Conferences – to go or to not (let them) go….

Conferences

Every third quarter of the year a small discussion starts in our office. The subject of discussion is

 “Are any of our testers going to attend a conference, and if so how many and who?”

Generally the discussion tends to lean more to the how many then to if any testers are going. So in the past years on average four to six testers attended for example EuroSTAR and the Dutch Testing Conference. The question who was going to a conference solved itself most of the times. The number of testers wanting and able to go did usually not exceed the number of places available.

Cost and return

Having attended several conferences myself I know that the result of attending can be very rewarding. Conferences typically are the place where you can learn the latest developments and opinions, submerge yourself into the testing mindset, confer with your peers, refresh your ideas and expand your network.

Conferences, especially when they are abroad, are however rather costly given that you easily spent between 1500 to 2500 euros per person. This might not be much more than a three or four-day course, but then again it is a conference and not a course. And this seems to create the need to sell the attendance of a conference to management. So my question to you the reader is:

What do you,

or rather what does your manager,

see as valid justification to attend a conference?

I would like to ask you to participate in a small inquiry and leave your justifications as a comment.

To start a few I thought of myself:

    • As a reward or bonus
    • To expand the attendees knowledge
    • To expand the organizations knowledge letting the attendee convey what she has learned (How?)
    • There is no justification it is money waisted as the organization never sees any return
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4 thoughts on “Conferences – to go or to not (let them) go….

    1. Hi Huib,
      I like the completeness of your answer in that you cover the three items below.
      1) Why should testers attend conferences?
      2) What are the criteria I use to justify if somebody can go to a conference?
      3) What do I expect from testers who go to conferences?

      Items 2 and 3 should get some more elaboration.
      I agree treating wanting to go to a conference as if evaluating a course request is a good strategy. But still I am sure, and have seen it happen, conferences can also be used as a form of reward for previous achievements or as incentive for the future. I would however do this only with one condition. Going to a conference should suit the beneficiaries’ line of personal and professional development. In this case someone should be able to go to a conference even if he/she had not previously thought of it themselves.
      Your description of what you expect from a tester has a post-conference approach. I wonder how you feel on having the attendee considering a conference visit strategy. He/she would then pick a certain topic, a specific speaker or go there intending to seek a solution to a certain problem. Granted this will limit the spontaneity of the conference visit, but this might make it easier to confer the gained knowledge to others. Personally I think this could work if it would cover not all of the time spent at the conference and if the attendee is able to go to a track or tutorial and learn, note and think of how to use it back home. Obviously this does not apply to all people and probably only to more senior testers, but in my opinion that would be the target group anyway.

      Like

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