A Day in the Life
What does Senior Software Developer Ollie do all day?
What does Senior Software Developer Ollie do all day?
The beauty of being a bespoke software developer is that the role is so varied, and there’s not much ‘typical’ about it. However, there is something that happens to all bespoke software developers everywhere.
When we meet someone new and answer the ice breaker, ‘So what do you do?’ we are met with blank stares, awkward nods and a quick change in conversation. No one seems to know exactly what us software developers get up to all day. And, actually working in a bespoke space, where each project is so different, it’s hard to summarise our job in one sentence. What we do like to tell people is that it’s much more than staring at a screen and creating code all day. So much more.
As a senior software developer heading up bespoke development projects, there really is no one day fits all guide. So, here’s an insight into one day in my life. A Tuesday, which as luck would have it, was a pretty good day.
After a quick debriefing about last night’s epic Game of Thrones, there’s no better way to get stuck into the day than with a good Scrum! I should probably clarify that for software developers a Scrum is a team briefing. Thankfully, much less intense than that of the rugby variety, but just as essential in keeping our software developments on track! Scrum is an agile methodology for effective project management of software developments. It’s as essential as our first coffee of the day. No day should start without it (well, except Saturday and Sunday perhaps).
Our bespoke software development team use this time to discuss project updates and plans for the day ahead. As a senior software developer, it’s my job to keep the meeting flowing, ensuring that we focus on the positives and move the meeting along swiftly and don’t get too caught up in detail.
Scrums focus on progress and solutions, which is key to keeping our team thinking brightly and openly, and for allowing pro-active client updates.
It also gives our developers the opportunity to prioritise their workload and to get a good feel for what the rest of the team are up to. In our team, like many others, we rely on knowledge-sharing.
We’ve all got a core skill set, and experience in different programming languages and with different technologies. It’s rare that a software development relies solely on one developer. We pool our knowledge, chipping in as and when is needed. We make sure we’re all aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, my team all know that I could write a daily love letter to C#and that I can’t get through the day without chicken and strawberry laces. All the important stuff!
It’s a common misconception that software developers stare at screens all day long. In our team, we actually spend a good portion of our day liaising with clients too, whether that be face to face or on the phone.
When I first sit at my desk I take a look at TeamWork, the project management app we use, to ensure I’m fully up to speed with project progress.
At the moment I’m overseeing six different software developments, including:
And that’s only half of them, phew!
Six projects equals six clients to check in on. When a bespoke software developer is assigned as lead developer on a project, they are responsible (along with the project manager) for keeping all key stakeholders up to date with progress.
At Clever Software Group, we feel it’s just as important for the software developers building the business systems to communicate with clients as it is for the project managers. Our projects are rarely one off’s. We work with our clients on an ongoing basis, forming a software partnership. Regular catch ups enable ideas to flow more freely and for us to really get to know our clients and what they’re looking to achieve.
Another important part of the morning is to monitor the performance of our servers and any systems that have recently gone live. Checking to make sure everything is performing effectively and taking the time to fix any bugs.
As a senior software developer, I manage a team who are regularly sending me code to review, questions to answer, training to undertake (and summer holiday requests to approve).
Communication is key between our team members. We use ‘Slack,’ an instant message cloud-based app, to communicate with each other. We find Slack to be a key tool for effective collaboration amongst our team, and also with clients. We have a channel per client, as well as private channels for confidential communications. It’s a great hub for our team to stay in touch and share files even when out of the office, alerting each other to a new task that needs their attention.
Dedicating time to focus on one of our custom software projects at a time is really important. Each of my current projects uses a different technology, and has its own unique user requirements. The complex nature of software development means that focus and attention to detail is key. The priority focus will have been decided during the Scrum, depending on deadlines and recent feedback.
If I run into a stumbling block, after doing some research and seeking advice, I will usually park my thoughts and return to them later. And hope to be struck by a Eureka moment!
