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Colombia 2015 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Maria Clara Choucair, General Manager of Choucair, on the software testing market in Colombia.

Choucair was the first company in Hispanic America to specialize in software quality control. How did it all start?

Formerly it was the users who would run all the tests, and rather uncommon for a company to have its own test department since, at that time, there was no culture of software testing. That motivated me to embark upon this adventure and start this project of establishing a software testing company from scratch in a country where the concept and culture of software testing, as well as the perks of this discipline, needed to be created and shown. There were no testers, no marketing topics, and outsourcing was barely known, so starting under these circumstances represented a major challenge. People had to be trained, the methods and processes had to be created, and the culture had to be established in order to show the potential customers that this type of business was indeed something particularly useful for them. After 15 years, we have managed to create a whole industry in Colombia; there are many certified testers, not only here but throughout Hispanic America. There are more companies whose core business is focused on this activity, which means that an industry emerged from this idea, and it has been growing and gaining more importance, as evidenced by the fact that, at this moment, there are over 1,200-1,500 people working in this field. I started my company Choucair Testing S.A with an initial investment of $1,000, supported by a larger company that believed in me, and more specifically, in the idea. I have always said that larger companies are always willing to help entrepreneurs to develop their ideas; but, in order for that to happen, one must really commit to working relentlessly on the project, as that is what has helped me have a company that generates $12 million annually, creating direct employment for over 400 people, and has offices in Medellín, Bogotá, Peru, and Panama.

How does your service enable companies to minimize risk and improve performance?

First, we should highlight that when we talk about testing, we are not only referring to the process of going through tests and tasks, but rather, we should conceive the term within the framework of a much wider sense, since, when done correctly and aligned with the client's business strategy, we effectively become an enabler of such strategy directly from the testing stage. As we start measuring and testing, we are able to correct and rectify the production process of a given product and, as a consequence, the production speed rate increases and the gap between where the customer really is and what they really want to achieve based on their strategy narrows. This obviously requires highly qualified personnel with a clearly defined set of skills, a whole cognitive analysis and specialized tools and methods in order to perform the task properly. Finally, we strive to diminish the risk associated with production and make sure that the final product meets what the customer wants to convey.

“When we first started, we practically had to figure out the way of doing this job."

What innovations have you implemented and how have you defined your services over time?

When we first started, we practically had to figure out the way of doing this job. There is a considerable body of literature and guidelines on this topic, but ultimately, it has turned out to be a path of self-exploration and knowledge around the world. We have developed our own models and methods, which turned out to be highly effective and efficient; we created our own products and managed to present the testing process as something innovative. We have also striven to improve and innovate our internal processes, such as the knowledge management model, which has seen positive feedback from our collaborators and customers. It is important to mention that we have an R&D department of seven or eight people who are continuously improving our current products and services and creating new ones. Likewise, we deliberately assumed a socially responsible position toward society, which involves both the executive directors and the collaborators. We always bear in mind how can we positively affect society and how to combine efforts to generate direct welfare for our environment and our zone of influence. Finally, we want to help this industry to be considered as an industry of knowledge, rather than one of workforce.

© The Business Year - March 2015