Saturday, April 25, 2009

7th Australian Test Managers Forum

The 7th Australian Test Managers Forum concluded on Friday 24 April.

Numbers were down on previous years.  Previous years have always been a sellout 5 or 6 weeks before the event.  This was clearly a sign of the current economic conditions, with most frequent attendees citing tight travel, training and conference budgets, as well as reluctance on staff to be out of the office in uncertain times.  However we had pretty close to the same number of representative companies, just less multiple attendees.  Nevertheless, the interaction was the same as in the past, and a rewarding time was had by all.

Particularly enjoyable for me each year is the ideas exchange with people who are equally passionate.  What I like best is the information interchange and sharing of what has and hasn't worked for each other.

The most critical challenges this year (from the participat challenges survey) :
  1. Requirements - still number 1 from last year.  We often experience poor quality requirements leading into testing, and no doubt the same is happening for development.   Testing needs to work more in the requirements phase to have clear expectations on what is being tested.  Similar our role in this phase means that we test the requirements specifications and find defects earlier.
  2. Return-On-Investment: the global economic crisis is putting more pressure on us to demonstrate business value and to justify costs.  With ROI, if we dont show the "R" (the return to business), all they see is the "I" (investment) as a "C" (cost).
  3. Environments: with the introduction of larger integration and technologies such as SOA, environment management is becoming more complex and downtime wastes testing effort.  While virtualisation (like VMWare and others) is changing test environment management significantly, there is still significant challenges in specifying and controlling testing environments.
  4. Early involvment: the biggest cost savings that testing will make will come from working earlier in the lifecycle.  Yet it is a challenge for test teams to get engagement in early phases.  We need to use test results to show defects coming out of early phases, such as requirements bugs, then offer more cost effective ways that testing can find these bugs, e.g. through requirements and specification evaluation (such as inspections, modelling, walkthroughs).
  5. People: while the pressure has come off staffing with the economic downturn, selecting the right candidate, and having succession plans from existing staff leaving remains a critical issue.  Here focus on skills definition, evaluation and staff development techniques are required.
  6. Scheduling: the schedule squeeze on testing at the end of the lifecycle remains.  Development still slips, yet the release date doesn't.  Many organisations discussed the greater move towards agile, which has other challenges for testing, to help alleviate this.  Also discussed we techniques are sourcing strategies, flexible resourcing, and risk-based prioritisation of testing.
The were other challenges discussed, but the survey showed these as not as critical to the audience as a whole:
  • Resourcing
  • Estimation
  • Automation
  • Process Improvement
  • Methodology
  • Coordination
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Governance
  • Agile
  • Release Management
Much of the information, surveys and presentations will be collated and progressively added to the website at

1 comment:

  1. Great to see you have a blog Kelvin. I will be adding it to my Google Reader list now.