Author Archives: Talented Tester Support
Author Archives: Talented Tester Support
A burndown chart is a representation of work to do versus the time. It is often used in scrum, which is an agile software development methodology. People always ask the difference between the burnup and burndown the chart.
A burndown chart will show you how much work is left to be done for the project while a burnup chart will show you the amount of work that has already been done and the total amount of work left. In a burndown chart, the X represents the number of days while the Y represents the remaining effort.
A burndown chart will show a team its performance on a project nada to show how each individual is contributing towards it. It is simple to create and use hence very effective.
It also provides you with the time that the project might take and the amount of work that the team needs to do in order to achieve their goal. I decided to take through the agile burn down chart because I believe so many people are in need of understanding how it works. It is also advantageous to those who use it hence maybe you can grasp a few tips from here.
Another relevant topic is the Niko-Niko calendar, heard of it? Well, here is a break down of it:
Many people have been asking lately, what is a Niko-Niko calendar in Agile? Well, it's a practice in the Agile industry which aims at monitoring patterns of change of your team's mood over time.
The technic used is really not that hard. All it requires is that daily, after work, every team member should paste a sticker on designated calendar to highlight how their day went while they were at work. Whether it was good, or whether it was bad.
What this will basically mean, for those days when you might have had a bad day and felt really unproductive, you are to place a red faced sticker on that date.
After a while, you will begin to notice some colours being more dominant than the others. This will give you a little insight of the mood your team is generally in.
Most experts will tell you that besides providing you with a little extra evidence and confirmation of how some certain employees, you may have suspected of being miserable feel, it's not really that much helpful beyond that.
Truth is though, the Niko-Niko Calendar can sometimes prove to be a great opportunity for reflection and at amazingly fast rate at that, too. You'll get immediate feedback from small changes you've made like altering the workplace environment and so on.
In case the change was good, you'll notice the mood of your team lightened up. In case the change was bad, well, you'll get to know that too, as painful as that might be sometimes.
Another special thing about this technic is that the team will also get the immediate feedback concerning matters of the work environments general mood. Basically, they will also get to know how the colleagues around them feel.
Another great thing about the Niko-Niko Calendar is that it acts as a good complement to other metric systems you might be already using around the workplace such as lead time, bugs, velocity and so on. They help make you aware of the mood your team is in for better reflection. They happen to be extremely fast when it comes to
indicating problems, are easy to set up and ready for use within no time. Aside from all this, they are a good way of making your employees feel valued as well as recognized.
As with all activities that include retrospectives whereby employees are requested to report their personal subjective feelings, it's unfortunate, but self-censorship will always prove to be a very big risk you'll have to account for.
One example is where an employee is being blamed for "whining" if they so happen to report poor days, eventually deciding not to record their true feelings. Below are some of the most common disadvantages of the Niko-Niko Calendar:
The "Project Retrospective" by Norman Keith, released in 2001, described many kinds of visualisations. Among them was the "Energy Seismograph", which can be taken as the forerunner for what is now known to everyone as the Niko-Niko Calendar.
Akinori Sakata, in 2006, became the first to officially describe this sort of calendar in his web article. He first referred to it as Nicocare where the tools to be provided were meant to measure both the safety and morale of your employees.
They tried everything and then finally decided that they will use sticker faces on a calendar to help measure one's moods, and thus, the Niko-Niko calendar was born.
With all that's been said and done, the Niko-Niko technic can be a way for managers to effectively track their employees moods. It may not produce the most accurate results, however, it can still provide more than enough information nonetheless.
This method makes tracking moods a little easy and can tell you what makes your employees happy so you can continue to do more of the same.
By checking the moods of your team members regularly, using this process, you will eventually manage to establish a calendar track of your employees' moods.
This information can prove priceless to manager, especially those handling agile projects. Niko-Niko happens to be the Japanese idiophone of a smile. Tracking metrics that affects productivity and performance is vital in the Agile industry.
A lot of things are tracked during the course of an Agile project. These include such things as lead time, bugs, velocity etc. Finding a way to effectively track those metrics will help you and your team identify problems early and much faster. Without them, you might find it very hard to improve the standards of your work environment.
The faster you're able to identify that information, the quicker you'll be able to analyze it, look to the future and steer your project operations in the right direction. It's all to do with tightening your feedback loop.
I receive a lot of requests for advice on how to create profiles that will increase your visibility, connections, and ultimately, the chances of scoring more contracts. As a contractor myself, I know how hard it can be when you lack connections or if you don’t know how to highlight selling points.
I got to thinking about how I present myself. I haven’t updated any of the information on my LinkedIn profile for at least two years. After doing research to improve my online business profile, I realised that a lot of other people could use the help. So here are 5 ways to use LinkedIn for a killer contractor’s profile.
Building connections through networking is time well spent. You must connect online as well as face-to-face, because those two vehicles are interconnected. LinkedIn is one of the best platforms in which to start.
Do you know exactly how much building relationships within social media matters? As you use LinkedIn, work to increase the number of your first level connections. Because of the associations, your second and third level connections will always include your name in searches.
Connections provide leads. If I need advice or help, I go to people I can trust or the people they trust. Make yourself available to referrals. Work on establishing trust with others too. Connections are more than just stepping stones to success. They’re give and take relationships without hidden motives.
Make a list of your business friends and relationships. Which ones are you taking for granted? Do something that shows them you remember the connection, whether that means offering a discount or providing a shining review of their services.
Updating your LinkedIn profile requires more thought than I suspected. You want to demonstrate what new skills you’ve acquired recently, but there are other items to consider.
Using keywords in your profile is a given, but search engines are keenly aware of the overuse of words to drive up a company’s visibility. Use them intelligently and strategically, particularly in your headline.
Instead of “Information Technology Specialist,” go for “Expert IT and Linux Professional.” It’s more precise.
LinkedIn asks members a lot of questions about ourselves, our work experience, our hobbies, and our goals. Take advantage of every opportunity it gives you to share information about you and your work.
Add professional groups to your profile. It shows you stay current within your line of work. When you receive a new certificate, update your profile. Ask for endorsements from people who are familiar with your work. Give then one or two keywords to use. Specific endorsements raise your visibility.
Don’t worry, I don’t mean meeting up at a local coffee shop. It’s about posting to millions of people and posting to the ones who are interested in hearing from you. You’re creating your brand.
Most people appreciate information that is practical, well-written, and provides tools or tips of some sort. When you read through online trade magazines or see an interesting article, share the link. Comment on what you found useful. Ask for opinions. This engages people.
Comment on the articles other people post on LinkedIn’s News Feed. Share your opinion on the information. One thing you’ll notice in doing this is other people will respond to your comments. When that’s the case, ask to connect. The worst they can say is no.
Read about what your connections are doing. If someone has a work anniversary, congratulate them. It’s a great, unobtrusive way to reconnect to somebody with whom you haven’t spent time.
One effective way to tell the world about your skills is by contributing articles. LinkedIn allows you to publish your own articles on their forum. Writing about your abilities isn’t enough, though.
People are always asking “WIIFM?” (What’s in it for me?) Offer useful advice in your article or a tip on how to do something more easily. Give yourself props at the end, including your contact information. If you act like an expert, and sound like an expert, people will go to the expert.
Everyone knows how to share your status on other social media platforms. You take pictures, you send funny memes, or say a few words about your day. LinkedIn is different.
News Feed is a simple way to give and receive all types of information. The drawback is that the information can often be too general or unrelated to your field of interest or those who want to know about your work. Posting articles will get you attention, but there’s a way you can narrow down your target audience.
Update your status within your groups. The groups you list on your profile should be related to the work you do and your various business interests. If you’re in marketing, become a follower of marketing companies and join groups associated with marketing.
When you update your status and share it with people in these specific groups, they’re more likely to be interested in what you have to say than other people reading the News Feed. If you ask an opinion, people respond more quickly, and it can even result in a quick chat via IM.
Keeping a highly visible profile on LinkedIn can feel like a full-time job, but it doesn’t have to be.
Set aside time specifically for connecting through LinkedIn. Spend an hour on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays commenting on posts and articles, updating your status, and posting your own articles.
Use LinkedIn’s analytic tools to find the best times to post. It will tell you when to limit your activity and when your post is likely to get the most traffic, readers, and responses.
If you want people to take you seriously, be serious about yourself. Invest in getting a professional photograph. A good one won’t cost more than $100, if that. Wear the type of clothing that would inspire you to hire yourself and smile.
Make sure you complete the summary field within your profile. Many people skip doing this, because they believe just attaching a resume will say everything. Providing a resume is smart but using the summary field to list five of your biggest achievements makes people take notice.
I used to think I’d done everything I could to make my CV and Linked in Profile shine. I know now that there’s more to it than a good heading and a nifty picture. If increasing the visibility of your LinkedIn profile sounds like a lot of effort, remember that it does produce results. Right now, there are over 11 million jobs.
Before April 2000, as a self-employed worker, you could receive direct payments, and you were allowed to use your company revenue as any small company would do.
In addition, company profits were not subjected to National Insurance payments; hence, profits could be distributed as dividends.
Moreover, you could set up a family business by splitting ownership of your company with family members and you would be able to save tax in all these cases. Due to the introduction of IR35, all these privileges were aborted.
IR35 was legislation introduced by HMRC (Her-Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) with the ultimate goal of stamping out any form of tax evasion, which was considered as fraud or abuse of the tax system. It was designed to tax the workers referred to as "disguised employees". Therefore, under IR35, they were considered as being employed. For instance, if you were receiving payments via an intermediary and you are being paid directly by your client, you would be considered as an employee.
