Hackathon! Working with new people on cool stuff!

The last couple of days have brought an entirely new experience. Every quarter the R&D team at New Voice Media has a whole 2.5 days where the team can work on their own ideas that will add value to the business that are outside of the normal day to day feature development. The plan is that developers, testers and product owners come together to learn, create and innovate.

Earlier this morning Rob Lambert wrote in his blog (http://thesocialtester.co.uk/hackathon-how-can-testers-take-part/) about how the testers were getting involved with the Hackathon. Historically it has been difficult for testers to get involved with these kinds of events here, as sometimes there were competing priorities, a lack of engagement on the part of both developers and testers alike, or perhaps a view that our skills and expertise weren’t needed for such a short term project, that might not even make it in to production code.
This time round I was determined to get involved (last time, I was a contractor) as I felt it would be a great way to engage with members of the team that I don’t usually get to work with. As a newbie to the team, I felt it would be key to make sure that I could develop my skills and help others do the same. Also it was a chance to work on actual code that would make it in to production that would help our Professional Services team, and ultimately the customers. I normally work on the infrastructure side, security testing and other bits and pieces; rather than features and user functionality.
In the last couple of days we have collaborated on creating our acceptance criteria, developing a great suite of unit and automated tests, refactoring and improving the UI, performance tuning of the database, as well as some really exciting exploratory testing that facilitated the mentoring of a new member of the team who is completely new to testing. 
It’s been one of the most exciting and interesting times of my career, where the feedback from exploratory tests have been greatly welcomed by the team, exposing some interesting bugs which were then fed back in to the developers to ensure the delivered product was as good as possible in the time allowed.
We also got to see how the other teams got on, the products they produced and how they worked together. There were some really exciting projects and ideas knocking about, where the team really got to stretch their legs, bring together interesting technologies and processes. We all voted at the end for best in show, pushing the envelope and the epic fail 🙂 (no one fails really, its just a bit of a laugh). It’s also a great time for the team to socialise and to get to know each other.
If you are a tester, part of a development team and you aren’t getting a chance to take part in these sorts of activities then get involved by championing your skill set, collaborating with your peers, making connections and generating great ideas that make your customers happy and want to use your products. 
If your team isn’t doing a Ship it, Hackathon or similar, then how about setting something up yourself. You won’t regret it! Trust me – I’m The Test Doctor!

(here’s the team during our Show and Tell this afternoon!)