The Future of Membership in a World Driven by Technology

Membership is about people; people sharing ideas to improve their personal and professional lives, opining on the latest issues, building personal and company brands, and yes, utilizing technology.

My goal here is to listen to the "world" on where membership fits in these fast changing times, and deliver the services needed to get people to "buy" into membership organizations.

Membership is deeper than community. Membership is more personal and takes more effort. It is built on trust.

Stop by often and find out what's happening in the world of Membership... Thank you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

If you don’t vote, please don’t complain! Everyone is welcome to participate in the debate…

Luminary Award Nominations Close Wednesday June 30th!

Thank you to all of you that have been nominating your choice for the STP Luminary Award. As we approach the close of this portion of the award process, I thought I would outline the next steps in what we hope to be a summer of great debate, lobbying, and education about the top 3 people that have been chosen by you.

As I said, nominations close this Wednesday. At the close of business on Wednesday, we will start tallying the results of the nomination process to determine our top three nominees. Those nominees will be input into our online voting survey to be released on July 15th. Although you may not see your nominee on the list, we hope you will take a look at the top three vote getters and get involved in understanding why others have chosen one of these three luminaries.

On July 15th we will also include on the website, under the Luminary Award Crew, a little bit of information about each nominee. Some of that information will come from the comments of the people that nominated them for the award. Some information will come from the research we here at STP will do about the nominees, and then we will open it up to you. We will be opening up the Luminary discussion to all Basic Members (complimentary Membership) to comment and lobby for your choice to receive the award. We will not field the questions of “this is bogus, I don’t see (put nominee name here). He/She should have been on the list.” We can only put forth the people you nominated. If you have not nominated someone you have 2 days left to do so! Once the nomination period is closed it is closed. (Click here to nominate)

The voting will start July 15th and continue through September 2nd. You have plenty of time to vote and if you know who your candidate is “hands down” then vote immediately. But if your candidate is not in the top three, I hope you will take the time to learn why others chose these candidates, and make an informed vote for the one you would like to see win the award. I expect that the supporters of each of these candidates will have an active role in lobbying for their candidate but we will see. This debate could make the “dog days of summer” a little more tolerable and interesting!

I only ask that the debate be respectful of the nominees. I expect we will see plenty of differences in these candidate’s qualifications, and the discussion will revolve around the positive aspect of each of the nominee’s contributions to our industry. This debate should really be a great window into the qualities, values and accomplishments that we believe make for great leaders in our industry.

The final stage of the process will be the actual award presented at the 2010 Software Test Professionals Conference & Expo at the Mirage in Las Vegas. I hope you engage in the debate and the voting so that we have the opportunity to present the winner with a community award we can all agree went through a fair, robust, and open process…

Good Luck to all of our nominees!

Re-cap of Local Interest Chapter Meeting in San Francisco…

The second LIC meeting kicked off in San Francisco on Thursday June 24th and it was a great success! Vladimir Belorusets shared his experience with test automation data (feel free to download if you are a Basic Member) and it offered the group a lot to think about and discuss at the conclusion of his presentation. Dave Willmer, Executive Director of Robert Half Technology shared his insights into some employment trends RHT has been experiencing over the past six months. Beyond the presentation, it was great to see Dave again having worked with him over the past several years so closely. He had a number of his team members attend the meeting and it was nice to get to speak with professionals so closely aligned with the current quality, development and IT testing employment market. They are an impressive group.

Automation continues to challenge the test and quality community in a number of areas. What to automate, what the best tools for automation are, and the relationship between test automation engineers, development, and quality assurance pros continues to dominate the conversation. There are some great practices going on out there and one in particular was shared at this meeting. One organization is driving a culture change that places stronger expectations for a higher quality of code on the developers before passing it on to the quality group. There was some conversation around the process reducing the need for testers, but again a robust debate generated interesting perspectives for the meeting attendees.

I received requests and volunteers for more LIC meetings in the SFC area. One of the attendees was active in a user group and highlighted the important differences between what we are doing at STP and user groups. Boiled down it is simply that we at STP want to encourage discussion on all topics of interest to the software test and quality community - where user groups want to focus on the topics around their tools. That is not a bad thing, just a different approach. We at STP pride ourselves in building bridges between people, process, and technology. We also know that every group and meeting will be different for each LIC. Member control and delivery will guarantee these meetings are timely and useful for the professionals in our industry.

I am so heartened by the fact that this group in SFC like NYC found the meeting a great first step in creating a long term initiative within the local community. It seems like there is a definite interest in our community to get together to help each other. We are optimistic that in a year from now we could have 30 active Local Interest Chapters around the country. That would be a very satisfying result for an organization that believes in the power of connecting people.

I am currently working on a supporting document that will help STP members to host a meeting in their area. It will include the vision of the Local Interest Chapters, logistics for putting on a great meeting, along with topics and facilitation that has proven to be valuable for the attendees. We here at STP will be the backbone of the infrastructure to put these meetings on - but it is the knowledge and passion of our community volunteers that will make these meetings a great success.

