Category Archives: Workshop

This category contains all workshop materials.

Instructional Games for Software Testers


The educational world has now recognised that we learn best when we are relaxed, enjoying ourselves, and have the freedom to experiment and learn through making mistakes.


This workshop engages the participants in playing, developing and understanding how instructional games will help them, as testers, test leads and test managers, to better comprehend the power of communication, and improve their communication skills.

Test Concept Charades

The first game we will play is ‘Test Concept Charades. This is where we have to explain common testing concepts without using some key words. Sounds simple until you try to explain complex technical concepts in plain language.

Throw in a little competition between teams and this quickly becomes quite fun 🙂

Ten Hundred Words

upgoerfiveThe second game, the ‘Ten Hundred Words‘ game, is based on the #upgoerfive concept explained at

We use this concept to describe complex technical stuff, although software testing isn’t quite rocket science, by only using words on the Ten Hundred most common words list – by the way thousand is not on the list. This helps us to communicate testing and test concepts effectively, whilst not confusing our audience with technical double-speak (or jargon).

After playing each game the delegates will work on developing the game and creating their own ‘specific’ variant suited to their organisational situation. We will then examine when it is appropriate to use the games, and what the desired outcomes are.

Both games combine to help us learn new and enhanced ways to communicate more effectively with others, and especially with those who may not have the same level of technical understanding that we do.

Afterwards & Takeaways

Back in the office attendees are able to develop and use the games with their colleagues to demonstrate the learning points from the workshop. They will also be able to test their own versions developed in the session and be left with a deeper insight into how to communicate with non-technical people.


PowerPoint Show     Powerpoint Show (2.3mb)

Presented at:

1. Test Management Summit, London. Apr 2016.
2. EuroSTAR 2016, Stockholm, Nov 2016.


  1. Up Goer Five
    The original Up Goer Five concept by Randall Munroe.
  2. Saturn 5 Rocket described in Up Goer Five
    Well worth a visit just to marvel at the ingenuity 🙂
  3. The Up Goer Five text editor
    Give it a go yourself?
  4. The Ten Hundred Words List

A Measures & Metrics Hierarchy?


This session has been inspired by following the journey of Solar Impulse 2 (SI2), an aeroplane powered only by solar power, as it circumnavigates the globe.

In June this year SI2 flew non-stop 5,663km from Japan to Hawaii. It took 6 days, using only solar power. The pilot sleeping in 20 minute naps, flying above and around weather systems, whilst travelling at around 30 knots, between 4,000 and 30,000 feet in altitude.


SI2 Landing in Hawaii

It sounds remarkable now describing the feat which smashed all solar powered flight records.

What was even more amazing was as the plane flew it transmitted real time data back to the control centre in Monaco, and the information was then published, live and real time, on the internet at

This got me thinking. Firstly, wouldn’t it be amazing if our software testing projects could broadcast live, real-time metrics and measures just like Solar Impulse? And this must be easier for us to do because we are not high over the middle of the Pacific Ocean, linked only by a sat phone?

Images used by kind permission of

Secondly, of the 14 key measures and metrics that were being displayed, some were fundamental flight and safety related. Always good in an aeroplane to know your; altitude, speed, and attitude. Some were flight plan related, in terms of direction and timing. And others were more inspirational, such as a view of the overall world circumnavigation. Not needed on a second by second basis, but giving overall context to the journey.

And that was when I had the thought that where we often struggle when producing software testing measures and metrics is that we mix up the safety with the inspirational, the planning with the performance.  Which may be why some people are against measurement, because they are stuck in a loop of safety measurement driven by fear. And others think that measurement and metrics can only be achieved as a complete end-to-end program of works, putting off all but the keenest of measurement disciples.

What software testers may find helpful is a hierarchy of software testing measures and metrics, along the Maslow lines of; Physiological, Safety, Belonging, Esteem, and Self-Actualisation.


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – Wikipedia

Knowing which measures address which needs on our projects may help save us from; life in the dark with no measures, producing the wrong ones at the wrong time, or being driven by measures and metrics rather than using them as tools to help us test software.

That could give us a new appreciation of what each of our favourite measures and metrics, S-Curve, Bug Count, Velocity, DDP, Coverage, Defect Heat Map, Burn Down Charts, <insert your favourite measure here>, etc., is achieving for us on the Maslow Hierarchy. And maybe an understanding of what each measure or metric we use is actually doing for us, where we may be misusing them, or where we may wish to use them in the future

Of course this may not work. But I think it is better to try and understand what our software testing measures and metrics are doing for us, than to either blindly generate screeds of impenetrable charts and numbers, or worse still, not produce any at all!


 PowerPoint Show    PowerPoint show (6.6mb)

Presented at:

1. UK TMF, London, Oct 2015.

UK TMF Session Outputs:

Below are the output flips from the session and the resultant hierarchy.

