The Tester Interview

The Tester - September 2017

 

Hiedi Homan – Programme Test Manager

 

Jennifer Wheeler of TestingProfessionals.com spent 15 minutes with Hiedi Homan,

Programme Test Manager, talking about her career in testing so far.

 

 

How did you get into testing in the first place?

 

I was involved in a Y2K project assessing printing presses at a printing and publishing company, making sure they were fit for the new millennium. Some of the presses had no documentation due to their age and a number were from overseas with documentation in a foreign language. My work was mostly focused on finding out what upgrades had been undertaken and contacting the suppliers to ensure all changes were Y2K compliant. It was really interesting liaising with people in different languages and in different countries. The project ran for a year, once completed I was told about a Test Management role they were recruiting, I applied for it and was offered the position on a 6 month trial basis. I really enjoyed

the role and my career took off from there.

 

 

What do you think helped you develop your career the most?

 

Having a couple of fantastic mentors. One particular Test Programme Manager was fantastic. He was passionate and enthusiastic about quality assurance and passed on his enthusiasm, teaching me to not being afraid to ask questions or admit you don’t know something. If I can

pass on my enjoyment of testing the way he could then that would be fantastic. He was never afraid to say he didn’t know something and was really human.

 

 

I see you have the ISEB Foundation and Intermediate Certificate in software testing, you are a certified Scrum Master and ITIL certified too. Why did you decide to invest in those qualifications? Do you think having them has helped in your career development and if so in what way?

 

The ISEB qualifications were financed by employers to demonstrate that they invest in their people. I have never got around to taking the Test Manager qualification, I don’t know if I shall. No one has confirmed if having the qualification was part of the decision-making criteria when I

was being assessed for a role.

 

Having the structured training has helped me verify that my understanding runs in line with industry standards which was helpful and once you understand a standard approach/process then it makes it easier to see how you can adapt it to ‘get the job done’, it can also help you to

then ‘think outside the box’ and tailor it so you adopt the best approach for each project/programme.

 

ITIL was self-financed as a result of a Customer Acceptance Test phases where OAT was covered by the Service Desk Team and I wanted to know more about the department that I was feeding into.

 

 

You have worked in software testing for 19 years what advice would you offer people at the beginning of their testing careers who are keen to travel down a similar path to Test Management?

 

Don’t give up and be prepared to go the extra mile. If you take pride in doing the best job possible, reporting factually and honestly then people will learn to trust you. If a project status is not as stakeholders were hoping then to go to them with the facts along with an action plan

to remedy the situation demonstrates integrity and ability.

 

I have worked in environments where the stakeholders had previously been severely let down by people not delivering bad news or sweeping issues under the carpet, by the time our programme was delivered it was nice to be told that I was seen as their conscience. They said, ‘we may not always like what you have to say but we can trust you totally’, this in my book is success.

 

 

Staying up to date with new approaches to testing, tools etc. can be a full-time job in itself. How do you stay in touch with what is happening in the market?

 

As testing becomes more tailored to meet company/project requirements the approaches differ, it can be challenging to stay abreast of new developments within the industry. I am involved in organising and attending testing conferences where you tend to meet passionate and interesting people. I also attend webinars whenever possible. Picking people’s brains is a great source of information because you tend to get ‘real life’ scenarios, both good and bad. Talking with people at work about their background and experiences is great. I am fortunate that I can pick up new technologies and techniques quite quickly. Tools can be used with great benefit and sometimes the same tool can be used in such a way that it gives no value at all. Tools should enhance the process and not dictate the process. Sometimes more importance can be put on the tool than the process and that can potentially create issues.

 

 

Can you tell us a little about your most recent / current role and key responsibilities?

 

I have just completed a Test / QA / Programme Test Manager contract with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) overseeing Customer Acceptance Testing on behalf of and with the train operators, retailers and ticket suppliers, in total over 35 companies. Budget – all multi-million projects (£3 million - £22 million each) – Consisting of single projects and programmes including up to 5 projects.

  • Led acceptance and Quality Assurance testing teams across multiple dispersed locations
  • Ensured the integrity of migrated data for train fare setting equating to around 855,000 fare products and 20 million individual fare options at the Ticketing Information System
  • Delivered a cloud based data capture and apportionment system for settlement across operators.
  • Test Managed the migration of a ‘ticket on departure’ service handling annual ticket sales of £1.8bn at point of migration with the ability to process a billion tickets annually.
  • Successful implementation of a 24x7 mission critical syste m requiring the connection of over 4000 Ticketing machines with over 40 stakeholders
  • Identified and filled the project team’s skills gap in relation to test and implementation, that enabled completion of UAT and cutover to ‘live’ being achieved on time

Working at the Rail Delivery Group was very challenging and rewarding. I met some fantastic people and I learnt a lot about the rail industry. Prior to this I set up and completed E2E and UAT in 6 weeks in a domain with no prior industry knowledge where 2 previous attempts had failed.

 

 

What do you most enjoy about heading up a testing practice?

 

I love seeing people grow within their roles and expand their abilities. It is great to hear questions that new people bring with a fresh pair of eyes and what that can add to a team. They don’t have the baggage of previous projects within the environment which can be beneficial.

 

Working with non-technical stakeholders to deliver UAT can be brilliant. Some of our previous stakeholders had limited PC knowledge which adds a completely new dimension when they are assisting in UAT. To take that scenario and be able to give them workable UAT activities is fascinating. I have found in certain circumstances that using experienced testers for UAT for support is essential but to replace the end user as sometimes happens can mean that the true user is sometimes overlooked, I feel it is better to use non-technical user community with the correct business skills supported but a UAT analyst may take a little longer but ultimately provides and better trust in the system and your delivery with the end users.

 

 

You choose to work on a contract basis rather than in a permanent role, is there a particular

reason for this?

 

I enjoy working on a project/programme basis because it enables me to concentrate on the project without being crowded by the politics which can sometimes exist within companies. You are there to do a job based on your skills.

 

 

Would you be happy for people to contact you with questions or to discuss projects?

 

Yes indeed, I would be very happy to chat about my experience or help in any way, I can also be available for new projects.

My email address is Hiedi.Homan@BCS.org, I can also be found on LinkedIn - LinkedIn/HiediHoman/

 

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