My Papers

Photo by Matt Ridley / Unsplash

Most of these papers were written as an integral part of a conference presentation, to help the audience get some value after the talk was over, and to give greater depth to my own thinking. They're generally around 8000 words.

The Irrational Tester

We all act irrationally. When we as testers make decisions or give feedback, we influence the overall direction of a project. The ripples of any irrationality can go far. Understanding the patterns that underlie our irrationality will help us be better testers. This paper puts a test perspectiveon bias; why we so often labour under the illusion of control, how we lock onto the behaviours we're looking for, and why two people can use the same evidence to support opposing positions. It covers why timeboxes work, why independence matters, and the subtle de-biasing nudges that can help encourage us to stay on track. There are plenty of real-life examples of tester irrationality, and lots of references to the primary research papers.

Download The Irrational Tester.

Keynote at STARWest2009 (video), the Danish SIGIST, CTG Software Testing Seminar, TCL's 'Star Testing' day, track at various other events.

Testing in an Agile Environment

It is hard to find a practical approach that allows a professional tester to achieve their full potential in an agile environment. This paper draws on experience of real-life agile projects, and will help testers recognise where they are bringing friction to an agile environment, help agile team members recognise where they may be incurring a 'testing debt' and identifies ways that testers can facilitate learning and bring value to an agile project.

Download Testing in an Agile Environment.

Keynote at EuroSTAR 2008, IIR Finland, Unicom's Agile Testing Day London, Avenir's Agile Testing Day Oslo, London SIGiST, Ordina's Testing Masterclass and as a track presentation at STAREast, Agile 2008 (basis of "Agile is Groovy, Testing is Square") and others. Find out more, or bring the presentation to your team.

Exploratory Testing Notes

A suite of short papers, detailing my thoughts on questions that turn up frequently in my Exploratory Testing classes, and when working with ET teams.

Things Testers Miss

Designers and Coders make bugs. Testers make tests - but when testers get it wrong, bugs end up in production. This paper is all about ways that testers can miss bugs, and ways that they can catch more.

Download Things Testers Miss.

Paper presented at StarEast05, EuroStar05 - find out more, or bring the presentation to your team.

'A Positive View of Negative Testing'

A practitioner's overview of negative testing, dealing with tests designed to make the system fail, and tests that are designed to exercise functionality that deals with failure. Details the overall aims and management of negative testing, and describes a variety of techniques used to select, derive and execute negative tests.

Download A Positive View of Negative Testing.

Paper presented as a keynote at STAREast 2003 - find out more, or bring the presentation to your team.

'Adventures in Session-Based Testing'
with Niel van Eeden

Session-based testing is a management technique often used to measurem and control Exploratory Testing. It can can also form a foundation for significant improvements in productivity and error detection, partcularly in immature teams. This paper describes how two UK companies controlled and improved ad-hoc testing, and used the knowledge gained as a basis for ongoing, product sustained improvement.

Download Adventures in Session-Based Testing.

Presented at STAREast 2002, Quality Week 2002, EuroSTAR 2002 and ASIAStar2003. A variant presentation based on the same paper ('Further Adventures in Session-Based Testing', concentrating on tools and coaching) was presented at STARWest 2002. Find out more, or bring the presentation to your team.

Winner of "Best Paper" at STARWest 2002.

Winner of "Best Paper" at EuroSTAR 2002.

'From a Sow's Ear to a Silk Purse: Making the most of what you've got'.

The test team has a greater influence on the success of testing than any single process, tool or technique. Yet, under-resourced and over-stretched, it can be a source of weakness. This paper outlines some effective techniques to help get the best out of your team.

Download the paper: From a Sow's Ear....

Presented as the QBIT keynote, QBIT Tools Fair September 2002, T-mobile Special Interest Group on 5 June 2003, AsiaSTAR 2003, Sydney, and (as a double-length special session) at EuroSTAR 2003 and the London SIGiST. Find out more, or bring the presentation to your team.

'The Importance of Data in Functional Testing'

Details ways to improve your test data to allow it to help, rather than hinder, your testing. Includes a pair-wise approach to generate flexible datasets, and approaches to soft partitioning and data labeling. Also contains an analysis of commonly-found data-related issues and suggests solutions.

Download The Importance of Data in Functional Testing.

Presented at QW2001, STARWest 2001, QWE2002 and the BCS SIGiST. Find out more, or bring the presentation to your team.

'Test Managers, Chameleons of the Project World'
with Julie Gardiner

This paper presents two models of test management. The first describes the test manager's interactions with other roles on the project, based on the interests represented by the manager in the interaction. The second describes the activities, deliverables, decisions and expectations of a test manager over the life of a project, paying particular attention to test phase. The paper will be useful to new and experienced test managers.

Download Test Managers, Chameleons of the Project World.

Presented at EuroSTAR 2003 and AsiaSTAR 2004.

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