For the 20 years I have been in the software testing industry I have always been inspired by the dedication of the delivery teams in getting projects over the line – traditionally the test team is the last line of defence. As we have just seen in the Champions League Final, the last line of defence can make or break a teams’ success. As a Liverpool fan, it hurts a lot, but the truth is that mistakes at this stage cost big trophies and rewards - and as we have just seen recently with a high-profile disaster at a very large financial institution they too will be looking to transfer their “goalkeeper”.
On a personal level, I have been very fortunate to work for independent testing consultancies who have prided themselves on “customer first” and getting the necessary done to deliver. I enjoyed it so much and thrived on that mentality that when I set ROQ up, our purpose was, and still is today, to ensure that the “customer REALLY IS king”.
When ROQ formed, it was during the global recession and it was obvious that the large, multi-layered organisations were exploiting businesses with the one-stop-shop mentality - leaving a lot to be desired in terms of customer outcomes.
It was an opportunity too good to miss.
And today the UK software testing industry finds itself in a similar situation on a macro-level. The market has been very active and a lot of the niche independent testing consultancies – of which there were some excellent companies – are being acquired and backed by the private equity firms who will no doubt be looking for a three-year return (if form wins out).
Some of the deals have been bizarre to say the least – total left field acquisitions/mergers - and time will tell as to their success. I have spoken to people in these organisations, and it certainly doesn’t make for good listening and culturally the challenges are certainly there.
A consolidation of any market can have its benefits, but I have always felt that in this industry, once you start to lose the customer centricity of delivery, then there will be a real negative fallout. If the decision to support a client in “just getting the job done” is dismissed in favour of hitting a quarterly EBITDA target then the industry has let itself down.
I totally understand the desire for market domination that individuals will have – it’s what a lot of entrepreneurs aspire towards – and they have my full respect. However, doing the right thing by the client, developing your own teams’ capability and being proud of what you have built have always driven my agenda.
The knocks on the door have happened, but none have turned our heads or our viewpoint. Our place as an independent arbiter of quality is important to us. The thought of being part of a group that doesn’t have a DNA focussed on quality, or that views testing as an afterthought to their development or project management services isn’t really appealing.
As such, I call on any remaining independent companies in the software testing market to stay this way – let us be the last bastions of client centricity. I look forward to competing with you and whoever wins deserves it and ultimately, if our clients achieve success then that is what really matters.
Together, with our personalised relationships, our commitment to go the extra mile for clients, we can take on the major SI’s and the newly formed mid-sized organisations with real vigour. It’s never been a better time to be truly independent – it’s a shrinking market – and so we should make it great.
And as a finale to this piece, I call out for any large organisation who traditionally use large suppliers only, to really assess the value that they have brought, consider what a niche specialist can offer as an alternative and give us the opportunity to prove it. I can guarantee a refreshing change in the language used in the discussions, enjoyment of working in true partnership mode and knowing that you are driving the real economy.
Director - ROQ