SPR Consulting offers unique opportunities to work with incredible global brands, all while flexing skill sets and growing as an IT professional. Khalid Ahmed is an SPR Consulting .NET expert who has firsthand experience with how SPR Consulting helps its team members meet new career goals in IT.
How long have you worked with SPR Consulting?
I’ve been a member of this team for more than five years now—and I’ve had an opportunity to work on a pretty wide variety of projects in that time.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working with an SPR Consultingretail client that sells firearm and non-firearm products. Basically, the project involves an entire retail sales system, including everything from inventory to processing sales. We’re using .NET 4.0 to develop the solution, and an MVVM model for the Windows-based application; we’re making excellent progress. Right now, we’re six months into this project, and completion is targeted for early 2015.
What opportunities have you had to work alongside your colleagues throughout SPR Consulting?
With such a wide range of opportunities to use my skills and develop new ones, I’ve had many chances to work with colleagues throughout the company as well as on external SPR Consulting projects. I work with a range of technical professionals at every point in the software development lifecycle, and SPR Consulting makes it easy for me to jump in and either contribute or gain new skills on a wide range of projects.
From the business analysis team to testing, support and administration, I’ve had many opportunities to use my background and experience with a range of SPR Consulting IT professionals at every stage of project development.
What makes SPR Consulting a great fit for you with your extensive .NET expertise?
What’s especially great about working with SPR Consulting is that each client has different business needs—which results in unique projects where I can apply both .NET and other skills.
With SPR Consulting, I spent a great deal of time working on projects for a global energy company. This client specifically needed a resource with significant .NET experience, but also someone with experience leading a team. The project model for this client was very different than those I’ve worked with, offering an incredible opportunity for me to learn a different methodology and processes—and this was my first SPR Consulting project.
Awhile back, I worked with an SPR Consulting client who is a nationwide retailer of floral gifts. Their entire system was quite different because it was more about credit card processing. I had to bring my .NET background and apply my skills to integrate an element that falls outside of the traditional .NET framework, including integration of third-party APIs to process credit card payments. This was a new challenge for me, and one that I found to be professionally rewarding.
Most recently, I worked with an SPR Consulting financial client managing the lifecycle on financial assets. This is a complete turnaround from the previous two projects that I mentioned. This is why SPR Consulting is excellent for someone looking at dynamic career opportunities to strengthen and grow their skills in varying environments.
Why is SPR Consulting such a great company for building your career?
Some tremendous career opportunities have come my way during my five years with SPR Consulting. It has truly been rewarding for me, personally and professionally, to be a part of this team. An aspect of working here that should really be noted is how they support the person as a whole. Finding opportunities that are close to my home is extremely important to me, and SPR Consulting has shown genuine interest and care in providing me with opportunities that are not only professionally gratifying, but also support me personally as well. It’s very difficult to find an organization that cares about the whole person; SPR Consulting truly offers me what I need.
What skills have you gained while working at SPR Consulting?
There have been many opportunities for me to expand my skill set while at SPR Consulting—both on a technical and non-technical level. Every project offers another opportunity to build upon my skills. For the financial project I mentioned, I was developing a product using MVC 4 framework. This product was optimized for both web and mobile, giving me an excellent opportunity to expand my skillset into mobile—in particular, iOS.
While working with SPR Consulting’s energy client, I gained significant experience within business and leadership, working on my non-technical skills. Within that project, I expanded beyond my core strength of developing portals to lead the testing and support teams, managing the project while adhering to the client’s internal processes.
I’ve also had an opportunity to work more with monitoring services that involve .NET collaboration with SQL server. SQL Server 2012 has a new feature called ‘service broker queue.’ It’s a unique tool that isn’t seeing widespread implementation yet on client projects, so the opportunity to work on one was especially exciting.
What is your life like outside of SPR Consulting?
Playing the piano is a favorite activity; my kids are currently learning how to play, so it’s a great opportunity to share that with them. I am very passionate about construction and interior design. When the weather’s nice, you can definitely find me outside playing tennis.
Dynamic, exciting projects often come from dynamic, exciting clients. That’s the case with the global advertising firm that SPR Consulting supports on a wide variety of website testing. Working with national brands across the U.S., this SPR Consulting client creates unique advertising and digital campaigns for some of the nation’s best-known brands—an undertaking that requires SPR Consulting to staff teams of expert testers.
Taking Website QA to a New Level
The SPR Consulting team of testers has worked on a number of website QA projects, but this client offered truly unique opportunities. The client collaborates with SPR Consultingto test and improve website development projects for some of their national clients. These websites offer fun and often interactive experiences that serve as part of larger marketing campaigns. The sites SPR Consulting tests are often visited by tens of thousands (or more) of consumers.
Some of the technology used on the sites is engaging and leading-edge, including sophisticated innovations to create real-world effects and visualization in a virtual environment. Gamification is a big part of many of the sites, offering unique test opportunities on websites that are designed to provide site visitors with a wide range of interactive experiences.
