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We have just finished our joint project with SCIgen guys, outcome may be accessed here. Should you have any questions regarding the publication, please contact me.

To SCIgen staff: it was a good job, congratulations.

How to lead the change of an organization without having direct control on them? I have a success story, I’ll share it with you soon.

Today we started our “family firm”, providing the following services:

  • advisory in software development, quality and change management,
  • operation of a rent-a-flat and guest house,
  • child care and skill development for children

Horizontal diversification is OK.

According to my 2011-2012 statistics hiring a software tester requires 5 interviews. An interview requires 5 CVs. This year we have to manage a growth again, 12+ vacancies are in H1 2013. This would require 60 interviews and 300 CVs. It’s pain to even think about that.

Last year’s statistic showed some other issues. We interview applicants very thoroughly, we have some tests and a good methodology to find real skill and capabilities, but still there are people, who are not able to pass probation. There are also some newcomers, who express his wish to move within the company, because the position we offered him is not the matching one, they are in love with another position.

In the beginning of 2013, when we reviewed vacancies with HR, we wanted to run away. We didn’t want to go on with the actual process, it was clear that it was not good enough, not effective enough to survive 2013 the same way as we did in the previous year. We needed to change.

HR ladies knew the solution: we need to develop an assessment center. I have never seen such before, they also have only partial information, so we asked for a training. The guy was really skilled, the course was not only a training. We were able to develop our assessment center program for senior testers.

I’m very proud of this. Sometimes ACs covers only HR things, excercises to assess soft skills, but evaluation of hard skills still requires an interview. We had different goals. We changed classic HR excercises with ones, which are able to indicate the level of hard skills as well. This enables us to have only 1 round in case of “mass” recruitment.

The agenda of the AC required some special attention. First is that we planned with only 4 hours, and then additional 2 for the evaluation. The timing needed to be in line with applicant’s time table, there shall be only a half day to be consumed. It was a requirement that all potential team leads shall meet the candidate. The AC has a 20 minutes (per candidate) part to meet team leaders.

The result has been a really good, enjoyable, interesting and agile assessment center, providing reliable information on applicants’ soft and hard skills.

Next week we will have the sixth one, but there are experiences already. The beginning of the AC contains excercises similar to the regular interview. After this section we note our impression, which is equal to the one we could gain with an interview. Then the AC moves on with excercises of teamwork, presentation, test process puzzle and such. At the end 20 % of applicants reaches opposite result than they have after the first session! Matching positions to applicants seems to be more effective too.

We still need to improve the process, the excercises and the organization. We have changed the process of evaluation, the process of selection and the excercises based on the experiences. The AC has become famous, leaders of other branches beg to be there as assessor.

I expect a lot of this method. The effectiveness of interviews is 35%, the AC has 75% according to others’ statistics, I’m really curious about ours.

Today we have finished the hugest recruitment campaign I have ever done. In November we needed to fill FTE headcounts of 7, and in February another 14 headcounts had been opened. All of them were QA and testing related. The first challenge was to define the structure we filled, together with the required competences.

Then HR department released the campaign. It was interesting how the applicants came. In the first week a large bunch of people have applied. Many of them was far below the requirements, but we were able to hire some. Then a long and painful period came, when there was only a few people to look through, and meeting a good candidate was rare. But 3 weeks ago this turned to be a dumping again, and many good CV arrived. Now we filled all positions to that group with really good candidates.

I feel relief. In the last two weeks reading CVs was really a pain in the ass, and since I worked on this in the last two months so much, all of my other duties were starving.

Reading of CVs showed me something. When I read 20 a day, it seems that they are always the same. A person with no picture has finished some technical university few years ago, and worked in a firm for some years in testing and now wants to work here. When I read all the 20, I had to start again, because all of them were the same. There was only one who tried to use word-cloud in his CV, but unfortunately he was a Linux guy, who didn’t really know that there were other fonts than Courier New… So it was boring. I was really eager to see something different, something new, something innovative. I couldn’t.

