Arthur Christmas – Fighting for the Customer

In the season of festive films, in our house, one film in particular is on almost constant repeat. That is the film Arthur Christmas. It got me thinking as I watched it with my boys again today, that really it’s a family animated film that looks at the full operational process of delivering 2 billion presents from receiving letters to dispatching the presents under the trees with the plan of a 100% success rate. Of course it’s actually described in a much more fun way than I had just said and is actually a really enjoyable film, even if we have watched it about 20 times already this year… kids hey?

The main crux of the film (apologies for the spoilers) is all about the fact that the new fangled delivery operation falls below 100% success as one child’s present doesn’t get delivered, even though initially the system says there are zero presents left to deliver…

When the present is discovered, a discussion starts over the importance of that one child because the system still shows a success of over 99.9%. So does that child matter if the system shows such a high level of success? In the same way, does it matter if our software systems only succeed 99% of the time? Of course it matters, and in the context of this one customer, it could be a huge issue that the system failed. In the film, that child would be devastated if they didn’t get their present from Santa! This is the point of view which Arthur (clearly more customer focused than his techie brother and Head of Operations, Steve) puts across and then he decides to fight for the child and insist that if the tech system can’t correct the issue, he would do it himself.

Then comes the old trusty manual workaround which resolves the issue which the automated system couldn’t do in time to still deliver the present. Again, this shows similarities to our software systems which require manual resolutions when a failure occurs or a bug is found. I’m chuckling at this point as GrandSanta (who helps Arthur use an original sleigh to fly around the world to drop off the present), talks about how he doesn’t understand the need for the new tech solution when the old method works perfectly well! Certainly a conversation I have heard too many times over the years in the work place…

It really reminded me that sometimes we get so hung up on making the technical solution as flashy as possible that we think it is infallible and it serves our needs exactly as we need it to, but sometimes the bigger picture is missed and customers may not be getting what they need out of it.

2020… what a rollercoaster

Thought this would be a nice random way to sign off for 2020. It’s been a hell of a tough year but also a very rewarding one. While there have been some real personal lows and some professionally too, I’m proud of all that I have managed to achieve this year to keep going despite really not enjoying the working from home.

I set myself a resolution this year to improve my personal brand, especially with starting a new job on January 2nd, I was desperate to help move things forward and almost wanted to be able to show what I had achieved previously, I also wanted to help out the wider community as much as I could.

Reflecting back on some of the things I did this year on a professional level is quite a list:

  • Took on a wider ranging leadership role at work, during the pandemic while others were on furlough and later leaving the company, which has now become a full role.
  • Became a D&I Trailblazer at work, particularly advocating for Neurodiversity
  • Launched an internal Test Community
  • Panellist at a Quality Leaders Network Event in February
  • Guest on 3 podcasts (The QA Lead, Test Automation Guild and EuroStar Huddle)
  • International Conference Talk at Test Leadership Congress
  • Re-launched the MOTBucks Meetup with my awesome co-host Stu.
  • Multiple online Meetup talks (Mot Manilla, MoTBucks, Quality Advocates, QA Babble and QA London)
  • Ran several online TestSphere sessions
  • Met tonnes of new faces through the MoT VirtualCoffee slack channel and through all the virtual events and discussions.
  • Mentored numerous mentees in the testing world who were either looking for work or looking for the next step up.

And then the big one, is launching the Testing Peers podcast with 3 hugely important and awesome friends who have at times kept me going this year, it’s been so natural to jump in to the regular recordings and enjoying chatting to friends while recording talking about two things we are all passionate about – Testing and Leadership. 17 episodes down and just shy of 4,000 downloads, I couldn’t have dreamed it would go this well and am really excited about where it’s going.

We launched our 17th episode and our Christmas Special today, check it out via the link above.

On a personal level and from the Peers, I really thank you all for your support, friendship and feedback this year, it has meant more than I could possibly express.

Happy Christmas everyone! Look forward to speaking to more of you in 2021!

London BUPA 10km

I am running the BUPA London 10km Race on May 30th and I have chosen to raise money for MENCAP.

Having grown up with my sister Amy who has Asperger’s, and living with my fiancee Heather who is a teacher who has worked with children like Amy, MENCAP has always been a charity close to my heart. The work they do to aid children and adults with learning disabilities is amazing. I know from times spent with Amy and her friends that these people deserve the best and Mencap can certainly help to make their lives more rewarding.

So this run has given me the chance to raise money for a great cause and also get into shape for mine and Heather’s Wedding in August!

So, if you can, please dig deep and donate.

Thank you


Hello World!

As with everything, we have to start somewhere. I am going to use this platform to discuss my thoughts on a range of technical topics. Whether that be software engineering process or my woes with tools.

Ever since I started my career just over 4 years ago as a CyberCrime researcher to the cross roads I find myself at now, I have discovered so much and learnt even more. I didn’t know what Scrum or Agile meant, I had only written simple perl and C++ applications and I hadn’t touched anything other than a windows OS. Life seemed so much simpler back then but I wouldn’t change anything for the world now!