Professional December 2016/January 2017

A week in the life of is sponsored by

A week in the life of... A week in the life of...

Steven Tucker Managing director, The Payroll Site Ltd


and macOS versions. They’ll manually check each feature of each page of our site, as they do for every new browser version we support.

the same thing every time the site asks for a password. Our site asks for passwords for the government gateway, NEST and KashFlow so it is bound to confuse customers when their browser sets all the passwords the same. I give another developer the task of changing the site to prevent this happening. Browsers keep finding new ways to anticipate what a user might want without giving web developers a way to override them. Instead, we have to work out what cues the browser is using and change them so the unwanted behaviour isn’t triggered. A few of our staff grow fruit and vegetables and they sometimes bring them in to the office to share. Today, we have a range of different types of chilli. All the chilli-lovers in the office gather round to taste them and compare notes. I take some scotch bonnets, which I’ll put into a chilli con carne later. The next release is nearing completion. The developers have tested their changes on our development system and put them into our version control system. I transfer the changes onto our main test system and check them over in one browser. There are a few adjustments and then the team set about browser testing the release, which entails testing every change in every supported browser, including the one on the new Mac. Once the final issues are resolved, I convert the changes into a patch, for release to customers next week. My work done, I lock up the office and head home clutching my scotch bonnets. ❏ Unusual expense items I claimed mileage allowances for business trips in my Mercedes 190, running on used vegetable oil from a local Indian take- away ( Friday

The week starts with a major software update. Our system is easy to update and we release small changes nearly every week. Most are done while the system is running, but today’s update adds some new fields to the database, which means kicking off all active users. Most of our customers are in the UK, so I get up at 4am and log on from home. All is calm and nobody is logged on, so I apply the update. Thirty seconds later, it is up and running again with the new database fields for the apprenticeship levy and a few other changes. I run through a list of checks and email out the release note to the support team. I get a bit more sleep and then head into the office. With a cup of tea by my side, I organise my tasks for the day. I discuss with our development team what’s going into the next release and who’s doing what. I will see it gradually take shape over the coming week. We’re short-staffed today, so I do a stint on customer support. I help customers with queries about automatic enrolment and transferring accounting figures to QuickBooks. As usual, I also get calls from people who work for large companies and think we are their payroll department – that’s the downside to being the first result that comes up when you google “payroll”. In the morning, I have a meeting with Alyson, our customer service manager. She gives me a summary of new customers, common support queries and customer suggestions. We also discuss what’s in the pipeline for the next few releases. I pop out to buy a new Apple Mac for the development team. They need it for testing that our system works with the new Safari Tuesday


One of the developers shows me the latest design idea for our site, which makes it easier to use on a mobile phone while staying consistent with the way the navigation works on full-sized screens. This design is getting better, but it needs a few more refinements before I will add to the release schedule. One of our data centres emails me about some planned maintenance next week that means our servers will lose their network connection for a few minutes. We’ve two sets of servers in different data centres, replicating data continuously. If there is a problem with our primary data centre, we swap them over so customers access the other data centre. That’s not needed this time, as the maintenance affects our secondary data centre. At The Payroll Site, Thursday is admin day. We each have a list of things that need doing every week. My list includes various backups and checks. By about 10am, my admin tasks are finished and I crack on with writing some FAQ answers for the website. After that, I try out some new wording for our online adverts and reply to a journalist who asked for comments to include in her article about shared parental leave. The developer who has been browser testing on our new Mac has found a problem with the password manager in the new version of Safari. It offers to remember the password for our site but if the customer accepts it, the browser automatically fills in Thursday

| Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward | December 2016/ January 2017 | Issue 26 50

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