IR35 was established to prevent workers from evading tax by setting up limited companies through which they would work effectively. Hence, to correct this anomaly, HM Revenue and Customs was set up to scrutinize any contractual arrangement between the worker’s company and the client’s so as to ensure that normal employment rules are applied.
This was so that every payment made to the worker’s company would be appropriately taxed. In addition, setting up family companies was also countered by the IR35 legislation. Consequently, company profits were subjected to National Insurance payments, hence, profits could not be distributed as dividends.
If you are running your own business and you heard about IR35, I know you would like to know if the IR35 legislation applies to you. The IR35 legislation applies to any worker, who supplies services through a registered private limited company or in partnership, receives payments directly from the client and pays himself dividends. Therefore, if you fall into this category of workers, IR35 applies to you so you are inside IR35. Otherwise, you are outside IR35.
Being inside IR35, you would be paying taxes as an employed worker. If you are outside IR35, you are not liable to paying tax as an employed worker pays it. Therefore, you are free to choose your payment method, either in form of salary or as dividends. Else, you may choose to be paying yourself a combination of salary and dividends.
Perhaps, you are outside IR35 if you registered your business on your own person but not the company account. However, this question may be difficult to answer explicitly. Therefore, try to consult HMRC guidance(https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-employment-status-for-tax) to determine whether you are outside or inside IR35.
While addressing Employment Status disputes, the term Mutuality of Obligation is a common phrase that is always considered. If it is established that there is Mutuality of Obligation between an employee and the employer, the employer is under obligation to provide work for the employee.
On the other hand, the employee is also obliged to accept the work. Therefore, the employee is entitled, under obligation, to be expecting and accepting work from the employer until the contract is made redundant or they both agree to end the contract.
Under this condition, IR35 is being challenged and failing because the IR35 legislation can only be effective if there is Mutuality of Obligation between the contractor and the client, i.e. if a contract of service exists, the contractor is considered employed. If contract of service agreement cannot be established, the contractor is considered to be self-employed; and hence, outside IR35.
Therefore, if there is no Mutuality of Obligation between you and your client, you are outside IR35. Establishing this status is so complex as a result of this complexity, you are advised to seek professional legal advice to review your contract reviewed for IRS before entering into any contractual agreement.
The right of substitution is a major factor used to establish IR35 employment status. The right of Substitution is a legal term which gives a contractor the ability to send someone with the same skill or service experience to complete a contract. For instance, once you are providing a service and you are not employed, you can send another contractor with the same experience, who is able to provide the same service, to take your place.
Once you include the clause, “Right of Substitution”, in your contractual agreements, you may be helping your chances of remaining outside of IR35. Conversely, if the clause is not in your contractual agreement, there is a strong chance you are inside it.
However, this may not be valid in some contract cases. However, for this clause to be considered valid, the following key factors must be present in the contract:
According to HMRC, as a contractor, you are inside IR35 if you are deemed to be subject to control if your client is instructing you on what work you should do and how you should perform the task. In addition, you are under IR35 Control, if they also have the power to transfer you from one job position to a different job.
However, this rule is ambiguous. For instance, as a building contractor, a client gives you a building plan design which you cannot do but follow to the letter or a client set up a rendezvous for the contract agreement, and you must be present at the location and at the given time. Therefore, are you under control?
However, if you will be found by the HMRC to be under control you will have to be under the supervision, direction and control of your clients, then you are inside IR35. For further clarification on the term “control”, you will have to consult HMRC IR35 Guidance.
Once you understand all of the above-stated IR35 rules, conditions and terms, you will be able to figure out whether you are under IR35 or outside IR35, and you will know what to do if you are under IR35 so as to avoid facing any legal sanction.
In addition, as a contractor, you will know how to approach your lawyer for professional legal advices while you are setting up a contract agreement with a client. Nevertheless, we are here to help you out.
Another important rule to consider, is the 24 month rule...
As a contractor, while you are setting up a contractual agreement, there are some contract rules you need to be conversant with and understand before you seal the deal. One of the most important aspects of the contract rules you need to clarify is the Contractor 24 Month Rule.
For instance, if you are incurring travel expenses in moving from your place to your client’s site, you need to know what the 24 Month Rule means, if it applies to you and if you can legitimately claim any travel cost.I hope you have some questions. Here, we have covered the ground for you.
If you are travelling to your workplace and coming back, for you to know if the rule affects you or not, you have to understand the following:
This rule determines whether a workplace will be considered as a permanent or temporary workplace. So if you are working for your client in a temporary workplace, this rule applies to you.
According to HMRC’s EIM32075 a temporary workplace is defined as a workplace that a contractor visits for a limited period of time to perform a task or any other temporary purposes.
However, if the employee visits the place for a continuous task that lasts for, at least more than 24 months, the workplace will be considered a permanent workplace. Hence, in this case, the Contractor 24-month Rule is not applicable; see Section 339(3)ITEPA 2003 of HMRC’s Rule.
In addition, if you are working continuous and there is a change of workplace in the course of the contract but it has no substantial effect on your journey to work; such a workplace will be taken as the same workplace.
For instance, if a client changes the workplace of a contractor from Edinburgh to London, there will be a deduction in the cost of travelling from home to the new workplace. Conversely, if the workplacesare is treated as one, no deduction will be done (see EIM32280 and EIM32089).
However, in most cases, it is difficult to establish a change of workplace but the basic principle is that a change in a workplace is only recognised if the change has a very minimal effect:
If your client’s workplace is a temporary workplace as defined by the Contractor 24-month Rule, you are covered by the rule to legitimately claim your incurred travel expenses.
Otherwise, you have nothing to claim. For instance, if you are living in London and you are working for a client at a workplace in London, and it takes you 25 months to complete the task while moving from your home to the workplace there, you cannot claim any expenses incurred on transport because the site will be treated as your permanent workplace having worked there for more than 24 months.
However, if you worked at the place for less than 24 months, you are eligible to be paid for transport.
Yes, the same rule that covers the travel expenses also covers accommodation cost.
According to the HMRC’s Contractor 24-month Rule, since you are eligible to claim transport expenses, you may be able to claim accommodation expenses, once your workplace is treated as a temporary workplace.
Conversely, if your workplace is treated as a permanent workplace, you may not be able to claim any expenses for accommodation. Like in the example above, you may be eligible to be paid accommodation expenses by your employer for travelling to Manchester to work.
As a matter of fact, accommodation claims are not clearly stated in the HMRC Contractor 24-Month Rule, this claim is only being placed on the logic that there will surely be a change in the cost of accommodation due to the temporary change in the workplace. Therefore, a contractor may not be able to win this case if he takes to court.
This HMRC’s rule decides whether a contract will be treated as a continuous work or not. According to this rule, the period of work will be treated as a period of continuous work if you performed your duties to a significant extent. The term “significant extent”is determined by the percentage of time you spent as contractor at a workplace.
If the time you spent at the place amounts to 40% or more of your working time (Section 339(3) I.T.E.P.A 2003), your contract at the workplace is treated as continuous work, hence you cannot legitimately claim any incurred travel expenses.
For instance, you live in London and work for a client at a workplace in London, but at a point, your client begins to send you to work in Manchester for 1 and half days in a week, and this continues for a period 25 months.
Since the time you have spent at the site in Manchester is less than 40% of your working time, the workplace is treated as a temporary workplace.
Therefore, you are eligible to claim your full travel cost from your client but not for the rest of the week you spent working in London because travelling between your home and your workplace in London will be considered as ordinary commuting (see EIM32086).
Just like the accommodation claim, contractors are also debating that change in the workplace, though temporary, might have a significant effect on the lunch expenses and that they incur more expenses on lunch than working in their permanent workplace.
This claim is also not included in the HMRC’s Contractor 24-Month Rule. Hence, a contractor may not be able to proceed with this case in the court as it could be treated as a void claim.
As a contractor, these are some of the rules you need to understand and put into consideration before you seal a contract with a client so that you may be able to avoid any future misunderstandings. Nevertheless, if you are still incurring travel expenses, you are sure that you are working in a temporary workplace and not working continuously according to the Contractor 24-month Rule, you can legitimately claim your incurred expenses from your client.
Another important thing to consider, to protect yourself is insurance, lets discuss this further in the next section....
As much of an IT expert as you may be, there are always things that are beyond your control and might go awry. Contracts may go wrong for a variety of reasons and you, as a professional, have to be thoroughly prepared in case that happens.
That’s where IT contracting insurances comes into play: with a tiny investment,
you can protect yourself, your business and even your reputation –the core of
an independent contractor-.
And being as important as it is, I’ve found that insurance is sadly one of the most overlooked aspects of our career for several reasons: simply not knowing how insurances works, how expensive are they, if they are legally required, or even believing that insurance implies that you can do a subpar job without nothing really happening.
I’ve thought that myself! But there’s a great peace of mind you have when you can rest assured that nothing bad will happen to you if something fails on the other end of the contract or if the unexpected appears, which on this era of hacking and information leaks is always a possibility. In this article, I’ll run you through the basics of IT insurance and you’ll learn how many types and options are out there on the market, and you’ll certainly find one that suits your needs.
