to raise my profile within the business.

I currently have six presentations in the development stage, covering a number of skills and disciplines within software testing. My plan here is to get them finished, and deliver them as internal coaching sessions. I can also open up these sessions for other folks who want to refine talks they’re developing, and deliver them to a soft audience. And I’ll use the feedback from those sessions to further develop my talks to take them to external meetups and prepare them as conference submissions.

Oh, yes – Conferences and meetups. I don’t just intend to raise my profile internally (as important as that is) – I also plan to get out and about more, to speak at more events, and to meet other folks who I can bring in to speak at our company. The revamped Testing Meetup I mentioned before is going to be an important part of this – stay tuned!

And of course, this blog is going to be an important channel for me to float ideas, provoke thought and discussion of our discipline, and to generally get things noted down somewhere to keep myself honest in terms of actually getting things done.

While I’ve talked about raising my profile and being more visible in what I do, there’s an important caveat here – The difference between visibility through achievement, and making noise for the sake of making noise is very important. There are few things more annoying than someone who is always jumping up and down, demanding attention and yelling about everything they’re doing just for the sake of being heard. I have two young children, so I see plenty of that at home!

This is just the first batch of things I’m planning to work on in the coming year – I’m not treating this as an exhaustive, or indeed, concrete list. As priorities change and new ideas crop up, things may get added, improved, moved around, reprioritised etc. But this selection gives me a good base of useful projects that will benefit my company, and will improve my profile within it.

Just what an Evangelist should be doing.

EvangelistPunk SPEAKS!

I’ll be delivering my talk ‘Bug Hunting – A Masterclass: The mindset for analysis, identification and classification of problems in software” at the SDET & Automation Network Meetup in London on Thursday 13th October.

Event details are here if you’d like to attend.