Iterators LLC (en-US) Blog 2022-01-16T19:59:02+00:00 Iterators LLC (en-US) The Importance of Rethinking and Taking Chances - Part Two 2021-07-27T10:00:00+00:00 2021-07-28T13:05:25+00:00 Jill Willcox I just completed week three of my mentorship with TJX, thanks to the opportunity offered to me by being a Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) member. As a reminder, my mentors and I have been discussing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) for Iterators, assessing these four aspects of the business. We are still working through our Weaknesses from the SWOT document, and a mentor suggests we: Change Customers' Point of View.

With that mindset, we then identified weaknesses, or objections potential customers express that can be turned into strengths or opportunities. For example, one we sometimes hear is an organization can use an offshore software testing company. This is true; however, we have an opportunity there to emphasize the benefits of using a company in the same time zone and without any language barriers that could lead to miscommunication—both of which are also strengths. Another is a lack of awareness of Iterators, the importance of software testing, or that developers are not the right people to test their product. In this case, the opportunity exists to write and publish case studies. Third, we can limit delays caused by development and mitigate losses, which is another strength to highlight. Finally, some clients cannot provide recommendations on Clutch for example, and word of mouth, or written recommendations can lead to growth. Government entities usually abstain from leaving a "recommendation" but do write about our work, which leads to increased recognition.

Jill our passion

Going through this exercise and having direction helps me better understand the process and the end goal. But I am more of an introvert, a bit shy, I confess with complete honesty. I would not ask a current client if they could recommend us to their counterpart at a similar company. "What do you think will happen?" one of my mentors asks. I respond that I would be fearful the customer would get annoyed and stop using us. Then my mentor poses another question: "Do you think they really will stop using you because you ask for a referral?" I respond and say no, but that's my fear and shows the level of my unease. Then my mentor shares a story: They were out of college and working their first job, a job they did not expect to have and commission only, selling a product door to door. As a condition of employment, you had to ask for referrals from every customer you had. My mentor admits he was uncomfortable with this requirement, fearing they would cancel the order they just placed. I asked what happened and am told: "I asked everyone for a referral—some would not give a referral, others did provide a referral, and no one canceled their order," and adds that asking for these referrals positively impacted his business.

There can be a couple of definitions for the word vulnerable. I'm not even sure it's the right word to use. Still, I so appreciated hearing about my mentor's vulnerability and that they were capable of feeling as uncertain as I feel. I knew that if my mentor could share this, I could ask for a referral, and I did so. I have not gotten a response, but I'm not fearful any longer. Since reading our story in The Boston Globe, our client has been a great customer, has written a testimonial about us that lives on our website,, and did so, not at my request, but because of the work we provide every week, 52 weeks a year, for the last four years. That day, I stopped worrying about something that hadn't happened yet, and it's an excellent lesson to learn and one I will not forget anytime soon.

I learned something else valuable that day. As the weeks go by, I realize that this is not just my mentorship—it's our mentorship. My mentors did not know anything about software testing or the struggles that individuals with disabilities encounter while attempting to access their Information Communication Technology, which is usually not in an accessible format and lacks ADA compliance. And maybe tomorrow or sometime down the road, women will be recognized for their significant contributions in technology and all other fields they choose to work in, with set-asides being unnecessary to level the playing field for anyone. Hopefully, my mentors will positively remember our mentorship, just as I will.

]]> The Importance of Rethinking Our Strengths 2021-07-13T14:14:00+00:00 2021-07-13T14:43:42+00:00 Jill Willcox It is week two of my mentorship with TJX and today we are going to discuss Iterators’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). I can identify many in each category, especially our strengths which includes our neurodiverse employees and their adaptability during this unusual period. I also know some weaknesses and am eager to hear my mentors’ opinions.

During our discussion, one mentor states being a small business is a weakness, and I have it listed as a strength. He explains that companies are concerned small businesses will close and cites the effect COVID-19 has had on small businesses. I hear it’s also a risk, and his job is to mitigate risk and find the best vendor that can complete the job.

Jill our passion

It is hard to hear and harder to wrap my head around. My immediate thoughts are it’s a risk to hire anyone ‒ any employee, any vendor, anyone. Just look at the rate of attrition. In a study done by Mercer, the national average for total separations is 20.1%.1 I think later I cannot imagine a business that has not taken risks to be successful, big or small, but I’m beginning to understand his point. I believe having dedicated employees and being a passionate owner of Iterators means we are going to make every effort to meet our deliverables ‒ possibly more so than those who are merely a small part of a large organization. However, hearing my mentor’s point of view on the risks associated with hiring a small company is eye opening. Examining our business through a SWOT analysis is invaluable, and I love being able to get this data. I don’t have to agree, but to succeed, I have to understand the parameters we are up against.

As a small business, we did everything any business ‒ large or small ‒ would do during a crisis. For example, we moved computers to all our employees’ homes with each having an array of phones, tablets and other equipment for testing purposes. We moved to a different office, with less square footage, and when we did not have client work, we trained our employees on additional testing specialties. Two new employees took part in training offered by the Department of Homeland Security on accessibility testing to be knowledgeable of WCAG 2.1 while another wrote a program for automated regression testing in accessibility, ensuring that we catch software bugs by running the program rather than re-testing, which reduces our client’s overall cost and frees up extra time for us to take on an extra job.

