Handy Answers…

…to common questions

In-house workshops

My exercises have different things to find for people with different skillsets. A more diverse group allows participants to take away more surprising ideas. In a broad group, we’d have managers, coders, systems architects, ops, business owners and key customers alongside the people labelled as testers. I often have a broader group when I go back to a site for a second visit.

Some clients like to share my workshops with suppliers and contractors. That’s fine. Others want to teach a few of their staff, and sell seats to the public. That’s generally fine, too.

Pretty, with lots of space for notes. Ask me to send you a sample.

I offer four exercises under Creative Commons for non-commercial teaching. If you want to teach internally, we typically allow use of those, and negotiate paid licenses for others.

I’m in London. I’ll try get to your office and back in a day. If you’re close to a mainline station or airport and not much further than Manchester, Bristol or Amsterdam, that’ll work. Otherwise, I tend to travel out the day before, and try to get back to London in the evening of the last day of the workshop. If you want me further afield, that’s fine – we’ll sort out logistics. And, if you’re flexible with dates, I may be able to visit your office from somewhere closer than London. I’ll charge you at cost for travel and accommodation.

I generally waive travel if you’re in Central London. For workshops in the South-East, travel typically costs around £50 per day. For longer trips, I often need to stay a night, and have to take a cab as well as a train, so travel is around £120, and accommodation around £90 / night. For workshops in Europe, travel is typically around £200, and accommodation around £100/night.

The workshops go best with five or more. If we’re doing a coached workshop, where I get to work with everyone directly, I keep numbers to 12 or fewer. If you need me to teach more, I can adjust many exercises for small groups. For conferences, I’ll often have 40-80, which brings different challenges. I have a few exercises that I’ve run with more than 100.

Short videos on a particular topic, with a bunch of open questions. Participants may want to work through these on their own, or they might be used in a team gathering to provoke thought and stimulate engagement.

We talk, you tell me what your organisation and team wants out of the workshop, and we discuss potential subjects and emphasis. I gauge your interest, propose topics and exercises, and link them together. I’ve got 8-10 days of materials to choose from.

Yes. I’ll need to get to understand what your target system is used for, and then I’ll need to explore and test it for a couple of days. I’ll charge for my time. I’ll share any bugs, adapt some of my exercises and may build new ones. Sometimes the bugs alone are worth the cost of customisation. Clients find this particuarly useful if they want to introduce greater variety, to compare themselves with my appraoches, or to create a closer engagement between the workshop and their customer’s needs.

If you pay me for an exclusive exercise, yes. If you don’t, no. I do license exercises for teaching in-house, and can “train the trainer” if needed.

Not directly – it’s technology-specific. I find that groups do better teaching themselves by looking into the typical faults and attack vectors in the technologies that their systems use, and trying to discover ways that those can be used in their dicovery work.

Let’s be clear: Exploratory testing without tools is weak and slow, but this workshop is about how to do exploratory testing, rather than how to pick up and use any specific tool. We’ll talk about types and purposes of tools, we’ll probably have a tools workshop, and we’ll be resourceful in considering and using the tools we have to hand.

A flipchart or whiteboard (preferably both), a projector, internet access. Powersockets for everyone.

I strongly prefer to have the group arranged so that everyone can see each other – in a U-shape is great, round a big table is fine, rows of classroom desks are rubbish.

I want to have at least one conversation about what the organisation wants from the workshop. I put that information into a proposal for a linked set of exercises and topics, and we’ll work together until the proposal satisfies you and I. Not long before the workshop, I survey participants to find out what they want, so that I can tune the content and emphasis for the individual participants. It’s good to have everyone’s names.

At least one laptop between two. Handheld devices aren’t great for testing, and desktop machines get in the way of conversations. Most of my software exercises run in the browser – for compatibility, rather than technology. For some legacy exercises, participant machines need to be able to run Flash (!). Laptops need access to the internet. I try to avoid anything that installs software on participant laptops.

Most of my workshops are in Europe. I’ve learned to speak more slowly, to use clear and simple language, and to listen carefully to my workshop participants.


Cancellation terms are in my proposal.