2012 saw two important milestones in my life and career. In March I officially became a senior citizen, well I would have had the government not changed the rules just as I was nearly there. That would never happen in the IT world would it? The requirements changing with little or no notice! Secondly, in December I became officially Agile by passing the iSQI (International Software Quality Institute) CAT (Certified Agile Tester) exam. Agility is not a trait one would normally apply to senior citizens but within the testing world all things are possible.

In early November, John Mason and I went off to famous Potsdam (just outside Berlin) for a full week’s train-the-trainer course run by iSQI. The course was rather challenging for those, like me, who have not used Agile before in “anger” although I had read many papers on the subject in recent years. John also struggled to map what we were being taught to his own experiences with Agile, which we soon discovered were not Agile at all but rather Waterfall without documentation.

In my not inconsiderable experience within the IT industry I have noticed a common theme. When a new technology emerges and it seems to be the “buzz word” or phrase, many IT professionals tend to also want to “tick the box” and say “me too”. I have seen this with 4GL languages, Relational Databases, client-server applications, ITIL compliance and Web-based applications. Then, in recent years, everyone had to tick the Cloud and Agile boxes. The rational goes something like this “If we say we are Agile, no one will know at first and then by the time they find out what that means we will be”.

The motivation for us attending this course was to support Sogeti’s drive to substantially increase the number of CAT trained testers within our consultancy base so we can serve our customers better in this area of testing.

John and I were pleased to see that Agile places a very strong emphasis on people’s soft skills. The ability to interact and communicate accurately and respectfully with people of different skills and areas of expertise is at the heart of the Agile method. I have been a strong advocate for the change in the rules for managers for most of my career. This is very much supported by the Agile method. Managers, where such titles exist, now become enablers, offering a service to the teams under their charge rather than controlling or dictating what they do. The main working group is the Team. They are self organising and collectively responsible for the delivery of “working” software to the business. Although each member of the team has different skills, no individual of sub-group has specific responsibility for any given part of the total task of software development. Everyone helps everyone else to achieve the goal of producing software that meets the needs of the business and delivers value.

This method of working was first proposed by W. Edwards Deming during the 1940s and 50s and was the major factor in success of Japanese manufacturing in the latter half of the twentieth century. The biggest challenge of Agile will be for those who are used to hierarchical management structures. Managers will find it very difficult to give up the feeling of power through control of teams. Whereas, team members may not like the idea of taking on responsibility, not only for their own work, but also the work of others within their team.

We have just published dates for Sogeti CAT training, with the first available course starting on 18th February. I am looking forward to our CFO’s response to our claim for six boxes of Lego on our expenses. From that you can deduce that there are a quite a few practical exercises in building as well as testing, all using real Agile methods. See the full course schedule here.

For more information about Certified Agile Tester® or any other courses, please email or visit

Peter is an internal trainer & looks after career development support within the Sogeti training department.

Posted in: Agile, Software testing, Testing and innovation, Training      
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Imagine that you enter a clothing store to buy a new suit or dress. You find somebody who you think is a helpful sales assistant and explain what you are looking for. Their reply is: “Certainly, now may I just get some personal details before I start to help you?”

They then proceed to ask for your name, address, telephone number, how many years you have lived at that address, what you are going to use the suit or dress for, how many children you have, your marital status, your date of birth and so on. What would your reaction be to this questioning? If you are like me, your instinct might be to think, or even say: “How intrusive, how inappropriate or even how rude. I only wanted a new outfit!”

So why do we have these feelings? It’s because we are human, and throughout our evolution we have developed inbuilt strategies for handling new human encounters while keeping ourselves safe. Regardless of our culture, or the part of the world in which we live, these strategies are remarkably similar. On our first meeting with someone new, we exchange information cautiously. I have used the word ‘exchange’ deliberately here – we share something and expect a reply with information at a similar level of detail or intimacy. If either party breaks the ‘rules’ by either asking too much or telling too little, then we feel uncomfortable, or even angry.

But there are many websites that consistently break these rules. My experience is that insurance company websites are among the worst offenders (but by no means the only ones). May I suggest that you try using a car insurance quotation site to discover for yourself how you feel as it runs through its questioning? I wouldn’t be surprised if you found the experience both irritating and disruptive. Particularly if after all the questions the website simply says: “Sorry, we are not able to offer you cover” – without any explanation.

So what has this got to do with testing? Well, most system tests only check to see if that system matches requirements or intended design. But should we also include a test for politeness? As testers, should we ask ourselves the following questions?
• “Does our company really need this information?”
• “Do we need to collect the information at this stage in the communication?”
• “Does this feel like the right balance of information exchange? In other words, has there been an appropriate and valuable trade-off between the potential customer and potential supplier?”

