The full AST board is required to meet three times a year, the first meeting of the newly elected board met at Google November 13-14th. This was a planning meeting for the upcoming year. Overall the meeting was well attended and very productive, below are some of the new and exciting changes that were decided.

Meeting Attendance

Doug Hoffman
Jeff Fry
Benjamin Yaroch
Dee Ann Pizzica
Paul Holland
Selena Delesie
Lynn McKee
Tim Coulter
James Bach
Cem Kaner
Dawn Haynes

AST Mission Statement Incorporates Context-Driving principles

A unanimous vote prompted an update to the AST’s Mission Statement, which introduces our commitment to the Context-Driven principles.

CAST 2011 Report

James and Jon Bach shared with the board the latest updates on CAST 2011. At present we have a venue and date, work is starting on the program is next week but there are number of people already interested in presenting. Jon is confident that early bird pricing can be published soon and there was some discussion on what this year’s conference will cost. The pricing will be firmed up by the CAST committee in the coming week and James will continue his work on the program, updates will be posted as they happen.

New Web Site

The new AST website launched earlier in the week, overall the feedback has been positive. Over the coming year we plan to update and better engage our membership with interesting and important content which is why we made the move. New features of the site include look and feel updates, blog syndication of our members, an Amazon powered bookstore, and updated AST swag. The website will continue to be updated regularly and over time we hope to create a home for testers to find important and thoughtful information and content about software testing.

BBST Update

There was some discussion about the future of BBST. As a board we are interested in continuing to add new courses as they become available and one of our board members has volunteered to oversee that process. There was some discussion about pricing for corporations, while nothing was decided this is a topic of interest in the coming months. There was some interest in a certificate program for the current BBST courses, to do this would require some additional infrastructure and we need to consult with Cem. James suggested we create a printed version of the course materials available either online or bound for purchase, this needs further investigation but might be a nice addition to our training. Since Cem was not in attendance long term and future discussions about BBST were postponed until he can join us.

Publicity for BBST was also covered, at present we rely heavily on word of mouth and this appears to be working well.  Ben is looking into other promotional channels and is investigating their effectiveness, so far he likes the response from our social media channels and is planning some additional advertising through TechTarget ( in 2011. In addition the need for more instructors was raised, so an open call will be sent out to our membership to raise awareness and let anyone interested in teaching to apply online.

Marketing Update

Marketing for AST and its events and services are in full swing. Benjamin Yaroch is leading the marketing effort for AST. Ben has resurrected the social media channels AST already had (FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) and those seem to be growing in popularity and are fairly effective. Ben shared that we have moved to a different email campaign tool which allows use to better reach members and non-members alike. The new system also allows website and FaceBook visitors to join our mailing list without needing to setup an account in our member database. We are hoping to reach more people, and he felt this was a good first step since it was easy for anyone interested in AST info to signup.

In regards to upcoming new content Ben is looking into podcasts as a  way of getting knowledge out to members and non-members alike,  at this point this is still in the investigation stages. Beyond that we are relaunching our monthly newsletter (via email) that will go out to members and non-members in the coming month.

The plan for the upcoming year includes adding website content with a high level of editorial control, BBST updates/content refresh, implementing additional member benefits, and CAST promotion. The board felt strongly that if we allow website content submissions or participation (which Ben is very interested in doing) we should limit it to members only, which prompted additional discussion during the members benefit agenda item during day 2.

Membership Level Changes

Currently AST has three membership levels for individuals. The board felt that the associate level was confusing, difficult to enforce, and didn’t fit into our long term strategy for our membership and content. To simplify and align with our future direction the board made changes to Associate membership level and will be sending out more information to Associate members in the next month detailing these changes.

Local/International Chapters

The board discussed the model for local chapters since there appears to be a fair amoun of interest. The discussion focused on how formal or informal a local chapter must be and what the process was for becoming a local chapter. Ben is going work with the local chapter chairperson to create a proposal for the board, but the general feeling was that local chapters could be fairly informal but must align with AST’s guiding principles and mission.

Member Benefits

An important discussion for this weekend’s meeting was member benefits. The board felt that this should be a focus during the coming year. There was a lot of discussion and below is a list of the benefits we have now, some that are starting soon, and others that need further investigation. The general consensus is to allow our members to be an active part of the content we provide which will help build community, increase skill industry wide,  and give our members a voice.

Current Benefits

  • BBST
  • Conference (CAST)

New and Forthcoming

  • Blog Syndication (New)
  • Free, scheduled, Skype Coaching by James Bach (New)
  • Peer Conference Sponsorship and Resources  (Forthcoming)

Future Benefits (some need investigation)

  • Content ideas and submissions from members (needs editorial controls and/or commentary, limited to members)
  • Member-only pages (bios, links)
  • EdSig Dictionary project (submitting is limited to AST members)
  • Forums (members only to contribute, non-members read-only access)
  • Peer Conference Resources (Paul H. and James B. are considering writing a handbook)