Inaugural Assurance Leadership Forum NORTH 20 March Manchester

The inaugural Assurance Leadership Forum NORTH took place on Tuesday 20 March 2018 at The Studio in Manchester.

Hosted by ROQ


13:30 Tea/Coffee
14:00 Introductions
14:15 Session A Session B
  Dorothy Graham: Will Tools Replace Testers?
Dot's slides are here
Dr Andrew Brown, SQS: Is psychology of software development coming of age?
Andrew's slides are here
15:30 Tea/Coffee/Networking
16:00 Session C Session D
  Richard Simms, Test Architect, ROQ: Is it time for Test Data Management to become a core discipline rather than an irritating dependency?
Richard's slides are here
Paul Gerrard, Principal, Gerrard Consulting: "Assurance: the Evolution of Test Management"
Paul's slides are here
17:15 Drinks Reception


Abstracts and Speaker Bios

Dorothy Graham: Will Tools Replace Testers?

When tests are automated, does this means that manual testers will no longer have a role? This workshop explores the role and relationship of manual and automated testing, and of people and tools.

What is actually going on in software development and testing and where does automation fit? With the push towards DevOps and Continuous Deployment, automation is essential. So where does that leave manual testing? Surely it’s better to be “fully automated” for maximum efficiency, right?

Although there is truth in this, there are also pitfalls and dangers. What does “full automation” actually mean? Perhaps not what most people think! Explore the issues of people and tools in this workshop, through exercises and discussion. Come to a greater understanding of where tool support will be most effective in testing, and where it could actually be dangerous and damaging.


Dorothy Graham has been in software testing for over 40 years, and is co-author of 4 books: Software Inspection, Software Test Automation, Foundations of Software Testing and Experiences of Test Automation, and currently helps develop the wiki

Dot has been on the boards of conferences and publications in software testing, including programme chair for EuroStar (twice). She was a founder member of the ISEB Software Testing Board and helped develop the first ISTQB Foundation Syllabus. She is a popular and entertaining speaker at conference and events worldwide.

She was awarded the European Excellence Award in Software Testing in 1999 and the first ISTQB Excellence Award in 2012.


Dr Andrew Brown, SQS: Is psychology of software development coming of age?

Our focus in software development is, understandably, on technical challenges. Although we acknowledge that defects begin as a thought in our mind, we rarely go beyond this.
However, things may be beginning to change. Led by the aviation and medical industries, where consequences of mistakes can be serious, we are learning that instead of searching for errors after they occur, we can reduce our vulnerability to creating errors in the first place.
We take an example from an Agile team in the insurance sector, who have been using cognitive de-biasing techniques to improve effectiveness of retrospectives. We examine the issues they faced, their successes, and their failures.
We then move into a discussion of the potential opportunities, limitations, and side effects we may encounter in trying to improve quality through reducing our mind’s vulnerability to cognitive biases.


Dr Andrew Brown is a principal technical consultant at SQS. Recently, he has developed an independent line of research into understanding why we humans make the mistakes that lead to software defects.
He has 25 years’ experience in the software industry. Previous roles include Head of QA at HMV, Head of QA at a financial software house and a test manager in Japan.
He holds a degree in Physics and Maths, an MBA from Warwick Business School and a doctorate from Imperial College.


Paul Gerrard, Principal, Gerrard Consulting: "Assurance: the Evolution of Test Management"

When the Agile approach emerged over fifteen years ago, there was no clear role for test managers (or even testers, at first). Over time, some test managers reverted back to being testers in teams, some specialised in test automation, or security, or moved upstream to be business analysts or product owners. Some left the business completely. In parallel with the ‘demise’ of test management in many organisations, a new discipline of Assurance is emerging and is a natural progression for delivery-focused professionals.

Assurance (aka test-, business- or delivery-assurance) is seen by many companies as the way to improve the relationship with software suppliers, to provide support to them, and where necessary, to police their activities. Assurance reports to the board and speaks truth to power, it requires coaching and persuasion skills and a deep knowledge of software and organisational dynamics. We now have Digital taking over everything – now is the time for Digital Assurance.

Paul will set out a vision for Assurance, what it is, what role it plays in business and software projects and will explore how it presents an attractive career progression.


Paul Gerrard is a consultant, teacher, author, webmaster, developer, tester, conference speaker, rowing coach and a publisher. He has conducted consulting assignments in all aspects of software testing and quality assurance, specialising in test assurance. He has presented keynote talks and tutorials at testing conferences across Europe, the USA, Australia, South Africa and occasionally won awards for them.

Educated at the universities of Oxford and Imperial College London, in 2010, Paul won the Eurostar European Testing excellence Award and in 2013, won The European Software Testing Awards (TESTA) Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is Principal of Gerrard Consulting Limited and is the host of the UK Test Management Forum and the UK Business Analysis Forum.


Richard Simms, Test Architect, ROQ: Is it time for Test Data Management to become a core discipline rather than an irritating dependency?

The timely provision of appropriate test data, in the volumes required, has always been a key dependency for those of us working in testing and Quality Assurance and often proves a source of great frustration.

A new generation of Test Data Management (TDM) tools are emerging that are designed to help.

Richard will share his opinion on the direction the industry is taking and then invite us to consider as a leadership forum:

  • How can we as testers better manage this dependency?
  • What should be the role of test teams with respect to data provision? Greater self-service?
  • Which test data tools we have implemented, and did they give the desired benefits?
  • Should Test Data Management be a centralised service?


Richard is responsible for designing test strategies and approaches to testing as well as managing the transition process for new clients at ROQ.

His role as Test Architect involves working with a wide variety of clients across a range of industries and gaining a deep insight into their testing and quality assurance challenges. Before joining ROQ, over a career in IT spanning 30 years, Richard has worked in the roles of Developer, Team Lead, Project Manager and Test Manager before taking on the role of Quality Manager for a major retailer.


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