In my past role, there are numerous responsibilities which are mostly cross department in some respects. There are general operational tasks as well as highly technical issues to attend to, client facing and managerial duties, the occasional piece of development and several (million) daily requests for advice/help ongoing.
Broadly, I have varying involvement regularly in:
- Frontend Development
- UX & Creative Design
- Sales & Marketing
- General Operations
- Project Management
- Processes & Policies
- Architecture & Standards
- Client Services
Days can be quite varied in terms of activities, but a typical day in the office in The City of London, would look something like the following…
9:30am: Arrive at the office, having ambled through the city for 25 minutes from where I currently live in Southwark.
9:45am: Respond to email questions across the board, usually related to the department, which have trickled in from the previous evening.
10:30am: Start the daily code reviews. Code reviews are “Pull Requests” submitted by developers when they wish their work to be committed to the product workflow. They work on a “branch,” when this needs merging they need it reviewed. There are a handful of code approvers in FED, and a typical day can see upwards of 30 requests.
10:45am: Attend a meeting about a technical requirement on one of the projects. In this discussion, which I only offer 30 minutes for, the Project Manager in charge is looking for recommendations on a technical approach to take.
11:15am: Leave the meeting and respond to some amends made on the previously commented code reviews from earlier. Approve all for merge subsequently.
11:30am: Meeting with another Project Manager about task allocations (resourcing) for the coming weeks. People are advised to submit their resource requests early, but in agency world there are frequent complications which cannot be avoided by any amount of planning.
11:45am: Whilst I’m there, the project manager asks for a quick review of some literature to be sent to a client regarding financials – all seems present and correct.
11:50am: A moment of space, a good opportunity to back-up some databases for a small development exercise due in the afternoon.
12:00 noon: Meeting with the rest of the senior management team to catch up. These happen from time to time, usually if I call them. A typical management style meeting of what’s gone well, what’s not gone so well, where can be improved and anything new coming up.
12:45: Lunch – most days this is 30 minutes, although some days I’ll take the full hour. Usually this involves a trip to a local outlet to source something (un)healthy.
13:30: Interrupted (but it’s okay!) for a quick question about one of the projects.
14:00: Start discussion with the Lead Designer about some creative process we’re introducing. He has some ideas and has been making templates which we review together.
14:30: Another round of code reviews; this time discussing with another senior FE developer one of the issues
14:35: A blind panic springs out of nowhere about a critical issue found during testing. In reality, this transpires to be a classic case of not clearing device cache before testing! It can be amusing when such events occur.
15:00: A client is due in to run through some designs we have produced. This type of demo meeting includes the designer, sometimes lead designer, client, project manager and occasionally me. This one is quite far through the process and it is unlikely there is going to be much need for me to contribute, so I only stay for the first 30 minutes.
15:30: General stroll around the developers to see how things are progressing. One colleague is working on something complicated so I provide some direction to avoid time wasting. Developers can be quite proud individuals and on occasion won’t ask for help unless critical, so I like to try and catch this early before it causes issue.
16:00: Using the backed up databases, there is a ticket in the support system which makes sense for me to do. I read the requirements, locate the problem, establish the point of failure and implement a change to the way the code works. This is not a patch, but rather an extension. It’s also only a small thing, so takes one hour. I inform the QA that this is ready for testing. It can be quite trying when focussing on such technical areas being interrupted for other issues.
17:00: More code reviews quickly, before catching up with sales and marketing about an upcoming pitch the following week. Pitches happen quite a lot, and usually technical/creative assistance is required. I typically will be involved throughout and this usually entails running through our portfolio, discussing engagement model, talking about the organisation and the history, talking about the current set up (number of personnel, skills, turnover, locations, processes etc.), and talk about costs. A pitch is usually one of many procurement stage discussions we go through collaboratively as an organisation when on boarding new clients.
18:00: Most of the developers and designers start to depart for the day, with a few remaining. I’m normally one of the finals to leave, somewhere between 18:30 and 19:00. This end part of each day is frequently the most peaceful and can be very productive for catching up on architectural aspects of the department, such as improving our in house libraries. If I make significant progress, I may stay on a bit longer.
End of day: Walk home if it’s not raining. This is usually quite nice, especially after the chaotic rush has depleted.
In addition to the sample schedule from a single day above, there will have been about 70 questions asked throughout the day by all departments and any members of the organisation. This number of questions can be quite fatigue inducing, as it causes such context switching it can be difficult to remember where the last conversation left off.
Like in any role, there are occasions where one has to do things beyond the daily grind, like be at the station for 7am to catch a train to somewhere in the North, or remain behind after end of day to resolve a crisis, or engage in client/colleague entertainment (this is good), or be at an event all day somewhere remote, or even fly to other destinations to conduct workshops or meetings on site and stay over etc.