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Meet Our Team: Heather Hughes

HeatherHughesWelcome back to the Meet Our Team Q&A series. My name is Daniela Williams, Project Manager at ISE, and I’ll be asking ISE team members questions to help give insight into what makes us tick. 

Today I'm interviewing Heather Hughes, Senior Validation Engineer and ISE's expert in Hours of Service regulations for the trucking industry. 

This year, ISE was a finalist for the Technology Association of Iowa's Prometheus award.  Our focus for this prestigious award was on eFleetSuite - our software solution for truck drivers to track their driving hours for compliance with the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines.  Read on for Heather's experience with the creation of our eFleetSuite product.

Q. How long have you worked at ISE and what did you do prior?

Heather: I am one of ISE's original eight who started out in Hass's basement. I began as a Java developer on the Breakthrough to Literacy project, though for the past decade I have been with our eFleetSuite product team, serving as quality assurance engineer and regulatory compliance expert. I previously worked for NEXIQ, Diversified Software Industries, and the Iowa City VA Health Care System.

Q. You have been an instrumental part of eFleetSuite since it was an idea on a napkin. What has been the biggest challenge over the years?

HeatherThe flexibility/usability tradeoff. eFleetSuite offers a rich set of features. As an Electronic Logging Device (ELD), it must comply with hundreds of exacting technical requirements. It's engineered to work with different types of commercial vehicles, operating in a variety of transportation verticals. All of that adds complexity -- and the more a product can do, the harder it can be to learn and to use. Without clear metrics for ease of use, we risk designing a product that does many things exceptionally well, but still fails to attract and delight new users. The challenge is to create a solution that users love at first glance, then grow to love even more as they continue to work with it.

Q. The way systems are validated has changed over the years.  How have the new technologies or testing philosophies changed the method of testing for the eFleetSuite application?

Heather: When eFleetSuite was in its early stages, the waterfall methodology was sufficient to meet our needs. We produced high quality work with detailed documentation up front and a lot of testing, almost all of it done manually, on the back end. This approach was not sustainable as our product and our development team grew. Increased emphasis on test-driven development, smaller and more frequent iterations, striking a balance between automated and exploratory testing... these have proven critical to our success as we continue to scale. Quality assurance is more than simply checking whether the software meets the specification.

Q: You have a vast knowledge of the FMCSA guidelines. What interesting or unusual consequence has this had?

Heather: I can close my eyes and picture whole sections of the Code of Federal Regulations, is that normal? I spend so much time researching statutes online that they are etched on my retina. Co-workers will ask, "Is there a rule that a driver shouldn't do X?", and I will think, "Yes, there is such a rule, and we will find it in this section, about halfway through, in paragraph ten." Fielding compliance questions involves a lot of parsing and context switching, because federal and state statutes differ, as do the laws of the US and other countries. Lawmakers in some jurisdictions are skilled at drafting clear and concise legal language, but that is not the norm. Like the creation of good software requirements, it is very much an art.

Q: What do you do for fun?

Heather: Believe it or not, I read a lot. E-reader apps are wonderful, but I get enough screen time at work, so I prefer physical books. I always have one with me, for all the times I am stuck in a car line or a waiting room. I also like to sew. My mother was a seamstress; clothes to curtains, she could make anything, all of it beautifully handcrafted and functional and built to last. My specialty is decorative work, suitable to frame and hang on the wall. There's a fantastic company that sells patterns for recreating fine art with a needle and thread. The work is intricate and painstaking and appeals to my meticulous nature. I am looking forward to warmer weather and spending time outdoors with my kid. I could do with more CrossFit and less cross-stitch in my life.

Are you interested in our eFleetSuite product or our Professional Services, or just want to quiz Heather on regulations in the trucking industry?  Contact us or join in the conversation below!

Daniela Williams, Project Manager

Daniela Williams, Project Manager

Daniela is a Project Manager at ISE with a bit of dabbling in Marketing. Recently she managed the new website release project and is currently the Scrum Master for the Sales and Marketing team. Daniela enjoys making sure the team accomplishes its goals while having fun along the way. When she’s not herding cats at work, you can find her running around town or getting her hands dirty in the garden.

Daniela Williams, Project Manager

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