My Greatest challenge

IT consultant Claus Holm.

Outsourcing created problems

I was a consultant at a large Danish company where I worked as a test coordinator. The task was an acceptance test, where they tested selected automated job flows, e.g. payment flows, to ensure that daily operations functioned after a major biannual release.

Previously, the company's operations department was responsible for conducting tests on the orders I sent, but since the previous biannual release, the department had been outsourced. We already had a very tight schedule for a two-week period: One week for testing and one week for retesting the adjustments if errors were found in the test itself.

Due to the new procedures for ordering test execution, we were aware of the risk of delays. For the same reason, we held planning meetings several months earlier than usual to ensure that we could perform the test in the time available.

The agreement with the supplier was that they would delegate an employee to handle our orders and get them underway as soon as they were delivered. But when the first test day arrived, we still didn't have the dedicated employee with the supplier, despite the agreement. Instead, our orders were put into the pile with other customer projects, after a few days we could see that the project was progressing far too slowly.

Both I and several of the client's employees pressured the supplier each day to get our dedicated tester, but it did not happen until approx. 10 days later in the middle of the second week of testing. At that point less than half of the test had been carried out.

That's why we had our supplier send a man to be on-site for the last 2-3 days. He took my orders immediately and watched constantly that the test did not fail along the way – something the supplier had not been focusing on.

It ended with us testing all the way up to Friday afternoon, when the system was due to be upgraded starting at 4 pm and over the weekend. More jobs were still running when the test report was submitted and approved, a few hours before the production systems shut down and the upgrade began.

We made our deadline, but the process wasn't exactly a dream scenario. The consequence of the challenges was a decision that future major releases would have the on-site presence of a supplier employee for the acceptance tests from the first test day.

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