Training: Presentations

The Concept

I have a number of 1-hour presentations that can be presented as a track or keynote within your organisation or as part of a conference. These could be used to inspire and motivate your teams and could be presented during the day, at a lunchtime or even after work.

Many organisations have selected a number of these fun, interactive and informative sessions to create an "inspirational day" for their teams. Many of these have been presented as keynotes at a variety of conferences and most of them have won "best presentation" for content and delivery.

If you are interested in me speaking at an event for you or at your conference then please contact me.

Apprenticeships - The Core Component in Creating "Jedi Testers"

Apprenticeships happen throughout society particularly where skilled craftsmen/craftswomen are required. So why does it seldom happen within the IT industry? Could it be that we sub-consciously believe that anyone can test or develop software? Is it that we don’t treat “testing” as an art or skill? Or is it that we become far too busy on projects and feel it would be detrimental to the success of the project to train testers/developers in this way?

During this session we shall discover what apprentice training is and more importantly, what it is not. We shall consider how this technique can be easily adapted to suit the IT industry and in particular “testing”. Apprenticeships is the core ingredient into creating "Jedi testers" within our organisations - testers who can instinctively use their skills, knowledge and expertise in testing software to find those serious bugs as early as possible.

I shall be sharing my experiences where apprentice training has worked for me and how we can easily bring this powerful technique back into our vocabulary and how projects will benefit immediately if the technique is adopted.

Building Successful Test Teams

It is often said that “people are the most important asset of any company”. However we spend very little time on the people side of testing. This session is a people oriented approach to testing. While it is often said that ‘anyone can test’, the skills and makeup of the test team are important and must be managed and cultivated properly. People are very different and will react differently to various situations. This session will use the “tester’s style analysis questionnaire” to uncover the 4 types of tester that exist within our organisations; the pragmatist, the facilitator, the analyst and the pioneer. It is important for us to recognise these differences so that we can maximise their strengths rather than dwell on their weaknesses. The session will look at how conflicts arise and how this analysis can help defuse conflicts and bring out the best in your teams.

Recruiting testers can also be difficult. How do we recognise good testers during interviews? Utilities and tests will be provided to help with recruiting the right people into a successful test team. Finally I shall provide 7 top tips for motivating the team to enable them to become more productive and effective within the organisation.

Cheap and Free Tools

There are numerous tools to support all testing activities, yet with limited budgets or other constraints, commercial tools might often be out-of-reach for most organisations. There are now many open-source and free tools available which could provide an alternative when organisations have limited time and money.

During this session I will demonstrate a number of powerful tools that are free; tools that will help with both effectiveness and efficiency in testing. I shall demonstrate a selection of test design tools, test data preparation tools, test execution, web testing, static analysis, coverage and test management tools showing their power and versatility. Along with the more common tools, I shall also demonstrate some of the more uncommon tools that can help with testing such as mind maps, video capture and graphical editors and how they can enhance the testing activity.

It is however important to understand that even "free" tools can be costly if the right tool is not selected. Learn how to assess which tool will be most appropriate and how to create a business case for selecting and implementing free and open-source tools into organisations that might resist such tools.

I shall also demonstrate a "cheap and free tool list" which will be made available at the end of the session for all participants and how this can help save organisations both time and money.

It's a Bugs Life

How do we react to the ‘bugs’ in our software? Are these bugs having a good time whilst we are desperately trying to find them? Are we aware that there are different types of bug all requiring different strategies to find and remove?

There are only ever two reasons we test a piece of software – to give us confidence and to detect bugs. We must have the right balance with these objectives throughout the testing process. But how do we react to these bugs? Are we providing a good environment for the bugs to live? We shall be comparing our attitude to natural bugs to software bugs throughout the presentation. There are different types of software bugs with various ways to destroy them. Our environments can cause the bugs to breed if we are not careful and what are the various attitudes we have to deal with throughout the project which can cause unnecessary stress and concern?

During this session we will be trying to determine whether our bugs lead a good life within our organisations or whether we give them grief! Inspired by Disney’s film of the same title, this is a light-hearted, humorous presentation with a serious message. “Neglect the bugs and they will take over!”

Pairwise Testing - Orthogonal Arrays and Algorithms

As testers we are faced with many challenges especially when designing and executing tests. Most problems reside in the fact that we usually do not know which test case design technique to use and more importantly we usually do not have time to run all of our tests.

Pairwise testing will help solve some of the combinatorial problems we experience. All testers are faced with the problem of testing combinations of variables, systems, hardware and in many instances this could lead to thousands – if not millions of tests. Pairwise testing is a technique which will not test all combinations but will test all “pairs” of combinations. Most bugs are found to be either single modal or double modal and pairwise testing will focus on all double and single modal bugs.

