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The Music Business Can Teach IT About Survival

Being based in Nashville, Tennessee, I am familiar with many singers, songwriters, musicians, producers, and recording engineers that make up the music industry here. Unless you don’t listen to popular music, you probably know that this industry has been under constant change for the past fifteen years. I have friends who make their living in the music industry, and Spencer Johnson’s book, “Who Moved My Cheese” has been a popular read by them as they try to adapt. Many have seen lucrative revenue streams from the 80’s and 90’s completely disappear. Some are completely frustrated and they think everyone is out to “steal” music.

It’s Technology’s Fault

In reality, there are a lot of people in the music industry that never embraced the advancements in PC technology that led to the enablers (Broadband Internet, MP3’s, file sharing, and torrents) of broadband network access – which allowed people to get instant copies of music they previously had to pay for. I’m not going to get into the legality or ethics of MP3 file sharing. My point is that technology has changed the way these folks make their money. Those who are continuing to survive have figured out how to change with the times.  One of my friends has expanded his services from just producing/engineering projects to education and mentoring the next generation of people coming up. He’s able to utilize his many years of experience to generate revenue when there is down time in his studio. Good musicians and songwriters still get work because they are REALLY skilled at what they do. They know the best practices that get good results faster. They have embraced change. They have become good social networkers and communicators. And they will survive.

A Tool With A Tool Is Still A Tool

I see a lot of parallels in the software development and testing space in the Enterprise. Fifteen years ago, the Waterfall SDLC ruled, and packaged software was the de facto standard for the Enterprise. When it came to application testing, Mercury Interactive, Rational, Compuware and few others were the main choices for serious application testing. The “tool knowledge” was a way to get into a secure position or get lucrative consulting rates. However, in today’s Agile, DevOps world – software development and the testing of the end products has changed. In one sense, there should be more testing all the time. But we know people don’t always do the right thing – nor do they always know what the right thing is. People didn’t always do the right thing with the waterfall development process, which is why many projects failed or needed mass clean up. I believe now we’re facing another wave where “process knowledge” is in demand more than “tool knowledge”. But not just for the sake of process. It’s about people and adapting the process to fit their situation.

I’m Not Just Old – Your Code Really Does Suck

Today’s developer fresh out of college has pretty much grown up with the Internet and is familiar with getting what they need quickly from a download. If they want to develop software, they pull down a free IDE, like Eclipse. Do you think they would suddenly switch their thinking and decide to purchase an Enterprise level, closed source, proprietary, costly testing product? They are looking for the next free download. Does it have to be the best tool to use? No. It just has to get them through today’s challenge. There is still a need for Enterprise software and there are still large, packaged applications to test. But the writing is on the wall. Are you ready for what’s next? The music sounds different, but the beat goes on. Applications are still written by flawed humans, and it will continue to be flawed. It will need to be tested, and companies will need people who really know how to clean up the mess – or else face the consequences of a generation with less tolerance for software failures than previous ones.

 Are You A Survivor?

Those who are surviving in the consulting world of testing software do so for the same reasons as with the music industry. They have embraced the latest technology trends and have found ways to make it work to their advantage. They bring years of experience and best practices to get great results in shorter periods of time than those learning on someone’s dime. They are using social networking to connect with people, and are great communicators. And they will survive.  Northway Solutions Group has been around for over ten years because we hold the bar very high. We provide consulting around HP Software products like ALM, Quality Center, LoadRunner, Performance Center, and QuickTest Pro because we feel these are still the best tools in testing software regardless of price. However, we focus on using them properly by using a sound process and best practices that come from many years of testing software and seeing what does and does not work. We embrace change, and we understand that whether your software development life cycle is Waterfall, SCRUM, or anything else – you need a partner that can help you implement the best product possible to the end user. Perhaps you are struggling to move your QA department to Agile and need to understand how to use HP’s Quality Center differently than before. Maybe it’s time for you to move from an open source tool set to an Enterprise ready product for functional or performance automation. Send me a note though our “Contact Us” form and let me know how we can help you dance to a new song.

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