Therfore I decided to develop a CV, which looks different. I collected the information I need to encapsulate:

  • Identification and contact details
    Normally it’s a headline with name, date of birth, call and e-mail address. How should it look like? I think there must be a picture with white background, it must look nice when it’s printed. It must show the contact details, but they can be written with small font size, even 8-9 of Tahoma.
    How about a QR Code? It looks innovative, doesn’t it? Did you know, that QR code contains quite strong error correction, so you can add some graphics, logo or picture in the middle of that? Doesn’t that look nice?
    If you have a webpage (like this) the QR code may open that.
  • Objective
    This is always a collection of bullshits. How can it be more believeable?
  • Skills and abilities
    This could be a word-cloud, BUT recruiters’ search engines cannot interpret pictures. So anything you display as a picture,  you must enter somewhere. I would recommend to enter text with the same color as the background. This is invisible, but search engines catch them.
    Language skills may be shown as a flag extended with the level you speak on. It must be visible b&w as well.
  • Education
    This part is less interesting than work experience, but sometimes it’s important to show them in common timeline. With trainings and graduations we must spare the space, so infographics is more effective. If the school you atteded has good reputation and unique logo, use that.
  • Work experience
    The work experience must be emphasised the most. I tried to create functional list of work experience, but I think recruiters prefer the timeline rather than functional angle. Success stories must be there. Company logos must be there (but which if there were 4 different name of the company in that 7 years?). This part consumes the 80% of the page.
  • Personal details
    sometimes you want to share how many children you have. You may write ” I have 3 children” as all others do. Or, you may add an infographics showing a family of 3 children, and the childs wear t-shirts showing their date of born.

This is where I am now. I started to develop the CV based on the requirements above. I will show when I’m ready…

In November I started a reorganization. On 1st November, 2011, I announced the change to the team as soon as it was accepted by the management. I wanted to apply a mixture of two management styles: management by system, and management by objectives. In previous situations I used management by exception instead of objectives, but I thought this will be more effective in the present situation, fits more to the mature of the organisation.

I asked my team leaders to do the following:

  • describe the process they use for daily work, or create a working process for the major services
  • develop redundancy in the teams, we cannot afford dependencies to certain team members
  • create a strategy and budget for 2012

It took 4 months to achieve the first two goals. When they started to describe their processes (some of them have been being used for 4 years) they realized that the processes they think they use do not exist, different people do the same tasks differently, and the databases they are always refering to are incomplete and inconsistent. It took time to help them to get out of the rat racer, and have a look at the big picture. I needed to help and sometimes force them to give up taking care of operational issues and fire fighting, and just focus on the long term changes and root causes of recent issues.

I think we succeeded together. Last month we closed the phase of reorganization’s learning curve, and defined strategic goals for each areas. And now I see that they have gained the ability to manage their team towards common goals, they are able to work together.

I’m very proud today. And day by day, when I see that they will very likely reach their targets, I am more and more proud of them.

Hej!

Feltehetőleg azért látogattatok el erre az oldalra, mert kaptatok tőlem egy – ilyen magatartást javasló – üzenetet. Többen kaptatok ilyet, ha körülnézel az irodában, lehet, hogy a többiek is ezt a lapot nézegetik.

Lényeg a lényeg, azért szóltam néhányatoknak, mert egy kisebb bővülést tervezünk, és ehhez szükség van különböző területeken jó szakemberekre. Olyanokra, mint ti, vagy ismerőseitek. Pont.

Az alábbi lehetőségek közül lehet válogatni:

· Projekt Menedzser
Ízlés szerint van kisebb-nagyobb projektek menedzselése, agilis alapon működtethető hosszú távú core fejlesztés, valamint gyártásütemezés-jellegű munkák.

· Szoftverfejlesztés
Többnyire C++ nyelven történik, Visual Studioban. Érzésem szerint itt olyan programozók vannak, hogy fel kell kötni a gatyát, ha utol akarjátok a jobbakat érni algoritmusfejlesztésben, de szoftverfejlesztési technológiákból, agilis – branching – merge – code review – refaktor – modularitás messze ti vagytok a jobbak. Van WinCE, iPhone, Android, Unix ami kell.

· Tesztelés
Szoftvertesztelés többféle területen, juniortól professional szintig. Automata is, mancsos is. Bárki, akivel eddig együtt dolgoztam, biztosan a jobbak közé kerül itt. Sőt, van még field teszter állás is, aki a munkaidő max 50%-ában a világ minden táján tesztelheti a terméket.

