Meet the Speaker | Peter Varhol

With just 6 weeks to go to UKSTAR, the excitement is rising here in UKSTAR HQ! Have you seen our brand new convince your boss kit and video?

We are delighted to have Peter Varhol presenting at UKSTAR this year. Peter has been involved with the testing community for over 20 years, as a developer, tester, product manager and technical evangelist for commercial testing tools, and technology journalist.  Today, he operates his own company, Technology Strategy Research, which provides consulting services in testing and technical marketing to technology companies.  With graduate degrees in computer science, mathematics, and psychology, Peter speaks on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to team communications. 

His UKSTAR presentation, What Aircrews Can Teach Testing Teams, stems from his lifelong interest in aviation, and the enviable safety and reliability record that commercial aviation possesses.  He believes that aviation practices are highly relevant to testing, agile, and DevOps teams. 


What inspired you to develop this topic as a talk  

I earned my private pilot’s license at an early age.  The one thing that frustrated me about flying when I was young was that it wasn’t very exciting.  You had to be careful and deliberate about all aspects of flying.  Later in life, I realized that flying was supposed to be boring; if it was exciting, that meant you were in trouble. 

More recently, I realized that many of the techniques in aviation, such as Crew Resource Management, checklists, and practice can have a huge role in testing, especially in an era of agile and DevOps.  The sustained success that commercial aviation has is the result of teamwork, clear communication, attention to detail, and extensive practice.  The techniques used by aviation to improve teamwork and reliability are applicable to many fields, including software testing.  Come to my presentation and see for yourself. 

One tip for anyone starting out in software testing 

Be curious.  It doesn’t matter what you studied in college, or what your job might have been in the past.  If you want to learn new things, understand new software trends, develop and enhance your analytical skills, and discover new ways of testing, being curious and asking questions is essential.  None of us has the right answers, but if we are curious and work as a team, we can we can succeed in our goals. 

If you were on a deserted island and could only bring one item with you, which would it be and why? 

My running shoes.  Being physically sharp helps you stay mentally sharp.  I became a distance runner later in life, and discovered that it gave me more energy during my work day.  Keep your body as well as your mind in shape. 

What is the future of software testing? 

Software testing is in the midst of dramatic change.  Thanks to methodologies such as agile and DevOps, testing has become more all-encompassing.  Testers have to “shift left”, as getting involved earlier in the development process is termed.  But they also have to “shift right”, continuing to test even as the application is in production.  Because you can never replicate the cloud deployment environment in a test bed, it’s essential to continue testing after deployment. 

These new methodologies also open up the beginnings of what might be termed the Golden Age of the Domain Expert.  Over the last decade, the domain expert tester has largely been pushed to the side lines by the growing need for automation skills.  But we’ve lost sight of the end user.  Testers need a keen understand the application problem domain and use that understanding to make recommendations on application design, fitness for purpose, and defect identification.  Just as many testers used to come out of the business, we’ll see that happening again. 

Some long-time testers may have difficulty adapting to changes to the practice of testing.  I say keep an open mind.  Every field undergoes big changes during a career.  If we love the challenge of testing, I think we can love the uncertainty that is in testing’s future. 

Join Peter at UKSTAR 2019

Attend as a team to save

Register tickets here


Leave a Reply