July 6, 2012

Six Years!

not actually my hand

Today marks my six-year anniversary at my current company.

It's hard for me to believe that I've been here six years already. Yet when I look back at all we've accomplished, it sometimes seems like far more:
  • When I started, there was no real Quality Assurance Team.  Whatever small bit of testing occurred was being performed by Product Management folks in their spare time.  Since then, we've created a terrific team in the US, augmented by some good contractors, and a small team in India as well.
  • Bugs were not being tracked in any central system.  There were a few emails floating around, and an occasional spreadsheet, but no place where people could go to find the status of bugs.  Now, we use Bugzilla, and people have grown tired of me asking "Do we have a bug report for that?"
  • Lots of people have come and gone over the past six years.  Initially, the biggest change was the prior CTO being replaced by my boss.  Since then, many other folks have left. copyrightjoestrazzere
  • We've changed a significant portion of the infrastructure behind most of our applications.  It's far more scalable and sustainable now, although we continue to make changes
  • We've formalized many of our development and testing processes, and created the necessary processes where none existed before.
  • We've gone from fighting fires every day, to a much more stable, dependable set of systems.  Where before many of our systems needed manual, hands-on attention every day, they now run in a much more automated fashion.
  • Our product lines have changed over time.  We have weeded out some products that were single-customer, poorly funded products.  We've created some new products, and retired others.
  • A few years ago, we were purchased by a much larger corporation. It hasn't been all bad, and it hasn't been all good.  The volume of big-company administrivia has increased, but not as much as I had feared. We recently completed a large project in coordination with another division - that was rather interesting! I'm sure we'll be doing more of the same.
  • This past year was devoted almost exclusively to enhancing one product line. It involved individual changes for almost all of our customers using these products - each customer having their own set of enhancement projects. Lots of staffing, scheduling, and coordination issues involving both "Associates" and "Contingent Workers" (big-company talk for "permanent employees" and "contractors" respectively). Lots of less-than-clear requirements, and constant juggling of delivery dates made for a fair bit of stress. We had some key players leave in the middle of projects - that always makes for a fun time. Mostly done now, and that's a relief.
  • We are now embarking on a massive project to move our production infrastructure into the corporate facility. We need to purchase new hardware, new software, database upgrades, etc, etc. We need to understand and embrace new processes for security, administration, installation, and support. And of course we are "improving the applications" as we migrate them. With almost all the variables being changed at the same time, this will be a big task for everyone involved, and a very big testing task. It should be "interesting".

Lots of work, lots of changes, lots more to come.  All in all, a good six years.

This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://AllThingsQuality.com/.

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