The two most important days in any job are the first and the last, and this is about the last. The title is relevant, but I’d better explain it, particularly for any Non-Brits and/or people under 55. In the Second World War, men (and later women) from all walks of life were ‘called-up’, or mobilised. After the end of the conflict, most of those still in military service were allowed to return to civilian life – in other words, they were de-mobilised (or ‘demobbed’). However, not everyone could leave the forces immediately – some knew that their demob date was (say) 4 or even 12 weeks away, and they whiled away the time, doing as little as possible – they were ‘demob happy’.
On your first day in a new job/contract, you make an impression, whilst on your last, you leave an impression. You never get a second chance at either. Coming towards the finish of a contract assignment, I have always kept working until the end. Testing is (almost) never finished – there is always something to do. My last hour will be as productive as previous time with the firm. I want to assist those who remain, ensuring that both documents and knowledge have been provided, to the best quality in the time allowed. That may be partially why I keep going until the time to leave comes; there is never enough time!
There is another reason why I work hard right to the end. The ICT industry is like a small family, and testing perhaps even more than other parts. There is a good chance that I will work with some former colleagues again – in a different firm although perhaps not directly. When CV’s are reviewed in response to a vacancy, it is quite usual to say “Anyone worked with Peter Morgan before? What’s he like?” Delivering quality right until the end leaves a nice aroma, and could well open doors for future work.
It is apt that this is posted on or shortly after March 12th 2014. This is my last day in my current contract position. I have been working away all morning trying to complete two tasks. One of these is a revised System Architecture diagram, representing the last 33 months work from ‘the team’. I am the last one left, and the diagram will be part of my legacy. Is it a tester’s job to complete this? My manager saw this as a vital task in my last 4 weeks, so that is good enough reason for me.
There are goodbyes to be said, and I have an e-mail ready to send to the myriad of colleagues who have been very, very helpful. That will be dispatched just before leaving, having set my Out-of-Office message (with contact details of those remaining, to assist in testing or technical matters, and my own, should anyone wish to stay in touch). We have just had a most enjoyable lunch together, and by my own tradition, it was me that paid for the ten of us – another way to leave a pleasant taste in the mouth (pun intended!). I must get my timesheet signed, scanned and sent to my home e-mail address – otherwise I will not get paid. Then a UAT test plan to finalise, and that diagram to attend to. It looks better than this morning, but still needs a little more attention ……………….
Demob Happy? No, I can’t afford to be. I have my reputation to think of – working to deliver quality all the way through the assignment. I may even work for the same firm in the future. No-one will remember the diagram. But they may remember that I worked on it adding valuable detail on my last afternoon.
Peter Morgan, Freelance software tester @MorganpPeter