A Day in the Life

What does Senior Software Developer Ollie do all day?

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A Day in the Life of a Bespoke Software Developer

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.

09:00 - Scrum time

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!

09:30 – Catching up with clients

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:

  • Enhancements for a line of business application for surveyor’s used all over the UK,
  • A configuration-less bespoke casting solution
  • An Asset monitoring tool used across airports and delivery centres worldwide to help safeguard mission critical assets.

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. 

10am - Evaluation and review

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.

10:30 – Code, test, review, repeat

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.

13:00 - Lunch break

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.