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Friday, November 14, 2008

P.E.S.T. is moving

Our peer sharing forum PEST has a portal for the community to share ideas and thoughts on, and this is now moving to be part of the LinkedIN platform.
You can get access to it, and information about the events, at the following link:

We originally developed the portal as part of an internship project and it has served us well up to now - helping to develop the community and provide a neutral space for testers - not just TCL people - to share ideas and grow new thoughts.

The decision to move was not taken easily, but we recognise the need for the peer sharing side of things to get a life of its own, and to do this it needs to be a bit more independent and open to all. The linkedin platform provides such a space and the recent changes to linkedin have improved the site incredibly - it now does all that we were doing with our own bespoke portal - and even more.

With the extension of PEST into the next BCS SIGIST event on the 9th December we wanted to ensure that we had a suitable and appropriate platform for people to collaborate on. Our peer sharing is about developing knowledge - and opening it up to everyone who is interested.

Look forward to seeing you at PEST soon

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Sports Scholarship Scheme

Last week we were invited to attend the Exeter University Varsity Rugby match, which this year was against the Cardiff Medics. (

The invite for TCL came as a result of our involvement with the sports scholarship scheme at the University. It was a fun event, and what seemed to be an easy win for a strong Exeter side, but most importantly for us there was an opportunity for us to meet our scholar for this year.

TCL has been involved with this programme for the last three years, and in that time we have sponsored a young Rugby player, a Tennis Player and now a Beach Volleyball player. Over the years we have got increasingly involved with this programme and got to know and understand our scholars more - involving them in company functions and including them in our company newsletters etc.

Many people ask me why we would be involved with the sports scholarship stuff, and what the point of it all is. For my part, I have a great passion for people who aspire to be great at what they do. The scholarship programme enables people with this kind of aspiration and talent to get facilities and coaching and opportunities that they might not otherwise have had. It helps them to grow and to reach their full potential.

There is more information on the programme at:

Getting involved with this stuff has been great fun and very rewarding and its done something which I hadnt expected. It's broadened my horizons. Learning from sport and applying to business is a bit of a cliche - but there are lessons to learn, and there is a spirit & drive to atheletes of this kind of standard that is a model to us all. They choose their sport, they dream their dreams and they chase them as hard as they can. The ones that succeed are the ones that don't give up and despite failures and set backs continue to chase with all the passion and enthusiasm they can muster.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Do you read books?

Sounds like a dumb question, doesnt it? "Do you read books?". But it's my observation that people can surprise you.

Over the last few months I have been interacting with a wider and wider circle of people through my professional engagements and its been an interesting benchmark question - to ask them what they are reading. Some of the people I hadn't expected to be doing so where not only reading something very interesting, but something I was also interested in - and nothing related to software or testing! Some of the people I had expected to be on the case and reading something quite refreshing were nowhere need anything like literature.

So, does it make someone a bad person because they aren't reading books? No! But they are missing out, I feel.

As professionals, there is a requirement on us to stay current. We can do this through many e-sources, but the paper based, and the book based should not be ignored. There is absolute gold in some of the books written to date and ignore them at your peril that's what I say.

As both professionals and explorers of our profession there is also a requirement on us to extend the knowledge of our profession and to help others to do the same. A first step on this journey is gaining an understanding of what has come before us.

Lee Copeland has reminded us time and time again about the nine forgettings and the amount of times he has been asked to present this talk, and the number of hits his google video gets, tell us that people are keen to know - but do they learn! Do we as a profession move forward?

It seems like a dumb question - " do you read books" - but do you? And if you do - how can you help yourself, your colleagues and your profession to gain from this knowledge?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why don't we?

Who is the smartest person you know? Who is the smartest person you know that does what you do for a living? How much time do you spend with them? How much time could you spend with them? Why don't you spend more time with them?

From our very earliest learnings we pick up things from the people around us. From our parents, our siblings and our peers and yet when we come along to our work environment we forget that and look for knowledge in other sources.

How does it stack up if you compare the number of days you have spent on training courses, e-learning or reading journals in the last year with the number of days you have spent being mentored or mentoring others?

Personally, I feel that sharing information is essential and I encourage it everywhere I can. The most powerful expression of this sharing (for me) is mentoring and my experiences to date have included some amazing mentors who have accelerated and opened my thinking, my networks and my career.

