1/22/17

PNSQC 2016: Day 1

The theme of the 2016 Pacific NW Software Quality Conference (PNSQC) was "Cultivating Quality Software."  This theme alludes to how each phase of software develop necessarily contributes to quality, much like digging, hoeing, watering and weeding all contribute to the quality of the plants and vegetables in a garden. It can also refer to the NW software quality community: how presenters and attendees can work together to cultivate future thought leaders and innovators while tending our own "garden."

I tried to document through sketchnotes some of the keynote speeches and invited speakers, as well as a few selected technical paper sessions. For any of the sketchnotes, click on an image to see the larger version.

Peter Khoury from Magnetic Speaking opened the the conference with a presentation called "From Software Tester to Leader: How to Take a Radical Leap Forward at Work." Key to the idea of cultivating leadership at the conference, Peter's talk pointed out that "public speaking skills represent an essential element in the career of any engineer who aspires to rise high within the corporation," so in order to become a leader one must learn to communicate in a way that demands to be noticed.


Next up was Invited Speaker Johanna Rothman spoke how to "Deliver Quality with Agile & Lean." Johanna is an influential speaker on project management and the author of many books. Years ago I took a workshhop from her, and was curious to see what he had to say about integrating Lean concepts with Agile project management. Her talk was billed as "how agile and lean limit the batch size by either limiting scope or work in progress, and how each can help." She covered some of the nuances of Agile+Lean, but the key takeaway for me: keep tasks small - nothing larger than a day, preferably a 1/2 day.


Unfortunately I missed Brian Okken who was the afternoon invited speaker. He discussed "How Testing Strategy can Increase Developer Efficiency and Effectiveness."

Instead, I was drawn to a couple talks in the Developer track.  Ruchir Garg of Intel Security presented "Third-party Library Mismanagement: How it Can Derail Your Plans." Bottom line is that when third-party libraries are not managed in an organized manner, developers use and include numerous external libraries, without giving attention to their maintenance customers end up running third party libraries that are obsolete or possibly vulnerable. Ruchir presented a number of considerations for managing third party libraries.


I was looking forward to the talked "Innersource: Open Source for Test Automation" by James Knowlton of NAVEX Global.  Prior to the conference I had the opportunity to work with James and review an early version of his presentation.  I had never heard of the concept of Innersourcing based on the book “Getting Started with Innersource” by O'reilly, (hint: think of Opensourcing, but using company employees as the code community) and it seemed like an clever innovation for a tough problem. Read the paper, it's an interesting story.


I ended the first day listening to Eric Thompson from Puppet Labs answering the question "how do we retain top quality talent in QA? In software engineering there are many studies that support “three pillars” of motivation: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose."  His talk, titled "The Three Tenets of Engineering Motivation," gave some good ideas on engaging employees.  Interestingly enough, Darlene Bennet Greene, who gave the closing keynote on Day 2, also touched on the subject of engaging and keeping employees in highly technical work environments.


Click here to continue to Day 2 of PNSQC 2016.