Category Archives: Meetups

TEAM meetup number 11 – Michael Bolton!

The eleventh TEAM meetup was held on 26th May and we returned to a regular venue for us, Aconex‘s great space on Flinders Street in the Melbourne CBD. Thanks again to Aconex for their support in providing the venue, pizzas and drinks.

Our membership had increased to around 470 and we expected a big response when we announced this meetup as Michael Bolton was our headline act! Michael had been in town to run his Rapid Software Testing class (through TEAM) and also to give the opening keynote presentation at the Australian Testing Days 2016 conference.

On a cold and rainy evening, we were pleased to see around 35 of our members make the effort to attend and we kicked off proceedings at about 6pm (with early birds taking the lions share of the pizzas).

Michael kicked off by talking about a game he’s been playing recently, called Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes and some observations about playing this game in relation to software testing. He also gave us a 15-minute “lightning talk” on automation in testing and this was a fascinating example of how to talk about testing using clear language and make a compelling case for the use of automation to enhance the superpowers of humans as testers (rather than trying to replace them).


The group was then formed into a number of teams, most playing the Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes game plus a few playing the famous Dice Game. An hour passed quickly and then the bomb game players shared some observations about their game playing and Michael shared more of his observations from his more considerable experience of playing it. Maybe check the game out for yourself and see what lessons you learn that you can apply to software testing along the way.


The meetup wrapped up just after 8pm and it was – as always – great to see a bunch of such passionate and engaged testers in the one room. Thanks to Michael for taking the time to attend the meetup and provide such an entertaining evening for us all.

For further meetup announcements, remember to follow our page at:

Also keep an eye on our website,, and you can also follow TEAM on social media, at:

TEAM meetup number 10

The tenth TEAM meetup was held on 13th April, in the great space kindly offered to us by Nintex (thanks to them for also providing nibbles and drinks, while TEAM itself bought the pizzas).

Our membership had increased to around 415 and we had a big response in terms of RSVPs so it’s great to see the group becoming more and more popular, with many repeat attendees.

After my short introduction, we kicked off with Michele Cross and Paul Seaman giving a short talk about “testing idea generators”. This was a good short talk, highlighting a couple of tools for coming up with new test ideas. Paul focused on the Oblique Testing cards produced by Mike Talks, while Michele talked more about Adam Howard‘s Heuristic Testing Dice. The ability to come up with test ideas is particularly relevant in exploratory testing when the tester has more freedom to follow their own ideas about what should be tested than in a scripted testing scenario. This was useful content from Michele and Paul (and many thanks to them for stepping up to cover Colin’s spot as he had to pull out due to sickness at short notice).

Next up was David Bell with his lightning talk, “Commonly Held Beliefs about Test Cases”. David explored some of the common “best practice” beliefs around test cases (such as testing can only be performed using test cases and test cases help you achieve 100% coverage) and added his own thoughts and counter-arguments for many of the beliefs. It was great to see David giving his first public testing presentation and he presented his ideas clearly and in compelling fashion. Well done, David, and we’re looking forward to your next contribution to the meetup group.

For the great debate, we split the group of about 40 into two – with one group building an argument that you cannot test without test cases, the other arguing that you can test without test cases. Each group was given some time to define what they meant by “test case” and then build their argument around whether they could test or not with such test cases. Bringing the two groups “head to head” resulted in a pretty heated – but entirely good natured – debate, expertly moderated by Rajesh Mathur. The group who argued that test cases were a necessity had very smartly come up with a very broad definition of what they meant by a “test case” (covering test ideas, oracles, any thoughts leading to a test, etc.) so it was hard for them to lose the argument and the debate veered off in several different directions before we had to call time at 7.30pm.

It’s great to see such passion in the group and the debate format brings that out very well. The guys from Nintex were surprised by the passion on display and it makes the job of putting these events on so rewarding when it results in such strong debate about the true meaning of good testing.

For further meetup announcements, remember to follow our page at:

Also keep an eye on our website,, where you will find all of our different offerings – including the opportunity to take the Rapid Software Testing course with the one and only Michael Bolton and a brand new testing conference, Australian Testing Days, all happening in May 2016. (Note that members of the TEAM meetup group are entitled to a 15% discount off the conference registration fees.)

