I'll get back to sources of power next week. For now: breaking news
Ok, maybe breaking news is a bit strong. Will you settle for "timely announcement'? Interesting info?
Whatever we call it, here goes ...
Thanks to airline frequent flier miles, I get a fair number of magazines free; my current list includes Fortune Magazine, F@st Company, The Economist, and the Wall Street Journal. (Yes, that is actually a newspaper. I know. Really.)
In addition to airline miles, I get other magazines for free or discounted rates because of what I do - things like Software Test & Quality Assurance Magazine
It turns out that 'free' magazines are anything but free; reading them takes time and attention. When I finish a magazine, I have to ask myself "could that time have been better spent?"
It was an experiment, and I'm glad I tried it, but I don't think I'll be renewing 'free' any airline publications next year.
And yet - outside of technology, there is one magazine I read cover to cover every issue: Inc Magazine
- the magazine of growing businesses.
It's not just the writing, which is very strong. And it's not just the theme, which aligns well with my values and interests. Reading Inc gives me actual ideas to try in my business, money-saving tips and valuable offers.
Inc. provides more value to me than what I invest in it.
I strive to make my blog posts, and my column in ST&QA, provide some of the same value -- and I know that Rich and the publishing staff do as well. We take your time very seriously.
And there was this awesome article in Inc. this month I've just got
to tell you about.
Here's the premise: Small company based in Columbus, Ohio uses a website and some harvesting methods to find contact information for people interested in an insurance quote. They then sell these 'qualified leads' to insurance agents in the local area.
Business booms, sky-rocketing to $12 million a year. That's a million bucks a month - with a technical staff of just four programmers plus a couple founders. (Yes, they have tech support and some other roles.)
There are, however, some problems. The website was too successful, and begins failing due to the load. The application lacks some key features management wants. They decide to do -- you guessed it -- the big upgrade
It's unclear from the article if the upgrade is a re-write or just major upgrade. In any event, they spend some huge investment of time and money in the new system, flip the switch, and ...
... the system crashes.
No, seriously, the case-study is called "When your website crashes constantly", and uses the phrase "dead in the water" multiple times. Plus, due to the load problems, the company wasn't comfortable switching back, so they simply lost a couple months revenue making fixes, bringing sub-systems online and doing a little business as soon as possible with small increases over time.
By my math, that's lost revenue of a couple million bucks
- more if the company lost reputation in the marketplace, thus losing future sales to a competitor.
The interesting thing for me was the advice of the experts: One suggested they keep and eye on cash flow (keep it positive), another suggested trying to get another round of investment, to have more cash in the bank to weather future 'storms' like this. A third suggested hiring a project manager to be "on top of things."
Nobody said hire a tester.
Nobody said hire a tester.
Nobody said hire a tester.
I thought the article was fascinating; a perfect time for a boutique tester in the Ohio area to drop by, add a lot of value quickly and earn an honest dollar or two in the process.
I went into my contact network, looking for people from Ohio, and yes, found a few. They wanted a copy of the article.
Now I knew this might not be easy; Inc likes to give it's issue exclusive to subscribers for a few days, then later offer articles online. But still, I searched ... and saw this:
So I waited a day and tried again -- yay, results:
So I clicked the link and got ... a blank page.
No, really, check it out, search for "Case Study" InsuranceAgents.com on Inc.com, then click the link, see a big blank white page.
Ok, ok, it's possible that they are in the middle of some upgrade at this very moment and it works for you at some future point in time. Still, I saw the problem two hours ago, and ... (clicks refresh) ... still a problem.
Here's what I see:
See all that whitespace? It's a bunch of nothin'.
Look, nobody's perfect. And, you could argue, these are not 'tester' errors, after all -- they are developer errors that weren't caught.
Still, after all this, I can't help but wonder ... maybe InsuranceAgents.com isn't the only website in the pages of Inc that could use a tester. (This is the part of the blog post where I'd tell you that, in addition to InsuranceAgents.com in Columbus, that the corporate offices of Inc. Magazine are in City X. Sadly, I cannot, as the "About Us" page for the website is blank right now. No, really, you can't make this stuff up. I'll let you google around for it, though -- you're smart.)
The original article I was trying to post to really was that good. If I can ever seem to find it online, I will link to it here.
UPDATE 2: Thanks to Joe Harter for sending me a link that works