If you don't have a mentor at the moment, I encourage you to look for one. Take a stroll around your organisation and seek out the smartest person you can find in what you do or what you want to do and then ask them to be your mentor. You'll be amazed how keen some people are to take on that role and also the results that a great mentor can help you to achieve.

Friday, September 26, 2008

PEST - September 2008

Fantastic Stuff! PEST this month was another great event.

Huge kudos go to Dan, Jess and Rachida for putting together such a fun event.

The team tested the PEST portal, the new internal job board and the new facebook application.

We also got a chance to use the new wiki - and the testing nuggets that have been posted on there by the experienced testers in the company.

The thing I enjoy most about these events is the good spirit in which they are conducted. We all came over to the PEST venue yesterday after our working days. The event started at 7pm and we didn't leave before 10 - and we had a blast along the way :) If this wasn't so much fun, we really wouldn't do it!

We're looking for some new ideas for products to test next time. Qwerky stuff. Out of the norm stuff. Hardware. Coffee Machines. Anything goes. If you've got some ideas then let me know.

In the interim: Long live PEST! I think its brilliant :)

Monday, September 08, 2008

The things we learn when we look around a little

I've added a new thing to my Firefox browser - to see how it works. Its called stumble upon! Take a look at it here:

The point of it is that it profiles your preferences and then looks for random stuff for you that might be of interest. A way to break the chain of going to the same old pages each day - without much thinking involved.

I wanted to see how it profiled things, and to date its doing OK, but it hasn't had much chance to learn my profile yet so I am holding my judgement back for a week or so.

Anyway, the point of this blog article is to say that when you look around a little sometimes you learn something new and today I was pleased to be directed towards the following essay......

"How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people -- first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving...

"I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves -- this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts -- possessions, outward success, luxury -- have always seemed to me contemptible.

"My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a 'lone traveler' and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude..."

A prize for the first person to contact me via this blog or email with the name of the author :)

What this stumbling experience reminded me of this morning was that there are some great minds out there. Some from the present, some from the past and some developing for the future. It's impossible to keep up with all of them, its almost impossible to keep up with some of them, but its absolutely essential to keep trying! Knowledge is life.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dinner with the Stars

TCL has grown from very humble beginnings to a size now where not all the pieces join up as easily as they used to. A big part of this is how well we know each other, and can subsequently develop the futures of the people in the company as well as the company itself. These two, of course, being intrinsically linked.

At TCL we have a strategy for the development of our people which is rooted in gaining an understanding for their capability and future potential within the organisation.

Through their line management reviews and the interactions we have with each member of staff we pull together a measurement of these two areas, and using a boston matrix we plot out where people are.

The results provide us with four quadrants:
  1. High Potential and High Capability - the Stars - the future of our company. The people who will work harder, achieve the most and ultimately be key to the future success of the company. For these people we seek to find regular rewards and opportunities that stretch them and develop their potential.
  2. High Potential and Low Capability - the Rising Stars - people who could be key to the future, but for now we must focus on training them so that their capability aligns with their potential.
  3. High Capability and Low Potential - Experts - for these people they have reached a role in the company where they are likely to remain, perhaps with some sideways changes in the future. They are normally experts in what they do, and happy with it. For these people we seek to find opportunities for them to train others, share their knowledge and employ their skills in the most challenging environments
  4. Low capability and low potential - the question marks - for these people we have a question mark. We seek to understand them better, to be sure that we have assessed them correctly. Then we seek to either change them - through training, coaching and mentoring or lose them from the company. When someone becomes a question mark we have a target to have resolved the situation within 3 months.
This strategic view on people is starting to show some real success, and its overall effectiveness is key to us mitigating a principle risk to company growth & long term sustainability.

Recently, I have introduced a dinner with the stars event, where the senior team sits down to 'break bread' with these stars. Its a relatively informal time, where conversation ranges from 'when are we getting our new business cards' through to 'I'm really interested in working in America' and along the way includes things such as ' I really don't like my current assignment - when can I go somewhere else / do something different'.

We do it partly as a reward - the evenings are very enjoyable - and partly as an opportunity. The opportunity is that the senior team are all in one place, and can be engaged with on a one to one basis, or as a group. Everyone then gets to know each other a little better, and we can exchange information of various types that perhaps may have been otherwise inhibited.

