STPCon Fall 2013 Recap

STPCon Fall 2013It’s fall and that means one thing – no, not football, apple picking or pumpkin flavored everything – it’s software testing conference time! For the fourth year in a row, uTest was honored to sponsor the Software Test Professionals Conference (STPCon for those of us in the biz). As always, the folks at STP did a fantastic job in offering cutting-edge content, delivered by industry thought leaders. While I wasn’t able to attend all of the sessions, as I haven’t yet mastered being in more than once place at a time, below is recap of the sessions I was able to attend:

Building the Business Case for Performance Testing by Joseph Ours – As we know, performance issues provide a false sense of availability – it’s not broken, but it sure isn’t working. When 39% of users rank speed above functionality it’s no surprise that a sluggish website can negatively affect your brand reputation and result in lost revenue. In his presentation, Joseph mentions that users expect a website to load in 2 seconds or under; and astonishingly, a 1 second delay in load time can result in 11% fewer views and a 16% drop in customer satisfaction. But performance testing can be costly and time consuming, so what’s a software tester to do? Well, Joseph suggests that we need to make a case for performance testing by using hard data to identify lost revenue and then calculate five year costs in order to tie testing to quantifiable business objectives.

Lessons Learned: Starting a Test Automation Team from Scratch by Jim Holmes – In his anecdotal presentation, Jim Holmes walks us through his personal experience in creating an automation test team. In his ‘shoot for the moon’ strategy he mentions how he had to go a little rouge in order to show the value of test automation. Once he had set the correct expectations and earned management’s support, he had to plan infrastructure needs, including identifying the right technology but more importantly identifying the right people to have on your team. Jim also mentioned the importance of constant feedback – celebrate the wins, publicize failures and identify how you can do better next time. Finally, Jim reminded us that automation is not all ‘unicorns and bacon.’ Rather, the goal of automation is to free us up to be awesome testers.

Performance Testing in an a(A)gile Environment by Eric Proegler – In order to make performance testing jive (yea, I am bringing that word back) with the rapid iterations of an agile environment, Eric asks us to cast off our expectations of realism and rather focus on the quality of our simulations. He suggests running easily repeatable and reliable tests against individual components and incomplete systems as an effective way to execute performance testing in an agile world. He also emphasized the importance of reporting metrics and the need to share these metrics with key stakeholders early and often.

Introduction to Security Testing by James Spivak – While James’ presentation didn’t transform me – or anyone in the room – into a hacker, it did provide a great overview of what security means to the testing community. According to James, software security boils down to the following: confidentiality, integrity, authentication, authorization, availability and non-repudiation. Keeping in mind that security is a process not a product, James iterated the need for strategic planning (beginning with building secure code) and threat modeling in which you diagram, identify, mitigate and validate any external events that can compromise your system. James concluded with a number of tools, resources and tips including to think like a hacker. Because while the good guys have to be right every time, the bad guys only need to be right once.

In addition to classes, we did leave a little time for fun too. uTest was excited to raffle off an iPad mini to one lucky conference attendee, we sat in on a live podcast called PerfBytes and even hosted a rockin’ uMeetUp with members (and prospective members) of the uTest Community. All in all, STP Fall 2013 was a great time – we learned, we talked to smart, interesting software testers and got escape the chilly Boston weather for a few days in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona. We hope to see you again – or for the first time – at STP Spring 2014!

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