Hi, I’m Jonathan.
For the last twenty years I have worked as a technical consultant, solution architect and software developer for a systems integrator in the UK called Deltascheme.
A little while ago I was asked if I might write a few words for the company website, titled “15 minutes with” — responding to a number of open questions, and introducing myself to those that might not know me — allowing a little more insight into the person they might be working with on future projects.
What is the first thing you do when you start work?
Mornings in our house are quite manic. I have three daughters — two of which are still in education — so mornings often turn into a chaotic race to get them out the door, and clear the ensuing wreckage throughout the kitchen before sitting down to start my day. While working from home over the last year I have also been trying to get out running too — so invariably arrive home from a run on a morning right in the middle of a pretty accurate recreation of the Juno beach landings.
After sitting down at the desk in the “study” (otherwise known as the junk room), I pull my work laptop from it’s bag, boot it up, and start on the first of several cups of coffee. I watch Microsoft Outlook fill my in-box, and then delete any marketing or spam email immediately. I don’t follow “Inbox-Zero”, but I also don’t like to leave messages unanswered — I try to reply immediately if I can. This year Microsoft Teams has joined the fun, so I also check to see if I’ve been mentioned in any conversations.
What do you do in a normal day? Or how do you like to plan your day?
I spend the majority of my day writing code, drawing diagrams to help make sense of code I need to write, talking to co-workers to sanity check ideas, or writing documents to accompany customer project work. While working on projects, the day tends to plan itself — the screen becomes littered with wire-frame diagrams, notes, and fragments of programming. Over the last few years I have been using a paper “Bullet Journal” to plan each day — but just recently I have been experimenting with online applications such as Notion. I find myself relying on Microsoft To Do, Evernote, and Lucid Charts more and more with each passing month.
Throughout the day I check in with co-workers as time allows. While working from home it has seemed more important than ever to keep in touch with each other, if only to see how things are going. It’s been quite the change this year — switching from a busy office where conversation was only a chair turn away, to a solitary room, a computer, and invariably either Spotify, or the local radio station for company.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
Inventing new things. I’m often tasked with talking to clients about their requirements, and proposing ways in which we might be able to help them. This can often start with scribbled drawings, and within days or weeks turn into prototype systems.
I also enjoy teaching — in the past I have regularly hosted sessions for business people to learn more about the various platforms and technologies we employ to build solutions — “training the trainers” to become power users — to begin developing their own solutions, with the assurance of us waiting in the wings to help out should they get stuck. There is tremendous satisfaction when people start running with their own ideas, solving long-standing problems.
What is your biggest frustration? Or what challenges do you face on a daily basis?
The biggest frustration I commonly face is lack of documentation. While we strive internally to document source code, and provide notes for future custodians of the projects we work on, unfortunately the same isn’t always true of some of the commercial products the world relies on. Given the rate of change in our industry it’s not surprising — it’s just frustrating, because we always want to empower our clients to use the latest features and functionality provided by platforms — and they are often the least well understood, documented, or explained.
I think perhaps the biggest challenge I face on a daily basis is deciding how to solve problems, and how far to go with a given solution. Quite often there are a number of solutions to any given problem — from something fast that will solve the immediate requirement, right the way through to a more general solution to an entire class of similar requirements. Quite often you find yourself building a lesser solution based on either budget or time constraints, when you know a more complete solution was possible.
What is the best thing about working for Deltascheme?
Of the companies I have worked for, and the organisations I cross paths with on a regular basis, the single biggest differentiator seems to be trust. Within Deltascheme, as a team, we trust each other almost implicitly. We trust in each other’s opinions, abilities, and work ethic.
Trust naturally translates into autonomy — which provides a huge level of freedom in how we approach solution design and development. In turn, autonomy removes a lot of the pressures traditionally associated with our field of work — the only real pressure we face is that which we apply to ourselves — pushing to continually improve the way we do things, and the results those methods bring.
What do you do when you get home after work?
Away from work I try to go running a couple of times a week — it helps me switch off from everything. When not helping with my daughters college homework or doing chores, I can either be found writing, playing board games, watching terrible movies, or tinkering with retro video games.
While my children can lecture me endlessly about the latest drama unfolding on Tiktok, Instagram, and Snapchat, I can still teach them a thing or two about Tetris, Mario, and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Originally published at https://jonbeckett.com on January 27, 2021.