Mihez is hasonlíthatom a munkakörnyezetet? Ugyanolyan, mint bármelyik multi, a környezetet tekintve. Itt mindenki magyar a vevőkön kívül, így kevésbé van szükség nyelvtudásra, cserébe kevesebbet is lehet gyakorolni.

Mint minden menedzsmentnek, ennek is megvan a maga problémája, még gyúrni kell a multinál megszokott képzett, professzionális menedzsmentre, de abban teljesen biztos vagyok, hogy van olyan menedzsment környezet, ami után felüdülés lesz.

Korosabb szenyoroknak is lehet itt kihívás és élhető környezet, még akkor is, ha Fortranban kezdtek a Ming-dinasztia idején.

Tehát, ha úgy érzitek, hogy nyitottak vagytok kicsit kinézni a dobozból, kattantsatok ide (minden nap frissül mostanság), és ha valami átlépi az ingerküszöbötöket, keressetek meg, mesélek részleteket, elmondom, szerintem melyik állás illik a legjobban hozzátok!

Nem árulok zsákbamacskát. Hanem.

Üdv:

Sanyi…

Two weeks ago (as I posted here) I have got a team again. Of course I had seen what is coming, so I was able to prepare to drive the change smoothly. There were many issues I wanted to solve immediately. One and the most important issue was that the former manager and I have too different management style. I prefer Management by System extended with Management by Exception. In my method the manager does not take part in daily operation, he works on strategy, process and technology improvements, and eliminating impediments.

The team used to work in different way. It had flat organization, almost all wires ended at the manager, therefore all decisions had been made by the manager. I don’t like this, because:

  • it assumes that the manager knows everything, I don’t do
  • the manager needs to know about every single task, therefore it consumes to much time
  • the manager cannot see the big picture, he losts in details, therefore he easily misses obvious opportunities
  • there is no time to drive the team alongside a strategy

This kind of management is not bad, it is able to achieve its goals as well. I think I am not able to manage a team in such way, easily this style does not suit me. I know that I cannot outlook all things in details, I cannot do head down work effectively, and I really hate when I’m called in the middle of the night to give an approval for a tiny, unimportant thing. And the most significant is that although I normally display self-confidence, I never assume that my first impression and my decisions are always right. I need feedbacks from many sources to build my standpoint, and I’m able to change my mind easily, when facts make me to do so. Flat organization with no delegated decision authority does not work with me.

Anyway, if I want to do my best, I need to change the organization to a form, which suits both the team and me.

In 2007 & 2008 I used to provide ISTQB CTFL trainings many times. In a company (its name cannot be mentioned) we assessed the skills of all testers early this year, and proposed to send almost all testers to pass the exam on foundation level. Cost of getting a trainer would have been too high (>200 kHUF each), therefore we decided to provide the meeting ourselves, and pay for the exam only.

Due to the high number of trainees and their limited availability we split them into groups of 8, and went through all the seven chapters. This resulted more than 40 sessions. We started the training series in late April, have it suspended during summer vacations, and finish it in September. At the end we have had 10 sessions to practice, and some optional ones.

To ensure that pupils make the effort to learn at home, we stated that the company pays the exam to whom only, who passes both in-house pre-exam above 80%.

Four people have qualified themselves in September, another four in October (two in Hungarian, all others in English), and they all have passed their exams above 65%. Currently another nine people are in the pipeline.

It is a great success to me. First, it was not easy to show the management how ISTQB CTFL training supports they effort in reaching goals. Then, it is not easy to get the cost approved. Provision of 50+ training sessions is also a challenge.

I already have a 10+ list of new applicants for a similar internal training course held next year…

Back to the future. I’m promoted to be Quality and Test Manager again.

This is the job I always loved to do. It was a long ride to get here again, but I succeed. The last one-and-a-half year was like licking the honey-mug outside. I was able to see the opportunities, but it was hard to manage people not missing them. Now I have full control again to implement my plan and ideas.

Why I love this job? It’s easy to have your team to do what you want if you have control on them. Quality Manager needs to influence people, whom he does not have supervision on. Letting a C-level manager to do what you want is a real communication and political challenge. Needs bravery, lack of fear, mastership in communication. This is what a Quality Manager does.

There is no doubt, the most significant risk of my work sits in the management’s office. I must find the way to give them what they wish, instead of giving them what they require. Even if they don’t understand the things I’m doing.

Interesting period approaches.

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