You can also follow TEAM on social media, at:

TEAM meetup number 8

The eighth TEAM meetup was held on 24th February, in the very funky offices of Envato (thanks to them for providing the venue, pizzas and drinks). Our membership had increased by 50 from the previous meetup, to stand at 350, and we had a record response in terms of RSVPs so it’s great to see the group becoming more and more popular.

After a short introduction by Rajesh Mathur, I gave the first presentation, “Growing Testing Skills using the Agile Testing Ecosystem”. I had previously given this talk at Nordic Testing Days 2015 (Estonia) and the Agile Testing & Automation Summit 2016 (Melbourne), but the content seemed new for most of this audience and there was a very active Q&A session afterwards which had to be drawn to a close in the interests of timekeeping. This excellent model for testing within agile teams doesn’t seem very well-known and is not getting the attention it deserves in my opinion. Based on the questions and post-presentation discussions I had with participants, the model will certainly get a run at a few companies in Melbourne now!

A short break allowed the group of about 40 to network and and clean up what was left of the pizzas. Good conversations ensued and, as usual, the group were a very engaged bunch and somewhat reluctantly regrouped in readiness for the second presentation.

This second presentation came from fellow TEAM co-organizer Paul Seaman giving his personal experiences of “Why/how Agile Transformations Fail”. This was a “warts and all” type of presentation, pulling no punches in terms of its content detailing how hard it had been to implement an agile transformation in Paul’s company. His conclusion was that aiming for “pure agile” was a bridge too far for most companies and that a more realistic target of transformation to an agile hybrid approach was much more realistic.

For further meetup announcements, remember to follow our page at:

Also keep an eye on our website,, where you will find all of our different offerings – including the opportunity to take the Rapid Software Testing course with the one and only Michael Bolton and a brand new testing conference, Australian Testing Days, all happening in May 2016. The programme for the conference is world class, including Michael Bolton, Lee Copeland and Anne-Marie Charrett, as well as more local talent from Australia and New Zealand.

The first TEAM meetup of 2016 – starting as we mean to go on

The seventh TEAM meetup and first of 2016 was held on 21st January, in the offices of Education Services Australia (thanks to them for providing the venue). Our membership stood at just over 300 before this seventh event and we had a sell-out of 60 RSVPs.

After a short introduction from me, it was time for the first presentation from Paul Crimmins (from AHPRA), “Introduction to Session-based Test Management (SBTM) and use of Rapid Reporter”. Paul gave an excellent talk on his experience of learning and applying session-based test management, with some practical recommendations around management buy-in and reporting within the constraints of existing toolsets (e.g. HP ALM). It was also good to see a case study of using Rapid Reporter and how that helps Paul to more easily take and accumulate his notes from sessions of exploratory testing. A great presentation and lots of Q&A followed – it was wonderful to hear from others who are also actually applying SBTM in their organizations, this is no longer a lunatic fringe and is considered mainstream now in agile teams.

A short break allowed the group of about 35 to network and and clean up what was left of the pizzas. It was another passionate and engaged group so the conversations flowed easily and it was good to see some newcomers getting involved too.

The second presentation came in two parts, from two guys working at Education Services Australia, Chatham Vidanagamage and Chandra Kesarapu. They talked about introducing test automation as a practice within ESA with Chatham focusing on the challenges involved (management buy-in, budgets, choice of technology, etc.) while Chandra talked in more detail about the technical implementation of the automation.

Lee introduces the meetup  Lee introduces the meetup  Paul talking about SBTM  Discussion arises  Chatham talking about automation at ESA

For further meetup announcements, remember to follow our page at:

Also keep an eye on our website,, where you will find all of our different offerings – including the opportunity to take the Rapid Software Testing course with the one and only Michael Bolton and a brand new testing conference, Australian Testing Days, all happening in May 2016.