We've held two of these events so far, and they have been pretty successful in engaging people and getting dialogue going. I am very happy about that as dialogue is the foundation stone of effective team working and that is my #1 objective within the company.

On a personal note, I find the events very enjoyable and valuable. It seems strange, but for the first few years of the company I recruited each person, or was intimately involved with the recruitment and induction of each person and got to know them all quite well. As the company has grown and responsibilities have changed there are fewer opportunities for me to get to know people, their values and their heritage despite such things as company parties etc.. These dinner events help to transcend a bit of the gap - which I guess can be a two way perception and potential problem.

The vision for TCL is clear. We strive to become a world wide, world class centre of testing excellence by 2020. To make this happen we need to recruit, train and retain some amazing people and with them to create an amazing team.

The next event will be taking place in October / November. I'm already looking forward to it :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Growing up and taking holidays

I am very pleased to be able to say that I have had a great holiday for the last two weeks and am well rested :)

This may not seem like a big deal, but since the start of TCL it has been notoriously hard to take a decent break at any point in the year. There has always been project considerations, client commitments, staff emergencies, business issues etc that have a habit of making it very difficult to either plan or take a vacation.

It got to the stage where we used to have a little joke about booking vacations - set it for the go live date of a project. They always slip and you'll always get your vacation!

I guess its a good sign that we have now reached the stage where we have enough of the right people around the place and that things work well enough in enough areas that I was able to take this vacation and enjoy it uninterrupted. Or maybe I'm just not needed anymore?

Either way, the result is good :) The holiday was lovely and I'm already planning the next years worth of breaks to ensure that this isn't a one off fluke - and that there are many more special times ahead.

Maybe its not just the company that's growing up, maybe its me too.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Certification & Accreditation

Before you read too much of this article take a look at a couple of other blog entries:

The discussions on certification have been raging for quite some time, and no definitive stance has been taken by the industry on whether it is good or bad and how it should be administered. Despite that, things go from strength to strength in terms of people who do the courses, employers that ask for it and companies that make money from the delivery of courses - including my own company.

We invite our scholarship students to attend a Foundation certificate course for free as part of their scholarship. I had a very interesting question from one of them the other day when he asked, after passing the course, if I could now show him how you do testing. It hadn’t really been covered on the syllabus.

So, given that the courses themselves have some questions hanging over them in terms of content and in particular with regards to PRACTICAL TESTING SKILLS (I’m sorry for the capitalisation there, but it drives me nuts!) how come things are moving this way?

Well, its not because the BCS or ISTQB shout the loudest - in fact they are quite quiet about things really. Certainly I see more aggressive marketing campaigns at companies like SQS and Sogeti and indeed the reach and influence of people like James Bach and other speakers at Star conferences is more powerful than the ASTQB stand that I saw last time at StarEAST.

I think that there is a need out there - and the market is telling us something pretty fundamental. They want us to be better!

The market is possibly feeling like testing could be important enough to get a proper seat at the table - certainly we’ve all been telling them that for quite some time, but they want us to do it better. The ‘new believers’ want to be able to say -I’ve decided to do something about our testing, I’ve found some new people who are well trained and can do a good job.

I asked myself this question: If I don’t know about testing - lets say I’m in HR or procurement of some big company - but I know enough to know I need it to be different / better / in my company, where do I go?

How do I know I am getting a good tester or useful test team? Where’s the standard? Where’s the governing body? Where’s the education? How do I model it, reference it, measure it, value it? Where’s the regulation? Where’s the professional body, associations or ombudsman? I got stuck. I couldnt answer it. I couldnt find it. But when I looked - the closest things I could find were the ISEB, ISTQB, the ASTQB, the BCS.

So, I think that the market wants us to be better and I dont think we’ve found the answer yet - but to feed that market, and to grow our industry, we need to find an answer that gives us all a platform of credibility going forward.

Three things that totally drive me insane about the current certification:
• No practical skills are taught at the foundation level – which is where I believe that practical skills are the most important
• Many consultancies that offer and promote the certification courses are on the certification boards or were involved in the creation of the syllabus – I find this to be a conflict of interest and don’t appreciate it. I think that there should be a clean line between people that define education programmes for an industry standard and people who are paid to deliver them
• Certification stops at the certificate – but the new knowledge is only valuable when it is put into practice, and new behaviours are re-enforced by mentoring and coaching.