I ask my mentors if being a women-owned small business is important and am told “it’s a checkbox I either fill in or leave blank.” I have written before about the diversity of thought women bring to technology, as an example, and cite examples of mistakes made when there’s a lack of diversity in the room.2 However, learning my mentors’ priorities and how others think when hiring a vendor has been enlightening.

My mentorship session is over for today and I now have to wait two weeks to speak with them about this again. We didn’t get through the entire SWOT analysis and will continue at our next meeting. It’s so valuable to have these conversations. I realize the importance of knowing others’ perceptions. What I think is a strength or weakness is only my point of view. If someone is thinking of it as a weakness, it’s good to know, and in the coming weeks we will discuss that too.

]]> Own Your Passion - Women in Tech 2021-07-07T23:39:00+00:00 2021-07-12T20:34:08+00:00 Jill Willcox As a woman-owned small business and WBENC-certified, I was fortunate to win a mentorship with TJX. In order to be considered, I had to complete the application and write about myself, why I desired the mentorship, and the areas I wanted to address throughout the mentorship. As a small business owner during a pandemic, I chose strategic planning, leadership, and accountability, along with procurement.

In full disclosure, I used the term "procurement" in the application process to mean obtaining something in the way that governments use this term when they seek our help testing websites and mobile apps. Our company, Iterators LLC (found at, performs software testing services for websites, mobile apps, and more. In reality, I was not suggesting I needed assistance in the area of the supply chain. Instead, I wanted to work on securing more clients. While initially embarrassed by my error, I embraced my slight discomfort. (I will write more about this later.)

Jill our passion

Of the three mentors, two are in the procurement area, and I would not change a thing. One mentor was hired during COVID-19 and has never been to his office or met the other two mentors in person. He is authentic, analytical, and creative. The second mentor has been with the company for more than five-plus years and previously had a mentorship of her own during her career and found it beneficial. She is intelligent, thoughtful, and confident. The third mentor has been in her position for over 15 years. Working in the area of diversity, and experiencing all the events we are living through, such as Black Lives Matter, makes this an exciting space to work in with many opportunities to look forward to. She is a mentor to all, intelligent and generous with her time.

When it was my time to introduce myself, I started with my initial career path as a registered nurse and finding that all my jobs surrounded accessibility in one way or another. What was most interesting to me about our initial meeting is that my mentors didn't know anything about software testing or the extent to which it's used every day. They were completely unfamiliar with Accessibility testing, WCAG 2.1, or even the lack of access that disabled individuals encounter. When I mentioned the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) and explained it's a document that evaluates how accessible a particular product is according to Section 508 Standards, it blew their minds. Although this is not their area of expertise, they liked my passion, and as one of my mentors said, "I would not hire someone without passion." This mentor explained that in procurement, you interview and meet lots of vendors, and if you don't have passion, no one else will.

I learned a lot the first week, allowing myself to feel some initial embarrassment while not letting it consume me, about the generosity of my mentors even outside of our scheduled time. They have passed on many pieces of beneficial and constructive advice based on their experience, but my most valuable lesson was to own my passion. Sometimes, I try to hide my passion because it's often considered a negative for women, like the word "emotional" in the workplace. However, passion can go a long way in teaching people about a topic they are not familiar with, help pique their interest and learn its value, and maybe even encourage them to become a client should they ever need our services. From now on, I will own my passion.

]]> How Outsourced Application Testing Can Transform Your Company 2021-07-05T11:13:00+00:00 2021-07-05T12:15:55+00:00 Jill Willcox

When launching a new software product, it's tempting to forego hiring an outsourced QA firm to have your own in-house team test the product. After all, you'll be saving yourself money, right? But hiring a software testing company can actually end up transforming your own business in several positive ways.

Less Stress For Your Own Employees

Hiring an outsourced software testing team immediately takes the added pressure off of your own employees. It means they can focus on their own job duties without the added stress of working software testing into their schedule, which is its own project in itself that may require longer hours. This will keep productivity levels high as they work on the next big project on the agenda.

Software Test Professionals

And if your product requires localization, a QA team can test it to ensure the language translates properly for your customers outside of your country. Chances are you may not have staff members that can ensure the software conforms to any cultural differences as well, particularly if the product is to be released in several foreign countries. A software testing company can thoroughly test localization in products for you.

We all know how stressful it is when there's a functionality issue with your website. Hiring a company dedicated to keeping things running smoothly through the use functional testing ensures you don't lose prospective clients due to overlooked glitches.

You'll Save Money

It may seem counter-intuitive, but paying a fee for software testing services may save you money in the long run. For example, testing mobile apps requires running the software on several devices including tablets and mobile phones. You could end up spending thousands of dollars buying these devices yourself if they're not readily available in your office, and using valuable time setting them up, you could hire a company with its own in-house testing lab that already owns and is familiar with these devices as well as the latest operating systems and browser versions.

Using outsourced software testers will also uncover any bugs in the software program early on so they can be remedied before its released to your customers. It's always best to repair any glitches or problems before a product is released to avoid the cost and time associated with trying to fix it for the next version, and to avoid any backlash from unhappy customers.

You'll Gain Competitive and Customer Insight

While an outsourced QA team certainly isn't going to divulge any of your competitors' secrets, if they've worked with products in your industry before then they may be able to offer insight into what features are popular and how customers are using them. They will also provide you unbiased, fresh feedback about your software product and be able to view and use it in the same manner your customers would.

