10 More Questions for the President of DeRisk IT
Note: DeRisk IT is now known as DeRisk QA.
President of DeRisk IT Lann Stewart sat down with his employees for a Q&A session in 2013 to answer questions about management, values, and work history. Recently, another Q&A session was held to get Stewart’s thoughts on various aspects of the software testing industry.
Q: Ideally, how should QA fit within a software development team and lifecycle?
A: This really matters on the level of expertise of the entire IT staff as well as their current methodology.
Q: What do you consider the best practices of software testing?
A: Many agree to disagree with me on this. I feel it is important to have some people in your company that have not been there for a large amount of years. Many companies I see have either massive turnover and have no identity, or they have long term, multi-year staff that are comfortable simply focusing on just "their" software. I think a perfect model is to have a 50/50 split. Stability with the veteran staff and new staff hired in with experience in other shops that can bring some fresh air to the existing team.
Q: What traits should a software tester possess to succeed in their career?
A: Simply said, a good work ethic. The fact is that testers are a rare breed - they are the final phase to catch anything bad before it reaches the customer. Passion and the want to find what you are after are what is important in my team.
Q: Is Agile for everyone?
A: This is a tough question considering I don’t think many truly have ever seen a true formal Agile shop. I am in "agile" clients all the time. Mostly all have had no formal training on the process and have some sort of hybrid model that is hard to understand. I do believe Agile is not for any company that is working with offshore contractors. If they dispute this, I would say they are the example I gave earlier of not being a true Agile shop.
Q: What factors do companies need to consider before trying test automation?
A: I think it is important to feel comfortable with the existing team. Anytime we make a change at DeRisk IT, I have to ask myself if my team is doing everything I am asking of them now at a top level. If they are not, then how can I expect them to do something more intense at a higher level. In all, the company needs to decide what the percentage of their code will never change. That is what they will automate first, then decide if that percent is enough to justify the cost of the automation tool.
Q: Are there any companies providing testing tools that you would consider innovative?
A: We are partnered with all the major tool vendors. I have a great respect for them all. With that said, Micro Focus and Borland have really stepped up on many levels across the SDLC with their technology. SilkPerformer, Atlas, and SilkCentral have all improved in the last year and we find their technology very useful in what we are doing compared to some of the other testing tools at this time.
Q: How has the software industry changed in recent years?
A: What I have seen the most is the dependency on the offshore vendors and cloud technology. All the worry of the terrorism in this world, but I have yet to have many executives tell me they have toured where their Cloud is or what security measures are in place in relation to all their data being stored.
Q: What are the reasons there has been a push away from offshore outsourcing and towards onshore outsourcing?
A: I think when the push for offshore started everyone saw a dollar amount and not a quality result. The offshore model has been around now long enough for everyone to really step back and ask if they are seeing the results they thought they were going to see. Most executives tell me they wouldn’t use offshore if the cost went up - that should tell you the need is not for experts, but instead to save money. In the end, when the projects have to be extended because they do not make the launch date, the cost in most cases in more than utilizing their internal staff.
Q: How do you balance the growing of your company while still maintaining a steady and effective team?
A: What a great question - simply said, it is by not overcommitting to a client if you don’t have the people to do the job. I am amazed how shocked a client is when I tell them we simply do not do a job we aren’t equipped to support. It was made obvious to me a few years ago that most vendors will commit to anything knowing it will fail just to get a dollar. If we can’t do it, I simply say we can’t.
Q: What are you most proud of having achieved at DeRisk IT?
A: I am most proud of my staff. As with any company, we have had our ups and downs in the industry. I am fortunate to have a team that is passionate not only about their job but also DeRisk IT. My team is very loyal to my company and because of that we are able to plan ahead and stay focused on growing properly. As a former sailor in the Navy, we always said - "You can have a great captain, but the crew sails the ship." That is extremely true and I have always remembered it, and carry it into the business world.