Given these views, James Bach has asked me why I continue to promote and teach the certification courses. I’d like to engage with you and explain my position on this stuff and why we offer the courses at all.

Firstly - we exist to meet the needs of our Clients and they tell us that they want this stuff. I can find no suitable alternative to help them on the scale that they need and desire so I work with what I’ve got.

Secondly - I recognise certain flaws in the current courses - namely the practical skills - and encourage people to realise that certification is only a start to their education, not the be all and end all.

We offer a great deal of stuff at zero cost that can help people develop further - including our community portal and our peer sharing events which are open to everyone who wants to learn and share. (

Thirdly - I want to encourage people into our industry. I’d rather get involved with people and get them exposed to some inspirational trainers and some different ideas during their certification than leave them out there in the cold.
In the example of our scholarship student there was great resonance - he came on the course and then wanted to know more. Before the course he had very little appreciation for testing. His experiences at our latest testoff - with more than 40 testers who are passionate about testing and putting their skills into action, gave him great insights into what its all about.

I recognise the need for change, I’m totally up for finding new solutions and I’d like to work with people who can develop an accreditation programme for testers - one that starts with some uniform and consistent education, then develops practical skills and works with people in their use of those skills in real life situations to then develop practical, skilled and competent testers. I’d like to see this kind of stuff included in University level education programmes and I’d like to see a common approach around the globe to make a sea change in our industry.

It’s such a task though and its going to take a lot of us pouring positive energy into the situation to make it work.

The last few months have seen some encouraging writing from the AST and around CAST – and I think that this could be a potential source of solution. It’s certainly got some promise.

I’m very interested to hear thoughts from all quarters on where you feel we could start creating change and moving things forward.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Becoming an Expert in Software Testing

TCL is a consultancy in software testing. That means we are invited to see Clients when they have problems of some kind - and they are seeking us to provide solutions that in some way or other they can't provide for themselves.

It could be that they can't resource, or can't resource at the right time. It could be that they have a problem but they really don't know how to solve it - and they need our knowledge. It could be that they need us to look around and find some problems and to help them improve their organisation.

In all these cases there is an assumption - that as a consultancy, we are experts in testing. Hmmmm. Are we?

Take a look at this stuff from James Bach:

He makes some great points about what makes an expert and what experts do to stay as experts. He also asks questions about the education for testers and things that don't yet exist.

Now, I can tell you that we research and develop new solutions every year. I can tell you that we train a lot - we train each other, we share ideas with everyone that likes to learn and to share in return. We go to conferences and we learn from our peers and other experts and world leaders - people like James B. We go out there and we challenge ourselves and we seek new ways and innovative ways of doing things. We mix things up and involve Universities and Scholarship students and interns to challenge us and rechallenge existing knowledge as well as developing new ideas and furthering the cause of testing as a professional discipline. If this stuff makes us experts then super. But how do we measure it?

Tony and I have a vision for TCL to become a world wide, world class centre of testing excellence by 2020. We're doing pretty well, but there is a long way to go - and I feel like we have some serious thinking to do this year about how we move forward a bit faster. We are in 2008, and our ninth year of trading as a company. It's time to get a new gear, and move this stuff forward even faster.

I'm a bit stuck on this right now. In particular how to measure in absolute terms that we, a consultancy in software testing, are indeed experts in it. Some thinking to be done. Watch this space for more of my thoughts as I progress ideas.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

We need better understanding of where we came from

Hmmmmm. Several months with no posts and now here I am going mental, with three in two days!

James Bach has an interesting article at:

He says we need better bloggers about testing - and I think he's right, and I think its only the start of things. We need a better understanding about where we came from.

The poor cousins, that's what some people think of us as. Testers are still seen as some of the lowest forms of life in the software world. And why? Because we havent changed their minds, thats why.

Take a look at some of the debating on certification:,, and some thoughts about how to get into testing at:

For all the efforts of so many people, there is still very little taught about, researched about or published about testing that is coherent, mature and built on a basis of proper rigor and analysis.

Few PhDs, few Degree programmes, research grants or so inclined academics to move us forward. Few historians or references sources. Few knowledge communities that move us forward. How can we learn? How can we avoid going through the same infinite, futile loops of reinventing the wheel and going through the same old mistakes as people 20 years our senior have already learned to solve?

As a community we cant answer simple questions like this:
When to automate and why?