The final TEAM meetup of 2015 – a great end to a great first year

The sixth and final TEAM meetup for the year was held on 10th December, in the splendid surrounds of Robert Half‘s Melbourne offices (thanks to them for agreeing to host our meetup again) and also supported by the Association for Software Testing (AST).

I had to rush to make it for the official start of the meetup, as I’d been attending and presenting at Unicom’s Agile Testing & Test Automation Summit at the Melbourne Convention Centre during the day – look out for another blog post about that!

We deliberately chose to keep this meetup light on formal content, using it more as an opportunity for everyone to get together socially before the Christmas and New Year break.

First up was Michele Cross giving a short experience report of attending the recent inaugural CukeUp conference in Sydney. As an advocate of BDD at Sandstone Technology, Michele obviously found a lot of like-minded individuals at CukeUp and she clearly gained insight into the bigger picture around BDD in different organizations, inspiring her to continue pushing for more BDD in her company. She made specific mention of well-known Australian context-driven tester Anne-Marie Charrett‘s “When Your Testing Is In A Pickle” talk as being a highlight of the conference.

A break allowed the group of about 25 to network and talk inevitably quickly turned to testing, as it always seems to do in this passionate and engaged group! It’s great to see the passion and energy in the room when people who are genuinely interested in learning get together.

Next up was Paul Seaman to talk on the subject of checklists, having recently read the best-selling book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right (by Atul Gawande). This was an interesting short presentation on what can be a contentious topic among testers (and many questions, comments and discussions arose during and after this talk), but Paul made some compelling arguments for the use of checklists based on the evidence from the medical and aviation industries discussed in the book. One of the main takeaways for me was that checklists don’t dumb things down for skilled practitioners, rather they cover the mundane repetitive actions to free up those skilled folks to add the most value via their expertise.

Rajesh Mathur wowed the crowd with his magic skills (maybe “wowed” is overstating it a little!) and then it was basically networking all the way until our latest finish so far at 8.30pm.

For further meetup announcements, remember to follow our page at:

Also keep an eye on our website,, where you will find all of our different offerings – including the opportunity to take the Rapid Software Testing course with the one and only Michael Bolton and a brand new testing conference, Australian Testing Days, all happening in May 2016.

On behalf of all the organizers of the TEAM meetup, thanks to everyone who has supported us during the year to get our meetup off the ground and become the success it now is, we appreciate it and look forward to great things in 2016.

Don’t underestimate the power of the #NoEstimates message – TEAM meetup number 5

After missing out on the fourth TEAM meetup (by virtue of being on the other side of the planet), it was good to get back in time to have plenty of input into the organization of the group’s fifth meetup which took place on 12th November, held in the groovy office of Acconex (shout out to them for their willingness to host us again, as well as providing pizza and drinks).

After a short introduction by Paul Seaman, the formal proceedings kicked off with Neil Killick providing an overview of #NoEstimates. Although he claimed to be nervous speaking to a group of testers, there was little sign of any nerves and this was a great introduction to the topic. Neil’s pragmatic approach to estimation and simple suggestions for improvements resonated well with this audience, especially with the folks in agile projects. This was essentially the same talk as this one Neil has shared from an MYOB brown bag session in 2013:

Basing it around the “three E’s” – Ethics, Empiricism and Emergence – split the presentation into nicely timed chunks and Neil made the content very accessible. Although this was not a testing presentation, the content was still very relevant and shows the importance to us as organizers of the meetup to include content that is not directly about testing into our programmes.

After a brief networking break, it was time for me to take the stage with Rajesh Mathur to give our joint presentation on “Remaining Relevant and Avoiding Commoditization”. The crux of our talk was the need for testers to build themselves a personal brand and reputation in the community, so that they reduce their risk of being commoditized (by being different from the crowd) and, should they lose their job, at least they will have some standing in the community to help them find a new one. This topic again resonated strongly with our audience, with many of us having all too familiar recent experience of colleagues losing their jobs as the commoditized outsourced factor testing model marches on in many larger organizations.

