ThinkTest 2015 highlights & acknowledgements

Finally – we did THINKTEST on 5th December 2015 that we were planning to do in 2013. I had so many emotions coming up through the entire month, that I purposely delayed writing the blog on ThinkTest , so I could give time for my thoughts to settle down and I only write what I truly mean . Frankly, this is not unlike me to get attached to my work but this event made me feel very different than my usual work.  I could be at risk of being called highly dramatic, but, I have to admit – the event almost felt like my third child – A feeling that probably Rosie Sherry or Peggy Libbey could share with me.

James + ThinkTest

One feeling that has not changed since the morning of 5th December 2015 though, is – ThinkTest 2015 was a resounding success!! Astounding and reverberating in every sense!!

Before I go further into my blog, I need to say this in bold & CAPITAL. THANK YOU JAMES FOR MAKING IT. I have seen your hotel bills and I have a fair idea of your travel costs too. And putting everything together, I know for sure, this was not a trip you did for commercial reasons. I am truly humbled by this respect and attention you have given me. I can’t thank you enough on behalf of the testers gathered here to meet you – they have loved your presence and your talks and would be so looking forward to seeing you here again.

full house - thinktest - james

Delhi, is typically known for being a little lazier than its other peers like Mumbai, Bangalore etc. However, the testers here broke the myth. We had the room full before James got onstage and that truly deserves a huge round of applause for the testers who made it all the way from Gurgaon / Faridabad / Ghaziabad / Noida and various far flung places in Delhi.  Besides the National Capital Region, we had testers from Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Pune and Kolkata joining us. We also had 1 tester who flew all the way from Colombo ( SriLanka) – just for the conference and the RST class – in short – just for James Bach. There was a total gathering of 157 folks, of which we had a team of 5 organizers (including me), and 11 speakers (including James) and about 6 sponsor representatives. The rest were the awesome software testers. Thanks testers for making it in such numbers.

The day before – We worked with the hotel staff and the printing team all night until 5 am of 5th morning to get the stage up and the backdrop done. The sponsor booths were put up and the standees placed. The registration desk setup. Each chair and table checked for cleanliness – Audio / Visual equipments tested.

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At Utpatang office – collecting the gift packs at 00:00 hrs on 5th December 2015.

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At the venue (Holiday Inn) at about 02:00 hrs on 5th December 2015 – setting up the “decorations” for the ceremony.

Had a quick nap from 5 to 6:30 am and the day started again. Our first attendees came in about 7:30 am. Thereafter they started to pour in at the registration desk as the 2 volunteers were hurriedly letting them in with their delegate tags. There were few walk-ins who had not registered. They were initially not allowed – frankly we had seating of 120 and were okay for 130-135 folks around but handling 15 – 20 more than the already 20 additional registrations, seemed difficult. But they stood patiently and we didn’t have the heart to turn them down. They were not charged but instead given complimentary passes and allowed because they showed their keenness to hear James and learn from him. From there on, the day went by smoothly – everything that was planned went better than planned. A few unplanned situations cropped in – which I talk about, under learnings- later in the blog.

James with other speakers and delegates

Before, I started to write this blog, I asked a few participants and organizing team members, as to what should we put as THE highlight of the event. Most of the participants couldn’t have enough of James, long after he left India and so I wasn’t surprised when they were raving about his inspiring Keynote “Testing is not Test cases” and also his latest new presentation the “Question Hospital” – a concept very well received by testers and something they would like for James to continue to build on, so we get more and more examples to go through. The keynote also happened to be the most and best rated by the testers; shortly followed by Santhosh Tuppad’s “Your data is no more ONLY your data”. All the feedbacks were collected at a survey done post event and the results shall be made public shortly.