We teach people endless process styles and then we miss off practical testing skills from our accreditation programmes.

We deal in the currency of defects, but then when we teach our junior people about testing we dont start with the defect report, and we overcomplicate and teach them that the defect ID is as important as the steps to recreate the problem. We certainly don't tell them that it isnt.

No wonder there are still people out there that think we arent good enough to play in their game.

I dont have the answer yet - but JB has started me thinking. Perhaps we should be searching a little harder for the answers....

Post Script: here's the video mentioned in the comment from Phil K

Friday, July 18, 2008

Software and Politics

Here's a thought that has been ringing round my head since talking with James.......

Democracy - a hugely important part of the life as we know it, has three fundamentals that define it: 1 - a free and fairly elected government, 2 - a free press, 3 - the rule of law.

But something is bugging me. In an age of information and the knowledge economies is software and in particular access to the internet fast becoming a defining property of a democracy?

For sure, the power of software, and what can be researched, analysed and created using modern technology now fast becoming an asset that leaves developing nations at a serious disadvantage and makes it a hugely political issue.

When the 20th Century saw the birth of atomic energy and the atom bomb it created a segregation that changed the face of the planet. It created special 'clubs' where those that had the advantage restricted it from others, and controlled economies, held the upper hand in heated discussions and caused tensions around the world.

But what of countries without the right infrastructure now? Without the ability to adopt or to grow the technology that changes lives? How will they embrace these visions of the future where software not only makes life better but helps to solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity?

For many of us software is a job, a hobby and sometimes a passion. Do we really understand the evolution that is going on around us though?

James Whittaker visit and presentation

Well, its been a whirlwind couple of days - which I am pleased to say have been a lot of fun.

James Whittaker has been with us for a couple of days, and today gave a presentation that knocked some socks off, and gave everyone a number of opportunities for belly laughing. ( )

What was he talking about? The future of software and the evolution of testing! What did I think? I'm still trying to work it out!

Some stuff that was very cool: The ideas that Microsoft have for the future of software and how things will look, feel and integrate with the world. Interfaces on computers, embedded sensors, RFID on steroids and a seamless integration of it all into a world that reduces geography and improves our lives.

Some stuff that made me think: How to take the role of testers and testing into being part of solutions for the wider world.

Take a look at: for some more insights from the mind of Dr W.

Something I want to start giving some serious thought to is the topic of visualisation. How to visualise how code is changing, how defects are clustering, how test coverage is developing and where things need to be done. That was a fantastic part of the talk today - with examples from all over the place include xbox games, that really brought the point home. I can see some huge advantages to our industry from moving down this route. I wonder if these new MS test tools will do it?

It was a pleasure to host James for this event, and great opportunity to catch up with him, meet Sharon (his wife) and to hear about his latest visions.

There was a great attendance at the event, with people from (no particular order to this list):

Orange UK
Neural Technologies
The Exeter University Innovation Centre
Scholarship students from Boston University and Exeter University
Quick find IT recruitment
Independent contractors
workroom productions (
Circle Executive Recruitment
Sound in Theory
Test and Verification Solutions
SNS Systems

It was brilliant to see this group mingling, networking and building a community. It wasn't forced - it just happened :)

We also had a great time at our latest PEST (Pub Exploration of Software testing). What a PEST it was too.

Over 40 testers competitively testing four apps for over 3 hours. It was brilliant!
We tested our PEST portal - developed by interns during their summer internship, we tested a digi makeover kit - a commercially available toy, we tested a wordpadlike application in which we had set up a dozen defects, and we tested a large coffee vending machine which had been picked up on e-bay for just £1. Defects galore!!!

Seeing Dans face (the intern who had a big hand in the PEST portal) as all these testers crawled all over his site was absolutely priceless - but most impressive of all was the energy of everyone involved.

Passion for testing. Passion for the teams. Passion for finding defects. A brilliant event! Huge kudos to Martin Mudge for setting up the best PEST so far, by far!
Check out for more information about future events and to share knowledge with people at PEST.

If you are wondering about what sort of stuff we were doing then take a look at this video of Jon Bach who explains about Exploratory Testing

I'll post some pictures of our event when they have come through from Kate and Clare.

Also, take a look at: if you get chance. This is quite an interesting idea and is pretty exciting if you are an exploratory tester or someone seeking some variation & new challenges.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The TCL Vision – Where will we be by 2020?