You'll Gain a Trusted Partner

If all goes well with your chosen software testing outsourcing company, then you'll have a trusted partner to go to when you're ready to release your next new software product or updated version of a current product. You'll save time asking colleagues for recommendations or researching outsourced QA teams for the right one.

]]> When to Pay For Software Testing Services 2021-07-05T04:45:00+00:00 2021-07-05T12:16:53+00:00 Jill Willcox

When introducing a new software product or mobile app it may be tempting to have your in-house employees test the product themselves; after all, they understand your business, your product, and your customers, and you may think this decision will save money in the long-run. But there are actually a few compelling reasons why you may want to pay for an outsourced quality assurance team.

It may sound counter-intuitive but for starters, paying for outsourced software testers can actually help save you money in the long run. A quality software testing company usually maintains its own testing lab stocked with a myriad of devices to test products on to mimic how your customers will use the product in real life. Most software companies don't have the budget to spend on extra devices and equipment for this purpose.

Instead of rushing a software product with bugs to the marketplace, hiring a software testing company ensures that any glitches are caught and can be repaired immediately. This saves time and money that would be required to make adjustments to the product after its release, and will also help you avoid unnecessary customer complaints.

Software Testing Analysis

Hiring an outside team of software testers that offer manual and automated regression testing services also allows your employees to focus on their jobs and daily tasks without worrying about the extra time and commitment that may compound when there's a software product that requires careful vetting before a deadline. Leaving that job up to a software testing company saves you and your own employees time and reduces stress.

Your employees may also not be completely objective about your product and company, while paying for software testing services means receiving an impartial opinion about the user friendliness of your interface. An outsourced team may also be able to provide feedback on the software based on what features your competition offers and how their customers are using the product.

Software testing companies usually also ensure that their testers have at least three to five years' experience when they're hired as well as ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) certification, which chances are your employees do not have. This means the outsourced testers have passed exams and training to ensure they're well educated in what to look for when testing software products.

If your company is planning on releasing the software product in foreign languages to customers outside of the U.S., then you may want to pay for software testing services. Many QA teams have a deep knowledge of how software translates and what cultural differences need to be addressed, which your own employees may not be knowledgeable about, particularly if your business is confined to one America-based office.

If you do decide to turn to a software testing company, you're not alone. Generally, only very large software companies can afford the costs of a dedicated in-house testing team. Most companies turn to outsourcing to help save time and money, and to ensure their product is the best it can possibly be when it's rolled out to customers.

]]> Tips For Hiring Software Testers 2021-07-05T04:42:00+00:00 2021-07-05T04:44:30+00:00 Jill Willcox

When your company is introducing a new software product, it's imperative that it is as glitch-free as possible to ensure your customers will be happy. Very often, hiring a software testing and quality assurance company can deliver benefits that your in-house employees may not be able to provide, but it's not always easy to find the right one, even with thousands of available choices. Here are some general tips on what to look for when hiring a software testing company.

How They Work With Clients

What is the on-going communication with clients like with the testing company you have in mind? Will they meet with you in person, or over video conferencing? How long will it take them to test your product and how do they provide feedback? Finding out about their testing process and how closely they work with clients will give you insight into whether they're the suitable team for your needs.

Qa Software Developer

ISTQB Certification and Experience

A quality software testing and QA company only hires experienced testers -- those with an average of three to five years' experience testing software under their belt. Their testers and test managers should be ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) certified, meaning they have passed training and exams that require a deep knowledge of software development. It's also a good idea to seek out companies that have experience testing products in your particular industry because chances are they're familiar with what your competitors have released and can provide advice on how to make your software more user friendly and competitive.

Experience Testing Multi Platforms

Software testing companies understand that the world has gone mobile and therefore, testing a software product on various platforms and browsers if applicable is extremely important. Whatever your customers will be using is what a QA company should be using to conduct its testing. Some software testing companies also feature an in-house testing lab where hundreds of the most commonly used devices are readily available to test the product.

Variety of Testing Services

From installation to user interface testing, a reputable software testing firm has experience testing all facets of software and its functions, including e-commerce platforms. If your software is to be released in foreign language versions, you'll want to choose a software testing company that has experience in localization testing and can ensure that translation is accurate on all areas of your product across other languages and conforms to the foreign user's culture.

Client Testimonials

Reviews from past clients speak volumes when choosing a software testing firm; check to see if the business you have in mind has testimonials and if they cite which industries their clientele is from and the types of software they had tested.

These are just some initial guidelines, but are a good start to help determine which software testing company is right for your business needs and type of software product.

]]> Automation Testing Services 101 2021-07-05T04:39:00+00:00 2021-07-05T04:41:03+00:00 Jill Willcox

Automated vs Manual Testing

When it comes to testing a new software product, you basically have two choices: you can choose to have people (either your in-house employees or an outsourced QA company) conduct the testing, or you can use automation testing services.

Automation 101

If the idea of testing your software product for bugs and other issues with a click of a button sounds too good to be true or cold and impersonal, think again. In many ways using an automated testing service company or product to vet your software offers advantages that a human test team cannot deliver.

