Monthly Archives: October 2014

So what is Functional Testing – Nirjeet Gorvara

Hi, this is my third post on this blog and I want to keep this post around what functional testing involves. I am a Functional Tester and I have been doing this role for 7 months and I think it’s time that I expand and explain what it involves being a Functional Tester (take a look at my previous post that gives an overview of Functional Testing if you haven’t already:

Functional Testing is testing an application against the business requirements. This involves execution of the application using the specification given by the client. The core role of Functional Testing is to validate the behaviour of the application.

Doing Functional Testing is very important as it verifies that your system is ready for release. Functional Testing is approached much like Unit Testing – for example, writing test cases as soon the code is being written produces something for the user to interact with. However it is important to write the functional test scripts that deal with the user requirements before even starting to write code.

In order to understand Functional Testing one needs to understand the following steps.

  1. Understanding the requirements the client has given.
  2. Identifying the test inputs i.e. test data
  3. Work out the expected result with the selected test input values.
  4. Execute the test cases
  5. Compare the result with the expected result.

The types of functional testing are.

  • Smoke Testing – is making sure the build is ready for test
  • System Testing – is to test the complete integrated system or software
  • System Integration Testing – is to test the individual units combined and tested in a group
  • Regression Testing – is to test and ensure any changes to the system/software have not affected the existing functionality.

Fundamentally, functional testing fills in the gap which is left when unit testing is done. This gives the development team more confidence in the code they have produced against the clients’ requirements. The reason we do functional testing is to capture the system coverage and to expose problems which were missed when doing unit testing.

As part of my role being a functional tester my main focus has been to perform test execution on the requirements from the client. However I have also been involved in analysing design documents, smoke testing, regression testing, system testing and writing scripts. Therefore I have learnt how to create scope documents by analysing the design and the IT requirement documents which hold all the details needed to create test cases against the user specification.

In order to carry my role I use the following tools.

Base24 (The online transaction processing system)

VTS (VISA Test System)


ATM (Automated Teller Machine)

ALM (Application Lifecycle Management)

In the past 7 months I have been working on 3 different projects in parallel and this has allowed me to learn new skills and understand what each project is trying to achieve. I also like the fact that in my role I have opportunities for client interaction, which has allowed me to develop‘fearless behaviour’ (an IBM practice encouraged amongst new starters to quickly prove our capabilities) and to achieve my role goals.

You can see nothing is stopping you joining the apprenticeship which has endless experiences in learning new skills and to achieve what you want to do in life. I hope what I have written has been worth your time to read and persuades you to apply for the IBM Apprenticeship.

“Give it a go, you never know” Life changing experience…

Being an Apprentice is a ‘mistake’? – Oliver Pope-Mostowicz

One of the things I was sure of when I joined IBM as an Apprentice back in September 2012, was that I had made the right decision for me. The other thing I was sure of was that many people would negatively judge my decision, and would suggest that I had made a mistake and ‘wasted’ an opportunity.
This is neither the time nor the place to give my response to the idea of a choosing an Apprenticeship over a University degree being ‘wasteful’ (although this does give me an idea for a short series we may release later – keep your eyes peeled!) but I would like to share with you my experience of the last few months, and specifically the last few weeks, that may demonstrate that an Apprenticeship is at least (if not more so in some cases) as valuable as a University degree.
As you will know if you have read my previous posts (and you really should – I’m quite happy with them!) I was working in a first line support role for the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager backup product. This was a really interesting role that allowed me to work with clients and other IBMers right across the globe and provided different challenges every day on a particular product that I became quite adept in. However, I always knew that I wanted to learn more, and I wanted the opportunities to deal with things from the other end of the project spectrum (i.e. help design and implement a technical solution, rather than providing support once that solution was already in place).
I am now very happy to inform you that I have made that transition, and as of 6th October, I am now an IT Architect at IBM and moving forwards, I will primarily be focussing on Cloud based solutions. Now I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about the Cloud, and I’m sure you’ve heard much of the mistaken ideas around the Cloud. Again, this isn’t the time or place to delve into them (as that could probably take up another mini-series of posts unto itself!), but what I wanted this post to be about was the fact that not only can you change roles within IBM, it is actively encouraged!