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However, there was also a surprising/comic response to the highlights – one that was made by a member of organizing team – who said  – ‘I barely got inside the room, so I can’t say much what all went inside, but I can tell you that crowd outside was very interested in t-shirts and cups and all the goodies sponsors had’. Frankly – I myself couldn’t see much of the action at one place, as I wasnt stationery but kept moving due to multiple responsibilities on me on that day. But at one point, I did notice – when the lunch break had just started, that the queue for Saucelabs and Parasoft was longer than the queue for food. So, THANK YOU SPONSORS – truly – heartfelt thanks to all of you – Saucelabs, Parasoft, Software Test Pro (STP) and Srijan Technologies. I hope you do realize that it was because of your generous sponsorship that we could open our hearts to have complimentary and discounted tickets. Your contribution to the community is well respected. Our special thanks to the support sponsors – Test Insane and Moolya and PoolWallet, for supporting the event; Our diversity partner- Sheroes for promoting the conference amongst female technology enthusiasts ; Our community partner – Test Practitioner’s Club for promoting the event on all its avenues (FB / meetup/linkedin) to testing practitioners in the region; Our gifting partner – Utpatang, for making the meaningful giftpacks for our speakers and delegates; Our media partner Tea-Time with Testers for helping us spread the word amongst the right audience; and our supporters in Agile Testing Alliance and Discuss Agile Network and Unicom.

Long queue..

Testers

At this point, it’s imperative that I mention Anand Bagmar for mobilizing Thoughtworks team towards their significant presence at the conference and the RST class thereafter. Thanks Atulya Krishna Mishra and Anmol Bagga for working on almost war footing to ensure the word reaches every nook and corner of the region, covering every interested tester. Thanks Saket Bansal and Sarabjit Singh Bakshi for guiding me with pointers and at times, simply handing me the solutions for what I needed- Thanks for taking my calls EVERYTIME I called, and answering with patience. Seriously guys – heartfelt thanks.

There is something more I need to mention, since I am thanking everyone involved in helping me towards making the event happen – I need to thank Pradeep Soundararajan. I need to thank him for various reasons but 2 important ones I will mention. 1. Thanks Pradeep for introducing India to James Bach and other global leaders, as a respectable community of testers. As much as I like my abilities – I probably couldn’t have done it better than you. 2. Thanks Pradeep for silently supporting us with sponsorship and saying – “I may not give much of money. But I don’t want anything in return. I am doing this because I have hosted James earlier and I know how it is”. I am not sure if you would have wanted me to quote you here, but I needed to express my gratitude and tremendous respect for you. Every drop counts and you knew it better than me. Your thoughtfulness for the community deserves our sincere respect.

I am consciously stopping the thanks here – apologies for missing out anyone who thinks she / he should have been mentioned here. I truly thank everyone including the hotel staff at the venue for their bit of contribution in our success. I need to move on to other aspects 🙂

James with testers -STP

Coming to the learning part of the event – every session by James was very well received. Attendees would hog on every available minute with him. There were tons of amazing conversations held by the thinking testers and curious testers and those who had the potential to be one and were on their path to transformation. James was loving the talks as much as the testers around him. Amongst the other speakers – every speaker did fantastic job – Anand Bagmar , Kapil Saxena, Tarun Lalwani, Santhosh Tuppad, Ajay Balaurugaudas, Shrikant Vashishtha, Charu Jain, Sachin GoelSumeet Gupta, and Rajdeep Varma. After James (all sessions) and Anand’s morning session –  Tarun’s session was most attended , closely followed by Charu’s session. Topics covered  at the conference were – “Testing beyond test cases”, context driven testing, test estimations, asking relevant questions (and the right way) as a tester,  Continuously delivery, automation frameworks, test data management, ATDD / BDD, Mobile apps testing, testing in agile teams, tester’s role and relationship with developers, data security and leadership. It was thrilling to watch the level of participation from attendees at various sessions. Testers as well as speakers enjoyed questioning and being questioned.

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One name whose presence we missed, got her virtual presence – as James made sure her name resonated throughout the day in the room. We missed –  Parimala Hariprasad – or “A True Role Model” as James called her, at the conference. She holds my warmth as a friend and respect as a peer.

The day sDSC_0151tarted with lot of energy that DIDN’T decline through the day.  James’ intensity and passion to teach was consistent – though he spoke for most of the day. The time he was not on stage, he was answering testers, engaging with them and also getting interviewed by me. The day ended with James recommending Neha Asthana as the winner for the free seat at RST class, pulling lucky draws out of the fishbowl for 5 lucky winners who won online packages of selenium books and tutorials, courtesy: Saucelabs.

The very final episode was felicitating the respected speakers, graciously done by James Bach. Interestingly the gift packs were “black boxes” with some “white” on it – James almost made the speakers test these too.

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Presentations for all the sessions have been shared with the attendees. All the videos have been uploaded at youtube. You can subscribe to the channel Events Team to stay updated as more videos of future events are added. All official pictures of the event are uploaded at the QAZone’s facebook page .