For starters, manual testing requires a lot of labor and work. It takes time for testers to actually examine a product and to see how it performs on various devices. But with automation testing, the testing software usually only requires a few hours to examine your application and can deliver results in the same amount of time. Automation testing software also provides you with detailed data about your product and areas of needed improvement. It also tends to be more accurate than human-based testing.

However, just because the system runs automatically once integrated with your product doesn't mean that humans are not involved in the process.

The Automation Testing Process

Automation testing usually considers of three methods of testing: graphical user interface (GUI), application programming interfaces (API), and continuous testing. GUI testing mimics how a human user would use the software, by keeping track of fields that need to be filled in, clicks, and other interactions with the software interface. It is also helpful in uncovering any early bugs with the software. API testing goes deeper, essentially examining how the software interacts with other software and ensures that it meets security and compliance standards. Continuous testing is exactly that; the software is continuously tested to provide updated feedback on the software and any glitches with it.

However, just because the system runs automatically once integrated with your product doesn't mean that humans are not involved in the process. Automation testing services still require careful writing of code to direct the testing tools on what to measure, although some companies offer codeless test automation.

Types of Software Testing Companies

Where traditional software testing companies have their own lab full of equipment to test software on various devices, an automated testing services company requires minimal set-up and can usually implement their product as a cloud-based application. Most automated software testing tools require a minimal setup time and can be seamlessly integrated with your software product, including third party tools. An automated software testing company can usually offer several QA testing products depending upon your needs, and provide you with a live demo and free trial before you commit to a product.

The decision on whether to hire manual testers or to use automation testing services is entirely up to you and your specific needs as well as that of your employees. Automation testing services offers an alternative to ensure your software product is as problem-free as possible and will keep your customers happy.

]]> The Power of a Chance - Baseball and a Novel Approach to Business 2021-07-05T04:28:00+00:00 2021-07-05T04:36:15+00:00 Jill Willcox

How Iterators Uses Data to Hire the Best Candidates

Many people have read the Michael Lewis book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, or seen the movie. The concept of Moneyball is simple − the Oakland A’s needed to compete against other baseball teams that had tremendous operating accounts to hire elite talent, but without equivalent resources. To create a team with top players, the Oakland A’s used statistics and data to determine which athletes to choose out of those whose value was typically overlooked. With this novel approach, General Manager Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta, the assistant general manager, were able to produce a winning team comprised of undervalued players.

The lessons learned from the Oakland A’s approach can be applied to the business world as well

Jill Willcox

They also used data to discredit “appearance bias.” According to Paul DePodesta, “Once we’ve made up our minds, we resist information that doesn’t agree with our conclusion.” To the world of baseball, appearance bias discounts athletes based on a number of criteria, such as being older than optimal, injured, a lack of experience with a given position on the field, a certain level of pay, previous statistics in college and other team(s) for which they played. Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta ignored all rules except to keep an open mind. The Oakland A’s went on to win the division using unconventional methods.

Paul DePodesta explained, “Subjectivity ruled the day in evaluating players. We had a completely new set of metrics that bore no resemblance to anything you’d seen. We didn’t solve baseball. But we reduced the inefficiency of our decision making." The Oakland A’s used statistics to determine how many times a player got on base. They did not consider data other teams used to value players, including earned run averages and the number of strike outs, just how many times a player got on base because you must get on base to earn a run and win.

Discrediting Appearance Bias in Business

The lessons learned from the Oakland A’s approach can be applied to the business world as well. Companies routinely base hiring decisions primarily on a candidate’s interview; however, there are segments of the population that are highly qualified but do not perform well in the hiring process. Consequently, these candidates are passed over and companies do not benefit from the skill sets they offer.

For instance, in establishing a software testing company we used many principles from the Moneyball playbook. We employ often overlooked but extremely talented people with specific skills, namely, the ability to see patterns and sequencing. Just as Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta relied on statistics, data suggests people who are neuro inclusive, such as individuals with ADHD, individuals on the autism spectrum, with dyslexia or anxiety disorders have special abilities and can give a company a competitive advantage.

By looking past "cookie cutter" employees and focusing on accepting neuro inclusive candidates that displayed success in identifying patterns and sequencing, we were able to address any appearance bias. Our only question: can this candidate find software bugs easier and faster than other groups of people? We adopted an approach similar to the Oakland A’s only question: can this player get on base.

We build upon the skills our candidates already have. They are highly intelligent − many have earned college or advanced degrees in statistics, math and computer science. We foster a positive environment and teach every member of our company to respect co-workers. We continue to train them to develop their skills to increase their accuracy and find an ease for doing their work effectively. We let them feel pride when they find bugs that no one else has found.

The result: Our team does significantly better software testing than typical candidates, and we can therefore provide our clients higher-quality results. By rejecting appearance bias, we assembled a group of top-rate, traditionally undervalued talent that helps us achieve our goals and exceed client expectations.

Restructuring the Hiring Process

There is still a long way to go. I recently exhibited at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston, which is the largest women’s conference in the country. We were next to some large technology companies who have long track records of embracing diversity. A representative from one organization told me that their company is right for everyone, but everyone is not right for their company. They had a recruiting event during the conference and we were able to observe all the candidates seeking a position with this large, Cambridge-based company. One of the company’s representatives sought me out to ask, what she deemed, an important question – how Iterators gets applicants to self-identify themselves so that they can be “considered” for employment. I listened and asked my own question, which was, “Why do they have to self-identify themselves first?

