The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here
Immediately after my Engineering in Electronics, I started my career in SDLC. Now, I am working as an Assistant Vice President - Software Quality with Polaris. My expertise lies in Project Management, Software Quality Assurance, Software Testing and Technical Writing. I have also been an Appraisal Team Member (ATM) in CMMi Level 5 appraisal. Most of my experience has been with product development start up organizations where I got opportunities to work on both Quality Assurance and Quality Control (Software Testing) areas.
My skills are in Software Process Improvements, Defect Prevention, SEI CMMi, SCRUM (Agile process), ISO 9001, ISO 27001, and Test Driven Development (TDD). Certified PMP, CSQA, CSTE, Six Sigma Green Belt, ITIL, ISTQB, Java Certified Programmer.
Decisions That Mattered
Being an Electronics Engineering and joining software industry just within a year after completing my engineering was definitely a turning point. Moving to Software Quality Assurance, after working in almost all phases of SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) was another career move that has helped me a lot. I was able to apply my understanding of SDLC for enabling process improvements.The Turning Points
Five years back, I got an opportunity to work on a challenging Quality Assurance Consulting assignment in US for an insurance client. The objective was to understand customers current Testing/QA process, identify the issues, understand their expectations & design new Testing/QA processes to meet those needs. Through my work, the organization was able to see the tangible gains within a short frame of time and my work was quite appreciated. Though it has been a while now, but still I relish that first consulting assignment. I have never looked back since then.Work and Role: Then and Now
In my earlier organization, I was working as a Test Manager in US for an Insurance company. The role involved building test teams and deliver defect free projects through execution of rigorous and well planned internal testing cycles. I joined my current organization i.e., Polaris as a Project Manager for Java based projects, worked as a Test Manager for a while and then moved to Quality Assurance group.In my current profile, my responsibilities are:
Two Years Down the Line
- Support global implementation of process improvements and facilitating change management throughout the organization.
- Continuous monitoring and improvement in QA processes and solutions to meet or exceed the business needs
- Facilitate implementation of new tools and development approaches for continuous improvement of development processes.
- Provide independent view of projects to the management
- Provide expert guidance to projects on estimation, data analysis and statistical management
I have a passion for Academics. After finishing my PhD, I would love to join Academics and teach software engineering. I am also planning to take individual consulting assignments in areas of Project Management and Quality Assurance to leverage my knowledge in software industry and process improvement practices. I see this happening within some 5 to 7 years down the lane.
What I Learnt Along the Way
Along with process orientation, people orientation is equally important. Delivering defect free solutions on time & every time it should be the common goal of development, testing and QA team. As a quality analyst, goal should be to inform the management timely about the risks associated with the project; we should not take the decisions on their behalf. At the end of the day, it should be the business call to deliver the project or stop shipment. There are times when business decisions might differ with QA recommendations.Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
With CMMi models now widely used across organizations, Quality Assurance is now better understood. Organizations have now separate and dedicated Quality Assurance teams to work on process definition, implementation and improvements.Trends to Watch Out For
From career stand point some technology trends are Agile development, ERP and ITIL related projects require a different approach to quality assurance. You need to customize and adjust to these projects that does not follow a standard SDLC life cycles.My Advice If You are Starting Out
Analytical frame of mind, knowledge of SDLC and patience is a must to enter this field.
Must Focus Areas For the Future
- You should be having a knack for analysis, to extract the meaningful information out of tons of raw data.
- Know-how of SDLC is a must to enable you to communicate in the same language
- QA by definition has long term impact so you need to be patient as results are also not immediate
Profitable Growth and Customer Satisfaction are the common Organization goals. These can be achieved through delivering defect free solutions on-time and that too each and every time. These goals are measured, tracked and controlled through the usage of Quantitative Analysis techniques. Statistical Process Control (SPC) techniques like usage of control charts, defect prediction models, issue prediction models, metrics analysis, etc would enable you to be sought after guy in the field of quality assurance.Do We Need Certifications?
I have always believed in that: being certified does not mean qualified. I have seen many certified people struggling with the very basics in QA or testing or even Project Management. However, an experienced person who is not formally certified can solve the same issue easily. So, certification cannot replace experience or I would say qualification to complete that task. Certifications can help you get to the interview table but cannot guarantee a job meant for an experienced person.
Certifications and Academics have always been my passion but I have achieved those only when I believed that I have the necessary experience in the field and certification would complement my job experience. In fact, every year, I save my Jan month salary for investing on certifications, trainings, memberships and books.
Experience and being qualified is much more important for a longer run rather than merely being certified.Books/ Websites I Recommend
Quality Assurance being process related is mostly learned on the job only. However I would recommend that you should be aware of complete phases of SDLC, phase entry/exit criteria, etc. A person who has experience in coding/testing has a better chance of acceptance in QA arena. Membership of organizations like ASQ, PMI & IEEE has helped me to remain updated with the recent changes.Last But Not Least
I can be contacted for guidance on attaining certifications on PMP, CSQA, and CSTE. Currently I am pursuing PhD and also acting as a project guide for people pursuing their Masters in Computer Sciences and Management.