We have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) at TCL, which is to say that we have a dream. A dream of what the company will become and we've set out to achieve it by 2020. It's not the only dream the company will ever have, but for now it's the priority one and it's the one that is very personal to the founders, shareholders and owners of the company.

So what does this dream look like? The short answer is that there is no short answer to that question. Like most dreams it's a little hazy when you wake up, but the outline looks something like this:

We want TCL to become a world wide, world class, centre of testing excellence. This means that we want to establish TCL as a Centre of Testing excellence which has world class solutions and we are able to deliver them to any industry in any country.

When we have reached that goal, the company will look something like this:

Our company will benefit its employees and their families. They will benefit financially, emotionally, ethically, technically and physically through the way the company is run.

Our company will be financially robust and secure. We will have sufficient alerts and contingency plans in place to ensure we can survive economic peaks and troughs whatever the root cause.

The communities in which we operate will also benefit from TCL. We will actively make efforts to be involved in those communities and the issues that are important to them. We will actively demonstrate in our social conscience and encourage it in our team and the Clients and Suppliers with whom we engage.

We will also ensure that some of our profits are given to worthwhile charities. These are charities that are important to the people in our company.

Our culture will be totally inclusive, with all levels of the organisation being informed and involved. Each person in the company will have a personal understanding and empathy with their colleagues in relationships that demonstrate integrity and respect at every juncture. There will be awards each year for long service and through this long service we will ensure a continuity of culture and corporate memory at the foundation of the company.

A team that supports and focuses on the vision will regularly introduce new ideas to keep the company aligned with the purpose, values and BHAGs and will be a proven source of information and inspiration around the company. Competition to be part of this forum will be high, and it will be necessary for the participants to undergo three month secondments to the team to get the work done.

The TCL solutions will be aligned and accredited with organisations such as ISO and the BCS. Our method SMaRT will be recognised as a management model and be used as a template and standard in blue chip organisations around the world.

Our employees will be proud to belong to TCL and will contribute to the company progression each day with energy and enthusiasm.

We will be using the latest technology and involved with the strategic decision making process with each of our clients having demonstrated consistently our ability to add value to that process.

Our reputation will be such that there will be healthy competition to join TCL, and the selection process will be rigorous to ensure that only people who display the core values and have the aptitude to support and contribute to the TCL vision are involved.

We want to take testing to a new level. A professional discipline that is consistently recognised for its value and resourced, planned and funded accordingly within all development lifecycles.

Our Research and Development capability will lead the way with innovative and intuitive solutions that are derived from the latest theory, technology and thinking across the world. We will involve and include academic research and consideration as well as commercial best practice.

Our solutions will have been benchmarked with companies in five continents and proven within more than ten industries including Defence.

We will be the testing partner of choice for Safety Critical Applications and SIL levels 3 and 4.

We will have offices on three continents and research and development capabilities at each. These will have links to Universities and we will provide some financial support and assistance to these universities in the areas of research that will further help the TCL purpose.

Our presentations at industry forums will be actively sought and solicited and our representatives praised for their credentials, innovation and inspirational style of presenting.

When a project declares that their testing will be conducted by TCL it will be perceived at all levels of an organisation that this is the best way to go and that both cost and quality will be in ideal balance for this delivery.

We will be seen for our Quality and Innovation but we will never be seen as overpriced - simply realistic for the demonstrable value we add.

Now, there are lots of things left to think about with regards to how TCL will look in 2020, and each year we challenge the dream and things become progressively clearer as to what we can achieve, what the market wants us to achieve and where things are all going. I hope from reading this article you can already see that some of the things are here now, and some are on there way - in fact you may be involved in making it happen. The spirit of the vision is alive and well. But I suspect that you might also see that some things around the company aren't quite there yet - and from reading this today you will know that we don't want them to stay like that. It just isn't our dream.

I truly believe that if you understand this dream, then you will understand the essence of what TCL is about and what the founders of the company are trying to achieve. As the "custodian" of the vision, I welcome any thoughts you have on this dream, this BHAG, of ours and warmly invite you to call or email me to discuss things. You can also take advantage of my time at roadshows, company parties and promotion days to talk to me in person.

Stewart Noakes


Transition Consulting Limited

Friday, February 01, 2008

£2000, a qualification and a job opportunity, not bad for three sides of A4!

