Category Archives: Keynote

This category contains all keynote presentations.

Techniques for Successful Program Test Management



Shouty Test Manager

After working successfully as a test manager for a while, the next step forward is into program test management.  Many think this is just some super test manager, or in a lot of cases, a ‘shouty’ test manager. In fact it isn’t. It is a transition into an oversight role where others do the testing, and you are setting the direction, giving guidance, and having oversight.

This is quite a step up and suddenly requires a set of skills that successful test management does not develop.

It is quite common for program test managers to look after a number of testing projects and testing teams. The scale has changed, and you have begun to operate at the organisational level, working with other members of the program management team.

In this workshop we will look at the new range of required skills; Leadership, Accountability and Responsibility, Oversight and Awareness, Stakeholder Management, Communication, Influencing and Negotiation. We will work though some useful models so that you can take away a kitbag of tools and techniques to use back in the office.

We will also look at how to stay relevant to the testing operation, and retain value-add for your role whilst now working at the organisational level, and delivering through others. And even if you aren’t working as a program test manager yet, the skills and techniques we look at in this session will be invaluable today, to start using, developing and refining.


PowerPoint Show  TMS Workshop (28mb)    PowerPoint Show  BCS SIGiST Keynote (12mb)

Presented at:

1. TMS London, Apr 2015. (Workshop)
2. BCS SIGiST, London, Dec 2015. (Keynote)

Natural Born Tester


Forget all that talk of methods, process, tools and training. The other 99% of presentations at the conference. You might just be a Natural Born Software Tester. You don’t need all that good stuff above, you just need to hone your natural skills.

So what is a Natural Born Software Tester and how will you know if you are one.

Here is a simple check-list.

1. Can you play Lemmings?
2. Can you play Railroad Tycoon?
3. Can you play Angry Birds?

OK, so you are beginning to think that this is either the wackiest presentation you have ever been to or there might be something to this. Read on.

Lemmings, a fun to play computer game of the early 1990s, was essentially a parallel programming interface. You had to explore. Then plan. Then execute, in parallel. Does that sound a little bit like software testing?

Railroad Tycoon was a Train Simulator that combined cutting edge game play and visuals with complex project management and control. You had to build a railway, operate it, and develop it. Very much a planning, monitoring and control exercise. Surely an excellent training activity for budding testers and test managers.

Angry Test Birds

Angry Test Birds ?

Angry Birds. Isn’t this just the greatest exploratory game? You have a number of birds, which I analogise to test techniques, and it is up to you to work out which birds / techniques to use, in which order, and when, to the have the greatest effect. Does this also sound a little bit more like software testing?

I firmly believe that we all have the ability to test. However I think those skills and abilities can be enhanced by non-test related activities, such as the games identified above, to increase our effectiveness as testers, or to put it another way, to become a Natural Born Tester.

So let’s put this to the test . . . . .



Presented at:

1. Agile Testing Days, Potsdam, Oct. 2013.
2. Scottish Testing Group, Glasgow, Apr 2014. (Keynote)
3. Czech Test, Prague, Jun 2014 (Keynote)

EuroSTAR 2011 Program Team

When Geoff Thompson asked me to join his EuroSTAR 2011 Program Team I did not hesitate to say “Yes“. If only I had known how much work it was going to be I might have reconsidered. It did however give me one of my best Tweets ever at a testing conference, “Oh no! The smoke machine has failed.” Was it fun? Probably . . . .

Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors – Photo: R. Marselis

This is the grand opening. As you can see, the conference chair, Geoff, was totally engulfed in smoke.  To set the scene: The auditorium lights were turned down. The smoke machine was turned on. All that the audience could hear was  a hissing as smoke filled the stage.  Then Thin Lizzy started up. As the band hit “The Boys are Back In Town” the 4 members of the team, Geoff, Derk-Jan, Morten and I, had walked from behind the screen, out of the darkness to the front of the stage, and  were illuminated by four very bright spotlights.

It’s one way to start a testing conference.

Throughout the week the day was started with a Hello Manchester session, which included all sorts of amusements and insights form the program team, et al.

The closing session was also fun, organised by Morten, and included a raffle for a place at the following years conference which involved little bugs hidden in the backs of the seats.

Men In Black - Photo: R. Marselis

Men In Black – Photo: R. Marselis

I really can’t remember very much of the conference, apart form the fact that the program team were very busy.  If you were there I hope you enjoyed it 🙂

Presented at:

EuroSTAR 2011, Manchester, Nov 2011.

Test Process Improvement – Answering the Big Questions!


A lot of people talk about improving the testing process, but very few people actually answer the BIG questions, such as:

Why? Is it just to save money, or do it quicker?

How? Do we follow an accepted method – TPI, TMMI? Are there change methodologies we can use?

What? Is it just automating test execution? What about planning, preparation, measurement and metrics, etc.?