There are 2 recognised pairwise techniques, namely Orthogonal Arrays and algorithms. We shall understand the theory behind pairwise testing by using and mastering Orthogonal arrays and then using pairwise algorithms. This will provide you with substantial reasoning when you need to explain to your managers how you have drastically reduced the number of tests but still have a very high probability in finding the same number of bugs.

Surviving or Thriving - Top 10 Lessons for Every Test Professional

As testers and test managers we often find ourselves struggling to survive within our organization - sometimes with the possibility of outsourcing or off shoring just around the corner. We often are asked to become more "effective" and more "efficient" with time and resources-to do "more with less." However, most testers and test managers are unsure of what this actually means. I will share ten valuable and practical lessons on how you can actually become better at what you do in testing and thrive in your career. My lessons include using modern technology, reviewing test documentation using design techniques, testing the testers with techniques such as "bug seeding", reporting project waste, providing management with feedback on decisions that they made, and more.

This session will not only be fun and informative but challenging and practical for all testers, test leads, and test managers.

Test Estimation - A Painful or Painless Experience

Test Estimation is one of the hardest activities to do well in testing, the main reason is that testing is not an independent activity and often has destabilising dependencies. During this session we shall uncover some of the common problems in test estimation and how to overcome them. We shall also dispel the myth that test estimation only involves effort and resource and that one vital ingredient is missing when estimating testing.

This session is based upon experience (usually painful) and research. It uncovers some of the common destabilising dependencies we encounter during test estimation such as quality of the code or quantity of the code being delivered. We shall look at how different methods of estimating are appropriate to the various lifecycles we find ourselves in (Sequential, Incremental and Iterative). We shall look at 7 powerful ways to estimate test effort, some being easy and quick but prone to abuse. And others being more detailed and complex but taking longer to administer.

We shall also look at how we can approach the “authorised deadlines” that are often presented to us. Spreadsheets and utilities will be given out during this session to help the tester and the test manager. It is hoped that by the end of this session people will feel that the painful experience of test estimation could in fact become a pleasurable experience.

The Fragility of Agility - Top 10 Lessons for Making Agile a Success

Agile methodologies have been used within industries since the early 1980s, yet many see this as a new approach to incremental delivery and many organisations are struggling to move from traditional to agile. This session will explain the fundamentals of Agile methods and how testing can effectively contribute to this software development approach.

I will uncover my top 10 lessons in making Agile succeed within your organisation, lessons such as; the need for the organisation to change and culturally adapt, to know when and when not to automate, to move to agile for the right reasons and providing appropriate training for all team members not just the Scrum master. I have worked with organisations which have succeeded in adopting Agile and companies who have struggled to achieve any significant benefits. During this session we shall understand how companies have succeeded and how to avoid the pitfalls of failure.

The Test Manager's Dashboard - Making it Accurate and Relevant

Gathering and presenting clear information about quality, both product and process, may be the most important part of the test manager’s job. Join me as I challenge your current progress reports (probably full of lots of difficult-to-understand numbers) and ask you to replace the reports with a custom Test Manager’s Dashboard containing a series of graphs and charts with clear visual displays.

Your dashboard needs to report quality and progress status that is accurate, useful, easily understood, predictive, and relevant. Learn about my favourite dashboard graphs: test efficiency, risk progress, quality targets, and specific measures of the test team's well being. Learn to correlate and interpret the various types of dashboard data to reveal the complete picture of the project and test progress.

By creating a Test Manager’s Dashboard, you will provide significant long term benefits to both the test team and the organization, and make your job easier and more fulfilling.

Top 10 Myths and Illusions in Testing

Under the guidance of a master magician, illusions can be fun and entertaining. Governed by the right circumstances, cultural myths can lead to better lifestyles. However if myths and illusions exist within our organisation concerning the projects we work on, then these will distort the truth and ultimately limit testing’s effectiveness and efficiency.

A myth that we can so often encounter is “software quality is achieved through testing”, whilst this is partly true, I believe that it is dangerous to rely solely on testing and explain why other methods are crucial in striving to achieve better quality software.

One illusion that is prominent in most organisations today is “outsourcing is cost effective”, yet very few companies can prove this (or even want to prove this). I will uncover some disturbing case studies that expose the harm and long-term damage that this illusion can cause.

Join me as I unveil my list of top 10 myths and illusions that we have to face as testers and test managers. Whilst it is important to identify them as they appear, I will describe ways to reduce their impact or how to eliminate them completely so that we become ultra effective test professionals who are listened to and respected within our projects and organisations.

Top 10 Ways to Becoming a Trusted Advisor

Becoming "Trusted Advisor" to Project/Senior Management involves 3 core skills: earning trust, giving advice and building relationships. We shall not only look at each of these 3 skills but also why a trusted advisor must develop appropriate attitudes and mindsets.

