Posted by: Ian Molyneaux | June 11, 2013

Which role is most key to a successful IT performance project?

In delivering highly successful performance projects, I would divide the market place into Performance Testers and Performance Consultants. To deliver a performance testing project effectively both skillsets are required.

At the end of the day Performance Testers are primarily focused on building and validating the test scripts from the use cases provided and then doing the same for the performance test scenarios. They should be working from a statement of work put together by the Performance Consultant. Testers will generally execute tests and may do some basic analysis but the Consultant (should do) the heavy lifting when it comes to analysing results.

I would further divide performance testers into two categories:

  • Those that have strong development experience; which by extension implies knowledge about how software is designed, coded, tested and deployed, and
  • Those that don’t.

Development centric performance testers generally have used multiple test tools and are comfortable extending and enhancing code beyond vanilla scripting requirements.(“Adapt and Overcome” to quote a military cliché.)

Non-development centric performance testers can still be very effective however they will have often based their career knowledge around a single toolset such as LoadRunner. There’s nothing necessarily wrong in this approach, however this tends to shape the requirement around the tool which may not always the best choice (often another tooling option works better from a technological and/or cost perspective).

Whatever your background I would strongly advise becoming familiar with at least a couple of mainstream toolsets.

Consultants gather and align the business and technical requirements and function as subject matter experts for the project. They generally do the deep-dive analysis and come up with recommendations. You only become a good performance consultant through experience. You can load-up on tech stack knowledge through study but there is no substitute from learning on the job. You need to be application, Server, and Network savvy ideally with experience in Dev, QA and Ops and as many related disciplines as you can cram into your career.

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