What makes a great Test Consultant? Is it all about testing
skills? Or is there more to it?
Anne-Marie Charrett of Testing Times gives her thoughts
and ideas of what it means to be a Tip Top Test Consultant.
1. Tip Top Test Consultants are goal driven
Top Consultants don’t just pursue dreams, they set goals. They have a dream and then set goals to
achieve it. Their dreams are not ﬂuffy like “I want to be successful”. Their dream is more speciﬁc,
something like “ I want to be successful by making x amount of money in one year”, or “ I want to be
successful my being a known expert in my ﬁeld”. Understanding their and then setting appropriate and
speciﬁc goals help realise their dreams.
2. Tip Top Test Consultant Are “Experts”
Be prepared to have an opinion on testing (that’s the easy bit!). Be prepared to backup your opinion with
fact (a little harder!). James Bach’s video has got some great advice on this.
3. Tip Top Test Consultants are Knowledgeable
Keep yourself fully trained up. Learn about new techniques, approaches and test tools. Be aware of new
technology and development languages. Be open to new techniques and approaches as you never know
when this may be of beneﬁt to your customer. You can train yourself or go on courses. A mixture of both
4. Tip Top Test Consultants have the X Factor.
What do you have that sets you aside from others? I don’t think being a good tester is enough. You need
a bit of a personality to be able to work well with people. You also need to be prepared to take risks.
5. Tip Top Consultants make their customer feel special
Make your client feel valued, but don’t overdo it on the brown nosing. I will never forget the real estate
agent who wanted to sell our ﬁrst house. He was determined to provide more than just a service by
meeting us in person at every opportunity to give us progress updates. He meant well, but the
commitment required from us was too much. He lost the sale to another agent.
Here are some pointers:
* Give more than what was asked for
* Listen to your customer
* Respond immediately
* Provide appropriate feedback throughout the job
6. Tip Top Test Consultant Seize the day
I’m amazed at the number of job opportunities some companies let slip away. I make a point of following
up on every lead and pass leads onto other consultants if I can’t personally perform the work.
7. Tip Top Consultant live in the real world.
Networking in the real world is essential. Meet people, have coffee. Get
to know people. Your next work is often someone close to you. Don’t
forget old clients or previous companies you worked for. Don’t be afraid
to approach them and see if there is any consulting work available.
8. Tip Top Test Consultants are internet savvy
Of course, you can’t ignore the internet. Make sure your proﬁle is up to date and be a frequent
commentator on forums and the software testing club. Start a blog and be consistent in posting to it.
9. Tip Top Test Consultants take care of the pennies
Make sure you pay your bills and taxes as you go. Large tax bills are highly unfashionable and will
ultimately distract you from your real purpose.
10. Tip Top Test Consultants manage time well
You will need to allocate time for bookkeeping, ﬁling, tax, marketing and sales. This is time consuming
work, but can’t be ignored.
11. Tip Top Test Consultants Work Smart
Trust me, hard yakka pays off, but relevant hard work is better. Make sure you work intelligently though.
Be disciplined about what you’re working on and set daily goals on what you want to achieve. It’s all too
easy to spend the day reading and deleting junk email, or checking out your web statistics. This is not
work, its time wasting!
12. Tip Top Test Consultants are great testers.
I nearly left this out, as I thought that it goes without saying. Unfortunately, I think that you could actually
be an average tester and still be a successful test consultant. However, to be a Tip Top Test Consultant,
you need to be a good software tester. Not an expert in everything, but it’s helpful to have a niche that
you can claim your own.
About Anne-Marie Charrett
With more than 20 years in the industry, Anne-Marie Charrett has established a reputation as a leader in
the ﬁeld of software testing. She began Testing Times in 1998 to offer a personalised, high-calibre
testing service to corporates and smaller businesses.
An academic grounding in electronic engineering has given her the beneﬁt of a structured approach and
analytical skills. She learnt her trade with the best, working for companies such as Nortel and IBM
improving her skills and acquiring knowledge on best practices in software development and testing.