Category Archives: Track

This category contains all track presentations.

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)

Testing Secrets That We Dare Not Tell


I have worked in IT for over 30 years, and in software testing for over 20 years, so you might think that I know a lot about IT and in particular software testing. Well, I am going to share some dark secrets about software testing with you, which we dare not tell, and in the form of questions.

I firmly believe that “There are some fundamentals of software testing that we really don’t understand or know the answers to yet.”

I wish I did know all the answers. Then I could stand in front of you, looking all superior, and just tell you what they are. But No, it is not that easy!

Here are some simple questions. They are very easy to ask. Unfortunately they are very difficult, if not impossible to answer.

What is the purpose of Software Testing?

Just how effective is the way we test – and how do we know? (Trad, V-Model, Structured Testing, agile or any other form of testing for that matter?)

If checking isn’t software testing, then why is it that ‘checking’ is what our stakeholders are paying us to do?

If software testing is so difficult, demanding and challenging, then why is it that we keep on assigning the least skilled or experienced to perform it?

Why do software testers spend so much of their time running tests that do not find bugs?

These questions are important because they drive at the very heart of what we are doing in the software testing industry today, and understanding the answers will surely prime the future direction that our industry will move in.

This session has been designed to be a highly interactive discussion which many people might find challenges their basic understandings. I will act as facilitator, give an introduction to each question, then actively moderate the debate and if needed take on the role of arbiter. Come along, expect to be involved, and if you have a view then please share it. Help to drive forward the discussion – and the software testing industry.

Now a politician would question the very premise of these questions, which may be fun in itself, but if for a moment we accept the premise of these questions, then what does that really say about the state of software testing? And shouldn’t we be doing something about it?



Presented at:

1. TMF Meeting, London, Apr 2013  (Workshop)
2. EuroSTAR, Gothenburg, Nov 2013

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)

How to Suspend Testing and Still Succeed – A True Story


This presentation covers a case study from a large testing program for a member bank which was part of the UK Faster Payments Infrastructure.

Graham will tell the story of a testing programme that was destined to fail, but ultimately succeeded.

He will give practical details of what went wrong, explain why testing had to be suspended, and discuss how with no real hope of recovery the team managed to set and meet their resumption requirements, and ultimately complete their testing on time.

He will explain the background to the project, the testing strategy that was devised and the programme organisational control structure.

He will also tell the story of what happened during test execution. Identify where things started to go wrong, how this was identified, and what measures were taken to ensure a successful resolution.

He will go into the detail of the challenges that the testing team, and the program were daily presented with when testing was suspended. And tell how innovation, ingenuity and perseverance, against all the odds,  won the day.

This is a real ‘war story’, from the testing front line, with valuable hard won experience, and is told in the very real hope that will benefit all who hear it.



Presented at:

1. Expo:QA 09, Madrid, Sep 2009
2. BCS SIGiST, London, Sep 2010
3. Belgium Test Days, Brussels, Feb 2011
4. Czech Test, Prague, Jun 2014

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)

Program Test Management – A Survival Kit

(aka Testing in large programs)


Using practical experience from several large testing programs this presentation will illustrate effective techniques for successful Program Test Management, presented in the form of A Survival Kit.

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

Why is this needed?  Well although the role of Program Test Manager is now firmly established in the sphere of testing, generally in large test organisations or on large many 10s or 100s of millions of dollar value programs, there isn’t a clear view of what the role is, how to perform it, or what success looks like.

Should the Program Test Manager be an über-manager in control of everything, or is this role more of an aggregation and reporting function? This presentation will look at the expectations for the role, and how these can be markedly different.

It also shares the critical factors for successful program test management, including oversight of the testing products and deliverables; matrix management of test managers; stakeholder, milestone, resource, and dependency management; and the softer but vital skills of influence and negotiation with very senior managers.

The talk will be illustrated by examples from real life, relating experience gained on several large testing programs which build into a practical model (or survival kit), easily understood by all, covering the key test management areas of organization, people, process, tools, and metrics—that your organization can adapt for its needs.

The delegates will be able to take away;

1) Effective techniques for Program Test Management,
2) Hard won lessons learnt from practical experience, and
3) A practical model (A Survival Kit) for Program Test Management.


PowerPoint          Webinar  EuroSTAR Webinar (Test Huddle logon required)

Presented at:

1. StarWEST, Anaheim – Sep 2008
2. EXPO’QA:09, Madrid, Oct 2009
3. EuroSTAR, Stockholm, Dec 2009
4. EuroSTAR, Webinar, Mar 2010

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)

Aligning Development And Testing Lifecycles


The first objective of a test strategy is to align the testing activities with the development activities. It’s obvious really, but sometimes hard to do. In fact, it seems to be getting much harder recently with the advent of iterative and agile development lifecycles – hasn’t it?

Developers change their development approach in order to be more efficient and effective (and ‘up-to-date’). But testers and their approach haven’t kept pace. While the developers have changed their methods, by adopting an iterative or agile approach for example, the test team will probably be used to a more traditional, structured, V-Model approach.

It’s no surprise that testing and development activities aren’t aligned.

This session will take a look at traditional (structured), iterative (RAD) and agile (incremental) development lifecycles and their associated testing lifecycle counterparts.


PowerPoint  (Animated)    PowerPoint Print  (Animated)

Presented at:

1. TMF, London – July 2006     (Preparatory discussion group)
2. SSQC 2007, London – Oct 2006
3. EuroSTAR, Manchester – Dec 2006

7 Key Measures For Software Testing


I recently came across the worst example of software test measurement that I had seen in over 20 years experience of IT!

Part of the problem comes from the fact that there isn’t a standard set of measures, so should we actually get upset when software testers measure the wrong thing, in the wrong way, and then report it badly? Actually no! Not until there is a standard definition for software test measurement and reporting.

So there is the challenge for this presentation. To present a standard set of measures, metrics and reports for software testing so that there can no longer be any excuse.

This presentation proposes 7 key measures across the software testing lifecycle, covering; Planning, Risk, Test Preparation, Test Execution and Defect analysis. The presentation will also identify effective ways to present the 7 key measures in the form of a practical model.


PowerPoint      Excel

Presented at:

1. ICS Test UK, London – Sep 2005
2. UKSMA, London – Oct 2005
3. BCS SIGiST, London Jul 2006     Gold Star  Best Presentation Award 2006

A Practical Model For Program Test Management


After you have been working successfully for a while as a test manager the next challenge that you are asked to take on is the role of Program Test Manager. Quickly you begin to realise that programs of work are different from projects. Programs are larger, involving multiple streams of work, some of which contain many individual projects. There are more people involved, developers and testers, each with differing objectives, and different ways of working. The teams are often global, the budgets large, $100m+, and the pressures larger.

This talk proposes a practical model for program test management, based on experience gained from working as a Program Test Manager on two programs, in the financial sector handling card authorisation and in service delivery, addressing global customer service management.

The talk is focussed on how to bring together the disparate streams of development and testing across large programs so that they can work together successfully and drive the program forward. It also addresses how to control quality when, as a program test manager, you no longer carry out development or testing activities. This is presented in the form of a practical model working step-by-step through the development lifecycle.


PowerPoint      MindMap

(Mind Map courtesy of Paul Gerrard and the TMF)

Presented at:

1. UK TMF, London – April 2004      (Preparatory discussion group)
2. EuroSTAR, Cologne – Dec 2004
3. BCS SIGiST, London – Mar 2005