“I actually believe your greatest competitive advantage is the ability to learn” – Ginni Rometty, Chariman, President and Chief Executive Officer, IBM

An important aspect of the Apprenticeship as far as I am concerned – and one of the things that I have most appreciated about the scheme – is that the expectation of prior knowledge or skill is not placed upon the Apprentices’ shoulders. A burning desire to learn, to apply yourself and to seek out development – certainly, but a burden of unreal expectation – not even once. Beyond this though, and as I have already alluded to – not only is there not an expectation of prior knowledge, there is a deep, cultural understanding that it is IBM’s duty as your employer to assist you in building this knowledge and expertise.
To this end, over the last 6-8 months, the following resources have been made available to me to assist me in my role transition:
– a talent spotter listened to a presentation I did on myself and my time in IBM, and there and then took a personal interest in introducing me to execs and long-time IBMers to help me understand my career prospects and opportunities
– very high level execs and managers have taken significant amounts of time out of their busy schedules to have both high- and low- level conversations with me about my career, and answered all questions with patience and made sure I understood and appreciated the answer
– a senior exec in the SO line of business offered (and I accepted!) to sponsor my move into the new role – that is, they took a personal interest in continuing to help me to build relationships within the line of business I was transferring to, kept an eye out for possible education and generally gave me hints and tips to ensure the transition was a success
– 1 weeks formal education in Vienna to take part in an ‘Architectural Thinking’ course to prepare me for the fundamental skills I will require in my new role
There are probably more examples that I am doing a disservice by not mentioning but to be honest, the last 6 months have been such a whirlwind that I still can’t quite believe I am (at the time of writing) just completing my first week in the new role.
I guess the moral of this post is (as I have already rambled on further than I intended), the recent Apprenticeship hash tag is true – you really can #GetInGoFar if you put the time and effort in. And therefore the last two questions I’d put to you are:
– If you’ve got the opportunity, why wouldn’t you?
– Do you think I ‘wasted’ my University opportunity?

Opportunities – by Josh White

I recently had the opportunity to attend the European IIBA Conference (European Business Analysis Conference) for 3 days through my work for IBM on the project I am working on as a Business Analyst.
The opportunity came up as the client I work with were presenting on 2 topics, and along with a number of the client Business Analysts, myself and the IBM Lead Business Analyst attended as well.
As I am still in Foundation at IBM I was able to get funding to attend the event as it was relevant to my job role and would also help me in my career progression at IBM as a Business Analyst.
The event was split into 2 sections. The first day was a series of half-day workshops which you could pick and choose to attend before the event. In the morning after registration I attended the workshop all about being a Business Analyst on an ‘Agile’ project (projects that are able to adapt and change through continuous development as the project moves through its various stages). This particularly interested me as more and more business are moving towards an ‘Agile’ way of working – including the client I work for.

In the afternoon I attended a workshop called ‘Extrovert or Introvert? How Both Can Shine in the BA World’. This was about how to handle yourself in different situations and there was a lot of group work throughout the afternoon and I had a good chance to speak to people from various industries and backgrounds. This included a member of the European Parliament who is working in Brussels and women who interestingly was looking to establish an Apprenticeship Specifically for Business Analysis.

The next 2 days consisted of a Key Note speech from a guest speaker first thing, then everyone broke out into talks (you had a choice of 5 to go to for each session), of which there were 2 before lunch and it was the same format after lunch as well. Each talk was on a different topic and as a fairly new Business Analyst, all of the sessions were very helpful and gave me a lot to think about now I am back on my project.

The Key Note speeches were very interesting. I really enjoyed a speech from David McCandless who has written a book called ‘Information is Beautiful’ and also a speech from James Kerr, author of ‘Legacy’ (I got a free copy at the conference!). Legacy is a book dedicated to the All Blacks success as a team and describes how the 15 principles they use can be applied in business. I recommend you have a look at David’s work (website link above) as it displays ordinary, ‘boring’ data in the most amazing ways and also if you have aspirations of managing a team or you already are, have a read of ‘Legacy’.

Attending this event was extremely beneficial for me, especially in my role as a Business Analyst. The opportunity would have been very difficult to come across if I was not working for IBM on this particular project. What I am trying to say is that if an opportunity like this crosses your path then grab it with both hands. It has definitely made me look at the way I do my work differently and I have taken a lot more away from it than I thought I was going to.

Happy reading, Josh

‘Continuous Improvement’ by Tom Cope

Hello it’s me, Tom. C…..again!

Ah yes the blog post, now what to write? Some words combined to make a sentence to hopefully convey thought or emotion. Well how about a story? Those are good. Right, story it is.

A key part of the apprenticeship is that idea of “Continuous improvement”, that is; the longer you are in the apprenticeship the more you learn and the better you get, both at your job and as a person. This is very much true as throughout my apprenticeship I have grown both my technical skills through the work that I do and personally through presenting to members of management and learning how to deal with many different situations.

Another form of “Continuous improvement” is within the project. IBM likes apprentices to bring new ideas into the projects they are placed on and improve them. This could be through introducing new processes or creating something to help out with a task.

Take my Password Reset Automation Tool (or PRAT for short). As stated in my previous post I work in both the AIX and Security space. This means having to deal with passwords and of course when people forget them, password resets. After being in my role for some time I realised that some of the password reset requests I receive could be automated so using my combined scripting,security and AIX knowledge I created an application which a user could access remotely from their desk that would allow them to reset their password without admin or human intervention.