The real question is “why shouldn’t you?”. Far from being a bother or a burden,
insurance companies can cover you for everything you think of: from
unintentional contract breaches, confidence breaches, infringement of
intellectual property rights, defamation from unsatisfied clients or even past
Given our field of work, we are not failsafe –no one truly is at anything, we may work with technology but we’re humans after all– and the cost of giving bad advice or applying not-quite-accurate techniques is way too high for an independent worker.
And as you well know, there are pros and cons of working independently: while you are your own boss and you are ready to face the uncertainty between contracts, all possible mistakes that goes from technical to human ones, or even when clients have only you to blame and not an abstract company you work for should concern you.
Insurance companies provides you legal professional representation, indemnity insurances and even public liability insurance, in case something bad happens and you need them the most.
Trust me: as the saying goes, no one should leave home –or sign a contract– without it.
While technically not mandatory by law if you work on your own, it quickly becomes obvious that you should put some serious thought into it. If you happen to work alone, you may have faced on the verge of signing a contract insurance is not required by law but is a contractual obligation. So why not think ahead and go for it?
I should say that it doesn’t only feel safe, but it also looks good: most agencies nowadays consider insurance as a quality measure and is slowly gaining the status of best practice.
Ranging from 1 to 10 million pounds of cover, this type of policies are not something to be overlooked. Besides, if you employ people, even if you work from home, there’s a chance you may actually be legally forced to do so. It should be noted that Employer’s Liability Act from 1969 states that there are a few exemptions: if you are the sole employee of a company and own more than half of the shares, and if you run a family business and all your employees are close relatives.
Let’s start from the beginning: IR35, as discussed earlier in this article, is a specific set of rulings that affects all contractors that HRMC doesn’t qualify as self employed. It should really matter to you, since it can truly cripple your future: it states that you’ll face increased taxes and National Insurance liabilities in an effort to stop contractors from working as disguised employees.
The truth is HRMC is unclear, to say the least, as to which contractors could fall under IR35 hammer. With this level of ambiguity, IR35 insurances are special and handy policies that will assure you that you won’t be facing a potential investigation all alone.
HRMC can be a hard enquirer, so insurance companies thought of two different
insurance policies you should absolutely check. The first one is called defence only, which will cover basic tax enquiries and legal management in case that dreaded letter arrives at your door steps: legal experts will handle that matter for you.
The other one is named comprehensive and it doesn’t only cover
legal fees, but also any liability in case HRMC believes you should be held up
to IR35 ruling.
Since those demands can be in the order of the tens of thousand pounds, in my
opinion it’s better to be safe than sorry, and can also be an indicator of you
actually working on your own business, which a lot of your potential clients
might consider a good sign.
The answer to this question depends on your contract and the risk assessment. However, working on the IT field and handling sensitive information, I recommend at the very least Professional Indemnity Insurance, Public Liability and some sort of IR35 insurance (defence only or comprehensive).
The first one will protect you if you give advice that results in a financial loss to your client and the second one will cover you in case someone is injured or their property gets damaged as a result of your business. Besides, if you plan to run a company, even the smallest one will require Employers Liability Insurance as a legal obligation.
And why shouldn’t you think about it? If you are working independent you want to growing as much as possible, and being safe and prepared is the best way to do so.
Besides the ones we’ve already discussed, there’s a great variety of insurances to keep you safe from harm. In my opinion, being IT contractors, an IT equipment and laptop insurance should be mandatory: it covers you in case your trusty laptop breaks down and you have to replace it, or even if it gets lost or stolen.
Another interesting choice are Business Interruption insurance covers, that helps you in case you have to stop doing business for unforeseen reasons, such as damages to your equipment or buildings, protecting you from financial losses.
You should also consider Cyber and data risks insurance that protects you in case hackers breach into your system and leaks sensitive information, providing you legal representation and much needed reputation protection. And being an independent contractor, an Income Protection Cover is important to cover you in case you have to take some time off in case of illness or an accident.
Final Words on Contractor Insurance
The way I see it, insurances are an independent contractor’s much needed safety net: you don’t want to fall, but what happens if you do? After all those well-known scandals concerning information leaks and security breaches, IT field of work is in the eye of the public storm, and to make it worst, small companies and independent workers are more likely to be targeted by malicious hackers.
I find extremely useful to have an insurance policy in case unforeseen things go
wrong, and I believe no IT contractor should sign a contract without them. I
hope this article was useful to you and guide you towards making the safest
decision to keep your business running smoothly. What do you think about it?
Let me know in the comments if you liked it and feel free to share it with all
Contractors are seen as a short term investment with no employee benefits and limited rights. If your client wants to get rid of you, within reason you are gone.
Therefore, even though they seem that they are over paid, from a companies perspective, we are disposable assets, that they can bring in and get rid of based on project demand.
A question we want to comprehensively tackle in this article. If this is something you've been thinking about lately, well then, lucky for you because you happen to be just at the right place.
The main reason why contractors earn so much is because they charge more for their services than employees do. This is largely because contractors take on more risk due to the fact that they don't have secured full time positions, have other considerations like IR35, and have overheads they need to satisfy because they are self employed.
These overheads include the likes of income protection, insurance, unpaid holidays, critical illness, sickness downtime, unpaid holidays etc.
Another reason why they cost so much is because they have to consider "Bench Time". This is the period when a contractor has completed one assignment and is looking for another.
Undoubtedly, the most expensive part of the contractors life. Below we'll be determining which option really costs more.
Contrary to popular belief, it seems that the benefits factor doesn't really change much when it comes to permanent and contractual employment. Permanent employees get their dues even when on holiday, however the one with contractual payment doesn't.
Assuming the contractor and employee receives the same amount of holiday time, this eventually cancels out because the company accounts for the same cost yearly when making there payments.
When matters of sick pay are involved, most employers protect themselves by taking out some form of insurance. These costs are normally factored into the salary the employee is paid and accounts for an average risk level.
You, as a contractor, can get the exact same insurance these companies use, of which will align to your risks as you see fit and at a considerably lower fee at that.
A cost that is incurred exclusively and wholly because of your independent contractor business can be written off as a business expense. This basically means getting tax reliefs on these said costs.
Claiming these business expenses, some of which we are going to list for you below, could greatly reduce your tax bill, so you might want to understand them a bit if your thinking of getting into the contracting business.
The truth is, it depends on how long a contractor lasts. In the long term and employee is a larger investment for a company, because they cannot get rid of an employee very easy, and a contractor is given a defined end date.
The package given to each employee vastly increases the cost for an employee. You'll need to remember that the employee will become more and more expensive as time goes by.
The tax considerations involved will also help determine which option may generally cost more than the other. Each option has its own pros and cons when concerning matters of this nature.
Something that seems constant in the corporate world is that, more often than not, you will find that the permanent employee generally tends to dislike contractors.
It depends on where you go, and in some cases it can be very subtle. The most common excuse is that the pathological hatred comes about due to the jealousy the employee holds over the contractor. The big pay checks contractors receive is what gives rise to this jealousy.
Employees usually tend to feel that they work much longer and much harder than their contractor counterparts, however, still manage to earn considerably less for the same job as well as the skill sets required to accomplish the tasks involved in the said job.
Permanent employees should consider the fact that contractors have other responsibilities such as overhead costs and insurance policies to worry about. For the employee, these have already been taken care of by their employers
Many businesses, especially the small ones, rely a lot on freelance workers and independent contractors because they usually prove more flexible and because these business owners have the assumption that the costs involved with this option are relatively cheaper than those of permanent employment.
Hopefully, this lengthy article, has led you to the realisation that determining which option is more expensive than the other involves quite a number of mitigating factors.
It will sometimes look like the independent contractor is more expensive to employ, however, you must remember that the permanent employee will inevitably become more expensive as time passes on.
This subject is one that is generally complex in nature and depends largely on individual situations. What most companies should do is to provide solid framework systems that cover everyone, including the independent contractors.
Hopefully, you now have an idea of what really determines the cost of employing independent contractors. If you feel that you might have something more to add, please do not hesitate to share your views. Tell us how you feel and don't forget to share.
But before you head of, lets dig a bit deeper...
Employees have been considered as an essential asset to companies since the begining of time, well not quit, but you get me.
When you start a company, you can run it alone, but soon, ones sales go up, you will run out of time and become the bottleneck. You need some manpower to enable you to run the company effectively. This is one reason why companies need employees and contractors for that matter.
This is common to all companies including IT companies. Surprisingly, you will find that nowadays, many IT companies prefer to have contractors instead of employees.
But why is that?
I know that the question that is ringing in your mind is, “why would a company opt to hire contractors in place of employees?” this article will help you understand why this is happening and what are the reasons behind it. Read ahead to gain more insights.
In company finance you have two major expenses, Operating expenditure ("Opex") and Capital expenditure ("Capex"). Employees fall under the Opex category. And as discussed earlier, in the long term, can cost the company more.
If a company is under financial stress, and need to reduce head count, they may consider replacing long term employees with short term expensive contrators. Just so they can do the project, then got rid of.
That is the theory, but in reality, who knows when those contractors will go, IT projects are notoriously delivered late and contractors soon become valuable assets in delivering the project.
When a company is working with employees, it has to pay higher taxes to the
government. When they hire contractors, the taxes are less. This saves the
Employees need medical insurances while working with
companies. The company has to cater for these insurances. When the company hires contractors instead of employees, this expense is evaded. They can simply search on LinkedIn and look for a new potential short fix replacement.
It is possible for companies to work with only the CEO, contractor, subcontractor and even interns. With no employees at all. This gives the company flexibility.
