2019 – a year in review

2019 is almost at an end and wow, what a year it has been. A lot of ups, some downs, but a major net positive overall. As I did last year, with this post I’d like to reflect a little on all that I’ve been working on this year, and share with you some of my plans for 2020, too.

As I said last year, my main goal for 2019 was to extend my training efforts. I am pretty happy with how this turned out, overall. While the year started a little slow, it took off around May, with a couple of downright crazy weeks around October and November. In total, I delivered 30 full days of in company training and another 19 half day and evening training sessions, with 15 different clients. Collaborating with training companies helped a lot in getting to this result, and I’m looking forward to continuing working with all of them next year.

Most of the training I delivered featured writing automation in Java, with C# coming in second, Python at #3 and here and there some JavaScript, too.

Adding to that, I have done two full day conference workshops (one at the Agile & Automation Days in Poland, the other at TestBash Netherlands) and three half-day workshops (at the TestNet and Test Automation Days conferences and one at a meetup).

The highlight of this year with regards to training was probably my trip to the UK in November to deliver two full days of in-company API testing and automation training. One thing I need to work on next year is finding a little more balance in the busy and the slow weeks and months by building a steadier pipeline of training work.

I worked with two consulting clients this year. The one I spent the most time with was an on site gig here in the Netherlands, where I was (and still am) tasked with coaching a number of testers (and entire development teams) with the implementation of test automation. It’s a really interesting and fulfilling gig that will continue at least in the first couple of months of next year, and I’m really happy with the results we’ve booked and the progress we have made.

Since October, I’m also doing some remote consulting with (and writing for) a consultancy firm in the United States, and so far this has been a really interesting and rewarding gig, too. I’d love to build on this relationship in 2020 and maybe find some other remote consulting clients, too. The idea of literally being able to work from anywhere, for organizations anywhere on this planet, without having to commute, is something that really appeals to me. So, if you are or know of an organization that could use some advice or consulting in the area of test automation, contact me, I’d love to talk and see if I can help you in 2020.

2019 has been a pretty active year in writing for me, too. I have written and published 10 articles on various industry blogs and websites, and another 8 blog posts (including this one) on this site. I will continue writing next year, as I think it’s still a great way to process and structure my thoughts, as well as a good excuse to learn new things myself.

Public speaking
This year, I’ve done 9 talks, mostly at meetups and conferences, but also one in-house with a client. Six of these were regular talks, one was a deep dive with some live coding, but most notably I have done two international keynotes, one at UKStar (London, in March) and the other at the Agile & Automation Days (Poland, in October). I really enjoyed both these talks and have received some good and constructive feedback on them.

Even though I’ll mostly be focusing on doing workshops at conferences and meetups (since that’s what I like to do best), I hope to be able to do a couple of talks next year, too. I’ve got one conference planned so far (in June) and hope to add a couple more to the agenda as 2020 progresses.

Other activities
Apart from all that I mentioned above, I’ve done one webinar this year (with Parasoft), appeared as a guest on a podcast (with the fine people that host de Voorproeverij) and had my first online course published with Test Automation University. I’m looking forward to seeing what opportunities 2020 will bring me.

The freelance life
No surprises here: I thoroughly enjoyed working as a freelancer this year, and I’m even more convinced that this is the most ideal way of working for me, at least for the next couple of years. The total freedom of going where I want to go and working on what I want to work on has been treating me very well again this year. It has also given me the opportunity to be there for my family when that was needed, without having to go through hoops or having to account for fewer hours or days worked. I’m very much looking forward to another year of freelancing in 2020.

For now, though, it’s time to wind down for a couple of weeks and recharge. Here’s to 2020 becoming an awesome year for all of us.

On my 2018 and my 2019

Wow, another year has flown by! And what an amazing year it has been. Now that the end of the year is coming ever closer, I’d like to look back a little on this last year and look forward to what 2019 might have in store for me.

The freelance life
2018 was my first full year freelancing under the On Test Automation label. As I’ve said in previous posts, it fits me like a glove. What I’ve been especially grateful for this year is that being a freelancer has given me the freedom to choose whatever I want to spend my time on, without having to get permission from anybody else. It has also allowed me to be there for my family whenever it’s been needed, without having to deal with sick days or annual leave budgets.

