Last year Nick Hope became CGI’s first Northern Ireland team member when he joined as a Senior Consultant in performance testing and quality assurance. He is passionate about software testing, but a lot of people don’t understand what this kind of role entails – in this article he explains a bit about testing and the sort of work he does.
There have always been a lot of misperceptions about software testing. For instance, many people believed that testing should only be done at the end of the development cycle – but it has been proven that the earlier the involvement of testers, the more time and cost is saved for a project.
Another falsehood, specifically for performance testing, is that adding more hardware resources can solve everything. But problems often require investigation alongside engineers or DBAs to find their root causes.
And one of the biggest myths of all is that manual testing is a lower-skilled job, which in reality is very far from the case. A manual tester’s job gets quite complex: they not only need a deep understanding of the system they’re testing, but will also often have to perform additional tasks such as writing SQL queries to validate data or creating valid test data to be used throughout the testing cycle.
So when I tell people what my job entails and that I love what I do, I mean it when I say testing is challenging and rewarding. Having just joined CGI as a Senior Consultant, I’m excited about the huge variety of projects and technologies I’ll be working on here.
Being welcomed into CGI
Despite being remote (I was the first hire in Northern Ireland), I’ve already gotten to know a lot of my colleagues quite well. Admittedly I feared feeling a little excluded up here, but I’m happy to say that has not been the case at all. CGI is great about making sure I stay engaged and connected to my fellow members and the company culture, and there is always someone willing to help if I have any questions or need any advice.
When I first joined, I was assigned a buddy who was there to answer my questions during my onboarding and who I was lucky enough to work with on one of my first projects. These days I have regular meetings with my client, my manager, the team I’m currently working with and with the larger Scottish team.
But what’s impressed me most is how CGI puts its members in charge of their own careers. They back that up by providing any training you might need and putting you on projects that expose you to new tech and new skills. For example, in my very first project for CGI I was given an opportunity to learn a performance testing tool I’d never used before.
An insight into the intricacies of my role
My background is in Performance Testing and Quality Assurance. As a consultant, my primary responsibility is to ensure my clients’ systems are robust and free from defects. This can take many forms of testing, from simulating users to ensure a system can handle predicted load levels, to manually testing processes to confirm there are no unexpected outcomes.
At the end of last year, I was on a local government project that was really challenging to work through, but in the end extremely rewarding because we had a great outcome.
In manual run-throughs, the application we were looking at performed well but once performance testing started we saw problems right away with a small number of users simultaneously trying to create packs. We were seeing SocketTimeOutExceptions and the application would not create the packs correctly. At times the whole environment would need to be restarted.
Working with a senior software developer, we finally uncovered the issue and overcame that hurdle, but we still couldn’t hit our target number of concurrent users. It took a lot more investigation to discover that a third-party system involved was being overloaded. The developer was able to then add logic to handle the transfer of data to this system so it wouldn’t overload, and after a succession of changes and constant testing, we finally got the app to a point that it could handle the expected load.
The whole process took many weeks and when we finally solved everything and were able to prove that the application was ready for use, it felt great!
So that’s the kind of thing my job involves. So far, working at CGI has been a fantastic experience. The projects are interesting and varied, and it doesn’t matter what level or how senior someone is, you can always have a conversation with them. I’m looking forward to building up our Northern Irish team over the coming year.
If you’re interested in joining us, check out our careers page for open positions in 2022.