Website Testing Teams That Achieve Results
SPR Consulting brings together groups of between two and 13 testers whenever this client has a new website project. There is a unique skill set required by testers for the team: fundamental knowledge of testing best practices and technologies as well as an incredibly high attention to detail and ability to learn fast are essential to success.
The SPR Consulting testing team is an agile one—ready to test at flexible hours to deliver important site feedback whenever needed. Every client is unique, and with consumer-driven websites that have launches coinciding with television campaigns, time is of the essence. Communication is key within the team to ensure SPR Consulting provides the client with as much detail as possible to meet tight turnaround expectations.
SPR Consulting testers are able to deliver exceptional results in time crunches and often with constantly evolving and changing parameters. These are challenges that SPR Consulting testers thrive in. Working on such highly visible, engaging websites also allows talented SPR Consulting testers to gain new skill sets and exposure to new technologies as well as add state-of-the-art projects to their portfolio of experience.
Within testing teams, there is a level of friendly competition: Every team member wants to contribute and find bugs wherever possible. However, the established processes for facilitating learning and collaboration are central to the continued success of the SPR Consulting testing team, and ensure that the greater client goal is always prioritized.
Getting Hands-on Experience with Cutting-Edge Website Testing
Preparation for each website test starts with documentation—wire frames, graphic design documents, copy references and other information. Due to the number of devices and configurations, it’s all hands on deck to test the site, typically within two calendar days. Once any bugs are fixed, the SPR Consulting testing team typically retests the bugs and runs a final regression test.
Today’s web users are digesting content on a range of browsers and devices, so the SPR Consulting testing team exhaustively tests each site on a range of platforms and operating systems. These sites are built using responsive code, which is designed to render on mobile devices and desktop browsers using the same code.
That means SPR Consulting testers thoroughly check each site on as few as nine configurations and devices but up to 18 options. This includes testing on PC and Mac desktops, tablets, and smartphone devices with various operating systems and browsers.
Incredible SQA Career Opportunities with SPR Consulting
SPR Consulting has partnered with this client on testing projects since 2012, and the results speak for themselves with 17 websites tested over the two-year span. The client continues to rely on the SPR Consulting testing team as its sole testing provider: They do not have testers on staff and consider SPR Consulting a part of their team. SPR Consulting values this client partnership and the relationship the software quality-assurance testing team has with the client’s project managers, account managers and developers.
You could read 10 blogs or industry publications and get 10 different opinions on technology and IT job trends. All, or none, could pan out in the end. However, staying on top of the trends as well as the wants and needs of employers is critical to landing your next job. The bottom line is that even when the information comes from experts, you should gather as much IT industry and career advice as possible.
The real “trend” in IT jobs
Right now, without a doubt, the biggest trend in IT jobs isn’t really a trend: It’s an evolution in how people and organizations value technology skills for the most critical roles. Regardless of organization or industry, the techniques and application of technologies is converging. Roles and specialties that once stood on their own, allowing a professional with that specific skill to land a job and advance his or her career with relative ease, are becoming less desired. Today’s coveted tech experts are multifaceted, understand their specialty as well as the areas it impacts and “touches,” and make the effort to learn ancillary technologies to become well-rounded IT professionals.
You will want to explore and understand these five specific technology areas and their convergence to gain an idea of the new mashups of IT roles.
Expand your IT skills to advance your career
Now that you have a better idea about where skill sets are converging, here are suggestions for how you can take your IT career to this new level:
Figure out what you really want to do. Skills like .NET development tie into just about every other area of technology deployment. You could expand your skill set into any number of directions. But, certain ones might not be a fit for you, your competencies or your goals. Take the time to first understand where you want to take your career, what you hope to accomplish, and which additional skill sets are going to help you get there. A little career introspection early on can help ensure you’re on the right long-term path.
Learn and learn some more. Begin your journey to beefing up your skills with an Internet test to see what you need to know, and then follow up with an online and in-person class to learn those skills. Find and absorb as many learning opportunities as possible to broaden and round out your technical expertise. Start by exploring events from SPR Consulting.
Choose jobs with the right companies (like SPR Consulting). Certain IT firms understand the evolution of technologies in the IT industry and offer support and encouragement for professionals to widen their areas of expertise. At SPR Consulting you may find yourself working on the types of high-level, cutting-edge projects made up of the mashups described for our clients—in a stand-alone role or as part of a team of experts. If you don’t have every skill needed for every role right now, we understand that. That’s why we place professionals with specific skill sets together in teams to create the right learning opportunity and also generate results. We foster opportunities like that every day.
These IT job mashups are driving IT careers, projects and departments in new directions. Within each IT skill set, there exists tremendous opportunity to learn complementary technologies, gain new skills and add another dimension to your career. If you excel in your area of expertise and are constantly seeking ways to expand your skill set to broaden your IT career options, take a deeper dive into the SPR Consulting story and the current positions we have open (see Hot Jobs). What combination of IT skills will advance your career success in technology?