Needless to say that I’ll continue to work as a freelancer in 2019!

Client work
I’ve done consultancy on a per-hour billing basis for four different clients this year. Sometimes as part of a software development team, sometimes in an advisory role. I’ve noticed that the latter suits me far better, so that’s what I’ll try and keep doing in 2019. These roles are a little harder to get by, and they’re often not even publicly advertised, so I’ll have to make sure that people know where to find me in case they’re looking.

I’m happy to say that I’ll be starting a new project that sounds like a perfect early January with a brand new client, where I’ll advise and support several development teams with regards to their test automation efforts for 2 days per week. I’m really looking forward to that.

2018 has been the year where I finally started to increase my efforts to land more training gigs. Delivering training is what I like to do best, and I hope that 2019 I will be able to reap what I have been sowing this year. In 2018, I delivered 17 training sessions (ranging from 2 hours to a full day) with 8 different clients. I am most proud of the two times I’ve been asked to deliver training abroad, allowing me to do one day of training in the UK (Manchester) and one day in Romania (Cluj).

For 2019, I hope to at least double the amount of training sessions delivered, where my ultimate goal is to be at an average of delivering 2 days of training per week (with the rest spent on consulting work, writing, and other things). To get to that amount, I’ve started collaborating with a few training providers this year, and I hope that this pays off in 2019. I am also launching a brand new training course on January 7, one that I’ve got high hopes for, so hopefully I’ll be delivering that one a couple of times too, besides my existing training offerings.

Speaking gigs
This year has been a relatively quiet year on the speaking front. That’s fine with me, because even though I am starting to like speaking more and more, I like doing training and workshops even better, so that’s where my focus has been. Still, I have done five talks this year. Three of them in the Netherlands: at the TestNet spring conference, at a company meetup and the one I am most proud of: my very first keynote talk at the Dutch Testing Day. I’ve also delivered two talks abroad: one at the atamVIE meetup in Vienna, Austria, and one at the Romanian Testing Conference.

I would like to do another couple of talks next year, because I’m slowly learning to become a better speaker and I would love to expand on that. I have one talk scheduled so far, none other than my very first international keynote at the UKStar conference in London, UK in March. I am really, really looking forward to that one!

Speaking of conferences, it has been a relatively quiet year on that front as well. I think I’ve attended five conferences this year, four in the Netherlands (TestNet 2x, TestBash NL and the Test Automation Day) and one abroad (the Romanian Testing Conference). In all of these conferences, I’ve been a contributor, either with a talk or with a workshop (or in case of RTC, both).

Next year, I would love to attend more conferences, and not necessarily as a contributor each and every time. Also, I’d like to expand my horizon and attend one or two conferences outside of the testing community. Two conferences are in my agenda already, UKStar and TestBash Netherlands, where I’ll be delivering a brand new workshop.

I’ve been relatively inactive on the writing front this year, too. I’ve published 7 articles (5 in English, 2 in Dutch) on several websites, as well as 10 blog posts on this site, including this one. Next year, I’m planning to pick up the pen more often again, both for other web sites as well as for my own blog. It will be a matter of consciously making more time for it, as that has been lacking a bit this year.

Finally, I’ve also done four webinars this year, and I’m planning on doing a couple more of them next year. The organisers that had to suffer from my ramblings this year were Beaufort Fairmont, Parasoft, TestCraft and CrossBrowserTesting.

So, all in all, it has been a very diverse year! Which is a good thing, but also a trap I’ve been falling in. My attention has been divided over so many different things that those that I think are really important to me (training, writing) have suffered a little. That’s a lesson I’ll definitely take with me into next year.

But first, it’s time to relax a little. We’ll see eachother again in 2019. I hope that it’s going to be an amazing year for all of you.

On looking back on 2017 and looking forward to 2018

As I like to do every year, now that 2017 has almost come to an end, I’m carving out some time to reflect on all that I’ve been working on this year. What has been successful? What needs working on? And most importantly, what are the things I’ll put my energy towards in 2018?