We work in an agile development environment, with key milestones to deliver. The majority of our current software projects have weekly milestones for delivering working software for client testing. So, we are constantly producing prototypes and responding to client feedback.
Depending on the development phase of the project, this time could encompass anything from writing, testing, analysing and refining code. Today I did a bit of all of those things!
Making software function, actually seeing code that we have programmed come to life, is a definite highlight of each day. We are approaching the final delivery stage for two projects at the moment, which is always exciting as we make plans for the software to be implemented and rolled out to the big wide world.
It’s also a time to make sure all the detail is there, any bugs are sorted, every UI element has been considered. As a team we are always pushing ourselves to achieve greatness in innovation, so we feel a huge sense of pride and accomplishment whenever they are ready to go live.
Time to refuel! For me that’s a trip out of the office to grab some chicken. On sunny days like today, I’ll make sure I pay daylight a visit to give my eyes a rest from screen time. On days when the weather is grey, I’ll have a few games of table tennis downstairs, build something colourful for my desk from the Lego area of our breakout zone, or carrying on theorising what the final of Game of Thrones might bring (so excited!).
As much as I love my job, and being busy, taking an hour to unwind makes me much more productive for the rest of the day.
Full up with brain food, my afternoon mainly revolved around internal meetings for exciting new projects. Working on bespoke software developments may mean that we follow a process, and methodology, but each and every new project is totally unique. A great opportunity to be creative. These types of meetings take the form of workshops, where our project team start to devise our initial ideas.
We usually start with a blank white board, and get to sketching out processes, which will ensure we fully understand the brief and are all on the same page. Seeing the process visually help to get our creative juices flowing. Sketches will form the groundwork for considering the user experience of the software. Helping us to devise wireframe layouts to marry up the required system functionality with user interactions.
As part of these meetings, we also collated our questions for the new client, and made some recommendations for an alternative technology.
On the back of our team meeting, I had some research to do. Firstly, I wanted to make sure that I really ‘get’ our new clients and what they do. In my years as a software developer, I’ve worked on projects over a diverse range of industries and always enjoy learning about new industries and business processes. It’s so important that I feel confident that I understand the client’s organisational objectives too, and how their new software needs to work for their business.
Research on other days can also revolve around identifying what technology and framework can best serve the project. In an ever-changing tech landscape, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Topping up my skill set, along with that of my team, with the latest tech news and knowledge is a daily must. Training on the job happens every day when you’re a software developer.
It’s an absolute necessity for our developers to be completely up to date when it comes to tech news, so are happy for them to research this during work time. If one of our team needs a greater chunk of time to learn a new language, we invest in training for their personal development too.
When working on a complex software development, it’s quite rare that each day can be wrapped up neatly in a bow. The head-scratching often spills over to the drive home. But we do try to make sure milestones are completed as much as possible before we leave the office, and that project notes are written to ensure we can pick up nicely tomorrow.
Home-time is never guaranteed at the same time every day. As a senior developer, I may be called upon to diagnose a critical bug, or to provide ad hoc guidance to a colleague.
Our work day very much revolves around our client’s schedule too. One particular project has a weekly team meeting at 4:30 on a Monday, so the end of our day will focus on that, and feedback fed into our schedule for the next day.
At the end of the day, I contemplate adding up all the challenges overcome, but my brain is not playing ball. All I know is that today: a lot has been achieved + I’ve had more than one Eureka moment + my team has got closer to project sign off = that’s good enough for me!
Tomorrow? Hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow, and my day will be just as productive and eventful. Bring it on.
If you’re debating hiring a bespoke software developer for your project and would like to know more, or perhaps you’re thinking about becoming a bespoke software developer yourself, a member of our team would be happy to chat it through with you (over a cup of coffee of course!). You can contact us by clicking here>>.
Client Stanley and Strong is a London based firm of Party Wall Sureyours with experience in residential and commercial surveying. Together we developed a clever web based workflow and project management tool to manage the complex administrative Party Wall procedures.Read Client Story