By Melissa Chavez
It’s been a month since PNSQC, and it only now feels like we’ve leveled off from the peak we reached during the 2017 conference. With such great tips, advice, and inspiration shared by speakers, it was hard, to sum up, all we learned during the action-packed two main days!
From getting a nugget of wisdom about code review or learning a new way to map stakeholders, we learned so much, and hope you did too.
Here are a few major takeaways from 2017 that are still with us, and how we’re putting these concepts into action:
- “Be risk tolerant, failure adaptive,” from Penny Allen’s opening keynote. Allen wants us to embrace accountability — admit mistakes to be able to fix them, and adapt and change structures as they succeed or fail without blaming others. This is especially good for managers to do, showing a team that it is ok to admit wrong steps. The key is adaptation: Prioritizing solutions instead of focusing on who caused the problem.
- Question what seems reasonable, because it may not be. Always ask why your priorities are what they are. This is a continuous process and there will always be ebb and flow, but questioning at the end of each sprint will recenter the direction you are heading and what you take on next.
- It’s not just about efficiency, but Joy! Rich Sheridan’s closing keynote showed attendees how the software company he co-founded, Menlo Innovations, built in ways to make employees feel listened to and understood. From everyone pairing up daily, to encouraging bringing babies and dogs to the workplace, these steps led to bringing joy to employees. Understanding how people make decisions and why, and prioritizing closeness is why their office dynamic has succeeded. Think about what ways your office environment could feel more collaborative and welcoming, too. Sheridan cautioned attendees that change isn’t always welcome and that they’re going to have to fight for the right to bring similar joys to the office.
- Remember what drew you to quality in the first place. At PNSQC, it’s super inspiring to be surrounded by hundreds of people who share your interest in improving software quality! But it can be hard to remember this when you get back to work. The next chance you get, rather than just testing for quality at the end of a project, insist on building it into your software from the beginning. Including someone who focuses on quality at the start of a new project can ensure there is less questioning of the product as it nears completion.
- Don’t turn QA over to the robots yet. QA cannot be replaced by machine-learning practices, no matter what anyone says. That was the message from keynoter Katy Sherman, and other speakers. There are nuances and behaviors that just can’t be replicated without people as testers. There was a lot of discussions this year about the future of quality, the role of humans in testing, and what that means for us in the industry. There has been a shift over the last decade to fewer people in-house and more crowd-sourced or remote testing. The future will definitely see more shifts in the industry — we may see roles combining with UX, or incorporate writing code, or become a new type of Engineering — but quality will always be key to a successful product. Getting that product to human users requires human testers.
We hope you can use these takeaways, and please share what you’ve implemented!
And, for more inspiration, check out these fantastic additional takeaways from Moss Drake, who created Sketchnotes of each talk he attended! Zeger Van Hese is also an artist with his takeaways from PNSQC 2017.