The start of On Test Automation – the sole proprietorship
Perhaps the most significant change I made this year was to quit working with The Future Group to venture out on my own under the On Test Automation name. On the other hand, nothing much has changed at all since then. I’m still working as a freelancer, I’m still doing a bit of consulting, some teaching, some writing, pretty much what I’ve been doing before I made this move. The only thing that has changed is the financial side of things, and the fact that I’m now really working for myself instead of mostly for myself. It’s just that little extra bit of freedom, albeit only psychologically. I would be very surprised if, at the end of 2018, I won’t still be freelancing like this. It has proven to be the optimal way of working for me, with total freedom over what I’m working on at what time and with whom. I’d like to further reduce the time I spend commuting a little more in 2018, though.

On the consulting side of things, it has been a pretty strong year. I’ve been working on projects for 5 or 6 different clients, mostly as the person responsible for developing automation solutions, but also sometimes acting more like an automation coach of sorts. I’ve been lucky enough never to have to look for a new project for long. The job market for experienced automation engineers and consultants is so good over here I’ve had to turn down more projects than I’ve been able to accept. I’m considering myself a very lucky person in this respect, although I do like to think that the time I invest in learning, spreading my knowledge and networking has at least partly brought me to where I am now.

Where 80-90% of my working hours in 2017 was spent on consulting work, however, in 2018, I would like to slowly bring that down to around 50% to free up time for other activities.

This year, I’ve written a couple of blog posts, most notably this one, about what I’d like to see changed in education around test automation and what I think good test automation training should look like. As you might have seen elsewhere on this site, I currently offer a couple of courses, and I am looking to expand my offerings in 2018. More importantly, I’d like to deliver significantly more training next year. Counting quickly, I’ve delivered about 10 days of training in 2017, mostly with clients, but I also did a very enjoyable workshop at the Romanian Testing Conference.

For 2018, I’d like to work towards teaching 5 or more days each month. This will require significant effort from my side, not only in actual teaching, but more importanty in marketing and promotion to make sure that I can deliver them in the first place. I’ve front-loaded some of that work by closing partnerships with a couple of other players in the field, and I’ve landed a couple of teaching gigs already (more on that in a future blog post, undoubtedly), but there’s much more work to be done if I want to achieve the ‘5 days of teaching per month’ goal.

2017 was a relatively quiet year for me with regards to conferences. In the Netherlands, I only attended 2 (both organized by TestNet). Abroad, there was the previously mentioned Romanian Testing Conference in May as well as the splendid TestBash Manchester in October, making for a grand total of 4 conferences.

I expect 2018 to be busier on the conference front. In fact, I’ve got my agenda for the spring conference season pretty much filled up already with TestBash Netherlands (where I’ll be doing a workshop together with Ard Kramer), the TestNet spring conference (where I probably won’t be speaking or hosting a workshop for the first time in a while), my second Romanian Testing Conference (where I’ll be doing both a workshop and a talk this time) and the Test Automation Day (which I missed this year due to being on holiday and where I hope to be accepted as a speaker for the first time this coming year). So that’s four conferences before the summer. And that’s not counting the Agile Tour Vienna meetup in March, to which I’m invited to do a talk / live coding session as well. And I haven’t even started to think about the fall conference season yet (that’s a lie, some negotiations are underway).

Including this one, I’ve published 46 blog posts on this site in 2017. I started out with the promise of publishing a blog post every week, and I’ve kept true to my word for most of the year, but last month I came to the conclusion that I’ve been spreading myself a little thin on the writing front. Apart from these blog posts, I also wrote and published 15 articles on other websites, including TechBeacon, StickyMinds and LinkedIn. That’s a lot of writing, I can tell you.

Next year, I’ll probably be blogging less, in an effort to create higher quality output. I’ll also still be doing articles for other websites (I’m working on two of those as we speak). I’m aiming to publish at least one quality blog post on here each month, plus some reviews of conferences, books and other resources whenever I feel like it. That should free up some time to invest in other interesting things that I encounter.

All in all, 2017 has been a great year for me, I’ve met many interesting people and worked on a lot of interesting stuff. 2018 will hopefully be a year of spreading myself a little less thin, instead focusing more on the good stuff. As always, I’ll keep you posted.