In praise of competence

I currently work for a large Telco as a programmer. We are due to do a major software release at the end of the month. We are now in UAT (User Acceptance Testing), the final step before release into the real world.

We have one tester we love. He is intelligent, he knows the software inside out and he is never rude to us. A paragon really. He has just one small problem – he is a contractor.

The project manager decided that he was too expensive. A couple of weeks ago they hired about ten people to test the software. They were given a test regime by a consultant who then promptly disappeared.

Since then I have had to deal with:

1. None of the testers know the software

2. The test plan is testing a large number of things which are not due to be released yet

3. The test plan required a lot of test data unrelated to what is about to be released

4. and so forth

Roughly two weeks of my time have been wasted trying to deal with these people. I don’t think are stupid but they are woefully ignorant.

Finally, today, we got our contractor back. Since then, the flood of emails asking for help has completely dried up. Nary a phone call. Not a carrier pigeon. Nothing.
I spoke to him briefly as we waited for the lift. After a conversation of approximately 45 seconds I knew that he understood the problems, knew what needed to be tested and could sort out the rest of the team.

If we had had him on board two weeks ago we would not have had the expense of ten testers wasting their time and mine. The testing would be done, any bugs found and fixed and the programming team would be down at the pub playing pool.

It should be axiomatic that one competent expert is worth literally any number of people who don’t know what they are doing. And I mean ‘literally’ literally. Piling on extra incompetence does not move you forward even infinitessimally.

Competence may seem to be expensive. Actually it is priceless.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 18th, 2006 at 9:56 pm and is filed under And furthermore.... You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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