Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Evolution of vodQA - The Software Tester's Conference

Evolution of vodQA - The Software Tester's Conference!

Anand Bagmar

The birth of vodQA

Back in 2009 / 2010, I was looking to attend and speak in Testing Conferences, especially near, or close to my hometown, Pune.

My search results were very disappointing for the following reasons:

  • I found that the conferences were not catered towards hands-on Testers.
  • The conferences were catered for Leads / Managers/ Directors.
  • The speakers spoke mostly about process, very high-level “things” related to Software Testing.
  • There was a significant “cost” to attend the conferences – which meant that if one is really interested in attending to learn more, they had to think multiple times before doing so.

This was clearly not working for me, as well as other like-minded people I was interacting with.

Thanks to my colleagues in ThoughtWorks, we decided to do something about this.

In June 2010, we decided to start our own conference, hosted by ThoughtWorks, with the objective of “purely sharing our learning with the community, and also learn from the community”. This was the birth of “vodQA – value oriented discussion about Quality Analysis”.

To start anything, especially external / public facing, we needed to plan it well, and the first part of the planning is – what are we trying to achieve?

vodQA – Mission Statement

To make vodQA valuable to us, and other attendees, we came up with some guiding principles. These principles have kept on evolving over time like a natural process.

  • vodQA is a practioners / hands-on conference.
  • Anyone interested in the aspect and practice of Software Testing, regardless of role or organization, should be able to attend vodQA.
  • Any topic related to Software Testing (manual / exploratory / techniques / tools / technologies / process).
  • At ThoughtWorks, the Quality of the Software we build is of prime importance. To cater to that, we have a very strong Testing capability, skills and practices within the organization. Using vodQA as a platform, we want to share our learning with the Testing Community, so they can learn from what has worked well, or not so well, based on real experiences.
  • Though at ThoughtWorks, we have “good” Testing practices, there are many more practices and experiences we can learn from the experiences of other organizations and individuals. The vodQA platform should able to provide new learning from the industry for ThoughtWorkers, and others who attend.
  • In order to keep learning from what we do, and keep doing better in the future, we take feedback from attendees and speakers. Also, with an immediate after-the-event retrospective, we attempt to do the best for all participating in next vodQA.
  • vodQA is a community event. Each community hosting vodQA should have the flexibility to structure the event in the way they see best suited for the attendees.
  • Each vodQA should have a specific theme. This allows proper expectation setting from attendees, and also invites specific themed-topics from internal (ThoughtWorkers) and external speakers.

How we connect with like-minded people?

We started by using the database of people who had expressed interest in working with / being associated with ThoughtWorks, and spreading the event by word-of-mouth.

Then we started using the power of facebook (vodQA group), LinkedIn (vodQA group) and Twitter (#vodqa) to also spread the word, and bring the community together during non-event times, to share and collaborate with each other.

The journey so far

The first vodQA event in June 2010 at ThoughtWorks, Pune was a huge success. As a result, we immediately planned and hosted another vodQA in Oct 2010, again at ThoughtWorks, Pune.

The feedback and retrospectives provided us great motivation and inputs. As a result, we decided to make vodQA an India level conference.

As we took vodQA to other ThoughtWorks India offices out of Pune, (Bangalore, Chennai, Gurgaon), the respective community planned and executed this event, the way they felt best.

Till date, we have hosted the following vodQA events:

ThoughtWorks Location
vodQA – The Testing Spirit
vodQA - Agile testing  for Enterprises
vodQA - Continuous Testing For Total Quality Assurance
vodQA - Agile Testing for Team and and Enterprises
vodQA – Testing and Beyond
vodQA – NCR
vodQA Geek Night – Behavior Driven Testing (BDT) workshop
vodQA - The ABCs of testing - Automation, Big Data Analytics , Cloud Testing
vodQA – Going Beyond the Usual
vodQA Geek Night – Test Automation workshop
vodQA – Get, Set, Test
vodQA - Served on Mobile
vodQA - Agility In Mobility
*vodQA – Smarter | Faster | Reliable
*vodQA Gurgaon - Selenium for Beginners -

*Upcoming events

Some interesting quotes from attendees:

  • Liked the participation, interactive approach of the organizers and the passion and energy to make sure that audience goes satisfied
  • A Saturday well spent @ThoughtWorks #vodQA. Got a chance to meet some highly motivated & inspired ThoughtWorkers & industry professionals!
  • This is our QA family, and we want to see it grow

Overall we have had 800+ external (non-ThoughtWorker) participants and 75+ talks / workshops / games / sessions across all vodQA events. There have been a decent % of Developers / Business Analysts / Software Coaches attending and speaking, though the majority of attendees has been Software Testers.

I am very happy to see vodQA become popular and valuable to all passionate about Software Testing, all across India.

My dream is to take vodQA across the world as a community driven, Testing practioners conference!

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