A day in the life...

of James the Desktop Support Analyst

I start the day by trying to make it to my desk without being pulled aside for help – usually, I’m successful!

Once settled, I go through my emails and check the helpdesk queue. As we work internationally, there are typically items to go through that have come in overnight, alongside items that have been logged by UK staff that morning.

In such a dynamic company, we receive a whole range of queries and issues. Ranging from day-to-day challenges like Outlook problems, password resets and hardware replacements – to more in-depth tasks: such as setting up new servers, updating and maintaining our company IT policies, troubleshooting connectivity issues and everything in between.

We are proactive in the upkeep and maintenance of our infrastructure and network. When we spot something we think can be improved, updated or replaced, it’s documented and a plan of action is created. This is then put into our (ever-growing) list of tasks and prioritized accordingly.

I have been fortunate enough to have worked with some great enterprise-level technologies and hardware, and as IDBS and our products grow and change, we need to make sure our infrastructure is set up to handle everything that’s thrown at it.

At lunch I try to resist gorging on McDonald’s (well, not every day at least!) and get some fresh air by walking around the Surrey Research Park, where we’re based.

After lunch, I start liaising with the US offices. At around 12/1pm we can get in touch with the East Coast. As there is not an IT presence in the US, I try and keep in touch with these offices as much as possible, to make sure everything is running smoothly and everyone is happy. As part of our infrastructure maintenance, we always look for ways to make remote administration for our offices abroad as easy as we can, while giving them the technologies they need to carry out their day-to-day tasks efficiently.

Towards the end of the day I normally pick one task to carry me through until I leave – this can include lower priority or administrative tasks that can be carried out once the more immediate items have been completed. As some people start and finish earlier than our team, I will also get out on the floor around this time, as it gives us a good chance to get on any machines that require troubleshooting.

The last task for the day is to make sure the backups are set to run for that night – then I do it all again the next day!

of Brian the Developer

Brian is a Principal Technologist and has been at IDBS for more years than he cares to remember. Primarily a Java developer, he captains the Spreadsheet Pirates improving the IDBS spreadsheet technology.

First things first – coffee. And depending on the day, maybe a quick chat about last night's Game of Thrones.

But the first real task of the day is what I call housekeeping and it starts with email. Working for a global company means that there are always emails in my inbox when I get to work. Actually, those rare days when I don' t have emails worry me more! I'm actually one of those people that like to work with minimal distractions, so I turn off the "ping" notification of my email and instead check it at pre-defined intervals - this allows me to focus clearly on the task at hand.

And the emails aren't just from colleagues and customers. We have ‘continuous integration’ in our development process and so next on the list is checking build and automation runs. Each night we generate full installation builds of our software, deploy them to test systems and then run automated tests on those systems – this then provides us with a health check of the current state of our software projects as we develop them. If there are any issues with any stage, then the system will email us and we can investigate.

Before hitting the code, I also review the state of our sprint (we use a SCRUM style of agile process) to see what my squad are up to and if there are any potential issues that need to be addressed.

Housekeeping done and onto my current sprint task. Working on new features using ‘user stories’ involves various stages of activity, including: research, design, coding, test and documentation. One of the great things about our departmental culture is that our development squad sits together and consists of developers, testers and tech authors, meaning we get fast, efficient feedback as we go. And not just feedback, but education too sitting together like this (and involving product management) makes it very easy to share knowledge and tips of the trade. This sharing of knowledge also spans into new technologies and techniques we're always discussing and trialling new things – it’s a great way to improve your skills.

This carries on until after lunch, when the squad gets together for our stand-up. Unlike other squads, we do this in the afternoon because we have squad members in one of our US offices. This is a chance for us to bring each other up to speed on what we did since our last stand-up, and what we're working on next. It's also a chance to raise any issues that might be blocking us – this is something that I'll then resolve.

Afternoons are focused back on user stories again, although (and this applies to mornings as well) there are often side-activities that occur – customer issue investigations, feature discussions with business analysts and UX designers

And finally, with a smile on my face more often than not, it's off home to get ready for another day.

Check out our video to know more about life in software development at IDBS.