It is a hurried morning getting my kids to school so I arrive at work excited to sit down and focus! I have an email from a team leader of a client on the east coast with a question. They started using their application last week and I want to make sure they have a positive first impression. I call him back first so he doesn’t spend too much time spinning his wheels. He wants to make a change to the display of his sales pipeline on his dashboard. We make the change on the call.
This afternoon I have another client call to demo a new application. While testing, some questions come up. The client and I email back and forth a few times to hash out the details before the afternoon meeting where we will be introducing the database to one of her peers.
During this time I resolve a question asked by a client earlier in the week. My client asked, “Which is more effective: to pay a monthly fee in case they need to restore their data, or do you have to pay a penalty?” One advantage of using ‘Software as a Service’ (SAAS) is that the data is typically backed up by the software provider. For example, if you are using a desktop database such as Microsoft Access to store company data, you are responsible for backing up your own data. If data is not properly backed up, and the disk fails or the computer is stolen, the data is lost.
In the afternoon we have a staff meeting for Project Managers. There are usually 5-7 people that attend. We talk about internal processes such as the new way we are keeping track of staff availability (also known as resource utilization). We also talk about changes to our sales process including handing off projects from sales to project managers and initiating new checks and balances to how we estimate the time it will take to complete a job.
I work with a lively bunch, and there is always lots of input as people share their experiences. Next we discussed our ah-ha moments. I learn a lot from these discussions. People talked about new dashboard functionality, enhancing the user interface by adding color, setting permissions, and the pros and cons of using a new field type to display maps as graphics.
When I started to look for jobs outside of the sciences I was skeptical that I’d find a job where I’d be challenged to learn new things as often as I had in science research. My work as a technology consultant has proven to be equally challenging. The technology I am using to build applications is constantly changing. New features are released every few months, and old features are deprecated. While databases are our core technology, our clients often need to have their applications communicate with other systems. As a result we need to learn and integrate these other technologies. I have few regrets in terms of my area of academic research, because I followed my interests and passions, I do however regret that computer programming was not one of my early career passions!
My last call of the day is with a client who needs to archive unused data. The call included accounting and business development departments. Prior to the call, I analyze the data to determine where most of the application space is being used. I create a report with the data that is no longer being used and list the criteria for records to be on the report and develop a process they can follow on a routine basis when they need to archive again. During the meeting we inspect the data, review the archival process, and answer questions. Everyone agrees on the process, and we schedule the first deployment.
Things are definitely slowing down and I am looking forward to the next week and a half of vacation. I head out a little early and walk through the North Berkeley farmers market adjacent to our office every Thursday.