How can an event of this scale happen without any learnings or disappointments at all? Well, honestly -The only 2 feedbacks that we got about something not going well were both about time keeping. Attendees felt they missed on some parts of their next sessions because of some track speakers over staying. I learnt my lesson to have better time checks in future.  May be having a track owner, who manages the time and A/V / Infra  needs of the speakers of that track, could help. Some other learnings threw me out of my comfort zone as an ethical entrepreneur – but I learnt that when someone comes with a surprise act and that thing bothers me and I want to say NO to that activity, I should say NO. Instead of giving into the pressure (of respecting guests) and then feeling resentful later.

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Atulya

 

 

 

Sometimes people surprise you with their lack of ethics and working in certain environment helps you see their strength of character more clearly. When working with immature / ignorant people, every detail should be in black and white, since they do not understand the common language of ethics, which defines what they can do but should not. Keeping it legal might help keeping the relationship strain- free. Speakers agreement and Sponsors agreement are good things to have – small but key learning.

The only disappointment I personally have is – not having enough women speakers. We tried to do everything we could, but we failed. We need to continue to work on this aspect.

Women Speakers@ThinkTest

With all the experience and learnings as a tester and organizer that this conference gave us, one thing that I could finally conclude as the highlight of the event , the best outcome of it, for all to notice – There are serious testers in the NCR region. Serious to make things happen. Serious to learn and grow. Serious to defy the law of gravity and move upwards in their career path and learning curve. Thanks to each tester who attended the ThinkTest 2015 with the intent to learn – YOU WERE THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE EVENT. KUDOS TO YOU – YOU MADE IT HAPPEN!!

Data – Making decisions one byte at a time

data In terms of data, anyone who says – I have nothing to hide, has just not thought long enough. So what is data to you? Your address book, contact lists, email lists, bank account details, your list of favorite sites you visit, your blood pressure trend this week, your sugar count in last 5 days, your heart rates, how many cigarettes you smoke, how many steps you walk, how many calories you ate, how many calories you burnt, Your emails, your presentations, updates from friends (FB) and colleagues (Linkedin / Twitter), weather updates, traffic updates, navigation to a place, news, community updates, music, pictures, jokes and forwards on whatsapp…..so on and so forth.

Any or all of these could be “data” for you. How does it make you feel to think of a day in life without access to any of these? Even worse – how would you feel if instead of you, someone else is browsing through your data?

On whom does the onus lie to protect this data? You, Your device manufacturer, your ISP, your app stores, application owners? One may not be able to say for sure who does as a generic rule. However, its easy to figure out the security ownership in a proper context. And this needs to be clearly identified.

All huge companies are protecting their data and fighting for more, they say : “Data is the new Oil”. The start-ups are also giving data its due respect, their perspective: “Data is the new Middle Manager”. This makes it imperative for the data to have high integrity, availability and reliability.

dilbert data

As part of testing community, what is our role in the wide world of data?  It is our job to ensure that our clients and organizations are reaching every goal set forward for data.  We must ensure that we thoroughly test the accuracy of the data, the building of the data, the storage, the security, and the presentation of the data.  Retailers and other organizations are becoming more and more complex in their approaches to how they use data, and we, as testers, must ensure that we are keeping up with the changes and the needs.

Does your testing team work with data?  Are you building data adhoc?  Or have you implemented a methodology that supports data creation, testing, security, and implementation?  If your work is adhoc, I strongly recommend you to think about changes within your team which will improve how you look at data and the testing of data.

My advice for you, as a tester, is to investigate the basic concepts of Big Data, Enterprise Data Warehouse, the ETL Process (Extract, Transport, and Load), and Business Intelligence.  You will see an immediate improvement to your testing practice and your product delivery if you are able to derive and approach to how you handle data.

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So you may be asking, “How can I best learn about these concepts”?  I would suggest that you look at the upcoming STPCon conference, which is coming to Boston on October 5-8 this year.  I will be conducting a workshop on the concepts of data and data testing called Maximizing success with data testing: one byte at a time on Tuesday, October 6 from 1-5pm.

Hoping to see you at STPCon!

What criteria should you use to create a target list of angel investors?

Are you choosing investors for your startup? Read through the meaningful criteria listed!!