Rather than providing any more formal content for the evening, we decided to give the rest of our time over to networking and it was a great group with lots of good conversations going on with friends new and old. We’re always delighted to see new faces and also welcome back the TEAM stalwarts, so thanks to everyone for making the effort to come along and make the effort of organizing these events feel really worth it. The buzz of testers chatting and sharing experiences as I left reinforced what this meetup is all about, it’s our mission remember, Connecting Testers!

For further meetup announcements, remember to follow our page at:

Our group also has a new website, to collect together all of the different offerings we will be making to the testing community, including a new Melbourne testing conference, weekend workshops and the opportunity to take the Rapid Software Testing course with the one and only Michael Bolton in May 2016 – check us out at

Third time lucky – TEAM workshops went down a storm!

The third meetup of the Test Engineering Alliance Melbourne took place on the evening of Wednesday 2nd September, 2015, in the offices of Robert Half in Melbourne CBD. Our membership stood at just over 180 before this third event and we had around 40 RSVPs with almost all of them showing up to participate in the meetup.

Based on experience from the previous meetups, we decided not to try to start right on our advertised start time of 5.30pm, as many people arrive during the first half hour after finishing work or travelling into the city to attend the meetup. So for this meetup, the first half hour was given over to networking and also running the famous Dice Game! We ended up with two groups of Dice Games, one run by me, the other by James Irving. It was good to see so much energy in both groups, with the typical pattern of initial confusion, then “a ha” moments, then engagement then real passion to solve it!

I formally kicked things off with a welcome to the meetup, including some of the background, our context-driven tendencies, and our appreciation for the sponsor (Robert Half) for providing the meeting rooms and very generous food and drinks. Some statistics on the growth of the meetup were presented and the idea of full-day workshops and a conference were put to the group (both of which appeared to have strong support).

The feature presentation for the evening came from Clinton Marks, Associate Director at Robert Half, who gave a brief overview of the DISC behavior assessment tool. All meetup members had the opportunity to complete a free DISC assessment through Robert Half in the week before the meetup so the presentation gave more context around the different behavior types of Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C). Clinton noted that it is not really a personality assessment and that there’s no right or wrong (and no-one falls completely within one category or another). The assessment is useful in predicting behavior under given circumstances, though, so he argued that the profiling helps in team dynamics and collaboration.

The remainder of the meetup was given over to two concurrent workshops, our first try at running more interactive sessions as part of the event. Rajesh Mathur & I ran the “Exploratory Testing Techniques” workshop while Paul Seaman handled “Agile Testing”. (Since I was presenting a workshop, I didn’t see Paul Seaman’s one, but his group gave very positive feedback on the experience and have asked for more of the same from him, so we’ll re-run both workshops in a future meetup so everyone has a chance to experience both too. Maybe if you participated in Paul’s workshop, you can add your comments about it on this blog post.) The majority of the participants opted for the exploratory testing workshop so it was standing room only in the small room we had allocated for it, but this was no bad thing as it encouraged more interaction perhaps. Rajesh and Lee went through some background and definitions, involving the participants and gaining a feel for the level of experience in the room (which was from experienced ET practitioners down to those who had just heard something about ET). Heuristics and oracles were a focus and some classic ET exercises (like the pen and calculator tests) teased out lots of great participation from the group. Time was short and all agreed that we needed more sessions like this so a one-day exploratory testing workshop is being considered. It was actually great fun to give this workshop to such an enthusiastic and engaged bunch of testers (and great to see some more CDT minds in Melbourne).

We had again run slightly past our scheduled end time of 7.30pm as the meetup regrouped after the workshops, but many participants stayed on for a while to enjoy the Robert Half hospitality and network some more. The vibe was fantastic and it was good to see such a broad range of experience in the same room, but all with the interest and desire to learn and share about testing – this is exactly what we hoped for by starting the meetup!

