Why choose a consultant over a consultancy? I operate as an individual consultant, with multiple skills, and extensive network. I can provide my consultancy alone, or if needs be, utilise my network and partnerships to widen the skills and resources I can provide from a client. This is all on an as needs basis.
I have to say a no – why? The mere fact that someone decides to put “test” or “testing” in their company name just rings alarm bells to me. Putting asides agencies that rebranded themselves as test consultancies, there is also a ramp of companies in general, purporting to provide testing services. Each claim to be a leader in their fields (usually every type of testing you can name), and very few actually provide a service, simply bodies – testers, maybe test manager, but largely people who test.
It is impossible for clients to work out all the features they need from an application prior to development. This is the strengths of Agile and the ongoing review process. Bugs come in all forms, and developers take great joy from rejecting bugs as “as specified” or simply “won’t fix” due to development complications. This is not an approach to take overall – bugs can lead to very useful feature improvements, and the benefit is that your client will appreciate what they see as free consultancy. Rather than just stick your head in requirements sand, be Agile and always be ready to incorporate new ideas into the development stream. Continue reading
People put their trust in consultancies too far – a consultancy will always (good or bad) be happy to tell you where you are going wrong – and that they are the solution. It leads to a lot of mistakes made at senior level – recent memory is of an IT Director at a publishing company slating his project managers, in front of a testing consultancy under evaluation. Not only disrespectful, but stupid behaviour. I like to think I do things differently – I am out there to make money, but also to build upon my (I hope!) trustworthy reputation. I dont believe business means you have a legitimate reason to act akin to a conman. And the damage senior management can do in not retaining any loyalty to their own staff when dealing with them.
There is a bewildering array of “test consultancies”, quote marked as many are just agencies in disguise. If your need is pure resourcing, identified within your company, then I am sure there is little difference between them. But give then access to your project, and you will pay the price. Consultancies have a vested interest in making you feel bad about yourself. For myself, a consultant should point out weaknesses but not before coming up with possible solutions. Sadly, upper management are generally easily conned by the QA-sell, and no slur of them – upper management generally make decisions based on what is said, not what is evaluated. And QA is awash with great terminology. An effective Test Consultant can easily pull a project to pieces, and most certainly will not recommend that any of your existing test process remain. Think about it – what consultancy is ever going to tell you that you are doing a good job, nto when their scope of work is based on how bad you think you are doing. But that is not what they should be doing.
There are more honest consultancies out there, and we like to think we are one of them, as behind our analytical approach, is understanding that a project comprises of human beings, and it is very easy to demoralise staff under stress. Be wary of consultancies promising answers to all your ills – they are lying – improvements within constraints of your resources and budget are far more valuable. From our experience in aggressive start-ups, we have learnt anything in possible in any timeframe. And contingency planning is key here. For example, you have to have a go-live with minimal testing due to timeframe? Fine, go for it – but back it up with structured live user support, and ongoing testing on live system. Go-live does not mean end of testing – a very common misconception.
I have slated ISEB numerous times, and the robotic generation of QA it has resulted in. Our specialism is in taking sound QA principles, and adapting to environments. We have done this for many years, and doubt there are many consultants out there with as much modern test experience in our chosen areas of web/media. We choose Agile as overall approach, but also take parts from other methdologies as seems appropriate. SCRUM, for example, is more given to projects where all project members are dedicated and in same location.
The High Court has ruled against IT consultancy, Dragonfly Consultancy Ltd, in its IR35 appeal.
The case has been closely followed by tax experts and contractors. The Professional Contractors Group (PCG), who funded the appeal, feared that a defeat could undermine much of the successful existing defence or IR35.
While Labour have been busy lining their pockets, and returning to their 1970’s policies under guise of “New Labour”, the Inland Revenue have been losing the plot trying to squeeze money from any vulnerable individuals they can. It is no wonder there are very few english entrepreneurs left, in this culture of supsicion of any one-man bands/small companies. The efforts of the few are funding the folly of this govenrment, and the laziness of a large proportion of english population – a result of the nanny-state, and an over-enthusiastically greedy and deluded government. The population have been dumb enough to vote these conmen back in 3 times. Playing right into their hands, as they know the majority fear a loss of benefits and other free support. What a selfish and self-destructive country we have become, where indolence is rewarded more than effort.