]]> PDF Remediation - Making PDFs ADA Compliant 2021-06-03T16:21:00+00:00 2021-07-09T21:45:40+00:00 Jill Willcox

Learn more about our Accessibility Remediation services.

]]> The Rhythm of Finding Work as Women in Tech 2021-03-22T20:10:00+00:00 2021-07-05T05:13:13+00:00 Jill Willcox

Ask yourself, what challenges do you see your co-workers face every day due to a disability? If you’re like many people, you don’t have any frame of reference. The article “Do Your D&I Efforts Include People with Disabilities?” cites a report from the Return On Disability Group that “90% of companies claim to prioritize diversity, [but] only 4% consider disability in those initiatives.” [1]

July 26, 2020 marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Passed by Congress and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, the ADA established protections for people with disabilities in employment, government, and publicly funded spaces. [2] The law was designed to help provide access for employment opportunities equal to those for people without disabilities.

“Businesses have long been drivers of social change. Across the globe, companies have begun acknowledging vital challenges and injustices such as climate change and pay gaps. Diversity and inclusion initiatives is one such defining issue, and although huge progress has been made towards equality across boundaries of gender, race and sexual orientation, one aspect of D&I is too often neglected: disability.” [1]

Iterators At Cic

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) is one of the most important and timely topics companies are addressing today. HR departments are actively recruiting diverse talent and companies are hiring DE&I leaders, as well as training managers to build inclusive teams. Iterators LLC has recognized DE&I since its inception. We were founded on the principle that people with diverse backgrounds enhance and strengthen software testing outcomes. Being a women-owned small business (WOSB) presents both advantages and challenges in the technology field. Just as with people in neurodiverse groups, "traditional" companies often perceive women to be either less qualified in this field or to have received special treatment if successful. [3]

We were contacted by the chief information officer for a medium-sized employer in financial services outside of Boston. A complaint was filed because their website and electronic assets were not accessible to individuals with disabilities. As a WOSB, certified by the Department of Homeland Security in Accessibility Section 508 / WCAG, we were thrilled that Iterators’ diversity of testers (women, neurodivergent, and BIPOC employees) would be able to add value to this project. Imagine our surprise after discussing the steps we can take to reduce their risk (due to nonconformance) when asked, “We can use our foundation dollars to pay your fee, right?”

Prior to opening our doors in 2017, we had the diversity of thought that comes from thinking and rethinking about what our goals were in establishing Iterators LLC. We chose a for-profit WOSB because individuals with disabilities should not be limited to finding jobs with nonprofit organizations. As essential as their work is, it leaves the connotation that having a disability prevents success within traditional businesses, the work being less valuable—a charity. “When there's a lack of diversity in the room, critical ideas and opinions can be missed.” [3] We wanted to ensure an equal voice for women.

The law was designed to help provide access for employment opportunities equal to those for people without disabilities United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

Within the same timeframe, we received a call from an investment management firm, Loomis, Sayles & Company. They saw an article about Iterators LLC in The Boston Globe and called us to discuss a data analysis project. [4] In casual conversation, they volunteered they had tried to hire someone to complete this work but added “they all want to work for Google.” We were thrilled to take on this work and have been completing this weekly analysis for the last three years. We receive data files every Saturday and complete the analysis on Sunday. Initially, this was a manual project, but we automated the process using Python once we found we had a stable environment. Automating this project was beneficial should the client ever need to increase the analysis from weekly to daily as an example. It takes about four hours for the program to run, with a report generated when the data analysis is done.

Our client writes: “In order to effectively support our ever-evolving business needs, we have to be agile in our data transformation and software development efforts. Having a partner like Iterators helps us ensure that our weekly software releases are producing accurate, consistent results and is extremely valuable. Thank you, Iterators, for your commitment to neurodiversity and your commitment to providing valuable services to firms in the Boston area.”

Img Cic 14Th

Going back to our conversation with the chief information officer, when asked, “We can use our foundation dollars to pay your fee, right?” we responded that our fees cannot be paid through a nonprofit or foundation. Foundations must meet or exceed spending at least some of their assets on charitable purposes, and we are not a charity. We never did complete any work for this potential client.

I’m often asked as a WOSB owner and employer by competitors if we get all our work from “set-asides,” and I perceive our work is being discounted, undervalued. [4] When asked “We can use our foundation dollars to pay your fee, right?” I feel the same way I felt when asked if all our work comes from set-asides. A better question would be: Why don’t companies employ more WOSBs and women to gain a diversity of thought while positively impacting their bottom line by hiring people with disabilities?

1. Casey, Caroline. “Do Your D&I Efforts Include People with Disabilities?” Harvard Business Review. 19 March 2020. Accessed 19 March 2021.

2. United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Introduction to the ADA. Accessed 19 March 2021.

3. Willcox, Jill. “The Good That Comes With Women in Tech” Iterators LLC. 5 March 2021. Accessed 19 March 2021.

4. Johnston, Katie. “Companies tap into an underused but highly capable workforce.” 28 November 2018. Accessed 23 March 2021.

