It’s been a couple weeks since the grueling Software Testing World Cup Finals, and the team has finally had some time to catch our collective breath, reflect on the experience as a whole, and garner some lessons learned. First and foremost, the entire competition was a rewarding experience for me and the rest of the team. I know I speak for everyone when I say that we learned an immense amount, and that we recognize that learning is the most important result that could’ve come out of the road to the World Cup. If you didn’t learn, you didn’t truly win.

There were a few major takeaways for me personally, the first of which is that no matter how much you prepare for a competition (or your everyday job), you’re destined to run into testing scenarios you didn’t expect. I spent a lot of time preparing for every testing scenario I thought could be presented by the STWC, including researching, downloading and practicing with all the possible tools at our disposal. I spent countless hours reading blogs about how my peers across many different industries were testing Android applications in their organizations. And despite my time invested in the above-mentioned pursuits, as soon as the application to be tested was revealed, I immediately felt slightly unprepared somehow.

I have to be honest: It never crossed my mind that we’d be testing an application like Moovel, a transit app that enables consumers to book public transit or ridesharing options on the go. I threw much of the preparation I’d done right out the window in order to conform to the unexpected type of testing the application required, and to align more closely with what the product owner was most interested in having tested.

After the competition, I had an interesting but classic revelation: I feel like I prepared too much. It may sound odd, but I think in all my rigorous preparation I lost sight of some core QA testing concepts that I’ve picked up over the course of my career, and focused too much on niche Android testing methodologies (like .apk file static analysis). The key ended up being to remain flexible and not overcomplicate things, something that’s true for all software testing.

As for the rest of the team’s reflections, we realized as a crew that not involving the application product owners as much as we could was a significant missed opportunity. During the competition, the product owners for Moovel were onsite and available to answer questions beyond the initial briefing they gave us. Our team was so wrapped up in going through the motions, sticking to our plan and testing all possible parts of the application within a short timeframe that we simply forgot to involve the product owners more. Lesson learned: Continuously check in to consult, ask questions, collaborate and realign with the business throughout the application testing process. Otherwise, you may get to the end and realize you missed something or could’ve done more. You never know what you might find out from your product owner counterparts.

We also learned a valuable lesson from the STWC Finals with regards to the importance of time management. One of the requirements was to build out a final test report to explain what we tested, what bugs we’d fix first, and a list of tools we used. We waited until much too late into the competition to start pulling together all those details for our report. In the end, we left out some really useful information because we just didn’t have the time to add it and get the test report submitted. We’ve all heard it a million times, but the old adage reared its ugly head again for us: Don’t wait until the last minute.

We were a little dismayed that we didn’t win the champion’s crown, but perhaps the biggest (and most important) takeaway for both me and the team was the diverse collection of people involved throughout the tournament, from the very first preliminary and qualifying rounds all the way to Potsdam for the finals. We had the encouragement and backing of our familiar ReadyTalk colleagues and company leaders from the start, and that alone was enough motivation to perform our best. We hope we did our supporters proud.

When we arrived in Germany for the STWC Finals, the general attitude across all the teams, no matter where they came from around the globe, was one of openness to learning and sharing knowledge, with the hopes of improving QA overall. The judges were also a fantastic group of people. After the competition was over, they were more than happy to talk with us, explain the things we did right and where we went astray, and coach us for the future.

Now that we’re back to the grind, we’re working to implement some of the feedback we received from the judges and mentors into our daily workflows. We also picked up some beneficial new testing techniques during our preparation, as well as from our competitors. Specifically, I learned some extensive network testing that I can apply to my everyday job in order to make sure the applications I’m building are resilient to latent networks.

I’ve said it before, but the entire team is so grateful to have had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in the STWC, and especially to have had the chance to learn new skills and sharpen our current ones while meeting the world’s best testers. I know we will all carry the knowledge, skills and lessons we gained from this competition far into our software development careers, and that our personal experiences and connections will impact our lives for a long time to come.

About Nick Bitzer

Nick Bitzer is a DevOps engineer at ReadyTalk.