The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here
Hard work, perseverance and determination helped me in scaling up the ladder. I always wanted to start a business and be able to create opportunities. When I was working as a test engineer/lead, the idea of having an independent QA organization providing impartial evaluation came to my mind and I continued working towards it.Decisions That Mattered
The Turning Points
- Developer to Tester: I was a developer when I started my career and I was doing very well but my first project in US was a testing project. I loved working as a test engineer and decided to continue working as a Software Quality Engineer even though my colleagues and friends advised me against it for it was considered a secondary.
- Move to India - I got the green card in US and I was doing very well but I decided to come back to India for good to be close to my parents, relatives, friends and most importantly work with industry and academia to educate students about the opportunities in testing and change the way testing was looked at. I already see a sea change in people's perception.
Creating a third party independent testing company was the biggest inflection point 'coz I used this as a medium to deliver impartial evaluation without business pressure influencing those results.
Another focus has been to get clients agree on involving QA teams in start of Development cycle with significant results. This has helped everyone see QA as a business function to achieve the deliverable rather than just Quality Control measure.
Work and Role: Then and Now
I've always wanted to be able to do something which had a positive impact on the society. Linking this to my passion for quality assurance, there could not have been a better option for me, but for my dream company, QA InfoTech to realize my vision. In my previous gigs, I was happy with what I was doing, and was professionally successful, but if I looked at my circle of influence it was limited to just my immediate team. Given the current scale of operations at QA InfoTech, with an employee base of 600, it gives me immense pleasure in recognizing, grooming and rewarding the right talent and helping build great testers to contribute back to the community; more importantly the job opportunities that we've created to help them quench their professional thirst, sustain a healthy and happy living is priceless to me.Two Years Down the Line
I see myself in a role of a Mentor for young entrepreneurs. I want to start a seed fund to be able to help those with great ideas turning them into reality.What I Learnt Along the Way
Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
- To delegate intelligently and make people accountable, trust them with increased responsibility, that higher the stakes, more they will strive to achieve perfection.
- Believe in individuals who may have not performed well in past, but demonstrate the drive to prove their capabilities.
- Clients are accommodating individuals like us; just need to understand the factors which impact their decision.
- Open door policies and informal mingling with individual employees complement formal meetings and hierarchy.
- Wow experience is what every company strives to provide to their customers, but it is the commitment that differentiates achieving that goal.
- Relationships and word-of-mouth sales are more meaningful and stronger brand value than formal sales and marketing.
The world of quality assurance has come a long way in the last 2 decades. From the days when testing used to be done by developers, to the days when the tester had just a black box view into the system to the current day when he/she often times even gets involved in finalizing the user stories to be implemented and setting the direction for actual coding. As a whole, the tester community and the testing discipline have gotten a tremendous face lift. The testing profession today is a perfect embodiment of technical, test/quality and domain skills invaluable to the product team.Trends to Watch Out For
Some specific technology trends we are watching include:
- Evolution of the Smart Devices and Associated Technologies to support software on devices
- Evolution of the Cloud and what it means to testing
- Use of Games in Software Testing
- Usability Aspects of Product Development
- Social Networking
At an organizational level, we are making a lot of investments in R & D for us to fully comprehend what these mean to software testing, what tools/utilities/frameworks we can build to empower our testers work in these areas and how we can continue to retain our test and technical edge. We are also encouraging our testers to take on internal and external trainings, actively partake in conferences / forums to gain a complete handle in these new trends as well as share knowledge with the community. All these practices are not only helping us grow as an organization but also motivating our test community with the right set of technical challenges.My Advice If You are Starting Out
There are quite a few organizations in the market that focus on independent software testing. The market is truly built on a "Survival of the fittest" model. It is very important for you to deeply think through and formulate what your business model and execution strategy would be, what your niche is going to be, how you would differentiate yourself from existing players, what your growth plans are, what your target market is.
Look to build a rock solid team who can shape themselves as excellent professionals both technically and from a work ethics stand point. With a clear charter along lines mentioned above and with a team of highest integrity (which is very important especially in the services industry), really SKY IS THE LIMIT. The market is definitely not in an easy sailing shape at this time, given the budget cuts and the overall bearish outlook towards product outsourcing. However, a deep focus, associated expertise and a supportive team should still be able to help you realize your vision.Must Focus Areas For the Future
I think there is going to be a lot of demand for game and game based testing. On one hand you have a lot of people who are gamers across the world for whom a lot of casual games on a multitude of devices are being developed. On the other hand, game based techniques are being leveraged in several domains such as learning and education to effectively teach and impart knowledge to the user, in the absence of a physical teacher.
The demand for Test Automation, Security and Performance testing will prevail. Additional specializations in these areas will come with niches built along lines of the product domain. Accessibility testing is also another area which will grow in its importance.Do We Need Certifications?Certifications are always worth pursuing given that they serve several purposes:
Books/ Websites I Recommend
- Deepen your knowledge in the given area
- Provide room for specialization and an edge both for you and your company
- Foster the attitude of ongoing learning in the individual
- Act as an added bonus in establishing your qualifications, especially in the services industry
- In my experience, it is always good for a tester to certify in the following 3 aspects: a) Around core testing expertise, b) Around technical expertise, c) Around product/domain expertise. Discuss with your manager / mentor on what specific certifications would make sense for your current role as well as future growth and plan accordingly
Focus on all rounded growth of test, technical and domain knowledge. Choose for yourself specific authors/blogs you want to follow on a regular basis. Also take some time for reading management/leadership material. While one can learn a whole lot through practical experience, reading material helps you think along specific lines and points you to examples/case studies that you can learn from, a lot faster.I would suggest the following resources:
Last But Not Least
- Online/Print editions of Better Software Magazine/Sticky Minds from SQE (Software Quality Engineering)
- Online/Print editions of Information Week
- A Practitioner’s Guide to Software Test Design - Lee Copeland
- The Practical Guide to Defect Prevention - Marc McDonald, Robert Musson, Ross Smith
The opportunities in the Software Quality Assurance and Testing industry are plenty. Critically self analyze to see if you would fit into a testing profile, determine where you want to get in your career, see if you can talk to few people in the industry (say in conferences, job fairs etc.) to both evaluate where you stand and for some expert tips/advice, read in abundance (a lot of informative online material, blogs, feeds are available today which wasn't the case a decade ago) to strengthen your industry knowledge and represent yourself well in interviews with a focus on all rounded growth. For a career in Software Testing, ideally getting into Independent testing companies would be the best, given their unbiased focus on Software Quality.