My next two meetings will be in Colorado Springs (our home base) and Denver. I have received interest in PA, MI, MA, and TX. If you are interested contact me at

Local Interest Groups Kicked Off in New York City!

Its official, the Local Interest Chapter implementation is under way. Yesterday I had the pleasure and privilege to host the first official Local Interest Group meeting for Software Test Professionals. It was held at Robert Half Technology on 245 Park Street in downtown NY. Our very own Strategic Advisory Board member Bala Muller was the guest presenter and he generated a number of excellent discussions around a host of issues, including a very engaging discussion about automation.

I opened the meeting with an introduction of who we are at STP, our mission and vision for the local chapters, and it seemed to be well received. It was great to have Paul Flaharty Regional VP for Robert Half, who is also a chapter officer for HDI, there to explain and share his knowledge of what they are seeing in the job market for software test and quality professionals. He shared some encouraging numbers and also had firsthand knowledge to share with the group on how valuable the local chapter model is to the professionals that attend the meetings.

Bala Mullur’s presentation generated exactly what I was hoping for which was an engaging dialogue on the specific interests within the group of attendees. The presentation ended up being a facilitated discussion and took many tangents which are exactly what makes these local meeting so valuable. The group was very engaged and willing to share. They agreed, disagreed, and offered offer a host of opinions but more importantly they were sharing their real life experiences with the group. There were also a few questions posed by group members for the group to give input and opinions on. Two topics offered some very good discussion, metrics, and automation. We also had a good discussion around the “cloud” and as expected, security was definitely a concern for the financial folks in the room.

It was a varied group and included a developer/tester team from the same organization who utilized the meeting it seemed to build a stronger professional relationship. It was encouraging to see an example of teamwork between developer and tester. We talked about the importance of teamwork in the meeting, as well as the importance of speaking a common language in IT, and specifically how to communicate more effectively with upper and executive management.

There was a very passionate discussion around automation, and the final outcome was an agreement that we need to really be clear about what we mean when we talk about automation and testing. The group had great feedback and Bala had some interesting examples of what he is doing at his organization with automation, and I am encouraging him to write about the examples he used at our meeting for the website or an upcoming newsletter.

Overall, it was a great meeting that went beyond the 2 ½ hours we scheduled. I even received feedback that the meeting could have been longer. The time flew, and even after we ended the formal meetings, attendees were passing cards and making local connections with the others at the meeting. I will continue to nurture NY and a couple of folks were interested about volunteering for future meetings but concerned about the time commitments. Time is a valid concern but based on the survey I handed out, this meeting was time well spent!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Conversation Begins at STP…

I am extremely excited about the reaction we have been getting to the new features on our new website. Visit the new website at I want to thank the many of you that have shared kind words, bugs, and critiques about the site. All of these comments will help the Software Test Professionals website to serve its members more effectively.

We received feedback from a tester who suggested that they would not become a member of the site because it was not “tested properly”. I was a bit confused by that comment because it suggests that the site would have to be “perfect” or “bug free” to meet their approval. I have to respectfully disagree and ask the question; isn’t finding bugs and functional issues that work better for a user the value of what testers do for an organization?

Our new Software Test Professionals website will be the most tested and functional website on the face of the earth if we get consistent feedback from the most qualified community in the world. The testing will be happening every time one of our testers shows up on the site; daily and on an ongoing basis. To suggest that a lack of testing is sufficient (what is sufficient?) to determine whether or not to become a part of STP is short sighted in my view. Our developers built the website knowing the scrutiny would be as personal and invasive as a colonoscopy, and are excited by the challenge and opportunity serving this community is. Try to get LinkedIn or Facebook to change their site to meet your needs. We are in business for the testing and quality community, not to be everything to every social group in the world.

The framework is up, the basics are built, and the journey begins at STP. I am taking in all of the critiques with an eye toward what the future holds; a site guided and built with an ultimate goal of a website and membership built on superior quality. Keep your testing hat on as you visit the website. We want every comment and suggestion because every comment is an opportunity to reach the ultimate goal; to be your home base, where everybody knows your name (and your value)…

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Getting Ready for Software Test Professionals

We have been feverishly preparing to launch the new “Brand” Software Test Professionals, Software Test & Quality Assurance magazine, and Software Test Professionals Conference & Expo here at STP. We are taking what were simply a magazine called Software Test & Performance and a small conference called STP Con, and turning them into components that will make up what we hope to be the most trusted place to be by the Software tester and quality assurance professional. We will become people focused in the tradition of great associations. We will be launching so much throughout 2010 to support this new focus, and the speed of delivery will depend on how quickly this community embraces the concept. I have outlined a few points of focus for the new membership offering.

Our new membership focus will be to:

• Provide a framework for members to learn, share, and build their reputation.
• Provide the recognition and awards, developed by the membership to validate the achievements of individuals and organizations.
• Provide opportunities to publish works, methodologies, and information to the broader community through white papers, magazines, newsletters, and books to increase the awareness of the overall commitment of these individuals to the profession as a whole.
• Gather the membership together at conferences, local interest groups, and training events to share and recognize the professionals within an industry and their commitment to learning and developing themselves and the industry as a whole.
• Provide a voice beyond the immediate community where other professionals can reference the work being produced by the association’s members. Increasing the overall reputation of the industry.
• Validation of the profession; American Medical Association, American Bar Association; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Help Desk Institute are examples of associations that validate the role and function of an industry into a profession by providing all of the above.