For me, testing should include at least some element of human psychology. Remember, the website is the proxy salesperson for your company. It should follow these instinctive rules for human contact, otherwise we, the general public, will feel cheated, or at least uncomfortable. I know that I always close a website immediately if I feel that it is asking too much too soon, without telling me at least something about itself.

A final word then. One insurance company that will remain nameless keeps sending me spam emails. By law they have to have an opt-out capability that allows me to cancel future spam mails. When I clicked on this, it took me to a page requesting all my contact details: name, address, date of birth and so on, before I could stop them contacting me. What cheek.

Needless to say, that company is now on my ‘never do business with these guys’ list!

Peter is an internal trainer & looks after career development support within the Sogeti training department.

Posted in: A testers viewpoint, Opinion, Software testing      
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”Go to Ukraine,” they said! Well, as Sogeti’s lead trainer in testing frameworks and methodologies, that is part of my job, and it has allowed me to travel to such countries as China, Netherlands and Malta to impart the wisdoms of well-structured quality assurance.

After a short delay, I finally arrived in Kiev a couple of weeks ago to start a two-week programme of training for the Ukrainian division of a Demark based supplier of Financial Instrument Trading software. The delay was caused by Heathrow and London having to cope with the very difficult situation of minus six degrees and two centimetres of light snow! Both of these so obviously beyond what could be reasonably expected of even a first-tier country such as the United Kingdom.

Touching down in Kiev airport, it did not take long to see that the conditions in Ukraine were somewhat more challenging. Kiev had suffered 30 centimetres of snow and temperatures ranging from -13 to -29 plus a further 10 degree wind-chill. Strangely, everything was working and working well. All the roads were open; cars and buses were running on time; and people were going about their business as if nothing had happened.

Having spent a relaxing night in the Intercontinental, my taxi arrived on time to ferry me to the company offices to start the first ISTQB Advanced Test Manager course. The Ukrainians at this company had set themselves the target of having all their Test Analysts and Test Managers trained to at least these advanced courses standards, and for as many testers as possible to obtain the qualification.

On my route to the well-equipped training room, I was approached by two or three of my students from a previous round of training who announced, with obvious pride, that they were now the first people in the Ukraine to have Advanced ISTQB qualifications. Pride is maybe the lasting impression of the people I met in Kiev. With almost every exchange, they wanted assurance that their company, and particularly the Kiev division, was doing things the right way and well. A huge smile of delight would accompany every positive affirmation. Surprisingly, negative comment, did not evoke disappointment or sadness, but rather an almost school child excitement and willingness to understand what needed to be done to make this area first class too. Unfortunately, negative comments in modern Britain result in a different response more often than not. But what struck me in Ukraine was that there seemed to be no blaming, no excuses, no shoulder shrugs. Just a calm response of:“It will be done!” I had and have no doubts that it would be done, quietly and efficiently, without complaint.

At the end of both courses, everyone made a point of saying how much they enjoyed the training from me. I have to respond here, as I did to them, that the pleasure was all mine. Students with this amount of skill and willingness to succeed are a pleasure to train. Could the Ukraine be the next great outsourcing centre for development and testing? On this small amount of evidence I would say that if they decide to do it, then I am sure that they will succeed.

Peter is an internal trainer & looks after career development support within the Sogeti training department.

Posted in: A testers viewpoint, Software testing, Test Methodologies, Training      
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Software testing can often mean executing lots and lots of tests, most of which are likely to be almost the same as all those others we did just the day before. Then, when we find a problem we have to repeat all these tests again, just to make sure we did not break something during the fix process.

This can sound rather tedious and not much fun –  but is this all there is to testing? No! As someone who has worked in IT and testing for most of my 40 year career, I can confirm that testing is actually fun. Does this mean that I am easily pleased? No, not a bit of it. I agree; often test execution can be boring, especially the regression testing side of things. But REAL testing actually involves the analysis of systems with the aim of finding potential problem areas and then thinking of tests that can confirm that system ‘works’.

Let’s see if we can apply this test-based thought process to a topic in the news as I write. How can we perform an acceptance test of the new England football team manager?

Well, we start with a test strategy. The test strategy itself needs to be based on the goals of the business and any risks that might surround the ability of the system to help the business achieve those goals. This is the type of thought process that precedes the test strategy:

  • Q: What would be the goal(s) of a Team Manager?
  • A: Simple answer – to win matches!
  • Q: How do we win matches?
  • A: Score more goals than we let in!

