For a company such as Experian, providing best of breed information,analytical tools and marketing services there is a real opportunity to match quickly new market requirements. The world is transforming itself and whoever is able to rapidly adapt, will emerge at the top of the pack. We need to act fast, deliver these new products and ensure the same level of quality our customers expect from us.
As my growing organization is picking up additional product responsibility, I need to be a bit creative to manage 2 important challenges:
- An increasing need for a larger and flexible heterogeneous hardware environment primarily used for compliance and performance testing.
- A need to ensure adequate and flexible testing capacity to be able to cope with aggressive release timeframe.
Last night I was watching James Whittaker’s last year keynote he gave during GTAC 2008. James is highly respected in the software test community (he has just moved from Microsoft to Google)and I was interested to understand how he was seeing testing in the future. One important direction was around software visualization and how it could help testing teams do a better job and focus on the most important pieces of functionality or code. He made the parallel with Quality Assurance in the car industry where QA can actually visualize the products, understand the change it was made during each iteration of the design. It’s much more difficult with Software where all testers can see is pretty much a black box.
My current test organization has to deal with different development processes. This is what happen when you start building a software test organization on top of a company which has had a strong acquisition strategy for the past 10 years. It didn’t necessarily had to standardize the development process as the various products were not integrated together. Things get a bit problematic when you actually want to take advantage of this integration to build better solution. When you deal with origination, customer management, fraud, collection, decisioning, score card analysis etc. you definitely want to mix and match the features to offer sales and marketing the largest range of options to meet customer requirement and, of course, cross-sell.
3 years ago I had to deal with all kind of processes: The no-process strategy (my favorite .. sight), heavy waterfall (I’m still soaked by that one …), home grown iterative process etc. Scrum was definitely only discussed during a good Rugby game.
Google has just announced the location for their next GTAC (Google Test Automation Conference). They will hold it in their offices in Zürich on October 21st and 22nd ! Looks like it will be all around “testing for the web”. Quite a popular topic these days. They will have a call for papers sometime in July ! More information on their blog
If you follow this blog, you know that I’m quite big on test conference. I’m actually writing this note while in Sofia. I’m attending another popular test conference: SEETEST There is a lot of topics around agile development and testing. I’m particulary looking forward to these as our new team in Kuala Lumpur is 100% agile (SCRUM). I’ll try to post a report later this month.
I finally had a chance to finish reading Richard Branson’s biography: Losing my virginity. After Jack Welsh, Branson was on my top 10 business leaders list and after reading his 600+ pages bio, he’s probably not far from the top. What an amazing read ! To my surprise, it really reads as a novel and has a very particular personal touch I appreciate. The most surprising of all for me is the fact that Branson was not necessarily promised to such success: Poor academic records, dyslexia, not a lot family backup (from a financial perspective) etc.
I’m a big fan of Joel Spolsky who runs an excellent blog on software development and management. He also run a very interesting collaborative website where you can get all your programming question answered by developers and testers across the world. I find stackoverflow.com very simple to use with a growing base of great people discussing software engineering and testing in a very effective way. Definitely a great place to hang around !
Here is an extract from the about page:
We don’t run Stack Overflow. You do. Stack Overflow is collaboratively built and maintained by your fellow programmers. Once the system learns to trust you, you’ll be able to edit anything, much like Wikipedia. With your help, we can build good answers to every imaginable programming question together. No matter what programming language you use, or what operating system you call home — better programming is our goal.
Just to be clear, I don’t know Joel and don’t have any commercial relationship with him. I just like to share good stuff !
“Management Time: Who’s got the Monkey” is probably one of the most popular management article published by the Harvard Business Review. It’s been written by William Oncken and Donald Wass in 1974. It’s been reprinted several time since then and the message is still very true. This is a must read for everyone who has trouble delegating and ends up doing their subordinates or peers work.
If you can relate to the following situation, you should definitely read the article:
Let us imagine that a manager is walking down the hall and that he notices one of his subordinates, Jones, coming his way. When the two meet, Jones greets the manager with, “Good morning. By the way, we’ve got a problem. You see …. “As Jones continues, the manager recognizes in this problem the two characteristics common to all the problems his subordinates gratuitously bring to his attention. Namely, the manager knows (a) enough to get involved, but (b)not enough to make the on-the-spot decision expected of him. Eventually, the manager says, “So glad you brought this up. I’m in a rush right now. Meanwhile, let me think about it, and I’ll let you know.” Then he and Jones part company.
You’ve just allowed the actual problem or “monkey” to leap from your employee back to yours.
On May 14th, Google has experienced one of its largest public outage. Not only Google homepage was down but it also affected most of Google’s services including Gmail, Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google Apps and AdSense. Google has taken responsibility for the problem. Urs Hoelzle, SVP of Operation at Google, released the following statement:
Imagine if you were trying to fly from New York to San Francisco, but your plane was routed through an airport in Asia. And a bunch of other planes were sent that way too, so your flight was backed up and your journey took much longer than expected. That’s basically what happened to some of our users today for about an hour, starting at 7:48 am Pacific time.
An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our web traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam. As a result, about 14% of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions. We’ve been working hard to make our services ultrafast and “always on,” so it’s especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens. We’re very sorry that it happened, and you can be sure that we’ll be working even harder to make sure that a similar problem won’t happen again. All planes are back on schedule now.