For testers and test managers, there are particular challenges, as we are often bringing information that our managers may not want to hear. How can we present the information so that the correct message is being recieved? How can we assess the testing objectively? This session will look at 10 key ways we can move to becoming a Trusted Advisor within a project.

Top 10 ways will be shared so that we can communicate effecitvely with various levels of senior management relating to testing, from Development Managers, Project Managers and Programme Managers to CEOs. Different types of information that would be useful for the various levels of management and how we can become their "trusted advisor" rather than the 'bearer of bad news' will be explained. It is important that we contribute effectively to the smooth running of the project and that the information we supply is timely, important and understandable to eveyone on the project team.

Top Testing Challenges We Face in IT Today

Some people thrive on challenges, while others struggle with how to deal with them. Handled well, challenges can make us stronger in our passion, drive, and determination.

I will describe the challenges we face today in software testing and how we can respond in a positive, constructive manner. One of the challenges I often see is identifying and eliminating metrics that lie. While we (hopefully) do not set out to deceive, we must endeavor to employ metrics that have significance, integrity, and operational value.

Another challenge test leaders face is providing progress reports that have clarity, accuracy, and meaning that are tailored for the intended recipient and a third challenge is convincing test managers to actually test regularly to attain credibility and respect within the team they are leading. Be prepared to have your views and beliefs about testing challenged during this session and find out why using the term "Best Practice" can be damaging and harmful to your organisation.

You Can't Sprint all the Time - The Importance of Slack

We are often told that we need to achieve more with less, or we need to become more efficient with the resources we have. I reveal a counterintuitive principle that explains why certain efficiency efforts can slow a company down and why agile projects in particular can create "burnout" with staff members.

Companies need to design workloads that allow people to think, innovate and reinvent themselves. By taking the risk of creating slack for team members it will not only allow changes to take place and foster creativity the surprising aspect is that the team's productivity will be increased. Creating slack will work for agile and traditional lifecycles and will provide a model for achieving and maintaining true efficiency and effectiveness.

Join me as I present the clear evidence in how continuous sprinting can be harmful to both employees and employers and how busyness is not always productive. Be prepared, during this session, to be challenged into trying something new that could revolutionize your company’s effectiveness and efficiency.

Top Challenges in Testing Requirements

Requirements are essential for the success of projects―or are they? We often require concrete requirements, specified and documented in minute detail. However, does the business really know what they want early in the project? Can they actually produce such requirements? Is it acceptable to test with limited or vague requirements? It is essential for testing to test even without requirements, with ambiguous requirements, and with vague requirements. For decades we have been complaining about the lack of good quality requirements in order to test effectively. This session challenges your basic beliefs, explaining how detailed requirements can damage and hinder the progress of testing.

Each challenge will uncover the problems and concerns we might have with that type of requirement and how we can test effectively in these uncomfortable situations. Rather than seeing these as problems for testing, testing must rise to these challenges and work with the business to test the product that is needed even though it might not be specified very well.

The Reality Distortion Field of Testing

The Reality Distortion Field (RDF) was a term coined by Bud Tribble at Apple Computers in 1981 to describe Steve Job's charisma and its effect on the developers working on the Macintosh project. The RDF was said to be Steve Job's ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, marketing, appeasement and persistence. RDF is said to distort an audience's sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task in hand was possible.

When it comes to testing we have this RDF all around us from managers to so called "experts" saying things like:

•   We can and should automate everything
•   We can be much more effective and productive when we work on multiple projects
•   We need to provide lots of evidence to demonstrate the thoroughness of our testing
•   Testers need to become developers
•   There is a need for good test estimates
•   …

If we say things for long enough and with enough passion we convince ourselves and other people will eventually start to believe us even when indicators prove differently. There is a thin dividing line between "having a vision" and "being deluded", "convincing others" and "conning others". Hopefully this session will challenge what we believe to be right for us, to be able to think for ourselves and to be able to discern what is needed for us to be successful.

How to Build Successful Test Teams

It is often said, “people are the most important asset of any company”. However we spend very little time on the people side of testing. This session is a people oriented approach to testing. While it is often said that ‘anyone can test’, the skills and makeup of the test team are important and must be managed and cultivated properly.

During my career as a test manager I have found that managing people is often very difficult to do well. People are very different and will react differently to various situations. This session will use the “tester’s style analysis questionnaire” to uncover the 4 types of tester that exist within our organisations; the pragmatist, the facilitator, the analyst and the pioneer.

It is important for us to recognise these differences so that we can maximise their strengths rather than dwell on their weaknesses. The session will look at how conflicts arise and how this analysis can help in defusing situations. Recruiting testers can also be difficult. How do we recognise good testers during interviews? Delegates will be given access to a “Tester’s Aptitude Test” and also a “bug-ridden application” to help with the recruiting procedure.

Finally I shall explain my top tips for motivating our test teams to help them become more productive and effective.