Once the application was complete I needed to get it tested by the security team before it could be used by the project. Using my presentation/selling skills (acquired through IBM apprentice courses) I pitched the application to the security team as well as providing them with a demonstration of the tool in action. Once I completed the presentation the security team attempted to break the application. I had built into the application a security defence system so that if you attempt to attack the application it will ban you and report the violation to both myself and the security team.

The tool has been very well received on the project as it has made the password reset process a lot faster and does not rely on an administrator being at their desk 24/7 to reset passwords as it can be used after hours.

In general, IBM is very keen on helping technically minded individuals within the company. This is either through the FIC (Foundation Innovation Community) which allows Apprentices/Graduates to help their ideas become a reality and even get them patented! Or through the FTC (Foundation Technical Community) who help Apprentices/Graduates grow their technical skills through special training sessions, meetings with IBM’s key technical individuals or through interactive sessions.

Within IBM there is a tool called TAP (Technology Adoption Program) where you can submit your created app, program or script to an online marketplace where others can download it. It really helps you to get recognised within the company as your App can win awards throughout the year! I am currently working on getting my Password Reset Automation Tool uploaded to TAP so other projects can use it.

Talking of recognition I was recently awarded National Apprentice of the year 2014 for the south central region. This all started when I was nominated for the award by my PDM (Professional Development Manger) after which I had to fill out an application form. The form consisted of four question ranging from “Explain your role, key duties and responsibilities within the workplace” to “Please detail the ways in which you have benefitted from your Apprenticeship”. All of the sections were very restrictive on the number of words you could submit. Along with the written submission I also had to submit some evidence. In my case I sent some screenshots of some of the applications I had made along with some photos of the Brathay challenge |


After the initial application was sent off I was sent a form to create a mini biography, once again with strong restrictions on the number of words allowed. You can read it here:

I was then judged against 1,000 other apprentices to fight for a place in the awards ceremony in Winchester where I got to meet fellow apprentices, members of the judging board and professionals from other companies

So yeah, that was my story – hopefully one in many more to come. Thank you for reading and have a smashing day!

–That was me Tom.C.

Sam McAuley on ‘The First Role’

Hi again, Sam here – I work as a System Integration Test Analyst, which essentially entails working with a mobile banking application to make sure that all the functionality does what it’s supposed to before it reaches the end user – as with most things, the earlier an issue is spotted and resolved the better.

Prior to my induction course; the next step after being accepted onto the apprenticeship, I had no formal knowledge of what testing was at all, and during induction I received a very concise description of what testing is, the software and tools used, and a run down of why testing is essential to so many organisations. (Basically, we find the problems and pass the information to the appropriate team to be fixed, so our client’s customers have as few issues as possible!).

Although the course in itself was very relaxed, and we were encouraged to ask whenever something was confusing, it’s not realistic to make the assumption that everything that was told to me that day was fully taken in and understood. Towards the end of the two week course, I was told that I would be part of the Testing team working in Swindon.

Starting my first role was (as I expected it would be) very daunting- I was moving far away from home, stepping out of my comfort zone and suddenly I felt everything that had been told to me about testing was slipping from my memory. I was lucky, as the release I joined was in it’s infancy, and there was a couple of weeks for me to get acclimatised to the environment- although it became clear very early on that even though I had time to adjust, not many others in my team had the time to ‘show me the ropes’, and a lot of the training I did was off my own back, using the resources available.

The other apprentices and I were tasked with creating an on-boarding pack for future new starters by using the accounts intranet, talking to various people in our team and using any knowledge we already had… At first, I felt pretty hard done by, thinking to myself ‘I’ve made it this far, how am I expected to do something when I don’t understand what I’m doing and have no help?!’ – But after getting wound up and feeling as if I should give up, I made it my mission to at least try and prove that I could do it.

I navigated my way through the sharepoint, finding pieces of information here and there – talked to people outside of my direct team, asking them to give me a high level overview so I could understand it and be able to paraphrase in a way that would benefit somebody with no prior knowledge (like me!). Finally, working with the other apprentices we created a number of thorough, understandable presentations that have now been uploaded onto the sharepoint and used for reference to help future new starters.

‘It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand’ – Randy Pausch

I came into IBM with certain expectations that I would be shown how to do everything in a simplified manner, and when these weren’t met I began to give up. In a way it was a wake up call for me… Why should I be spoon-fed? I was forced to apply myself, work outside my comfort zone and what it achieved was far more rewarding than I could have expected. I not only felt more comfortable with the work that I was doing, but because of the means of learning I had unwittingly become used to navigating through the sharepoint and intranet and created a network of people who I still now go to when I need their expertise.

If you apply yourself, be confident and never be afraid to ask for help – you will succeed!

Thank you for taking the time to read this – please take the time to watch ‘The Last Lecture: Achieving your childhood dreams’ by Randy Pausch – formerly an American professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University.