The CEO only allocates work to the contractors. Since the company pays the
contractor to do the work, one does not need to stress him/ herself about
infrastructure, and equipment.
The contractor does the work given to him/ her using his/ her equipment. The company does not need to pay taxes for the equipment or the contractors. The only disadvantage would be lack of these contractors due to the location of the company. If a company is located in a cosmopolitan area, then they will get the desired contracting workforce because it will be large and huge.
An IT contractor works in their area of expertise. There no magic button that you can press and all of a sudden you become an IT contractor. If you have no skill in the area you want to have the contract, then there is a big possibility that
you are not going to be contracted by any one company.
You need to be very certain that there are so many people out there who are looking for the skill that you have. There is also need to understand whether or not after two years, your skill will still be marketable.
To be a contractor, you need to be ready to look for jobs on your own and also pay your taxes. You should ask yourself whether or not you are ready for this. Remember that you are hired for your skills.
Remember that people that are hiring contractors want to get the best skills in their work. They will look at your curriculum vitae to certain that you are worth the job.
As a company hires contractors, they know that they already are familiar with the job, and hence they do not need to be guided in any way. If you are thinking of being a contractor with no expertise, then I assure you are wrong. You need to first work on your skill before you can ever be an adequate contractor.
Do I need liability insurance? The answer is yes; you need liability insurance. Liability insurance will protect you against any claims that may be made against you, regarding your employee.
In some contractors, you may find that will not start your contract without it. And, in some cases, only a certain minimum amount of cover is acceptable.
It's good to be safe. If you lack a liability insurance cover and you are supposed to be having it, the penalties are very severe. Instead of taking this risk of having to pay very big fines, why don't you get your liability insurance cover as an IT contractor?
The question is, is hiring contractors better than hiring employees? Well, it matters with the gap that you want the contractor to fill. If you need some short-term work done, then go for them. If it's a long-term position, this might not be the best idea to make.
From my experiences, companies usually believe contractors are an excellent "quick fix", to get a project done. But for you and me, this is great. Because we both know, there is a good chance the contract will take a lot longer than what was originally expected.
Is IT Contracting better than a Permanent Job, I personally think so, yes. But please understand, it is not for everyone. For me, it is ideal, and there is a good chance it could be for you.
Understanding IT employment is one challenge IT experts face on a daily basis. While employers want to know where to get the right talent that will give them the most out of their bucks, IT experts have to deal with deciding whether IT contracting is better than getting an IT job on a permanent basis.
However, there isn’t a list of roles that IT experts use to choose on whether a contract is better than a permanent role. More often, companies needs and the overall goal is what determines who they need. Still, the question remains, is IT contracting better than a permanent job? Let us talk this through.
IT contractors make more money than those on a permanent basis. The reason behind this is that you get to set your charging rate. The more you charge, the better you earn; meaning you take home more than permanent IT employees.
IT contractors also get to deduct their expenses as well as pay less in taxes. Well, as a contractor, you won’t enjoy the sick pay, pension, holiday pay, maternity pay, and other benefits.
Although there are other additional costs, you still earn more than permanent employees.
There are other things that make a contractor earn more than an employee. Things like claiming expenses for all work-related equipment like laptops, broadband connections, office equipment, and mobile phones and so on. An IT contractor can also offset their input VAT changed, representing more discount compared to employees.
So it’s clear, you can earn more as an IT contractor than what you will make as an employee.
Accepting a job as an IT contractor earns you more money, but challenging at the same time. The primary goal of every person seeking employment, whether on a permanent or on a contract basis is saving money?
Understanding the pros and cons of an independent IT contractor will answer the question whether you need to save money as a contractor or not.
A contractor is usually not paid for certain things. Most IT contractors do not pay for vacation days and 401k matches.
When you call in sick or don’t work because of holidays, you will not be paid. Although you benefit from lower taxes and other things, you have to pay for your health insurance and other insurances.
The payments you cater for leaves you with one option, save money to pay for your insurance as well as pension, and other policies including your vacations and sick days.
Does IT contracting involve the payment of taxes? The answer is yes, although there are other things you need to take into consideration. The way you pay your tax matters most.
A contractor is a self-employed individual. According to IRS (Internal Revenue-Service) official website, self-employed individuals must pay a self-employment tax and income tax.
To figure out what you will be required to pay, the websites states that you need to understand your net profit or loss out of your business even before you can determine the extent to which you are subject to the self-empowerment and income tax.
As expected, this is done by deducting expenses from your income. Read through and know your rights.
Despite the above requirement by the IRS, should a contractor pays less than a permanent employee or should they be taxed the same as permanent employees?
When comparing permanent IT employees to contractors using the tax table, a permanent employee is paid $40, 000 as salary. When this is the case, the gross earnings will be $30,480 per month after NI as well as tax deductions. On the other hand, a contractor takes home $35,893 for the same payment.
A big part of being an IT contractor is making your own decision. It’s a giant step that needs to be taken seriously.
However, sometimes failure is inevitable. As much as we would like to be self-employed, some mistakes and false starts can lead you back to being an employee.
Although coming back to a world of policy after being in a free and more corporate environment can be difficult, it does happen. Most of us strive to become contractors, but getting that ideal permanent position after you fail as a contractor is an option.
For some people, preparation is the key. People who have been contractors have more experience than other employees. If you are a contractor, you most certainly have worked with a lot of companies, different systems, people, and process.
With the experience, you know which process and systems that have worked and the one that flopped. Use the experience to get work as a permanent employee. Also, consider taking a “Bridge job” as part of your preparation.
The life of an IT contractor is alluring. You get to work flexible hours and accept jobs you like. As an IT contractor, there is an opportunity for IT contracts from NGOs as well as government, companies and even individuals.
The period of a contract depends on the person offering them to you. For example, government IT contracts seem to last longer than individual IT contracts. Knowing the average time an IT contract can last is not easy as there are many fields when it comes to IT industry.
Most companies use standard team and conditions when offering IT contracts to contractors. For instance, we have noticed that company’s offer at least 6 to 12 months it contracts on average. The contracts can be less than 6 months or more depending on the nature of work, your skills and experience and the company offering them.
The answer to the question, "is IT contracting better than a permanent job?’’, in my opinion, yes. But it is not for everyone.
The fact that you manage yourself and your finances is the reason why being an IT contractor is better than a permanent job.
Sometimes failure is inevitable and going back to full-time employment might be your final solution. The dynamics of being an IT contractor has become increasingly popular.
As the market continues to grow, preparing yourself both as a contractor and permanent employee is the best option. If you think there is more that should be added to the list, comment below, like and share with others.
Before you go, lets go a bit deeper, If you decide to make that plunge, you will need some assistance on finding the best contract, lets go into this with more detail....
There are many people out there who are searching for manual testing contracting jobs. Many are asking the all-too important question, "How Can I Find Manual Testing Contracting Jobs?’’.
If you find pleasure in finding and fixing bugs in coding and programming, you are most suited for manual testing contracting jobs, for the simple reason that these jobs involve the basic testing of software manually. As a tester, you act as an end user where you have to follow a test plan that gets you to a set of other test cases.
Here is what you need to know before applying for a manual test contracting job:
As a manual tester of software, your role in the creating and the success of any software system you are testing is integral. You are involved in software development and deployment. The process includes analyzing software and systems in a bid to prevent or avert any software issues.
For instance, software testing is done from requirement specifications to coding, design and all the way to acceptance. The amount of experience you need depends on where you will be based and the company and software requirements.
You need experience in things like:
Smaller organizations may have a central team of testers working on multiple projects while large organization may need a software tester dedicated to only one project.
Depending on the company, you need to have some experience before finding a job.
If you are applying for simple testing jobs, the amount of specific qualifications you need might not be a big issue. Since the manual testing contracting job is more about software testing, subsequent development and quality control, you need to have some specific qualification if you are dealing with complex software structures.
Here are specific qualifications you should have before applying for a manual testing contracting job:
You also need to have a degree in IT or computer science. However, the role of a manual testing contraction expects is open to graduates with a degree in the following disciplines:
These are just some of the work you will do as a manual testing contracting expert, meaning specific qualifications are needed to accomplish your task.
Once you have the qualifications and experience needed, there are other things to put into consideration. Knowing if the employer will wait for your 30 day notice period is vital. This is something you need to check before you assign any contracting job and an employer.
According to Graduate Land, it’s important to check notice period before signing a contract.
With that said, for an employer to wait for 30 days before you can join them might seem like an eternity to them and to you as well. This is especially if you already found your dream job.
Many companies have that notice period before you can resign from your position. The period can be one week to 3 months. The chances are that the same company that has employed you having the same policy is high. Since the employer will always choose the best candidate for their positions, they are willing to wait for the 30 day notice period before you can join them.
Regardless of whether you have found a new job or not, the question of whether to tell your boss you are thinking of leaving or not is something you should consider.
Here are some questions to need to ask yourself before making a decision:
Remember, no one is obligated to tell their boss that they are thinking about leaving. It’s a personal decision that needs to should be taken seriously. However, if the answers to the above questions are positive, then it’s a good idea to speak to your boss.
Tell them what you are thinking to prevent damaging the relationship you have built for many years. Since this is a touchy subject, telling or not telling could hurt or help your career depending on the circumstances and situation.
A good CV is part of the process of how to find manual testing contracting jobs. In today’s software testing industry, writing a good CV is comparable to literally selling your proficiencies, skills, and talents. Learn how to write a good CV from various sourcing on the internet. Also do not neglect setting up a powerful LinkedIn profile.