As organizers, we have been overwhelmed by the incredibly positive feedback on our meetup and it seems that the group is very eager to learn and engage in longer sessions such as day-long workshops or a one-day conference event under the TEAM banner. A few feedback comments from our meetup group page:

It was fun to play the dice game and hope to do it again. All the workshops were informative and engaging. It is was great to do the DISC assessment and exploratory workshop. (Darren Davie)

It is so great that once a month I get to surround myself with testers that are passionate about improving their craft and sharing their experiences. It is a real energiser. To those that attended my workshop, great questions, excellent stories and suggestions based on experience. Thank you, your input added an additional layer of interest. (Paul Seaman)

Thanks Lee and Rajesh for another great meetup. DISC assessment was very interesting and would be good to know more. Enjoyed the session on ET and would be very interested in a full day session as there were many questions. Get to meet and talk to other testers as well. (Paul Crimmins)

Keep an eye out for details of the next meetup, which will probably be mid-October. The spirit of open community seems alive and well, so hopefully we can continue to build a group in Melbourne to foster an environment of constant learning and pragmatism in testing through context-driven principles – and achieve our mission of “Connecting Testers”.

As a reminder, here’s how to stay up-to-date with the goings on around the TEAM meetup:

Connecting more testers in Melbourne – the TEAM is growing!

The second meetup of the Test Engineering Alliance Melbourne took place on the evening of Wednesday 5th August, 2015, in the offices of Randstad in the Rialto, Melbourne CBD. Momentum out of the first meetup saw us with just over 150 members before the second event. With a slightly larger venue this time, we could increase our cap from 30 to 50, but even so we were still “sold out” within a day of announcing the meetup! It was great to see almost all of the RSVPs actually showing up (we think there were 42 attendees, a very encouraging number).

Rajesh Mathur kicked things off with a welcome to the meetup, including repeating some history for the newcomers about why we felt the need to start such a meetup group to try to form a testing community in Melbourne. He ran through some of the background, our context-driven tendencies and our appreciation for the sponsor (Randstad) for providing the meeting room, food and drinks. He also introduced the idea of workshops and full-day events in the future, as well as the possibility of a small entrance fee if we are to expand into larger (paid) venues. (The idea of workshops was very popular, as we expected.)

The feature presentation for the evening came from one of the founding members of the context-driven testing community, Paul Szymkowiak. He talked about the history of CDT in his talk, “CDT: Highlights from a Journey”. The talk was structured around his personal journey and it was fascinating to hear how he became involved with the likes of James Bach and Cem Kaner in the formative years of the CDT school. His talk also provided an excellent recent history of software testing, viewed through the lens of CDT. Paul’s talk was very well received and we were lucky to engage him in the meetup to share his experiences with us.

The lightning talks came next and it was something of an embarrassment of riches this time, as we had three volunteers well before the meetup and then another addition from the organizing group just beforehand. Erik Petersen was the MC again and first up was Scott Miles (from AHPRA) who talked about some ideas for making automation tools more intelligent. He had some great ways of making automation more stable by introducing some intelligence into the way the tools work, rather than adopting their typical black & white pass vs. fail mentality. Scott will be publishing some of his ideas soon and is also working on an automation tool to incorporate some of these ideas; in the meantime, he has recently guest blogged on Rajesh’s blog on this topic:

The next lightning talk was given by Dhanushka Ranganath, who made a last-minute change to his topic and talked about his experience of running performance tests against a heavily-used education sector website. It was a good little talk, focusing on some practical “do’s” and “don’ts”, nice work. Paul Seaman was up next and he kept his topic secret, but it was an absolute cracker. He immediately hushed the room with his intro, telling us how confronting some of the content would be before proceeding to show us a photo of a young women looking heavily bruised to the face. The audience were visibly shocked and readily went along with Paul’s suggestions that the most likely tools to produce the image we saw were the hands of a male. It was only when he showed us a picture of a make-up box, the actual tools, that we began to see where he was going. His message was that we are easily fooled and our emotions fill in the gaps when we don’t have all the facts – while this is a useful survival skill perhaps, it leads us astray in testing all the time. Brilliantly done, Paul.

