You might have seen us advertise for ‘app support’ roles here and Seccl and wondered to yourself, ‘what exactly does that entail?’
Well, who better to ask than our first hire into the role, Hugo Harbinson. In this blog, he explains what it all means and why it’s so important to Seccl’s continued growth, before taking us through a typical working day…
It might not be the sexiest of names (we’re actually pondering a rebrand – answers on a postcard, please!) but, in short, ‘application support’ engineers are a tech company’s ‘first responders’: they leap instantly onto technical problems, and try and fix them as soon as they occur.
It’s all about using technology to solve problems at scale, as quickly as we possibly can. While the role might be common within technology, as far as I’m aware it’s a bit rarer within financial services.
In that sense, it’s a really important part of our mission to become the most efficient player in the market, by allowing our operations and customer teams to resolve issues in record time.
As a fast-moving start-up in the complex world of finance, we need to be able to react quickly to plug holes, solve problems, monitor performance and pull trends – and that’s exactly what my role entails…
I’ll start each day by meeting with the operations team, to hear what technical issues they’re struggling with, and what solutions or fixes they need built that day.
I’ll then take these issues into the daily triage meeting. A quick 15-minute stand-up that takes place each morning, it brings together Seccl’s Customer, Operations, Product and Engineering teams, to discuss and prioritise any urgent issues.
It’s in this meeting that I’ll help to explain to the engineers some of the issues that were raised by the ops team (usually bugs that have occurred in the system), or provide some data analysis that can inform our investigations.
Next it’s down to work. We have a backlog of projects that we’re working on at any one time, all designed either to help the operations team to function more efficiently, or to streamline the system so that new functionality can be integrated with the minimum fuss.
Depending on the task at hand, they can require a fair bit of time and planning, and will lead me to work pretty closely with both the Ops and Product teams so that I can come up with a solution that works for both.
These longer-lead items are always trumped, though, by any priority ad hoc requests that come in; so if something urgently needs doing, I’ll park the backlog and divert all my attention to fighting the fire.
These issues could come from Customer, Ops, Product – anywhere, really – and will usually require me to build some Python scripts to interact with the API or database. I’ll pull info at scale to analyse the issue, then use scripts to fix any problems. We work on a same day turnaround usually fixing within the hour – high octane stuff.
Another aspect of my role focuses on educating and training others in the team, equipping them with the skills and tools to automate tasks and make their work more efficient.
I’ll regularly give Python classes, create documentation and support colleagues as they undertake their own projects designed to make their every-day life easier. I’ve also been helping create some training material for the wider advice market, which we’ll hopefully be going live with later in the year: watch this space.
The final bit I’m responsible for is management insight and reporting. By using Python to pull and manipulate Seccl’s internal data – and displaying it on cool tools like Airtable – I can hopefully help others in the business to understand key trends around our customers and book of assets, and identify potential avenues for growth and efficiency.
It’s a really varied role. As well as the sense of achievement that comes with solving burning issues, I also get a lot of satisfaction from helping others and creating an internal culture that’s focused on automation and efficiency.
I’ve only been here four or five months, but already the team is achieving a huge amount – and has the potential to grow in so many directions.
It’s a really exciting part of the Seccl machine, and if it sounds like something you’d like to be part of, then definitely get in touch!
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