VSJ – May 2002 – Sounding Board

Bill Cleary MIAP is UK Business Manager at Global Knowledge. Unsurprisingly, he has trenchant views on the value of training. His focus here is on software testing. Bill can be contacted at bill.cleary@globalknowledge.net

Despite the doom, gloom and despondency have hit the IT industry, demand for professional certification is still buoyant and on the increase. IT staff want industry recognition for their roles and companies are prepared to support them in this endeavour. Even contractors are experiencing pressure to provide industry qualifications that will provide clients with confidence in their abilities. IT solutions developers can choose from an increasing number of qualifications. Once, only systems analysts seemed to need a qualification and those who gained the NCC Basic Certificate in Systems Analysis will remember how good it felt to include it in their CVs. Nowadays, the net is much wider.

Professional skills marked by a professional qualification have many business benefits. When a business invests in an employee’s development it increases motivation and productivity. This, in turn, leads to better quality work and a willingness to take on greater responsibility. In his book, ‘Making It Happen’, Sir John Harvey-Jones refers to IT practitioners as craftsmen. Traditional craft trades, where judgement, precision and expertise were paramount, do indeed provide a valid comparison. Training, on and off the job, ensured that the craftsman was capable of completing a task to the required level of competence. Once that level was reached, and could be maintained, certified recognition was given.

In this context, software testing is attracting the attention it has always merited and qualifications, such as the ISEB Foundation Certificate in Software Testing, are offering system and software testers the chance to hone their skills and gain certification at the same time.

Whether dealing with a small business or a global organisation, one thing is certain – when they ask you to create a software solution they want it fully working and fully tested. User satisfaction ensures referrals and repeat business. Delivering flawed software will receive the reward it deserves – declining profits and more redundancies.

The demand for increasingly complex business-critical systems gives the term craftsman (or woman) even greater relevance. Testers have always been the last line of defence before the product leaves the ‘assembly line’. They can prevent flawed deliverables reaching clients and can minimise threats of legal or financial retribution. Complex software and increasingly sophisticated user requirements have made the testing function more critical and more difficult. Professional testers need professional skills training.

Testing staff are recognising the importance of obtaining a recognised qualification. The ISEB has certified more than 3000 people in the Foundation Certificate in Software Testing and many more testers are attending courses to gain the qualification. The certificate denotes the candidate’s ability to perform the tasks associated with software testing and that the candidate possesses knowledge of the standards and tools used in software testing.

IT practitioners work in a world of constant business, technological and cultural change. Keeping one’s knowledge and skills current is a major task and being recognised as a professional practitioner is becoming increasingly important from a business perspective. A professional qualification goes some way to filling these requirements.

Something you’d like to get off your chest? Email me (Robin Jones) at eo@iap.org.uk.

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