We are chomping at the bit getting ready to launch the “face” of our association, the website, and today are choosing the 10 testers from nearly 60 that volunteered to make sure when we launch you get a quality experience when you visit the new website. We hope it will be user ready by June 1st!

That’s not all we are working on. We are accepting proposals to speak at our fall conference to be held October 18th – 21st at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. It will include a true “hands-on” track so testers can truly test not just talk about testing. We have a great key note line-up and most importantly a cool party for the attendees! It will shake up the industry, and the experience we plan to provide will be one that we hope will confirm in your mind, that this is the place to be if you are a software tester or quality assurance professional.

The newest edition of ST&QA (Software Test & Quality Assurance Magazine) is being edited as I write this Blog posting. It has articles explaining the new brand and “ community model” along with a great article by James Bach called the “Omega Tester” and a couple of new features, “Ask the Tester”, where Matt Heusser has engaged Michael Bolton to answer some excellent questions from software testers in our community. We have part IV of the Six Sigma article series by Jon Quigley and Kim Pries, and a couple of other features on load and performance testing you will not want to miss! And finally we have added a cartoon feature by Andy Glover who has a great Blog at

We have planned, created, and are about to implement the newest community for software testers and quality assurance professionals. It will only work if we are embraced by you. We are about people sharing with people. We are about promoting you and your knowledge to benefit the community. We are about publishing and vetting the latest and hottest trends in our industry you are discussing. We want to provide Local Interest Chapters around the country, the best conference experience bar none, and the best website infrastructure to support your ability to connect to other trusted testers and quality professionals.

We hope the industry is ready. We hope you are ready. We will be ready June 4th.

Rich Hand
Director of Membership & Publications
Software Test Professionals

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Will you “Crew”?

I was recently given a preview of our new website at Software Test & Performance Collaborative. Not only will we be launching a new website, we are rebranding the organization to align with our membership focused mission. A couple of the features I was briefed on were:

Crew Membership: STP members will be able to create interest groups that focus on the topics that interest them. They can create crews (groups), join crews, create content, present content, and control the experience they want to create as a member. They can simply observe or they can become a highly “decorated” member of the community. Members will have the ability to rate content and comments that will elevate member’s status within the community. I strongly believe and support the ability for members to create their own experience and want to see the next generation of leaders cultivated through this peer process. Of course we will be developing and providing content at STP. But we know the best content comes from the professionals in the field doing the testing.

Social Media Tools: The web is full of social networks enabling people to connect and collaborate. It is extremely important to help people connect based on their interests. Our developers have taken the ability to connect and make “friends” (like Facebook), organize into “Crews” (like LinkedIn Groups), post videos (like YouTube), share documents (like Share Point), and create & deliver presentations (like Live Meeting) all within a website that will be focused on Software Test Professionals. We all know the value social networks have created, but we also know how time consuming the social web can be. For the Software Testing community we want to be the best place to get your information, fast!

I am extremely excited to start serving the community with this new website functionality. I want to give our development team kudos on a great infrastructure but now that I have seen it; I want it yesterday!

Let me know the functionality you would like to see in our new membership area of the website?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The HDI Membership Event in Orlando…

Having spent seven years at HDI as the Executive Director of Membership I will miss not being at the big event this year in Orlando at the Rosen Shingle Creek. I had the honor of working with Fiona Henderson the former Executive Director of Events to manage the conference program team of; John Custy, Phil Gerbyshak, Jeff Brooks, Mary Cruz, Katherine Lord, and Pete McGarahan. These members of the HDI membership are top notch professionals. I was the track Chair for the Maximize Team Performance track, and I wish I could be there to see it all come together. I am sure that all of the sessions that were chosen will be a great success at the event as they always have been.

It is a new day in membership with the introduction of Social Media platforms with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other tools. I am so glad I had the great sense to reach out to ServiceSphere guru Chris Dancy to create what is turning out to be an extremely popular pre-con; “Congratulations; Here is Your BS in Social Media.” Make sure to meet Chris at the event. He will be the one walking around interviewing and engaging attendees and vendors to post on tweet reel and twitter.

I convinced him to create a social media course for the conference, and it looks like the HDI community is embracing both Chris, and the concept. I knew the day I met Chris that he was exactly the type of person membership and community is built on. He was always willing to “drop off” as Ron Muns used to put it - when it came to helping his colleagues. He is now a Local Chapter Officer in Denver, and he is making a true difference in the ITSM community overall.

I am really excited for the members of HDI to experience the great program and pre-cons that are available at HDI 2010. Created by membership for the community it serves. That is the greatest reward any Membership Director could ask for.

HDI has a great Membership community!

Have a great time in Orlando!