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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

3 Apps I think are great :)

With all the work we do at uTest UK, and with my general nature of wanting to try new things, I tend to see lots of interesting new apps as they come to the market.  Sometimes, of course, they have been there for a while and I've only just spotted them.  This is a frenetic market place that I don't think even the likes of Mashable can do much more than keep up with - let alone be ahead of.

This week, I've found / started using three apps which I think are great and wanted to share them with the world!
Here they are:
Ringgo - solving my parking needs and giving me a very nice PDF receipt that I don't lose and can pass on for expenses purposes.  As well as making the parking conundrum (do I have the change in the car, how long will I actually be here etc) much easier, it is also taking pain out of my world and putting money back in my wallet.  From me, you get 5 stars!!

Biximo - Started using this in Boston with regards to their Hubway bike system.   It also covers the Barclays bikes here in London.  Nice little app.  Works well.  Keeps things simple.  Shows you in easy graphical form which stations have bikes and which have spaces.  V Handy!

LoYakk - These guys have put together a really nice app, which recently won our Usability prize in the Race for Apps in Hackney.  Love their approach and the way they've made a way for people to collaborate and comment in streams around venues, that can be kept private to the venue or shared more widely.  We're working with them now to set up a special feed for our next event in September to enable real time collaboration between everyone at the event and also to make a record of all the collaborations that can be shared amongst everyone afterwards.

We're involved with Hackney House over the Olympics period and meeting lots of new startups, trying lots of apps and I'll post anything here that I find really cool.

Happy Wednesday! 

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Transferring the Skills of a Tester into new roles

So, I've been in the field of testing since 1997, when I joined GEC Marconi CIS as a graduate.  It's a field I have enjoyed, and one that has used many of my skills developed in my Physics degrees.  It has also been a driver to learn new skills - formally and informally of all types.  I have not, however, always been in pure testing roles.  There have been many opportunities for me as a consultant, and as a business person, to try my hand at different things and what has been particularly interesting for me has been how consistently I have found the core skills, and thinking processes, of a tester to be relevant in these new roles.

So, what sort of roles have I been involved with?  Quite a few really......
I've been a Graduate Test Analyst, Test Analyst, Team Leader, Test Manager, Programme Test Manager, Business Analyst, Business Project Manager, Project Manager, Adviser, Subject Matter Expert, Infrastructure Manager, Head of HR, Operations Manager, Managing Director, Chairman of the Board, Non Executive Director and quite a few more besides!

With different roles I've been asked to go to different countries, and so far I've had the privilege to have the opportunities to work in the following: England, Scotland, Wales, France, Poland, Belgium, USA, Spain, Romania, Egypt, Israel, Switzerland & India.

And in the midst of all this, I've found the following to be very helpful:

  • Test to Prove Requirements - Knowing what you are expecting to see, looking for it, examining differences and looking for what's behind those differences.  As relevant in the board room, looking at governance, as it is in test execution.
  • Root Cause Analysis - In fixing problems, you are most efficient and effective if you can find the root cause / first place of the issue and then correct from there.  This is a core component to governance, to business and systems analysis as much as it is to defect management on a software project
  • Planning - As they say in Diving - Plan your Dive and then Dive your plan!  Test Plans are bread and butter to a good tester - even if those plans are on the back of an envelope, or a set of exploratory charters.  The skills to plan testing well, to look at Risk Based Testing and Failure Mode Analysis are all transferable into wider planning and strategic planning related to businesses or projects.
So, these are just three of the transferable skills - but they are very useful ones, and they've been helpful to me across many of my roles.  I had formed some seeds of these skills in my education and degree courses, but it was through my structured test training, conferences and on the job experience where I gained most of my insights and practical experience.  From there, I used these skills when faced with new challenges, and found that they worked!

Many people see Testing as a dead end.  Many people who go into testing do so out of 'fate' or 'luck' or just 'fell into it' as I did.  But what many people, as yet, don't recognise - either inside our industry or outside of it - is that it can and does provide opportunities, skills and experience that are fitting and indeed very useful for wider business roles.  It is rare for someone in a testing career to be promoted through to senior management and board directorship roles, and if they do so then it will be within a testing capacity.   This need not be the limit of our horizons!  Test professionals are more than capable of other things - my career to date is a case example. 

I plan to explore this area a little more and to find other examples of how professionals in our field have moved on to other and different roles.  It will be interesting to see what skills they have found transferable and what gaps they had to fill.

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