PNG  Flip 1     PNG  Flip 2    pdf  Hierarchy


Testing the Internet of Things: The Light and the Dark


IOT or the ‘Internet of Things’ is this year’s buzz word. Everyone is talking about it, but what is it, and what does it mean for Testers?

Every week you read another BBC Technology News article about how your next fridge is going to connect to the internet, your washing machine is setting the central heating, and your household lights work all on their own. The dark side.

This workshop, using practical and interactive demonstrations will help you to:

Tweet Cam

Tweet Cam

o  Identify what IOT devices are,
o  Understand how they are built,
o  Determine how to test them,
o  Share some lessons learnt from; building, testing and using IOT devices,
o  And actually use some live IOT devices during the workshop to ‘make it real‘ and bring to life your understanding.

The session covers low cost hardware, open source software, the recently announced Windows 10 IOT program, scripting languages e.g. Python, internet connection, communication, data recording, and messaging. And from a software testing perspective, we focus on how to go about testing, what approaches to use, what the limitations are, and look at what can go wrong.

The world is changing, and never has it changed faster. The ‘machines’ may not have taken over yet. Current predictions from Gartner are that by 2020 there will be more than 26 billion non-PC and mobile devices connected to the IOT.
(These devices are going to require an awful lot of testing.)


 PowerPoint Show    PowerPoint show (45.6mb)

Presented at:

1. TMS, London, Apr 2015. (½ day Workshop)
2. TMS, London, Apr 2015. (Discussion Session)
[aka Testing the Internet of Things: The Pain and the Gain]


This session was developed jointly with my good friend Phillip Isles.  We co-presented both of the above sessions at the Test Management Summit, London.

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)

Programming for Testers


We hear a lot these days about how testers should learn to code, become more technical, and have more development orientated skills. Unless you came into software testing as a ‘burnt out’ developer, it is unlikely that you have coding skills, or a deep understanding of the technical ins and outs of your current systems landscape.

What can you do about it? Is programming hard? How can you learn to code, gain the benefits and still master your current workload, which keeps on relentlessly increasing?

This workshop will show you how easy it actually is, as a tester, to learn how to program. The hard part, as always, is how to start. We will start with 3 simple steps and get you up and running with Python. You will write the simplest “Hello World” program. However, we will not stop there. We will then explore the ‘next steps’, and give you the confidence to write more complex programs.

Sound great, but when you are back in the office, sitting in front of a blank screen, doing this on your own will suddenly get much harder. To combat that we will arm you with some of the most useful on-line information available. Someone, somewhere on the planet, has already found the answer to your problem, and most likely created a YouTube video showing you how!

As a Tester you know that just writing code is not enough. It has to be shown to work. So not only will we write some code, we will ‘Test’ it as well. To make this even more enjoyable, together we will write programs to control a simple USB Robotic Arm, connected to a Raspberry Pi computer, on which we will run and ‘Test’ our code. We Testers can have fun too!

We will conclude by drawing up a personal development plan for how you can continue to develop your Programming skills, and how you can deploy them back in the office.

To participate it is highly recommended that you bring along a laptop with Wi-Fi that you can; download to, install software on, and edit the path variable. (If you can’t download and install software, i.e. your machine is a secure build, you will still be able to write code in text files that may be transferred to another machine for compilation and running.)

Each journey starts with a single step. Let me help you take your first programming steps today.


Impress  .odp format      pdf  Presentation      pdf  PFT Paper Gold Star

Webinar EuroSTAR Webinar     PowerPoint Show  Webinar Slide Show    You_Tube  YouTube Video

Code examples:

Python  Exercise 1      Python  Ex. 2      Python  Ex. 3      Python  Ex. 3.5

Python  Arm Template      Python  Arm Hint Template

(Please note: Due to the limitations of this Server, .py extension files can not be served direct. After opening, whilst saving the file, remove the .txt E.g. is saved as

PearlTrees2  PearlTrees Collection
(This is an on-line collection of web links referenced in the presentation)

Presented at:

1. Belgium Testing Days, Bruges, Mar 2014. (Workshop)
2. TMF Summit, London, Apr. 2014.  (½ Day Workshop)
3. Czech Test, Prague, Jun. 2014. (Tutorial)
4. Agile Testing Days, Potsdam, Nov. 2014. (Workshop)
5. EuroSTAR, Dublin. Nov. 2014.  (Workshop)  Gold Star
6. BCS SIGiST, London, Dec. 2014.  (½ Day Workshop)
7. EuroSTAR Webinar, Sep. 2015.

