Last month, I left the Calgary software firm I was at. It was a Microsoft Gold partner with an integrated Human Capital Management suite of products. My role was QA Engineer and I was there for 11 months covering a maternity leave.
Professionally, it was the first QA role I’ve had in a 20 year IT career. I have to say I quite enjoyed it. Why? It was the products, the people and the processes that I really liked. The product is 30 years old but a .NET/SQL solution. A client could purchase 1 module or all 10 together and they would fully integrate into one database. I thought the design was very solid. There was little redundancies between the products. Payroll was their main product and the top seller. Lots of Canadian tax features since it was specifically a Canadian solution.
My role was to QA and perform software support on the products. If Support had a critical bug, they would come to QA for help.
We used Microsoft Team Foundation Server. I’m really happy I got some TFS experience since it’s standard for Microsoft type shops.
I worked really hard there in general and starting new 11 months ago I had quite a bit to learn about navigating and understanding the finer points of the products.
I did some SQL Admin work such as backing up and restoring databases since we would receive and send SQL databases to clients.
Some of the bugs reported would be a little hard to replicate. It often took 1, 2 or even 3 of us to replicate a bug. It was fun though / challenging to try and replicate some of the bugs. Sometimes you needed to know exactly the steps the user took to get the problem and therefore replicating could be tricky.
I was really motivated and quite into the company and wanting to do well for them. I got a bit sick in August and it slowed me down a bit. I was in pain on and off for a month and it may have affected my productivity but overall in the year I was there I was healthy. I was not sure when I took the position if it would be a fit as I’ve developed all of my IT career but it was great to look at things from a different / functional point of view.
My strengths I think are of a design mindset. Having worked in different systems from banking to oil & gas and now HCM has helped me.
When I got out of banking I had in mind trying to broaden my systems knowledge and if you would of told me 5 years ago I’d have oil & gas, manufacturing and HCM experience to complement my banking, I would have been ecstatic.
I love systems work still and how software fits together.
Some people at this HCM company were technically amazing. The company had web and desktop products. Products used IIS and SQL and some people knew how to solve all the technical problems. From network protocols not right and dropping connections on clients machine to SQL collation issues to getting IIS settings right for the web products, they could solve it all. Not sure why but I quite admire some people for their skills even though they have no clue how perceptive I am.
My major strength now I feel is an understanding of different systems and how it all fits together. At this HCM company for example they had a unique way of doing software licenses. It worked so well. I love learning about how organizations build systems. How they support, license, sell, market – all of it – software. I find all of it interesting.
I could see myself doing an Account Management role but I do have very strong technical skills.
The people at this HCM company were amazing. I say that without too much knowledge how they felt about me and my skills as I left a month ago. It was not a competitive one up’ing other people type culture. It was a true team, everyone pulling on the same rope.
I would say I liked it as much as my Telvent position but for different reasons. Both challenged me to learn their systems inside and out. This HCM work was more collaborative/team work where at Telvent it was more independent. Me and the technical manager would work out a design and I would code for a week. I loved working in the oil & gas sector. I found it exciting and relevant to current climate here in Calgary. Payroll is different as there are a few players but not sure it’s as big a business as oil & gas systems or even banking.
At the HCM company they had a lunch room with a large TV in it and when the World Cup & Olympics were on, the games would play and sometimes we’d gather around the TV as a group and watch. I was in heaven – software, sports & teamwork. Cheering in a Canadian software company when Canada would score – there was nothing more I could ask for.
When sporting events were not on, the TV/monitor would show a presentation about one of the staff members that they would create. Each week a staff member would have to prepare a presentation about themselves, their interests, the industry or their family. Fabulous idea, a conversation point and a great way to get to know your fellow co-workers and see pictures of their family.
Looking forward, I am hoping to be able to find something working with one or both of my favorite software things: data and the web. I was thinking business intelligence possibly but I don’t have BI specific experience.
If anyone knows of anyone looking for a Systems Analyst, my email address is mbbrennan at GMAIL dot COM.