I’ve set myself a challenge to attend at least 3 meetups a month, which includes 1 I’ve never attended before. Click here to read about the other meetups I’ve attended this year.

Here is my progress so far:
Meetups attended in 2020: 7/36
New meetups attended in 2020: 3/12
(Last updated 10th March 2020)

Event: Jan #MidsTest
Date: 6:00pm Wednesday 23rd January 2020
Hosts: Lee Marshall and Ben Fellows
Location: Woodrow Mercer Offices, Birmingham
Talk: Risk Storming
Presenter: Ben Fellows
Meetup Topic: Software Testing

#MidsTest is a monthly meet-up that alternates between Birmingham and Coventry. I have been attending this meet-up for almost 2 years now and it will always be a favorite of mine. It really helped ignited my passion for meeting other testers, discussing ideas with them, learning new things and public speaking.

This meetup has a really strong focus on encouraging people to give public speaking a go. The organizers are constantly asking for volunteers to give talks, which can be anything from a main talk to a 99 second one. Without this meetup, I’d have never tried out public speaking. It was not until I was given a chance to do so that I realized how much I enjoyed it.

Risk Storming

The main event was a workshop run by Ben Fellows, a test coach at CELCAT. This workshop was an introduction to Risk Storming, a method for analyzing and anticipating risks by getting the whole team together and sharing ideas.

To do risk storming, you need a pack of TestSphere cards (which can be purchased here) and a risk storming board (a link to print this off is available here)

The activity involved getting into groups and investigating the risks of a Driverless Taxi.

A risk storming board

Part 1 – Quality Criteria

The TestSphere deck includes some blue cards, each with different quality criteria. As a team, we discussed each one and chose the 6 most important.

Part 2 – Risks

For each quality criteria, identify the risks. These are written out in the form of events – the consequences of bugs. We try to work out what could go wrong.

As a team, we discussed the possible events linked to each quality aspect. These were written out on post-it notes and stuck next to the quality aspect it was related to.

Part 3 – Tests

The remaining desk included cards with different test patterns, heuristics and designs. As a team we looked through the deck and discussed how these could be used to test each risk.

Risk Storming Results

This was such a fun exercise. It helps anticipate risks, and generate ideas about how to test an application. There were some ideas I’d never really heard of or tried before.

Risk storming is a starting point for testing. The results can change over time and evolve meaning it is a good exercise to do regularly rather than a one off event. Different teams can have different priorities so it is a good exercise to get people from different disciplines together.

Here are some ideas that cam risk storming exercise. We were assessing the risks of a driverless taxi.

Quality Aspect 1

Functionality: The user needs to be able to do X
Risk: Taxi fails to complete journey because it doesn’t recognize road works, accidents or live traffic data
Tests Ideas: Dependencies Patterns – a system rarely exists on its own. What does your product depend on? What information does the system depend on to retrieve live traffic data. Can it analyse that information to identify any potential road blocks or delays.

Quality Aspect 2

Confidentiality: The user should get the correct access rights, and nothing more.
Risk: Someone is able to track someone else’s journey or location
Test Ideas: Social Engineering Techniques – a type of confidence trick for the purpose of gathering, fraud or accessing systems.

Quality Aspect 3

Performance: Can the app execute commands, can it execute more than 1 command at once.
Risk: Two people place a booking at the same time and a taxi gets allocated to both or neither
Test Ideas: Some, None, All Heuristic – What happens when a booking is made? And more? And even more? Or several bookings are made at once?

Quality Aspect 4

Accessibility: Can an elderly, young, disabled or drunk person use the application?
Risk: A person in a wheelchair person books a taxi, but the one allocated is not wheelchair accessible
Test Ideas: Persona Techniques – Testing and analysing from the viewpoint of agreed upon personas. These can include different disabilities, ages, and levels of soberness.

Quality Aspect 5

Changeability: How easy is it to update, investigate or fix faults?
Risk: An update causes a journey to change or get cancelled.
Test Ideas: History Heuristics – There is much to learn from earlier versions. What can they tell you about risk and failure? Have we had any issues with previous updates?

Quality Aspect 6

Security and Permissions: What is keeping the bad guys out of the system?
Risk: Someone is able to hack in and change or cancel a journey.
Test Ideas: Always and Never – Look for keywords ‘always’ and ‘never’ in your specifications. Try and break these rules.

Our completed risk storming board

99 Second Talks

The meetup also included a 99 second talk round. This was ‘stolen’ from Ministry of Testing who regularly include 99 second talk rounds during their Test Bash conferences. A 99 second talk is exactly what it says on the tin. The speaker gets to speak about whatever they want for 99 seconds. It doesn’t even have to be about testing. The only catch is you have to stop at 99 seconds and you only get 1 go per event.

This is an excellent introduction to public speaking. You only have to speak for a short amount of time, which is less intimidating than a full 45 minute talk. The speakers are not chosen in advance. Instead, anyone from the audience is invited to stand up and give a talk. It is like an open-mic event. This makes it more informal and friendly in tone, and more supportive for new speakers.

Simon Long was one of those people who wanted to start doing more public speaking. Giving a 99 second talk was one way of achieving this. Other 99 second talks were given by Leigh Rathbone, Simon Knight, Richard(don’t know your last name sorry), Lee Marshall (one of our hosts) and myself.

Me giving my 99 second talk

In my 99 second talk, I pitched a couple of ideas for future talks and asked the audience to speak to me if they found either of them of interest. These were:

  • A talk about intermittent defects and how I’ve tested them using Test Automation
  • A discussion session with the aim of helping QA’s get started with test automation.

The second idea had a lot of interest so I might be giving this talk at a #MidsTest meetup later in the year.

Meeting Leigh Rathbone

At the meetup, I was pleasantly surprised to see Leigh Rathbone, an Agile Test Coach at The Very Group, who had traveled all the way from Liverpool to be there.

I originally met Leigh at SwanseaCon where he was one of the hosts. He was also at Test Bash Manchester. I can proudly claim to have introduced him to the fast food restaurant ‘Five Guys’ – which he called Five Jacks for some reason. This was following a discussion about which restaurants served the best chips/fries. Five Guys should be in the top 10 at least.

He is the person who inspired my 2020 Meetup challenge. Last year, he set himself a goal to attend as many meetups as possible. Hearing about this is what encouraged me to set my own meetup goal.


Some photo’s from the evening can be viewed here:

Click here to see more blog posts about meetups I’ve attended in 2020.