Best Engaging Communities

As a follow up to what percentage of active angel investors are on #angelList, I thought I’d address the orthogonal question. The follow up is to help entrepreneurs figure out how to come up with the list of criteria to create their target list of 20-50 angel investors for their #NapkinStage startup.

There are 5 primary criteria I use to help entrepreneurs find the right target investors.

1. Location. 2. Company Stage. 3. Space (Market). and 4. Raise Amount. 5. Network.

Target Angel Investor List Criteria Target Angel Investor List Criteria

1. Location. All angel investing is largely bound by “what do we have in common”. Many angel investors prefer to invest in areas they have expertise in, in entrepreneurs they know and in their “own backyard”. There are a few exceptions (many Indian angel investors in the US, like to invest in companies in India), but angel investing is largely a “city specific” opportunity

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The 5 most important skills you need to master if you are a non-technical (developer) startup cofounder

Lots to do for the founders who are not actually programming their software!!

Best Engaging Communities

Over the last few years, I have met and connected with over 55% of founders who are non-technical (actually most are technical, but they are not developers). The standard advice I would give them was their role was to acquire users (or customers):

A plan to acquire, nurture and grow users (customers) with as little money as possible.

After spending time thinking about this over the last few days, I think there is more than just user acquisition that non-technical founders can help the startup with. There are 7 skills (in no ordered priority) that I think will help the company tremendously.

5 Killer Skills for Non technical Founders 5 Killer Skills for Non technical Founders

1. User acquisition and customer development. Getting early traction is critical and in most cases more important than most other things at your startup. While it is becoming easier to build and create apps and websites, getting early users who…

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Going beyond “I have an idea” – a rigorous design of your experiment

Best Engaging Communities

The first step to your experiment is usually an idea. Either you or someone at your startup has an idea, which you want to determine is a good one or not. Having tried a framework to experiment your ideas, I’d say the crucial firs step is designing the experiment.

Brainstorming the idea over a casual conversation is usually the first step. The tendency among most startup oriented people is to complicate it and think of all the edge cases and 100% coverage, which is why documenting all the ideas is important.

This documentation need not be long drawn out or format, but needs to be written down.

The best way to do this is to continue using your multi-user messaging solution as before – Slack or HipChat, or Google docs suffices.

To design your experiment, you need to write down the 3 most important aspects of it.

a)

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Focus on Cake or Icing?

Organizations that make sales to potential customers and then move their sales team to look for more customers could be missing on the value that could potentially be generated from post sales service and product offerings.

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One could not only build brand loyalty and retain more customers but also generate more revenue through support / maintenance activities – And also by suggesting and selling products that could be a natural extension of sold products and of interest to the clients. One of the key tool at hand that could be of significant help is customer feedback and how the team is reacting to it. Its important to hear out the customer and resolve issues in the existing product before trying to sell new product to the same customer or selling same product to anyone in the existing customer’s network.

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Consider these stats mentioned below, on recurring revenue opportunity available with strong customer retention and after-sale maintenance and services annuities, which are actually being reported from a blog on Customer Lifetime Value:

 
• It costs 7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one (Source: Bain & Company)
• A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% (Source: Bain & Compay)
• The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. (Source: Marketing Metrics)
• 30% of new products are not covered by contracts and 50% of original contracts are not renewed. (Source: McKinsey & Co.)
• Companies growing recurring revenue grew revenue 20% faster and enjoyed 25% higher profit margins than their peers.
• Recurring revenue on average accounts for 30-40% of revenue and 50% of profits for technology companies (Source: Morgan Stanley)
• Customer profitability tends to increase over the life of a retained customer (Source: Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy & Mark Murphy)

                                                                       keep calm 

Efforts undertaken to add more and more logos on the business list are good investment, however, the real measurement of how the business performed, is not limited to one time sales with a customer and realistically covers the overall value generated during a customer’s lifetime.

 
Focusing on intangible services and benefits are as important as focusing on the tangible ones. A CEO of a very successful kitchen appliances manufacturing unit mentioned to his sales team : You are allowed to drop a call from a new customer or me or anyone seemingly important , but do not drop a call coming a from an existing customer who bought a product from you. Speak to them, support them , take necessary action until the customer is happy again.

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While buying a cake I look at the pretty designs of icing on it, but what defines whether I comeback to the same vendor to buy another cake is the after taste it leaves in my mouth. Though, once I go back to the shop I may again start comparing the icing designs — trusting that cake under it is worth it!! 🙂 🙂