On the evening of Tuesday, January 24th, the AST’s Financial Services SIG organized a free dinner and panel discussion for NYC’s software testers. Sponsored by AST, Liquidnet, and QualiTest, about 40 people showed up to meet and network with peers, enjoy a hot buffet and cold beer, and participate in a discussion on the topic of “How to Reduce the Cost of Software Testing”. Matt Heusser, who edited a book with the same title, was one of the five panelists.
It was called for 6PM at the offices of Liquidnet in midtown Manhattan, (though there was an impromptu “pre-meeting” for the early-comers at the COSI cafe/restaurant downstairs.) Guests started to arrive and the room soon filled up. Background music was playing, two tables of food were set up, and a third table served as the bar, with soda, beer and wine. After about an hour of social mingling, the crowd settled down and the program began.
FS SIG Chairman Bernie Berger welcomed all and introduced AST to those in the audience who were not yet familiar with it:
“Imagine working next to someone who is following an exact list of instructions to test a login screen. It says ‘enter username in username field’ so this guy enters U S E R N A M E in the field. It says ‘click on password field’ so he clicks on the password field. Then ‘enter password’ so he enters P A S S W O R D. He then marks the test as a FAIL because the login screen didn’t let him continue. Since the instructions didn’t tell him to click the OK button after entering the password, he didn’t. And you are siting next to him in disbelief, and want to grab him by the shirt and yell WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU? COME ON, THERE’S MORE TO IT THAN THAT! THINK!!!
“And that is what the AST is. They are the organization that takes the testing world by the shirt and yells ‘THINK!!!’”
The panelists, who were sitting on stools facing the audience, were asked to introduce themselves. They were:
- Peter Walen, consultant
- Anna Royzman, Liquidnet
- Yaron Kottler, QualiTest
- Joe Lopez, Portware
- Matt Heusser, consultant
To kick off the theme, each panelist then had a chance to answer the question: “If you were a consultant coming in to a company, and was asked to reduce the cost of their software testing, what would you reply to them?”
Most of the evening, though, was devoted to questions from the audience. Facilitated using the “K-Card” technique, Bernie managed the stack of new and same thread questions. As expected, there were few cards raised at first, but as people became more comfortable with each other and with the topic, the conversation became more interactive and cards started to get raised left and right.
Some highlights from the program included discussion about:
- How effective is test automation in controlling costs?
- What is the right mix of onshore/offshore testers?
- What kind of metrics are useful to gather to manage testing cost?
- If your QA budget was quadrupled, how would you spend it so that the overall development costs would decrease?
- What are the risks associated with reducing testing costs?
- We need to look for efficiencies all the time, not just when we need to cut costs.
There were some giveaways to top off the evening. Yaron Kottler of QualiTest, a co-sponsor of the event, brought “Bug Off” buttons for everyone. And Matt offered a copy of his book to the person who asked the best question of the evening.
All in all, it was a great evening with lots of positive feedback from the participants. Attendee and AST member Thomas Vaniotis summed it up like this: “I feel like I just came back from CAST.”