A blog post telling the story of the workshops can be read here


This session was developed jointly with my good friend Phillip Isles.  We co-presented all of the workshops, except for the Czech Test Tutorial.
Phill and I co-wrote the Programming For Testers paper which was nominated for EuroSTAR 2014 best paper. Gold Star

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

Flowcharting Workshop


Brand Spanking new B+ in Coupe case :-)

Brand Spanking new B+ in Coupe case 🙂

By now many of you will have heard about the Raspberry Pi, the $35 British computer that

is helping schoolchildren to learn how to write computer programs. To date over 1.75 million have been produced. A real success story.

Some of you may also know that over the last 18 months I (Graham) have been actively trying to reconvert the world to using flowcharts.

Well now Phillip Isles and I have brought these two themes together in the form of a highly interactive flowcharting workshop presented using the Raspberry Pi and a programmable Robotic Arm.

This session should be informative, fun, and productive. Informative in that you will find out how really powerful a $35 computer can be. Fun because we will use the Penguins logic puzzle game on the Raspberry Pi as the basis for the flowcharting exercise. And productive because you will learn or relearn how powerful quick and easy it is to generate flowcharts to aid in your daily work.

To play an active part in this workshop you will need something to draw flowcharts with, be that notepad and pencil, computer, tablet or phone.


 Impress  .odp format      Film  You_Tube  Video

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR Test Lab, Amsterdam, Nov 2012
2. UK Testing Retreat, Hereford, Jan 2013
3. UK TMF, London, Jul 2013

Great But Now Overlooked Tools


The idea for this presentation comes directly from EuroSTAR 2011. Sitting on the bus back to the conference centre after attending the Gala Dinner, a discussion started, about the industry luminaries who turn up at conferences and give presentations which roughly say “Don’t do all the stuff that I told you to do 5 years ago! Do this stuff now.” But, but, but . . . .

As we got talking I realised how many simple effective tools I no longer used, because they have either become overlooked, forgotten and thus fallen into disuse, or because modern methods claim not to need them and they are redundant. I wondered if any of them were worth looking at again – starting with my flowcharting template; I realised it is a great tool which I have overlooked for too long!

And aligning with this year’s conference theme of renovation, here is my list of 10 great but now overlooked tools:

Project Plans
Mind Maps
Tools we already have at our disposal like ….
Aptitude Tests
Hexadecimal Calculators
Desk Checking
Data Dictionaries and Workbenches

This is my list of really useful tools that I think are overlooked. In the presentation I will briefly outline each tool, why I think it was great, and what we are missing out by not using it.

Of course the audience will have a different view of what great tools have been overlooked, so we will capture those tools as well, using a Mind Map that we can quickly share with other attendees after the session, using Twitter, or other Social Networking tools.

And it naturally follows that if there are some tools we have overlooked then there are also some tools that we should get rid of! I will present my own list, hoping that the debate isn’t too heated, and also update the Mind Map with the collective view of tools that we should also dispense with!


PowerPoint      pdf      pdf  EuroSTAR session generated MindMap
Webinar  EuroSTAR Webinar (Test Huddle logon required)

Presented at:

1. UK TMF, London, Jul 2012.  (Workshop)
2. EuroSTAR, Amsterdam, Nov 2012.
3. EuroSTAR, Webinar, May 2013.

The Testers Toolbox – Seven Powerful Cognitive Techniques

aka 7 Things You Might Not Know – (But May Find Really Useful)


This workshop will take you on a magical journey through some very useful but mostly unknown tools for perception and comprehension which will aid you in your daily testing life.

Building on the Graham’s previous work in the field, and his the enthusiasm for the subject, this workshop will you on a 90-minute journey of mind opening discovery, looking at 7 key but often overlooked tools.

Stroop effect

Stroop effect

The tools, and their techniques are easy, fun to learn, and very powerful to use. And they will help you in mastering testing in the industry’s currently very demanding transition from that of a structured V-model history to a leaner, more agile and exploratory approach.

The seven techniques that will be covered in the workshop are:

Gall-Peters Projection – a different but more accurate way to look at the world
Popper’s Theory of Testability – a powerful tool to scope testing
Mind Control – finally proof that your mind is not you own!
The Stroop Effect – a powerful mechanisms that can control your behaviour
The Necker Cube – what you see is not what I see!
The Spinning Dancer – the whole may look different to the detail
e-prime – how to communicate experience rather than judgement

The workshop will explain each technique through demonstration and interaction, followed by a discussion of the power of the technique and an insight into its most effective use.

The session will be highly interactive, directly involving the delegates in all of the exercises to give them a first-hand experience of each technique that they will be able to take back to their workplace.


PowerPoint NeckerCubeSmall      pdf

Presented at:

1. UK TMF, London, Apr 2010 (Workshop)
2. BCS SIGiST, London, Sep 2010 (Workshop)
3. EuroSTAR, Copenhagen, Dec 2010 (Workshop)


The UK TMF workshop was co-hosted with Isabel Evans – Find out more about Isabel here.

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)