CukenFest - Abby Bangser Q&A
We talk to Abby Bangser about her upcoming keynote, her involvement with the software testing clinic and more.
Cukenfest | Posted May 27, 2020

Next week the BDD community will gather together for CukenFest Remote, June 3rd-4th. This intimate event will inform you about the latest developments and thinking in high-performing BDD teams as well as being a space for you to share your own experiences with like-minded people.

In the build-up to the conference, we spoke to Abby about what people can expect from her keynote, her thoughts on the demands on effective testing and agile ceremonies in remote teams.

What can attendees expect to learn from your talk?

I look forward to digging into what the modern world of software operations is doing to bridge our customer's experiences without technologists. I will cover some of the terminology gaining popularity today like Service Level Objectives (SLOs) and burn down rate and how engineers are using these techniques to gain insights into how their services are being experienced by our users. But moving beyond the (possibly) new terms and techniques, my hope is that the biggest learning is around rethinking the scope of our BDD work. I hope that people leave the talk with a new found interest in tying together our thoughtful scenarios from idea stage to development and beyond into the operation of our software.

You’ve worked in a range of sectors, including government, travel, banking, and health. What are some key agile and testing best practices that work well across the board?

Agile has always been about active learning and I think that is true regardless of domain. Learning is about feedback loops so tirelessly identifying where the team is either not feedbacking back learning or doing so too slowly has proven extremely valuable. This could be applied to technology with a focus on local development environments that provide quality feedback or prioritising fast and reliable continuous intergration and delivery pipelines. This is equally important when applied to social feedback with things like regular retrospectives or driving a peer-to-peer feedback culture. Regardless of tools, processes

You’ve been co-host of the Software Testing Clinic for two years now. How does the clinic work, and how can people contribute? 

The Software Testing Clinic actually began a bit over 3 years ago as a collaboration between Dan Ashby and Mark Winteringham. At the time Mark had been talking to Dan about wanting to grow as a mentor and they both realised that what is most valuable is practice. So together they built an inclusive event which brought together individuals new to software testing (some of whom have never worked in software before!) and people who had experience in testing and wanted to continue to grow as mentors as well as give back. Two years ago they were able to boost their impact by partnering with Ministry of Testing which helped grow the event from the London only meetup to multiple cities and even multiple countries all providing a safe space to learn about testing. And again this past year the group has evolved to have even more impact by creating the Ministry of Testing Essentials which  blends together the different learning styles of in person meetups, online tutorials, and online chats to provide even more support. Obviously Covid19 has put a damper on the in-person part of Testing Essentials, but that is even more why this blended learning has come at just the right time. If people are interested in learning as a software testing student or growing as a mentor, I would suggest you join the Ministry of Testing club (https://club.ministryoftesting.com/) which is a free forum where we can always use more voices sharing their experience in software delivery.

*hands you a crystal ball* Do you see any changes to agile and testing in a pandemic world?

Ohhh shiny! Oh right, back to business. Let me see. I think that agile is being really put to the test right now. Organisations that have had strong in office experiences are being challenged to generate the value of their ceremonies in sometimes very different setups. And the longevity of all organisations, whether hit with an increase in demand or unfortunately seeing a large decline, are going to be dependent on their ability to adapt to changing clientele. I think that the organisations and teams truly embodying agile will find a way to provide value to their customers despite these turbulent times and those that are unable to iterate quickly and learn from their experiences will unfortunately struggle. As for testing, I am not sure how the pandemic in specific will change the role, but I wonder if the pressures of delivery will expedite other changes that had already begun where speed to market is prioritised and testing needs to work with the teams to balance that speed and the risk that is often associated with it. I would love to see testers continue to stretch into techniques like building observability into our systems and challenging our assumptions through chaos engineering and progressive delivery techniques. Or maybe that is just my lamp and I am hoping for a wish to come true!

Abby Bangser is our opening keynote for CukenFest Remote, taking place on June 3rd-4th. You can find out more about CukenFest by visiting our website.

- Questions compiled by Tracey S. Rosenberg. Thanks again, Abby, for taking the time to speak to us.