Our final lightning talk came from co-organizer Colin Cherry who was inspired to present by a LinkedIn discussion from one of the meetup participants. He talked about “measuring” testing capability and how contextual that is, the concept of “good enough” (as first coined by James Bach in the testing arena) being key. A good short talk from Colin, (deliberately) asking more questions than it answered to get the audience thinking about what “good enough” means in their particular environments. (For an example of Bach’s work in this area, see this IEEE Computer Sociery article from 1988 published on James’s website:

By the time the lightning talks were done, it had almost reached our scheduled end time of 7.30pm so we didn’t manage to get any roundtable discussions or dice games going, but instead encouraged the participants to enjoy the Randstad hospitality and network if they wished. It was pleasing to see most of the group staying around to chat and meet the presenters (and the Randstad guys were genuinely surprised how passionate these tester types are to learn and share!). The vibe was great and it was good to see such a broad range of experience in the same room, but all with the interest and desire to learn and share about testing – this is exactly what we hoped for by starting the meetup!

As a reminder, here’s how to stay up-to-date with the TEAM meetup and we look forward to seeing even more new faces at our next event!

TEAM LinkedIn group:

TEAM Twitter handle: @AussieTesters

TEAM website:

Connecting testers, the power of the meetup

It’s been a while in the making, but the first gathering of the Test Engineering Alliance Melbourne (TEAM) meetup group took place on 3rd July in the city of Melbourne.

It’s been a long-time goal of mine to see a testing meetup group here and thanks to the other co-organizers of this meetup for making the event a reality. Rajesh Mathur in particular has been instrumental in driving this meetup group and doing a lot of the legwork in arranging the first meeting while I was away in Europe attending the Nordic Testing Days conference, so many thanks to him (and the other co-organizers for their enthusiasm and support, of course!).

We were “sold out” for the first meetup (capped at around 30 due to room size) and it was good to see that most of the RSVPs turned up, ready for Rajesh to give an introduction about our motivations for creating a testing meetup and revealing our context-driven tendencies.

Next up, I gave a twenty-minute presentation about my experience of attending and presenting at the Nordic Testing Days conference recently. I gave some background on the conference, in terms of its history, location and target audience, as well as describing my experience of presenting there. I also highlighted three talks with great takeaways (from Stephen Janaway, Rob Lambert and Rob Sabourin) and included a general discussion about the benefits of attending conferences, how to influence decision makers to give approval for conference attendance, and also gave a plug to the Speak Easy programme (for which I am a volunteer) to encourage new speakers.

Via the page, we’d asked for volunteers to give lightning talks and two people stepped up to the plate early, and co-organizer Erik Petersen also put his hand up, so we had three five-minute talks next. Erik went first and he talked about “testing” a little puzzle game as a way of illustrating the use of testing heuristics. Next came Pavan with his neat talk (and great graphics in his slides) on “The Age of the Divergent Tester”, an interesting topic around psychology and how we think as testers. Finally, Paul Crimmins (a colleague of Rajesh’s) who talked about his experience of undertaking the BBST Foundations course, run by the Association for Software Testing – he is part way through this intensive (and very well regarded in the context-driven community) course, so it’ll be interesting to hear more from him when he’s finished the course. It was good to see people volunteering to give a lightning talk and it’s a great way of gaining experience in public speaking in a supportive environment without the pressure of a full-length presentation.

After the presentations were completed, the attendees were encouraged to network over drinks and nibbles (which they did willingly) or take part in the famous Dice Game. Having previously facilitated this game at the Tasting Let’s Test conference in Sydney a couple of years ago, I was happy to run it here (as well as training others in how to facilitate the game). Two groups took up the challenge and the game was a big hit – simple but thought-provoking with some great testing skill takeaways too. (Now that Rajesh has bought so many interesting dice, we’ll definitely run the game as a regular part of our meetups!)

It was a great feeling to see a bunch of passionate testers giving up their free time (on a Friday evening too!) to attend our meetup, talk testing, and network with others in the industry. Watching these testers getting to know each other and sharing stories & ideas is what makes it all worthwhile; it’s what this meetup is about, connecting testers!

Here’s how to stay up-to-date with the TEAM meetup and it would be great to see more new faces at our next event!

TEAM LinkedIn group:

TEAM Twitter handle: @AussieTesters

TEAM website: