My current role at work is production support of a very large data warehouse. As you may imagine from reading some of my blog articles that not every day is a smooth one. Some days I spend most of the time correcting data quality issues that show up. These issues are generally due to new code being deployed, either in our system, one of our source systems, or the downstream system that discovered the data issue. Sometimes the issue is due to data entry. These days are pretty routine and I spend most of my time debugging code.
Testing is the process to check the changes in code or data to make sure it meets the business requirements. It is the step before moving changes into the production environment. It is probably the most important step in the project life cycle. If you test properly you can detect problems with the code before they become catastrophic issues in production.
I have the benefit of being a “non-traditional age” college student. That means I’m in my 40’s and going to college to finish my degree. I also have the benefit of having one of the best teachers I’ve ever had for my Programming 1 class. He is really concerned that we learn what he is teaching. He doesn’t care if we pass the class, if we haven’t learned the material. It is rare to have a teacher like that, especially in college.
Today I read a comic strip that had to do with testing in IT. In the strip the main character is upset that the test cases they just completed, didn’t have any relevance to the real world. He was lamenting the fact that he had just spent two weeks testing something that was meaningless. The manager in the comic strip said that they would use the test results anyway because it is the only data they have. At that, the main character says something unkind and leaves. The boss asks why he is so cranky and another character says it has something to do with data. Unfortunately, this comic strip reflects reality. There are times when the testing being done for a project, doesn’t bear any relevance to the real world.
This coming Sunday is Halloween in the United States. It is a fun time for many, children and adults alike. Children tell scary stories and decorate their homes and classrooms with witches, pumpkins, bats and skeletons. My brother has become somewhat of horror writer. I don’t pretend to be able to spin a yarn as scary as he can, but since it is Halloween, I’ll go ahead and give it a try.
My wife and I are hooked on a television show called, “Undercover Boss”. In this show an upper level executive, usually the CEO, of a company will “go undercover” and perform some of the lower entry level jobs in his company. The show is very well done and the boss always uncovers the human element of what makes his company great.