For instance sites like Wikihow, offer a step to step guide on how to create a good CV. It also provides you with free samples CV you can use to compare with.
Other sites where you can learn to create good CVs include:
These are just some of the sites where you can learn to create a CV that will earn you that dream manual testing contracting job you have been searching for.
Finding a manual testing contracting job is not difficult as long as you have the specific requirement and experience needed. An ultimate manual tester is employed to find issues and bugs with a project before it’s deployed to users.
Also, remember, if you are still wondering if contracting is better than a permanent job, it largely depends on your appetite for risk, such as dealing with IR35 and tax issues, hunger for a higher pay and personal confidence in your skills.
Is there anything you would like to add? Leave your comment below and lets us know what you think.
No matter where you go these days, you really cannot escape Agile. It is fast becoming the norm in a lot of companies today. This is also one of the reasons for the increased numbers of Agile Certifications to choose from. This is good and bad. Why bad? Because, in my experience, some companies use "Agile" as a justification for no documentation and testing on the fly!
The important thing is, understanding that, even if the method is "Agile", there are still organised methodologies that are defined. This article is designed to focus on these Agile methodologies to benefit you.
Project management has become much of a science than an art. Different software are being developed for efficient management of projects and in fact, software development in itself has become more efficient by applying the principles of project management.
Agile software development is an approach described as iterative learning technique through the collaboration of cross-functional and self-organizing groups and their end users.
The agile methodology since its birth has proved to bring significant improvements in the field of software development. There are pieces of evidence that support the claim that using agile methodologies for software development would improve the agility of developers and coordination between the teams.
Also, understand there are other methodologies out there, such as Extreme programming, and many others.
However, it gets difficult sometimes to decide which agile methodology is best. It is against that backdrop that I have come up with a guideline that would serve as a checklist when choosing between ideal agile methodologies, so that the choice is made according to your needs.
To give you a fair idea about each methodology, we will be explaining each of them separately and would also be providing a comparison between them.
This would be helpful more than simple reviews to determine which agile methodology is going to work out for your project. The list of things that we are going to discuss is provided as under:
Scrum is a brilliant framework, designed for efficient software development when the requirements are volatile. The team of developers can be divided into small groups, each team working separately to reach the common goal.
The smoothness of work is ensured through 'timeboxed’ iterations and short standup meetings between the team members.
Agile Scrum emphasises on collaboration as well as an iterative approach, and flexibility to adapt to change. Each phase of the project is considered as a Sprint.
At first, the teams start with sprint planning in which they decide about duration and goals. This leads the team towards sprint objectives, which typically lasts two weeks and aims to achieve specific set of goals.
During the sprints, daily scrum is maintained through short standup meetings in which members participate and discuss their progress, using burndown charts and other measurement metrics. Finally, the sprint ends with a review session and the team adapts to the changes in requirements and situation as well as learns from its errors.
The product owner lists the product backlog which contains a set of activities need to be done by every team member collaboratively. Each item on the product backlog has a priority ranking as well. Assignment of these items to each sprint of the project takes place during sprint planning subsequently. These items are then moved from product backlog to sprint backlog.
The Scrum Master ensures the goal is achieved promptly and schedules daily meetings to stay updated on the progress of the project. Once a sprint is completed, the team presents the work they have finished in the final sprint review meeting. Based on the product delivered at the end of the sprint, iterations for next sprint are planned. The entire process repeats itself, right from the creation of a new sprint backlog to when the next sprint of the project commences.
Did Scrum pique your interest? Then watch this video of a conversation with Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the creators of Scrum:
Kanban is another agile methodology that helps eliminating the mismatch between demand of work and supply of resources. The idea behind Kanban is to provide a visual process feedback to the entire workforce.
With Kanban, you can visualise the process along with each work passing through that process.
It is a lean method which is quite useful for improving the workflow across human systems. It provides the opportunity to manage the entire workforce single handedly.
You use Kanban board to visualise the entire workflow, progress of each work, assess work capacity and its impact on the whole team.
This assessment allows you to rectify the situation in case a team member or an individual unit has over-committed and may fail to deliver what they committed within the allocated deadline.
Kanban board is the typical tool used to inform workers regarding how, what and when to produce. The methodology helps in providing a broad overview of the workflow to the entire team.
The board also consists of columns that define the “status” of the work in progress as it passes through different stages of the workflow. For example, the status of a product can be “in development”,it can be “testing”, or “Ready-to-Release” and “Released” during the entire workflow.
Kanban allows you to identify potential bottlenecks quickly in the process and fix them to enable passage of work through the workflow in a cost-effective and optimised manner.
This way, multitasking and context switching wastes are reduced drastically and the timespan of project is also reduced. Top management can easily reiterate the goals to the developers using Kanban board efficiently.
Did you know that you can trace the origin of Kanban framework to the factories of Toyota? Watch here:
Kanban is a universal methodology and can be used with scrum together. To be specific, Kanban emphasizes more on the work states rather than iterations. The focus of Kanban is on work, rather than time and predictability.
You can use the Kanban board to visualize the work processes in different work states and can place a limit on the work in progress. This is a proven technique used to equate the demand with supply.
Kanban can be a preferred methodology if the focus is on good work flow and throughput. If you do not have a list of backlogs and you want to burn small issues immediately as they raise, using Kanban would be more efficient than scrum.
There is certainly no planning involved at all and you can direct the team through visuals to attack the problems in sequential manner to maintain a good flow of work.
Broadly speaking, traditional waterfall model allows the work to fall like water from one team to the other without any option of turning back. This is the reason which differentiates the two models i.e.
Scrum methodology allows inter as well as intra departmental communication and devotes more time to planning, whereas traditional waterfall model only have intra departmental communication. Therefore, traditional waterfall model may backfire in case of a dispute between two work teams or departments.
Another major difference is related to the progression of work. Agile scrum divides the work into iterations and allows both backward and forward movements; however, this flexibility is not available with Traditional waterfall methodology. Moreover, this flexibility allows Scrum methodology to complete the project sooner than waterfall model.
The ideology behind Lean Agile is to make an agile process further lean by eliminating wasteful processes. This can be done using the Generally Accepted Agile-Principles that provide a broad framework to eliminate non-value adding processes.
The following are the additional practices that can be adopted in order to convert an agile process into Lean Agile:
We have tried to compile a short manual for you regarding the common agile methodologies prevalent in software development. The criteria for choosing the best methodology depend chiefly upon the needs of your project.
A large project may be well managed using a mix of Kanban and Scrum or Large-Scale Scrum methodology. It is your creativity that makes these methodologies efficient for your project. With the guidelines provided above, a checklist can be developed to identify the suitable agile methodology for your project.
We hope that you enjoyed going through our list and we recommend you to analyse the circumstances at your end first before deciding which agile methodology is best. But before you go, lets look deeper into two of these methodologies:
There are many project management frameworks available in the market. Choosing which framework is right for your project is not an easy decision. Scum? Waterfall? Kanban? They all have their pros and cons. The key is to identify which methodology is best suited to your project.
Agile methodology is considered highly suitable for complex projects. According to PWC, Agile projects are 28% more successful than the traditional ones.
Scrum and Kanban are the two methodologies, belonging to the Agile family, that have been trending lately. Let’s look at both the frameworks and understand the critical differences between them, which in turn will help you choose the right framework for your project.
The fundamental differences between Scrum and Kanban can be categorised into three segments:
As you read above, the scrum is provided with a prioritised list of items that need to be completed within a sprint to deliver a product. The team must decide on the number of things they can finish within one sprint. Anything outside the scope has to wait until the next sprint. Ideally, a capable scrum team will identify their capabilities over a period leading to optimised estimates in each sprint and improved performance.
Thus, the scrum team produces a shippable product every two weeks (ideal time of each sprint; may vary based on project complexity), and dedicate their focus on continually optimising the process, eventually moving to the next sprint. This iterative practice enables constant improvement and effective management of multiple projects.
For Kanban team, there are no iterations. Though Kanban methodology is iterative in nature, the continuous optimisation occurs in an evolutionary manner as each work is executed in the process. A limitation is set on various conditions by the organisation (or teams) to prevent the bottleneck from occurring in the process. The workflow is thereby, regulated until an optimal set of limits is reached, making the workflow efficient and steady.
For scrum teams to perform efficiently, there must be at least three roles assigned to the group. They are Product Owner, the sprint team members, as well as a Scrum Master. Each team member has their own set of responsibilities and must operate collaboratively to maintain organised balance. The sprint team must be cross-functional and be equipped with all the necessary resources and skills to complete the sprint’s assigned tasks.
No fix roles are assigned to a Kanban team. It does not make sense to have a project manager or a supervisor in the Kanban team. In fact, the roles evolve within the organisation, theoretically speaking, depending on the need and progressfor the Kanban project and organisation. Like Scrum team, the Kanban team need not be cross-functional as Kanban workflow is utilised by all the teams participating in the project. You can have a group of specialists or an entirely different squad of generalists working on various aspects of the same project using the same Kanban board.
Both Kanban and Scrum board model consist of three primary columns: “To do” as well as “Doing”, and “Done”.While the fundamental board model has similarity, both scrum and Kanban boards are entirely different.
The Scrum board consists of columns that reflect periods in the workflow commencing with the sprint backlog and the period ending it. The things that are needed to be done at the start of the sprint are mentioned in the last column marked as successful or unsuccessful at the end of the sprint. The completed sprintis assessed, after which the board is cleared,and new sprintis prepped for the project.
