Confessions of a Benefits Manager: Candid helps with pay system testing


It might surprise you to learn that I am a secret nerd. I love working with databases and systems. Compared to people, especially our senior people, systems are so much more predictable and friendly. Not always reliable, but predictable. So, I do tend to get involved whenever there is any kind of new system. This time it is just an update to our existing system, Choreday, to allow us to plan promotions online as well as regular pay reviews.

It has been a source of irritation to me, that while we plan our pay reviews, bonus awards and even share allocations using the system, promotions are still handled manually. Why, you rightly ask. Because one of the Higher Beings had a special report in his last company and wanted it done exactly that way here. Up until now, the HR system has not been able to accommodate his needs.

You will know by now, that I like to keep things simple. In my world, it makes sense to use the system functionality that exists rather than build workarounds, but our Higher Beings like nothing better than to build in unnecessary complexity. Luckily, a recent update to the system looks like we will be able to do it their way online at last.

For once, I am not actually running the project – hurrah – but merely helping with testing along with a few selected members of the HR team. I use ‘selected’ loosely because as the testing group includes my colleague Lazy Susan and that woman from talent, clearly the bar for selection has been set quite low. Rita sets my teeth on edge just being in the same Zoom call, so I am not looking forward to the kick-off call. I decide I will just smile and try not to be rude to her.

Systems testing

Baz from IT runs the call. He has a very mumbling way of speaking so it is very difficult to follow. Luckily, he has prepared a testing script and I can see he wants us to test as managers, employees, HR people and as reward. Makes sense. He does a quick demo in the test environment, so we can see what we need to do. Seems straightforward enough. He is going to send us the materials after the call.

He sends the test script and some dummy IDs to use after the call. Intriguingly, the dummy testers are real names from our organisation, a few leaders, employees, and various random people in HR. Well, that will make it easier to assume roles I guess. Unfortunately, he has not assigned specific roles to the testing team so it will be a free for all.

Rita replies to the email copying all to say that it will make sense to all jump on a call and test together. I cannot see how that would work but who am I to argue? And who is she to start telling us all what to do? I take a breath, and decide it is not worth getting in a huff about.

Team work

We all dial in at the appointed time, but Rita is not there. Someone messages her, but there is no reply. We all look at each other. I am so tempted to step in and take charge, but why should i? This is Rita’s call, not mine. I suggest that we all make sure we have access to the test environment. Several do not, so that is time well spent while we sort it out. Someone suggests we should just get started. Someone else thinks we should wait as it is her call. I suggest that we allocate testing roles among us so that we are not duplicating testing. After half an hour, I am keen to crack on with testing, but one of the others, who reports to Rita, is still reluctant to start without her. We all leave the meeting.

Within seconds, Rita has joined the meeting. She messages asking where we are? Someone replies to say they assumed she would reschedule the call. Why didn’t you start without me, she asks?  I’m too polite to tell her it is her own fault for setting up a call and then not turning up.

I decide to follow the testing script alone ahead of the next call. That way, I will know what I am doing and can help steer the meeting. And, if I am honest, I do not want to give Rita any opportunity to lord it over me.

Leaking confidential data

I find a load of errors in the script, but not in the system. I also find a big issue with the dummy data. Logging on to the test environment as one of the ‘dummy’ managers, I see the employees underneath him, along with their actual salaries. For those of us in reward, we have access to that data anyway, but the talent team do not, nor do the learning and development guys on the testing team. Worryingly, Big Bad Boss is also on the list of ‘dummy’ IDs. Sure enough, if I log in as his ‘test’ ID I see my own data and yes, my actual salary. This is bad. Very bad.

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I get onto Baz and demand he changes either the names or the data in the test environment. I do not want anyone seeing my salary or anyone else’s come to that. Baz is very embarrassed at his mistake. I also point out the errors in the test script as if the testers follow it to the letter, they will not be able to complete the process properly. The script should be fool proof so that anyone can follow it, even someone like Lazy Susan. I also point out the minor testing errors I found, and I suggest a workaround to make the system do what we need.  I really am wasted in reward.

Next time…Candid sets up a new location.