Ok, here goes, my name is Dan Geater, second year scholarship student from Exeter University and the "blogmaster" for TCL. Now thats a bit of a mouthful, so lets break it down:

First things first, as I said I am currently a student at Exeter University doing my second year of BSc Computer Science, and so far its going well. I first heard mention of TCL last year during my Frehser's week, when - on an introductory lecture; we get a visitor offering £2000 to anyone who could answer a question in an essay. Well one night out led to another in Fresher's week so that essay never got written. However the opportunity arose again at the end of the summer term, and this time I went for it. Choosing a question on "how much testing is enough?" I wrote my 960ish words on a subject I knew almost nothing about - however I had recently completed a legal module that pointed out some of the issues, and had books to fill me in on the rest; and submitted three nicely stapled sheets of A4 paper to the University of Exeter External Affairs office.

After that, silence for months, believing myself inadequate and unknowing enough, I resigned myself to write a better essay next year, but hey, like I said, wasn't a strong point for me anyway, so not too surprised. However on my birthday of all days a letter arrives from Exeter innovation centre saying, yep, you guessed it, I had won. A nice clap on the back for me and a nice day to receive a gift.

Well summer went by and during the first semester of this year, I was contacted by TCL asking me to meet with them informally so they could see what their prize winner was like. During a very relaxed and informal meeting with them I decided that not only are they very generous to provide these scholarships but they are also down-to-earth, genuine, friendly people.

After a couple more meetings I was offered a chance on an ISEB/ISTQB foundation course in software testing, well who am I to refuse, especially after chastising myself for not knowing enough about my essay subject. The course was a refreshing and eye-opening look at testing, coupled with a chance to meet a fellow scholarship winner, Nick. So now I have a nice prize, a new qualification and am hoping to take on a work experience placement here over the summer.

But they don't stop there. Two weeks ago I was contacted asking if I would like to work as the "blogmaster" for TCL's three major blogs, this one, the US one, and the India one. Well it seemed like a good opportunity, so here I am, having already altered colour-schemes to match the main site, and now letting the readers know what the students think of the scholarship scheme. Plus more ideas for the blogs in that little collection of grey matter I call a brain, so lets see how it all works out.

The following link points to TCL's press release regarding the scholarship students:

In short the scheme is a brilliant idea, from one essay, I suddenly have a much more impressive CV, I have found a job opportunity - albeit a minor one; to help me through University, and I have met some great people. Thanks guys


Friday, January 11, 2008

2008 is here!

Its been a little while since my last

posting, and that's just not good form, so I thought I would take 5 minutes to start 2008 off right and put some updates on.

TCL has started 2008 in a very positive way. We're doing some excellent business planning right now - with the largest group ever involved in the running of the company, which shows that the continuous development and succession planning is starting to work and that is excellent.

This is also shown in our top line growth - in that we had 6 different record revenue months last year - and have started 2008 with a very similar run rate. Although we dont expect to get into the Tech Track 100 two years in a row you never can tell what might happen.

Our customer footprint is growing and becoming more diverse, with even the charitable (probono) work from our management consultancy arm growing to include St Michaels Small School in Truro. In addition to our Clients in the telco sector we have seen good growth in the Public Services sector and have started to branch out into the media arena too.

Our scholarship schemes have grown this year to include Exeter, Bristol and also Boston (USA) Universities and we have some 9 students on the scholarship programmes as well as interns coming from France, UK and hopefully the USA in 2008.

We're moving offices soon - into Phase 2 of the Innovation Centre at the University of Exeter. A much nicer building with some amazing views. Will give the R&D, Management Consultancy and Marketing teams some inspiration - as well as some more room. We've had a presence at the University since 2001 and our offices there have been getting a little cramped.

For me personally 2008 starts with a very differet look to 2007.

With Paul Bradbrook coming to the company as UK & European MD we are now seeing a different shape to things, and after just a few short months he's got settled in very well and is now taking the company forward to meet our goals and visions. I love his enthusiasm and passion for people. (If only I could get him to sing a little less in the office!)

Paul taking up the reigns of the main company gives me some lattitude with the expansion of the group, has allowed me to get more involved with our management consultancy arm and I've also just started as a Non Executive Director post with a venture capital backed software start up company.

So, 2008 is here and if it carries on like this, it could be a lot of fun :)

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