Where and When? So where in our organisations, large and small, do we do this? And when is the best time?

Who? Is this just a testing team initiative? Do we need help? Who else is involved?

It is easy to ask the BIG questions but what we really want to know are the answers! This session will work through these questions to draw useful conclusions from the group’s collective experience.


PowerPoint  Workshop      PowerPoint NeckerCubeSmall Keynote      pdf

Presented at:

1. UK TMF Summit, London, Jan 2010 – (Workshop)
2. Soft Test Ireland, Belfast, Dublin, & Galway, Nov-Dec 2011 (Keynote)
3. Belgium Test Days, Brussels, Mar 2012
4. expo:QA 12, Madrid, Jun 2012 (Keynote)

A Hitch-hikers Guide to the Software Testing Galaxy


As Douglas Adams wrote in his book The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, “Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how mind-bogglingly big it is.”

Well, the galaxy of software testing isn’t quite that big, but it is large, getting larger every day, and can be very confusing to begin with.  So how do we navigate safely through the software testing galaxy and keep up with its expansion?

This presentation will take the audience through the software testing galaxy, in the style of the Guide, describing the major testing constellations of; methods, skills, processes, tools, and measurement and giving advice on best practice for each.  This will be presented as a 3D mind-map visualisation, an exciting way to view and zoom into mind-maps.

The book was written from the original radio series in the late 1970’s, became a television series, and recently a Hollywood blockbuster film.  The plot was interspersed, in a funny way, with Douglas Adams’s experiences of Computing and Management methodology of the time.  He was quite visionary, in that the Guide was a brilliant prediction of how useful internet search engines and mobile computing would become, and with the new range of lightweight and powerful mobile devices, combined with Google and Wikipedia we are fast approaching his vision. These insights have never been more relevant, current, and useful than in today’s fast changing world.

He was also very observant, and this presentation will draw out some very useful and humorous behavioural analogies for software testing, including; towels, Vogon poetry, digital watches and more, using video clips as powerful illustrations. 

The delegates will be able to take away;

1) an overview of the Software Testing Galaxy,
2) a recommendation for good practice & what to avoid, and also
3) learn some very useful behavioural analogies.


PowerPoint    includes You_Tube videos

Presented at:

1. BCS SGST, London – Sep 2009
2. UNICOM, Next Gen, London – Nov 2009 (Keynote)
3. czech test, Prague, Mar 2011 (Keynote)

The EuroSTAR Testing Quiz

EuroSTAR 2008 was in Den Haag, the home town of conference chair Bob van de Burgt.

At the previous EuroSTAR, 2006, in Stockholm, Bob had asked me to join his program committee and help put together the conference. I of course said yes. There was one other request, that Geoff and I give another Quiz show.

That was more problematic because we had announced our retirement . . . but after a bit of persuasion we agreed.

We were struggling for a new format, having already done Weakest Link, Mastermind, and Test the Nations.  We didn’t have any technology this time either. So we decided to pit a team from of Benelux All Stars against a UK Challengers team !!!   We also decided to make this a quiz of quizzes. So included Millionaire, paying homage to David Hayman who first ran the game at EuroSTAR in Copenhagen. Weakest Link, where we voted off one contestant from each team, and a round of Call My Bluff – worth it for the theme music alone.

It turned out that the Benelux All Stars took it all rather more seriously than the UK challengers, no surprise there then, and they ran out worthy winners – with more money given to charity. Embarrassment and shame befell the UK challengers – You know who you are.

The EuroSTAR Testing Quiz

The EuroSTAR Testing Quiz

Had we known beforehand how much effort it was going to be, to do 5 different quiz formats in one, we would have done something simpler.  Retirement from Quiz Shows was reconfirmed and permanent.

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR 2008, Den Haag, Nov 2008.

Test The EuroSTAR Nations

When Geoff and I had the initial discussion at the UK Testing Retreat about The Weakest Testing Link Stuart Reid asked why we weren’t doing a variant on Test The Nation.  I think at the time we said it was too hard, would require too much technology, and couldn’t be done at a testing conference.

Stuart was chair of EuroSTAR 2007, and he decide that it could be done!  He arranged for each member of the audience to have a handset which they could use for direct audience feedback.

On the Wednesday there were two interactive sessions. Early afternoon a survey session run by Dot Graham and Mark Fewster, and in the evening, Test the EuroSTAR Nations run by Geoff Thompson and myself.

Well done to Stuart for arranging the technology. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite that easy for the presenters. In the months preceding the conference Geoff and I and several meetings with the  company that supplied the technology.  We built a quiz slide deck, then waited to integrate it with the handset technology. And waited. And waited.  Finally on the day of the ‘show‘ we met the person who was running things behind the scenes.  And had one, yes just one, run through of the technology before we went live.

