KEYNOTE2 – Climate impact of software testing

November 8, 2023 from 16:10 to 17:10

Speaker: Kari Kakkonen, Knowit (FI)

Kari is one of the most sought for agile testing trainers and consultants in Finland and abroad, and has particular skill in getting his audience to understand the software testing concepts and getting people inspired to thrive for better in their work. He is Treasurer of Finnish Software Testing Board (FiSTB), ISTQB Executive Committee member 2015-2021, board member of Finnish Association of Software Testers (Testausosy), former auditor of Robot Framework Foundation, and member of Agile Finland. He has been included in Finnish IT Week (Tietoviikko) as magazine’s 100 most influential people in IT 2010 –listing. Kari also published a software testing book for children and adults called Dragons Out a while back. Now it is available in English, French, and Polish while German and Hungarian translations are in progress. The book explains software testing in plain terms using an analogy to a full-blown fantasy story, featuring dragons, knights, and children who grow into knights.

Often people think that coding and testing themselves don’t really contribute to the stress of climate. Rather people think it is the use of information systems that has an impact on the climate. It is true that it is easier to start moving cloud provider data centers to use renewable energy. However, also coding and testing can create a positive carbon handprint, which means influencing the information system’s ecological attributes in a climate-positive manner. When you code, you can make architectural choices that end up using less energy when they are executed in the cloud. When you aim for early quality, the need to fix software diminishes, the cost per fixed defect diminishes, and as a consequence, the hours of test environment used during software development and testing diminish, too. As always, it pays back to create good quality, because as a total cost, good quality is cheaper. Early quality is even cheaper. Cheaper means also less energy used. So, it makes sense to create software through agile software development processes and early testing, because then you need fewer test environments. Of course, you still need many environments for testing, but when they are implemented and installed through on-demand automation, there’s less carbon footprint.

Kari’s closing Keynote „Climate impact of software testing“ provides depths into these considerations and challenges the audience to think about in which ways testing can contribute positively to climate. The talk encourages optimizing the number of tests by using risk analysis techniques, test techniques, and AI-based test optimization, both for first-time tests and regression tests. The talk encourages the creation of on-demand test environments instead of all the time on old and cumbersome environments. The talk encourages us to look at the software being tested not only from the point of view of the typical quality attributes but also from the point of climate impact and energy use, thus adding more acceptance criteria and items to the definition of done. The talk also encourages to use of test automation and agile practices. Many of the typical early testing or shift left practices help in minimizing climate impact but by looking at them consciously, we can contribute to minimizing climate impact, and rather creating a positive carbon handprint!