July 7, 2013

Seven Years!

not actually my hand

Today marks my seventh-year anniversary at my current company. And on 7/7 too!

It's hard for me to believe that I've been here seven 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.
  • We are in the middle of a massive project to move our production infrastructure into the corporate facility. We have purchased new hardware, new software, database upgrades, etc, etc. We have started 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 has been a big task for everyone involved, and a very big testing task. It has been "interesting".
  • We just completed one of our larger projects for a big new customer. This involved creating a new customized implementation for the customer, changes to many of our supporting systems, and coordination with outside vendors. Almost everyone on my QA Team contributed in one way or another, and we still had to augment the team with contractors. The project had several completion penalties associated with it, and pretty much all the prior stages slipped, so of course testing got crunched at the end. Still, it was completed on time, and we have a happy customer.
  • My QA Team has been re-orged! Earlier in the year, my boss got promoted to General Manager of our division and chose not to replace himself in his prior role. He decided that he wanted fewer direct reports, and he moved me. We now report to the Vice President of Engineering. Since she was previously my peer in the organization, we have always worked together closely anyway, so it's not such a huge change. Still, I get less direct access to the overall business information for our division, and no longer get to participate as a Senior Leader. And my team is just a bit less independent of the Development team than we were before. Even though we continue to add Developers, I have no reqs for new QAers - that's been difficult. The reorganization has been personally disappointing to me, but I'm trying to ensure there is no negative impact on my team.

Lots of work, lots of changes, lots more to come.  All in all, a good seven 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/.