A Kanban board has columns labelled to present workflow states as well. However, the critical difference lies in the number of tasks/stories allowed in each column at a time.
The team members are presented with limitations for each condition of the workflow. Like in scrum board, there is no sprint length,i.e. time boxes, which negates the need to rest the Kanban board as the project progresses. New tasks are added,or completed tasks are re-assessed based on project progress and needs.
Both Scrum and Kanban are one of the best frameworks that can vastly improve your project management needs.
The best plan of action is to get familiar with both the frameworks and test their aspects in your production environment. You can also build a hybrid framework if it serves your project in the best manner.
I hope that the above-listed differences will help you identify which framework suits your project most.
Which framework have you been using for your projects? What are your thoughts on these frameworks? Maybe you've dabbled with TDD? Let me know in comments below. Hit the Like and Share button below if you found this article helpful.
A permanent job offers a sense of safety, comfort and a secure future. Nevertheless, we see people constantly taking the plunge into contract jobs, leaving their permanent position behind. So why do people do that?
Leaving something so safe and swimming into something perceived as an abyss of the unknown!
According to ITContractorsUK , the number of self-employed professionals has increased by around 43% in the UK.
Well, as someone who has been working as a contractor for over ten years, I can tell you that it had its rewards. As a contractor, I have been rewarded with higher pay, a network of clients, flexible work hours, and much more challenging work. The decision wasn’t easy, nor was it made in haste, but it was worth it.
So, you are ready to leap into the contracting world? The first step is to understand and plan the transition. Ask yourself this question: “how do I transition from a permanent job to a contract job?”
If this is waht you are looking for, you have come to the right place! Here are few tips that will help you make the transition successfully.
Polish your CV as much as possible with insights and advice from people willing to help you. Here is one thing that I learned the hard way: loads of people will be willing to give you free advice, but advice from people who have done it before extensively will help you most.
Honestly, the best thing you can do is get an example CV from a couple of established contractors, who have actually got contracts and have had regular work. Easier said than done, I know. But if you can, make that your plan A.
Talk to experienced contractors and learn from the success and horror stories they are willing to share. Growing a network of like-minded people at the start is key to preparing for the contracting world.
Most importantly, do your research on the current scenario in the market. Sharpen your skills. Get yourself acquainted with all the latest practices, standards, techniques, and technologies.
You need to be armed with a polished CV that is short, focused, and highlights your strength. You may even need to customise it for a more targeted approach towards specific clients.
Promote your profile on the contract job boards available in the market. You can make use of agencies or professional networks to get this done. You’ll need to follow-up with agencies and clients regularly to secure an interview.
Once you have secured the client interview, research what they do, what they need, and all the latest news related to them.
Be proactive in the meeting. Take time to understand the issues they are facing and show them how your skills can help tackle these issues successfully. The right pitch will help you come to an agreement on the rates with the client and close the deal swiftly.
I won’t recommend quitting the permanent job impulsively without a proper base. Lay a strong foundation and secure your position setting up as a contractor as you plan your exit.
Now the client may (or in most cases, will) not wait for you for three long months of the notice period, or even 30 days. Also, you don’t want to put yourself in a bad light in front of your employers.
You may need a positive reference from them. Talk to your boss, come up with a plan in which you can wind-down professionally with a phased handover, resulting in a shorter notice period.
Handing over notice period without any contracts in hand may be risky, but if you have done your research and preparations correctly, you will have no problems securing contracts after job.
Think of it this way, worse comes to the worst, you can go back to where you came from before or get another permy gig.
One cheeky technique I used, which minimises risk, but might upset a few agents, is I secured a perm position first, handed in my months notice, then kept looking for contract roles.
I actually landed a contract offer in that month window and took that offer instead. I figured worst comes to the worse, I will take the permanent role.
You don’t need to go all solo here! You can use an umbrella company or set up a Private Limited company. In fact I started out with an umbrella. Then later on I moved to a company.
Using an umbrella company will take away the headache of taxes, payroll, accounts, and VAT returns from you. Another vital benefit that an umbrella company offers is it might free you from IR35 worries as well. Less financial and administration annoyance will allow you to focus more on getting the work done, and rake in more money.
Setting up a limited company has its own benefits as well. A limited company will help you gain credibility with new clients, help you claim more expenses (compared to umbrella company).
It will also offer limited liability protection in case things don’t work out as planned. The only downside to this is you’ll be loaded with lots of paperwork and administrative responsibilities as well.
Choose your company set up based on your circumstances and requirements. Contractors prefer limited company for a long-term plan. If you don’t want to take too many risks in the initial stage, an umbrella company offers a viable short-term solution.
No contractor is perfect. When you start out as a contractor, mistakes are bound to happen. Don’t you agree with me when I say that it's better to be safe than sorry?
A professional insurance adviser can help you with a policy tailored to your business needs. Sound business insurance can provide financial protection as well as liability cover, and ensure IR35 compliance.
In fact you may find that it is mandatory before you are allowed to start some contracts.
Whatever you do, do not procrastinate on if you may or may not fail. Consider the possibility that you have worked as a contractor for three months, and you are out of contract. What do you do next? One option that can be considered is getting back to the old permanent job, simple.
That is a viable option, for the time being at least if you are out of resources and investment. Accumulate the resources and capital required over a period and then come back again. If money is not an immediate issue, it’s time to reflect on the following:
It’s easy to get discouraged when things don’t work out. The key is not to get frustrated.
I often find motivation by studying entrepreneurs who failed spectacularly before becoming successful.
I’ll be honest! I was worried about failure in my first contract! I actually got lucky and started with a really nice contract with great people, in fact if it wasn't for the location, I would of stayed a lot longer.
The key, for me, to a successful transition from permanent job to a successful contract job was a measured, an organised, and a customer-centric approach.
If your question before reading this article was “how do I transition from a permanent job to a contract job?’’, I hope this article answered that question. Just remember you stand a good chance of earning a lot more as a contractor.
Before you go, lets go a bit deeper, with sone Contacting best practices:
Working as software testers, we all can benefit knowing the best software testing practises. If we ask ourselves what the best practises are, the answer is not very clear, and in some cases subjective.
The truth is that there are many and many practises which can be easily used for testing software. Also, it depends on a certain project.
Naturally, every project is different and unique, therefore we cannot always
apply the same set of software testing practises. Luckily, there are few
practises which we can apply as transferable no matter what project we try to
In this article we will give you the insight into 5 software testing contracting best practises which will make you be a successful IT contractor in demand.
To understand a whole project sounds super simple, but is the most important practise you need to do as the first step of your software testing.
You will notice that the most valued workers, permy or contract, are the ones that have the most knowledge. If you are most valued you can set your own day rate and last a lot longer than any other tester, simply because you can become a valuable asset to the business, or as they say, "The Guru".
You also have to see the project from different perspectives (e.g. business or technical) to be able to get the right idea what exactly is expected from you. Do you have any question? Ask right away at the beginning.
The overall project objective understanding is crucial when you work in a team. Every team member has to their role and what part they take in a project but it is also absolutely necessary that you understand others’ job too.
Why? Because when there is any defect ascertained, you can
actively refer to this problem and help solve it out a lot faster.
When you are a part of bigger testing team, don’t hide behind the walls and proactively communicate with other team members on daily basis.
Why is communication within a testing team so crucial? Imagine a situation when there is a defect repaired by someone who works in a different department.
You can help triage and resolve an issue faster, by having that in-depth knowledge.
Basically, this practise you can apply on anything, really. If you want
to be a successful IT tester, you need to have a good plan. The right
planning and timing of tasks is everything.
You can make notes on paper, type them down on your laptop and make a time schedule which helps you finishes your project on time. It is important to know what sources and tools you will use.
Have a test schedule ready to use. Moreover, you have to identify all risks you might come across. Identifying all possible risks will prevent you from slowing down your workflow and will keep your healthy work pace.
The last but not least thing you have to do before you start working on your project is to find a suitable strategy and define it in details step by step how you will deliver a project in the best possible way. Planning strategy will help you
avoid unnecessary mistakes.
Now, when you have defined your work plan and work strategy, you might
know about a project scenario.
You barely can skip this step as it is crucial to test scenarios and several reviews. Do you remember I previously mentioned how good when you look at an overall project from different perspectives is?
So, this is exactly what I was trying to say by that. It is very useful and
practical when you have reviews from business perspective. Stakeholders often
see project scenarios from different point of view than a testing team. Reviews
boost your confidence with testing scenarios and ensure the tester´s
We are sure that as an IT expert you understand that every project is
unique in its own way. There are non-transferable universal tests you can apply
anytime. Unfortunately, software testing does not work this way.
In order to deliver the best project you have to develop many different types of tests. That includes positive and negative tests. When you start the test execution, you have to test data, too. When you identify the data, you might use several sources to get the data from, transform them or deliver them in different
This situation can cause few problems and slows down your workflow.
Thus, it is more than useful to identify data clearly even before the test
execution phase is started and get all the data ready for the
You know very well how much time you spent on each project. You tried to
finish them smoothly according to your time schedule while still keeping your
workflow and quality pretty high.
You know how much effort and energy you put in every project. So, what if we tell you that in your next project you can save some time and energy by using a template or trying to apply the automate script.
First of all, try to find what causes you the biggest pain and consumes
the most of your time and secondly, have a think about the automation of this
area. How would you make it easier and quit the manual? What do you have to do to make it work? Sometimes you are lucky enough to find the automation during the execution part and that is pretty sweet, isn’t it?