]]> Our Wealth of Diversity Reflects Who We Are—Women in Tech 2021-03-08T23:17:00+00:00 2021-05-09T00:12:15+00:00 Jill Willcox

I was reading Lori Gottlieb’s book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed, and she writes about Viktor Frankl. He was a famous Austrian psychiatrist who “went on to study medicine and lecture on the intersection of psychology and philosophy, or what he called logotherapy from the Greek word logos, or ‘meaning.’” [1] Frankl believed finding meaning in life is what drives people even when terrible circumstances arise.

We’ve been fortunate to work with some great clients since opening our doors. “Iterators LLC has recognized DE&I since its inception. We were founded on the principle that people with diverse backgrounds enhance and strengthen software testing outcomes. Being a women-owned small business (WOSB) presents both advantages and challenges in the technology field. Just as with people in neurodiverse groups, "traditional" companies often perceive women to be either less qualified in this field or have received special treatment if successful.” [2]

Ma Conference For Woemn

In 2018, Iterators LLC participated as an exhibitor at the Massachusetts Conference for Women. Our booth was right next to Akamai Technologies and around the corner from Dell and Bose, and we were the only WOSB represented at the conference in technology. There was a representative walking around from Boston College, and as he passed, he casually said, “We need software testing.” Contact information was exchanged and several months later we did get a call about their specific project.

Prior to attending the conference, we had heard many positive things about the conference as a whole. For example, we heard about the quality of the speakers, like Amal Clooney, Esq, who specializes in international law and human rights, and Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love. There were thousands in attendance; many were selling their wares, newly graduated attendees were getting advice on updating their résumés, and others were getting hair and make-up makeovers before taking advantage of the professional head shots being offered. I came away thinking the event was not exactly what I expected and realized I had some initial blind spots.

Changing your mind doesn’t make you a flip-flopper or a hypocrite. It means you were open to learning. [3]

Think Again (Grant, Chapter 5) [3]
Employee at Iterators LLC

Rethinking allowed for greater introspection and the realization that Boston College chose to attend this event, an event for women, because they were looking for talent. Companies would benefit from acknowledging—and acting on—this wealth of diversity by employing more WOSBs and women. When hired by Boston College to test their EagleApps initiative, “a fully modular solution for managing the core business of colleges and universities,” we were thrilled that Iterators' diversity of testers (women, neurodivergent, and BIPOC [black, indigenous, and people of color]) would augment the diversity of thought needed for a large enterprise project like this.[4]

Boston College’s website explains the EagleApps project is “sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Information Technology Services. This multi-year, multi-project effort will result in a next generation suite of flexible applications that will enhance the experience of current and future students, faculty, and administrators.”[5] Before we started actual work on EagleApps, an owner of the project remarked that they originally did not believe outside software testers were necessary, concluding they thought their internal business associates could handle all the testing requirements internally.

Susan Dominus’ article, “Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?” in The New York Times Magazine, quotes Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take: “The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.” [6]

Vishali And Oliver

Our first credo is to be helpful.

The simple statement that the original owners of the project “did not initially believe outside software testers were necessary” was enough motivation for us to be in our element. We completed over 350 new test cases once it was determined that there was insufficient written documentation necessary for validation and compliance. These test plans were created in TestRails QA and had to be changed repeatedly during our participation with EagleApps as new features were added or changed. The way the plans were structured allows for sections to be updated easily to ensure the test plans will not become obsolete. We completed functional, exploratory, and regression testing on the largest module of EagleApps, Curriculum Management Course Offerings (CMCO). We also worked on modules for Academic Calendar, Scheduling, Final Exams, Student Records, and Program and Transcripts to name a few. We used automation to test the project as well. The automation used Selenium and Python to perform end-to-end user testing. However, automation requires a stable enough environment so that the tests don’t have to be constantly updated.

Employee at Iterators LLC

The fact that our testers were often overlooked when seeking employment due to their neurodivergence, which made their motivation to be helpful, and do good work even more significant. Our testers gained a cool self-confidence, that comes from working on such a large, complex, first-of-its-kind project, with memories of our "significant contributions" to EagleApps.

We always work to have positive communications, and this project is no different. Many clients advise they need something by x date but with development cycles being unpredictable, the dates often change. This requires Iterators to rethink how to allocate our resources, and use our time wisely. It also requires flexibility in adjusting to development timelines. Hydrow (formerly True Rowing), another client, summed it up this way: “Their flexibility in assisting us whenever we required help, especially with our release scheduling, is impressive.” [7] We always update teams we work with by both written correspondence and verbal communication. And we always let the team know we are available and will await updates from them. We keep track of all communication as teams are large and not everyone on a team will be aware of the communication offered.

Viktor Frankl wrote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” [1] Adam Grant wrote in Think Again: “The problem is that we live in a rapidly changing world, where we need to spend as much time rethinking as we do thinking.” [8]

Rethinking is now our second credo.

[1] Gottlieb, Lori. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2019.

[2] Willcox, Jill. “The Good That Comes With More Women in Tech.” Iterators LLC. 24 February 2021. Accessed 4 March 2021.

[3] Grant, Adam. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. Viking, 2021.

[4] Diaz, Patricia. “DXtera Institute & Boston College Collaborate to Launch the EagleApps Community.” DXtera website. 11 March 2020. DXtera Institute & Boston College Collaborate to Launch the EagleApps Community | DXtera Institute. Accessed 4 March 2021.

[5] Boston College web/offices/its/about/currentprojects/eagleapps.html. Accessed 4 March 2021.