Geoff also wanted to walk up to the stage and arrive at exactly the moment that Thin Lizzy hit ‘The Boys Are  Back In Town‘.  It worked a treat.

Test The EuroSTAR Nations

Test The EuroSTAR Nations

It had been hard work, quite stressful, but great fun.  After 3 quiz shows Geoff and I decided to retire and let someone else take up the reigns.

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR 2007, Stockholm, Dec 2007.

Implementing An Organisation Wide Test Approach


Test Improvement Programs are great!  Testers want to do better testing.  Of that there is no argument.  We all want to do a better job.  If not for personal pride and satisfaction then because we want to improve, in order to get a better job and ultimately even earn more money.

And Test Improvement Programs will help us do that.  But only up to a point. Eventually, and sometimes sooner rather than later, you reach the point where to continue to improve the testing process you are going to have to change some practices, process and behaviours outside the testing team.

You need the business to set realistic timeframes.  Project managers to create realistic plans.  The development process to provide adequate and timely; requirements, design and build information.  Least of all you need better quality code, and when it isn’t you need it fixed in the order that your testing demands.  And so on.

You find yourself in the situation where you need to improve the other aspects of the development lifecycle to gain further benefits from your Test Improvement Program.

And to be successful, this level of organisational change can’t be imposed or mandated.  You are going to have to work with the other members of the development team to j0172632successfully bring about this change.

As the old joke goes,  “How many Change Managers does it take to change a light bulb?”  Answer, “None, the light bulb has got to want to change!”

This presentation uses two case studies, one from a medium sized multi-location software house and the other a large development organisation.

The presentation will contrast and compare the experience of defining and implementing an Organisation Wide Testing Approach, looking at; the key components of the Test Approach, the preparation and planning for implementation, and finally the relative successes of each.


PowerPoint      pdf

Presented at:

1. SSQC, London – Oct 2007
2. JTS 2008, Valencia – Apr 2008
3. BCS SGST, London – Jun 2008
4. TestNet, Utrecht – Sep 2008 (Keynote)

Testing Mastermind

In 2006, not fully understanding how difficult it had been successfully to run a game show, live, Geoff (Thompson) and I thought that we would give it another go. However we had to change the format, and do something new.

We had a think and came up with Testing Mastermind. Only this time, we would run the game from one PC, and network in the presenters PC.  A simple architecture, fraught with many dangers. Plus we had a Black Chair.

It wasn’t until we were actually at Manchester that we got the game controller and quiz masters PCs talking to each other.   When we tested this out on the conference stage, surprise, surprise, it didn’t work. Overnight the stage hands had to take up the floor and run a network cable from the pedestal to the desk.

It wasn’t until the morning of the day that we found out that our network arrangement actually worked.

Testing Mastermind EuroSTAR 2006, Manchester

Testing Mastermind EuroSTAR 2006, Manchester

The game itself was cracking fun.  It is amazing the power that the Mastermind Black Chair has over people. With the contestants struggling to answer even simple questions when put under an admittedly a very bright spotlight.

Fran O’hara was the eventual winner after a tight battle with Tim Koomen.  Thanks also go to Neil Thompson and Paul Gerrard for being brave enough to take part. And €500 was donated by the organisers to a charity of the winners choosing.

Geoff and I vowed not to do another quiz.

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR 2006, Manchester, Dec 2006.

The Weakest Testing Link

In 2005 I was having a discussion at the UK Testing Retreat asking why it would not be possible to run a Weakest Link Quiz at the EuroSTAR conference.  A fun session with an edge.  We could get Testing ‘Experts‘ from across Europe and pit them against each other, answering ‘testing‘ questions, with the prize of giving money to charity.

The only taker that I had from the discussion was my good friend Geoff Thompson.  We wrote an abstract, and when accepted, started our preparation to host the game show.

We thought that this would be run in a back room somewhere, a little bit of fun. By the time we arrived in Copenhagen we found out that we would be on the main stage, giving the closing ‘fun‘ keynote on the Wednesday evening.

Undeterred, even by the fact that many testing ‘experts’ turned down the offer to appear live in the quiz, we gave it a go. And the rest is history . . . . . .


The photo doesn’t quite show how bright the stage lights were in the auditorium.  We could not see into the audience at all. When the contestants all got their easy introduction question wrong, and the place was totally silent, Geoff and I thought it was going to be a difficult evening!

Finally someone got a question right, and 500+ people applauded. 40 fun filled minutes later, like when the panel voted off Geoff, the Question Master,  Dot Graham won the quiz becoming the Testing ‘Strongest‘ Link. The prize money went to the DEC in aid of the 2004 Asian Tsunami victims.

(Geoff and I would like to thank Paul, Erkki, Mark, Dot, Tim and Stuart for taking part.)

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR 2005, Copenhagen, Dec 2005.