If you really want to be a top IT expert, you better keep our 5
practises in your mind.
Of course, there is no need to use all of them in one project but they surely will make your life much easier, save you time and energy which you can devote to other activities such as relax, building your portfolio or searching for new clients.
Transitioning from a permanent employee t a contractor is challenging, but when you do get there, you need to make sure you become a great contractor so you can have a long career in the game.
At the time of writing the ISTQB Agile Extension is relatively new and many potential candidates, like yourself are interested in the Syllabus.
These are three high level topics covered:
Many people do not have an understanding of what is included in the ISTQB Agile Syllabus so I decided to put up all this useful information in this article.
These days, in the testing industry, you can't get away from the Agile methodology. When I first started testing, approx 17 years ago, the V-Model was the norm. Nowadays it is seen as quite an old fashioned methodology, albeit quit a solid one.
You may probably have an idea of what the extension certification is but I am going to provide a detailed description all the same.
This Agile tester is very important to people who are directly involved with iterative projects and comes in handy to individuals such as test managers, user acceptance testers, software developers, testers and testers.
Apparently, you do not require a lot of qualifications to be eligible for the course. The certification requires you to have general knowledge of terminologies, processes and test designs of different software.
However, acquisition of the ISTQB Foundation-Certificate is considered to be an added advantage.
This syllabus provides a useful insight into key aspects such as: a clear understanding of the fundamentals of Agile Software-development, mastering the skills and roles of a software tester as well as understanding differences of software testing using traditional methods and Agile techniques.
It will also familiarise you with Agile testing methods, processes, techniques, and tools. Another important lesson is acquiring the knowledge of quality risks involved in Agile projects.
If you are reading this article, there are high chances that you are probably one of the people mentioned above who need the ISTQB Agile syllabus. We are well aware that you may be asking yourself which is the best book to purchase and our answer is “ISTQB Agile-Tester: Agile testing lesson”.
This book is printed in three versions whereby there is lesson one, two and three. The book is authored by Steen Lerche-Jensen.
The lesson one book will prepare you for the syllabus since it introduces you for all that you need to know about Agile Software-Development. The author takes you through the fundamentals of Agile processes as well as the principles of testing and software testing practices.
It will also equip you with agile testing techniques, tool and methods.
On reading the lesson 2, you will find that the author goes into details on the processes and practices and mentions the nine agile testing principles of software testing. The author systematical elaborates the differences in traditional testing methods and Agile approaches.
The lesson three book provides you with the rest of the information that you need to know about Agile techniques such as the acceptance criteria and important definitions. This is the book that we feel is good for anyone who wishes to have an understanding of Agile techniques that will enable the reader to acquire ISTQB agile certification.
This is a 117-page book authored by Steen Lerche-Jensen designed to take the reader through comprehensive know-how of the ISTQB Agile-Test Foundation materials.
It is a good book. The book takes you through detailed information regarding Agile Software-Development. As a reader, this book will ensure that you acquire necessary information on this type of software development such as tools, principles, practices, testing methods and techniques, and processes.
The author appreciates the fact that all the stakeholders in software development should act in collaboration to ensure that a project is successful. For this reason, the book is titled “one-for-all all-for-one” which is a slogan used by the famous three musketeers. The book stresses on collaborative practices by the stakeholders because the failure of one will ultimately lead to the failure of the entire team. The reverse is also true.
Like any other exam, passing will entirely depend on how much you have prepared yourself. It takes a lot of determination and hard work to acquire the ISTQB Agile-Tester certification and therefore we advise you to follow the following procedure.
For people who are in the Information Technology field, ISTQB Agile-Tester Extension Certification is an important element that not only improves your chances of getting employment, but also enhances your skills.
I realised that every business organisation has incorporated IT into their business processes with large organisations having an IT department.
As an IT expert, you are required to have extensive knowledge of Agile-Software Development and to prove this, an ISTQB Agile-Tester Extension Certification is necessary.
If you are preparing yourself to get certified, I strongly recommend that you go through this article again consider reading the suggested books.
I guarantee you that this will prepare you for the exams which will eventually lead to certification. If the article has been helpful, I urge you to leave your sentiments in the comments section and share the same with your friends on your favourite social media platform.
Getting the Agile certification is one thing, getting a job is another.
I had a friend, an excellent software tester, arrogant even! He had joined a new organisation recently. Now, this organisation used the agile methodology integrated within all its practices.
He didn’t last three months there! So why did he fail? Despite being a good and experienced tester, he lacked certain qualities that are required of an Agile software tester.
So, you’ve only worked as a traditional Software Tester throughout your career. You don’t get involved much in the development stage and usually come in only at the end of the product development stage.
But now you have recognised that more and more companies are adopting agile development methodology. In fact, according to Project Management Institute, 71% of organisations use the agile approach sometimes, often or always.
They don’t want a traditional tester anymore! They want to work with a certified Agile Tester who will collaborate with the team throughout the development cycle. With Agile methodology, the testing needs to be done iteratively with each release to ensure that the client requirements are met.
To get an Agile Tester job, you need to move away from the daily routine that you performed as a part of traditional QA team. Let’s look at five things you need to do to get a certified Agile Tester job:
Start assimilating every information you get about agile methodology. Ask yourself these fundamental questions like:
The Agile Manifesto is a great resource for deep diving into each of these.
Once you understand the basics, focus on acquiring the technical skills necessary to be a successful agile tester. You can boost your knowledge base with additional certifications.
Here are few of them recommended by CIO:
Apart from the certification courses, make sure you gain working knowledge of the agile processes and learn the right tools that support agile testing.
As an Agile tester, you’ll be working closely with the developers and stakeholders than ever before. You’ll need to brush up your communication skills as you’ll be working in a highly collaborative environment, attending standup meetings, looking at burndown charts, etc.
Once you find a defect in the product, you’ll need to communicate it immediately to the developer. You may even need to allow them to use your system to let them debug and solve the problem as quickly as possible. You may also be asked to present complete information regarding critical defects and the time it took to patch them to the key stakeholders.
You may also need to help the members of your team who may need assistance in completing their part of the project. You need to understand that you are not a “back-office” personnel anymore, but part of a team that is working together to deliver a project successfully. Clear communication and collaboration is key to that success.
According to a VersionOne survey, 63% respondents blamed the clash between business culture and Agile business philosophy for the failure of Agile implementations.
Want to know what a capable, agile team would look like? Watch this Rob Lambert video for the answer:
Instead of most people staying true to their human nature, always tend to resist change! Now moving from traditional practice to agile is a significant change as well. In an agile environment, you are not only expected to accept changes but also deal with them effectively. You need to adopt new practices and responsibilities. One minute you are working on developing a new feature, next moment you are working on redesigning the same feature based on client feedback.
Asking the right questions to your team and understanding client requirements before you start working on it is the way to go. Doing so will significantly reduce the change in your tasks and disruptions mid-project. Regularly groom and reassess the backlogs in case of disruptions. They are natural in big projects, and the benefit of agile methodology is that the interruption will only affect the current phase of the project rather than the entire project. Don’t cope with change, welcome it!
I am sure you’ll agree with me when I say that knowledge of a bit of programming will help you test the software more effectively. Organisations will consider you as a critical asset and powerful addition to their team if you have developed testing skills with the technical know-how of programming as well.
In an agile environment, knowledge in coding has become crucially beneficial to testers. This knowledge will help you execute your tasks efficiently and swiftly. No need to annoy developers for every little query related to coding anymore!
Did you know that coding is key to a test automation career? Learn about it yourself. And this where I take you to the next section...
As we read earlier, changes and disruptions are constant in an agile environment. Code needs to be tested every time it is changed, and manual testing will simply take too much time. You must know how to automate your tests and speed up the regression testing process.
Knowledge of coding is significantly useful in learning test automation as test steps can be coded and then can be reused to execute other scripts as well. Combine the knowledge of coding and automation, and you can be a significant QA force for your organisation.
Agile changes a lot, whether it is the pace of the development process, your KPIs, or how you collaborate with your team. However, fundamentally you are still a software tester.
These are the 5 things you need to do to get a certified Agile Tester job. Master these five essential skills, and you’ll be a valued addition to any organisation as an agile tester.
What are your thoughts on the points listed above? Do you agree with me? If not, do share your perspective in the comments below. If you liked what you read, please hit the like button below and don’t forget to share it with your friends and colleagues.
Before you go, lets look at taking action and look at the actual dates of the exam:
Since ASTQB exams are conducted globally, they are issued on different dates depending on where you wish to have them. You are therefore required to find out where the exam dates of your preferred locality are being issued.
However, it is important to note that these exams are not issued in all cities and therefore you should select the location that is most convenient for you.
There are many places where this information can be sourced but we advise you look for the information on ISTQB’s website. It will assist you in identifying an exam provider within your locality that is licensed by the organization.
It is important to use their website since there are cases where people have cheated only to pay for counterfeited certifications.
Exam Dates in India
Lets look at one particular location, for example, ITB (Indian Testing-Board) is the ISTQB-approved national board of India that conducts ISTQB certified tester exams in India.
ITB was founded in February 2004 and was officially recognised by ISTQB in April 2004. Right from 2014, ITB has issued more than 60,000 certifications across the country.
ITB has already announced the dates and locations of the Agile-Tester
Once you have booked and confirmed your seat for the exam at a scheduled
Entry Requirements, Test Procedure, and Structure
You must be I.S.T.Q.B Foundation Level certified [ISTQB Foundation Level certified] before you apply for Agile Tester Extension Certification Exam.