[6] Dominus, Susan. Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?” The New York Times Magazine. 27 March 2013. Accessed 4 March 2021.

[7] Clutch website. Accessed 4 March 2021.

[8] Grant, Adam. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. Viking, 2021.

]]> The Good That Comes With More Women in Tech 2021-02-24T08:00:00+00:00 2021-09-25T20:28:10+00:00 Jill Willcox

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) is one of the most important and timely topics companies are addressing today. HR departments are actively recruiting diverse talent and companies are hiring DE&I leaders, as well as training managers to build inclusive teams. Iterators LLC has recognized DE&I since its inception. We were founded on the principle that people with diverse backgrounds enhance and strengthen software testing outcomes. Being a women-owned small business (WOSB) presents both advantages and challenges in the technology field. Just as with people in neurodiverse groups, "traditional" companies often perceive women to be either less qualified in this field or to have received special treatment if successful.

In October 2020, we were contacted and asked to complete a request for proposal (RFP) for the software testing part of a satellite positioning project for the United States Air Force Air University. It was exciting as the RFP included a WOSB (the federal government's goal is to award five percent or more of contracting dollars to WOSBs annually [1]. Based on our experience, we thought we had a good chance of being awarded the contract by the federal government.

Women are under-represented in the technology industry. In addition to the opportunity to work on cutting-edge technology for the government, we were thrilled that Iterators' diversity of testers (women, neurodivergent, and BIPOC employees) would augment the diversity of thought needed for a project like this. This diversity could further influence the field in coming years.

When there's a lack of diversity in the room, critical ideas and opinions can be missed. One example of that is, in 2019, information was leaked to The Guardian by an Apple Siri grader who found that “Apple has instructed those working on its Siri digital assistant to design it to ‘deflect’ questions about hot-button issues such as feminism.”[2] Sam Smethers, former chief executive of The Fawcett Society, a UK-based organization advocating for gender equality and women’s rights, said, "The problem with Siri, Alexa and all of these AI tools is that they have been designed by men with a male default in mind…. This won’t change until they recruit significantly more women into the development and design of these technologies.[3]

Only one out of four jobs in the IT industry are held by women, and women in the field earn 29% less than men in the same roles.[4] There are numerous reasons for this, including that women typically undersell themselves and continue to face sexism and challenges when having families in the workplace. Ultimately, this negatively impacts overall performance, as it denies access to a network of individuals with valuable thoughts and experiences.

One of the most impactful advantages of supporting a WOSB is the diversity of thought this additional perspective can bring. Many individuals read the word “advantage” to mean an edge or benefit that is unfair because programs such as WOSBs even exist, as opposed to the diversity of thought being an advantage for diversity, equity, and inclusion. As stated in a Harvard Business Review article titled Research: Small Wins Can Make a Big Impact on Gender Equality, “Many men seem to think sufficient progress has been made and that women now enjoy equal standing and opportunity. Women, on the other hand, still perceive a highly unequal workplace rife with systematic barriers.”[5].

Employee at Iterators LLC

Marketing and advertising firms recognize that women make more decisions regarding the home and products than men and, hence, cater their advertising to women of households as the decision makers. According to Marti Barletta, “Women already buy the majority of products in almost every category. They are responsible for 80% of consumer spending.”[6] Clearly, companies would benefit from acknowledging—and acting on—this wealth of diversity by employing more WOSBs and women to gain different points of view and insights that could positively impact their bottom line.

Employee at Iterators LLC

Going back to the RFP we submitted, we were not awarded the contract. Upon asking for a debrief, we were told all three RFPs submitted were technically acceptable and the company selected gave the best price. Determining who is awarded a contract solely based on the best price is just one example of the challenges of bidding for government contracts, especially when WOSBs and women are under-represented. The RFP defined the cost of the project at $100,000, and while we were under the not-to-exceed estimate, we were unaware the determination would be based solely on price.

I'm often asked as a WOSB owner and employer by competitors if we get all our work from “set-asides”. When I hear that, I perceive our work as being discounted, assuming we are not as good as our competitors, and receive special treatment. Thinking about the concept of small wins, a win might be if competitors cease to ask if our success is due to set-asides and simply say, “well done” when we finally are awarded a grant. And, because we know our worth, we’ll stick with our knitting, on pricing.

[1] Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program (

[2] The Designed-Siri-to-Deflect-Questions-about-feminism

[3] Apple made Siri deflect questions on feminism, leaked papers reveal | Apple | The Guardian

[4] 17+ Women in Technology Statistics to Know in 2020 (


[6] Blog | Marti Barletta | World's Foremost Expert on Today's Mightiest Market – Women

]]> Women in the Workplace: Learning to Unlearn 2021-01-05T15:54:00+00:00 2021-02-24T17:27:17+00:00 Jill Willcox

We spend a lot of time at Iterators LLC working to affect changes when it comes to the causes that are important to us. Often that has to do with neurodiversity and hiring practices, a movement which is near and dear to our hearts.

Today we take the time to turn our focus to another faction of society whose status is still in need of major improvement: and that is women.

Gender inequality in the workplace is a problem that has received more and more attention as time goes on, and yet the fundamental problems seem to be so deeply rooted in society that we have yet to see true equality.

There’s work to be done.

As a female founder, I have seen firsthand the problems we still face as women, especially in the tech field. There are inherent biases when it comes to gender just as there are with neurodiversities.