There are two broad strategies therefore for winning matches:

  1. Like Brazil, we score lots of goals and if our defence does let in a few, it will never be more than we score!
  2. We follow the Italian example, have a rock solid defence, and hope that at some point we are able to break away and score a goal

So maybe we have our first test concept; what approach to the game will the new manager adopt?

Now let’s look in more detail about scoring goals? What do we need to do to score?

  • You cannot score without possession of the ball. How do we maintain possession without risking losing it? Test the team’s ability to keep the ball and be patient until an opportunity arrives
  • Create chances. Do we get players in a position to score regularly? How many chances should we expect in a game? How do they arrive?
  • Finishing. What percentage of these chances is converted into goals?

The other side is looking at stopping the opposition from scoring. How is this achieved?

  • They can’t score without the ball either. How do we get the ball from them? Here we test our ability to tackle safely, without risking penalties or being on the floor and ‘out of the game’, without getting the ball
  • We need to intercept the ball, which involves marking players and predicting the attempts by their strikers or midfield players to get through our defence
  • This often involves each defensive player having an understanding and awareness of the position and actions of his fellow defenders. We can test their ability to understand each defender’s approach and thought processes for each type of defensive situation

These are the tests we might need for either a defensive or attacking strategy. But there is more to the game than this. A football team is more than a collection of skilled players. It needs to work and operate as a team. When we have the ball we attack as a team. When we are defending, we defend as a team. The testing here would be to set challenging situation and discuss and practice the team’s ability to cope with each situation. Although each football game is different, there is likely to be a series of set-situations that we can define, discuss, practice and test.

Because we are all both attackers and defenders, each player needs to be fit and deliver at a high work-rate.

Finally, a special case for England – we must practice penalty taking. We can certainly test everyone’s ability to score from the penalty spot. We need to test until we meet exit criteria of more than 85 percent or maybe even 95 percent score rate.

Perhaps the tests in this table might form the basis of a reasonable acceptance test:

The Test Target Minimum standard Actual Results
Maintain possession of the ball 60% 50%
Chances created per match 10 4
Chance conversion to goals 60% 40%
Successful tackles in their half 30% 20%
Successful tackles in our half 50% 40%
Successful tackles in Penalty area 90% 80%
Chances from opposition per match 5 7
Chance conversion to goals from opposition 20% 30%
Defence ability to predict each other 90% 80%
Correct handling of set piece tests 95% 90%
Penalty scored percentage 95% 80%

I do appreciate that this blog might render the glorious game rather mechanical. But I am sure that using testing measures, exit criteria and goal/risk analysis might enable us to measure the new manager’s ability to produce success for our national side.

Which after 46 years, England expects and deserves!


Peter is an internal trainer & looks after career development support within the Sogeti training department.

Posted in: Software testing, Test Methodologies, Working in software testing      
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If one of your 2011 New Year’s resolutions was to become better at testing, time is starting to run out. Luckily for you, Sogeti UK hosts training schemes all throughout the year and we have some outstanding courses still to come.

The ITSQB testing and exam course is a one day exam on 5 December. It stands apart from our more extensive five-day training course, and is for those who just need the test to achieve their ISTQB certificate. From 5 December, our Quick Test professional course runs for three days and addresses a range of topics, including recording and running tests, adding synchronisation points and verification steps and modularising and reusing tests. Once the three-day QTP software testing course is concluded, we provide a one-day training course that combines the information just learned, and integrates it with HP’s Quality Center. This helps students understand better how to manage quality information throughout the development cycle.

We close out the month – and the year – with three further courses. Our ISEB Intermediate course is a four-day session that starts on 12 December. Once completed the course can be used an optional stepping stone toward the ISQB advanced courses in Test Manager or Test Analysis. Also starting on 12 December is the Using Quick Test Professional course. This provides a comprehensive understanding of how to use Quick Test Professional as an automated functional testing tool for different environments. Finally, our Quality Center Administration & Customisation course takes place on 14 December. This one day course helps shows students how to plan, create and customise Quality Center projects so users can later manage quality assurance requirements, test cases and defects.

We are now putting together our course schedules for the new year. So if you missed last year’s resolutions or wish to write new ones for the Olympic year 2012, watch this space. To register for any of these courses, or to view a full list of every course we provide, please visit our website.

For any further questions or to request more information, please email: or call +44 207 014 8900.

Peter is an internal trainer & looks after career development support within the Sogeti training department.

Posted in: Software testing, Training      
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