Who is This certification exam ideal for?
These are the ideal candidates:
What is the format of the Agile Exam?
The exam is conducted in two formats: Public Exam and Corporate Exam. We will look at the schedule of the public exam below. If you have a group of minimum ten candidates willing to appear for the exam within your corporate premise, the board will visit your office and conduct the test.
The ISTQB Agile-Tester Extension-Certification Exam consists of 40 multiple choice questions. You need to answer these questions within 60 minutes. You also need to score at least 65%, i.e., answer at least 26 questions correctly out of 40 to pass the test.
You can get complete details about the exam structure to help you.
Helpful Study Material
There is an abundant amount of study material available on the market that can help you prepare for this test.
You can consider borrowing, renting, purchasing any of the following books/e-books:
I highly recommend reading the books mentioned above as they provide excellent fundamental knowledge of Agile testing.
You can consider refereeing Study Guides from following websites:
You can also view these study videos (Note: they are not the most updated ones. However, significant points covered are still relevant)
Even if you don’t plan to apply for the exam, these study materials will boost your knowledge regarding understanding the overall scope of testing in any project.
Final Words on ISTQB Agile Certification Exam Dates
You have the exam dates! You have access to the study materials! You know the syllabus!
I hope that this guide helps you with all the information you need to prepare well for the exam and pass it successfully. If you have more news or insights that you feel is missing above or if you have any questions or queries, let me know in the comments below.
Did you find this guide helpful? Spread the word by sharing it with your colleagues, friends, and loved ones. Hit the Like and Share Button below!
The difference between a face-to-face interview and phone interview is not much. In fact, the goal for both interviews are the same and that is to provide the interviewer with evidence that their criteria are met.
In phone interviews, your voice is the only channel you are using. Therefore, the quality of your voice should reflect your emotional being and can influence the result of the interview.
A phone interview is part of the selection process and usually comes after the candidate is shortlisted. It is a deciding factor whether you will proceed with the next interview or in some cases whether you are awarded the contract.
You have to ace this interview and to better prepare you for your phone interview, this article provides the guide for you to stand on a good stead whether you are applying for a local or international contract.
By taking note of these basic fundamentals, you are now ready to take your phone interview.
Whether you are the interviewee or the interviewer, you must also know the top five questions that IT Contractor asks when they are conducting the phone interview, obviously permanent employees could use these tips too, but it is even more vital for contractors.
This will prepare both the parties in navigating through the phone interview and getting what they want out of the exercise.
A common IT contractor interview features a lot of questions to probe the candidate competency. To have a better picture, we have grouped together the IT contractor interviews into groups.
There are the standard questions, which are common in most job interviews. There are the Curve Ball IT questions that are sometimes not asked at all. The answer to the curved ball question will show whether the candidate has thoroughly researched about the company they want to get into.
There are also conversational questions wherein the skills of an IT contractor will be put to test. Most of these questions are skill based and allows a back and forth conversation between the two parties.
You must be able to recall a relevant experience in trying to prove your competency. In addition, there is also an in-depth look into
the competency of the interviewee. Senior management most often does the
competency-style type of interviewing.
It is hard to predict the questions that you will be asked on your phone interview, but to help you navigate the
interview we have compiled the five IT Contractor interview questions that are
frequently asked during interviews.
Here are the lists of these questions that might help you get that contract on your next phone interview.
The questions listed above are merely scratching the surface and as of this writing may have mutated into probing the candidate further to get to know them better. The contract market is fast and furious and if you are not prepared to take the phone interview, you will be eliminated fast!
The best tool in acing a phone interview is to practice with these questions because it is not all about technology specific questions. The weight of the decision in granting you the contract relies more on your attitude and behaviour.
A software tester is a person who tests the software built by other developers and finds the bugs and problems in the codes, and fixes them for the developers. They are skilled in software engineering.
A software tester is an important person for developers because they are the ones who make sure that the software developed by the developers meet the intended requirements and meet the usages of the targeted audience.
There are many software testers and software engineers. Not many people, outside of the IT industry really understand what a tester really does, the motivation for taking the role or the benefits of being a software tester.
Whether you are a software tester or willing to become one, here are the 5 reasons why you should consider a software testing contracting as a career:
As we know, there are thousands of software developers. You can find software for everything, be it food services, financial services or insurance, they all require software. As the number of developers and the requirement of software has increased, there is an increasing need for Software testers too. In fact, there is a high demand for software testers.
The career opportunities are increasing and it would be easier to get a job. You don't necessarily have to be working for a company. What awaits you is a prosperous career with a high paying day rate and you will be in good demand by companies. You can even get a managerial post. All you need to do is to work hard.
You don't need to worry about the job being so boring like other jobs that you find. Many people quit jobs because they are fed up with doing the same thing again and again.
But a career of a software tester is so different. It is challenging. It is not always the same. There are many puzzles and problems to solve. If you don't want to have a boring job, then Software testing is the best career option for you.
You won't find it to be boring. You will face difficult situations and needed to solve them which make it more complex and challenging. You need to view the software in different perspectives and different angles. But the satisfaction that you get after fixing the defects and completing the project is incomparable. This is a professional career which needs thinking skills and logical skills along with the knowledge in software engineering.
It is a constant-learning career. There is always more to learn in a software testing career. You will come across different types of software and methodologies.
By testing and fixing the software you are learning new skills. You learn from each mistake you make and this will act as a knowledge bank when you do the testing next time. There will always be a team behind you to support you and ensure that you have all proper resources to learn.
You will be continuously growing and learn, thus improving your experiences and thus raising the chances for higher positions and better jobs from big companies. It throws challenges at you. You need to stretch your mind and think of different ways to find solutions. It is also about generating ideas. It is the only field in IT where you need to find different solutions and ideas and apply them to do your work.
You don't need to always work for someone without taking pride in what you have done. That is what generally happens for other kinds of jobs. They work and then they leave. They are not doing anything great. But for a software tester, you are going to help your company build a better product. You have the right to be proud of what you have done for the company or the people you work for.
If you want to do something different and become a person whom the team members values, then software testing contracting is the best career option for you. You make the impact on the project of the company daily. You will be an important and crucial member of the company. You decide the limit. You are in demand. So you will have more significance among others. There is a misconception that everyone can test. And thus the tester is having a rewarding career with satisfaction and happiness.
Software testers have a very strong community for them. They interact and discuss the problems faced. There are many members in the communities in Linked in and Stack Overflow to Twitter. They all have each other's back. They enjoy themselves by making new friends, discussing and also sharing their thoughts and messaging the members in their free time. The community is strong and insanely supportive and robust.
You won't face any problems while working. If you can't solve a problem, you can ask in the community, and members who have experienced similar challenges and who have found the solution for that will answer your query and you can get going.
The members always give a positive vibe while working. These communities are proven to be a real life saver, with motivations and job discussions. You will find many likeminded people. Sometimes these communities conduct gatherings for the members to relax and take a break from the work environment.
Software testing contracting is an amazing career for those with good analytic skills. A software tester can have a very good career life with daily challenges to keep you engaged.
Another major thing is, it pays really well. As long as you can keep in work, the rates are lucrative, scope to increase your rate, you can claim expenses, and gives you a great opportunity to provide for your family.
This career gives you a creative and challenging work experience and to support you with more resources to learn, you will have your team behind you.
Did you enjoy this piece of information? Was this valuable to you? Please let me know your opinions in the comment section below.
The Agile methodology comprises a set of values and principles applied in the processes for developing software just like other software development methodologies such as the Waterfall model. The word “agile” refers to the capability of something to move easily and rapidly. This is a major feature of the Agile methodology.
When used, it takes a shorter timeframe to complete a project when compared to other methodologies. Iterations are used in Agile projects to deliver prearranged features. The following information will improve your understanding on what is the Agile methodology discussed in the ISTQB certification.
An Agile sprint refers to the specific duration of time during which certain tasks have to be finished and prepared to be reviewed. Sprints usually last for about 10 working days and comprise the following steps:
The Scrum is a subdivision of the Agile methodology. It is the most commonly used set of practices for Agile development. In simpler terms, it is a framework used to manage processes involved in a project. Scrum is mostly used when developing intricate software through the use of iteration practices.
It is preferred due to the fact that it reduces time and increases your team’s productivity. In addition, Scrum makes allows you to easily adjust to changes in product requirements. It helps you to:
Scrum is dependent on a team that is self-organizing, such that the entire team will together make decisions on who will be assigned what task. Also, everyone in the team must have the ability to develop a feature from the concept to execution phase.
There are two major roles in the Scrum model; the Scrum Master who is basically the team leader and the Product Owner/PO who is the customer/user.
When you think about it carefully, agile design refers to the implementation of Agile development principles to the design process. Due to the fact that every designer on your team is different, it is important for you to choose the best techniques that work for you and get accustomed to them as you move on.
Some of these principles include:
In order to be successful, designers and developers need to seamlessly work together.
The following are some of the most common collaboration tools and software used in Agile design:
To sum it up, the Agile Methodology has proven to be the best with regards to using less time in the software development process. Did you enjoy this detailed explanation regarding the Agile Methodology? I chose to cover the areas as presented so as to explain the main components involved in this methodology and in the simplest way possible.
Feel free to leave a comment below with your feedback and if you enjoyed the article, don’t forget to share it with others who would be interested in the subject.