The difference is, when we talk about people on the spectrum, we are educating others to look past behavioural differences to access the successful worker within. When we are talking about women, it’s more complicated. Rather than looking past a trait, we need people to look within themselves at the biases that have been ingrained since birth about men versus women.

A tall but necessary order.

It almost seems simpler to inform someone in a hiring position that if they come across a candidate who may not make much eye contact or displays tics, to give them a chance to work and then judge them on simply their ability. That scenario can feel more clear cut than the multitude of glass ceilings and subtle (and not so subtle) discrimination that would need to be addressed regarding an entire half of the population.

The good news? Many women in leadership positions in their companies are now hiring other female-run and female-staffed businesses because they are fully aware of the value that they bring to the table. Check out this brief and informative wealth of suggestions to help people Hire More Women In Tech.

Keep talking.

There is no easy solution, that much we know. But we bring this up to increase the conversations happening on the topic. The more we talk about it, the more voices are heard, the more minds are opened, and the more answers we’re able to discover.

]]> Pros to Neuroinclusivity in the Workplace 2019-08-09T21:51:00+00:00 2021-02-24T17:26:14+00:00 Jill Willcox Autism, as most of us know, is a spectrum. Like so many other human traits, the degree to which certain aspects affect each individual can vary immensely. As time rolls on, we are getting better as a society at honoring the many differences we share, and we are slowly but surely working toward deeper respect of all people, regardless of what sets us apart.

According to the CDC, the most recent estimate is 1 out of every 59 babies born in the US have ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). That’s about 17 out of 1000 people.

Since 2000, we have seen a dramatic growth in autism diagnoses. Some worry that there exists a link between vaccines and the development of autism in children, but this fear is utterly unfounded. Instead, this rising “epidemic” is decidedly connected to an increased awareness and understanding of the neurodiversity that has always existed, but for so long went unrecognized and therefore undiagnosed.

Because autism is behavioral and can’t be identified with a simple blood test, it is understandable that it has taken our collective humanity a number of years to begin to fully grasp the range of characteristics associated with the disorder. The prevalence of autism is currently 1 in 42 for boys and 1 in 189 for girls. Scientists are still unsure why there is exists a gender ratio of autism showing up in about five boys for every girl.

What we do know, though, is that there are plenty of ways to embrace unity despite our differences.

At Iterators, we consider ourselves neuroinclusive, and we believe it is important to look beyond typical biases that often occur in hiring. When we conduct interviews, we confidently see past typical autistic or other neurodiverse traits, such as dyslexia or ADHD, that may concern other workplace professionals, because what matters to us is that we find the person who will get the job done in the best, most efficient way.

Also, it’s just science. Studies show that people with ASD are better at focusing on tasks. Temple Grandin said it best:

“What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.”

Temple Grandin

There is so much to be said for working to eliminate hiring bias. Not only will it improve the lives of the many neurodiverse individuals who are unemployed or underemployed, but companies stand to gain strong workers who may lack extended eye-contact, but make up for their social differences with above-average skills and dedication to the job. Another added benefit of diversifying an office by bringing in more people with neurodiversity is the impact it will have on co-workers who might otherwise not come in contact with these individuals in a meaningful way. This is how we change the world.

Autism Parenting Magazine is an award winning publication aimed at improving the quality of life for families effected by autism.

]]> Expanding Our View of Hiring Biases 2019-07-31T00:42:00+00:00 2021-02-24T17:26:02+00:00 Jill Willcox “Inclusion” is a topic widely discussed in 2019. Most of the time when we think and talk about inclusion, the focus is drawn to factors of diversity such as race, gender and sexual orientation.

Here at Iterators, we include neurodiversity high on the list of differences built into inclusion.

Neurodiversity: another difference to keep in mind

The term “neurodiversity” was coined by Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist, in the mid-90s. She wrote in her honors thesis that differences in neurology should be recognized and respected as a social category, similar to ethnicity, socioeconomic class or physical disability.

Harvey Blume further popularized the word in his 1998 piece in The Atlantic: “Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general.

Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment? Cybernetics and computer culture, for example, may favor a somewhat autistic cast of mind.”

What year is it?

It’s amazing, really, to think that it took until nearly the end of the twentieth century for our culture to begin to view the spectrum of differences in our neurology as important and valid variations that require just as much acknowledgement and respect as the many other factors of diversity.

The level of tolerance we have as a nation is linked tightly to hiring bias. When companies are hiring, if they’re “woke” enough, will pay close attention to the diversity of the workplace. According to national industry medians, companies that are ethnically diverse perform 35% higher than less diverse workplaces. Gender diversity helps boost performance 15%. Again, though, most of the time the only differences taken into consideration are race and gender. Neurodiversity often falls to the wayside.

McKinsey explains the somewhat depressing reality:

The United Kingdom does comparatively better in racial diversity, albeit at a low level: some 78 percent of UK companies have senior-leadership teams that fail to reflect the demographic composition of the country’s labor force and population, compared with 91 percent for Brazil and 97 percent for the United States.

We’ve got a lot of work to do.

So, as a whole we have focused on increasing numbers and boosting inclusivity in many ways. But, in terms of recognizing the abilities of neurodiverse individuals, most of whom are unemployed due to hiring biases, we have some catching up to do as a society.