A day in the work-life of Andrew Paul Bowden

Published on 16 November 2007 in , , , , , ,

If you’ve ever wondered quite what a Senior Development Producer working on interactive TV products gets up to for a living, now is time to find out. And if you’ve never wondered, now is the time to find out. Below is how Thursday 16 November (aka yesterday) panned out.

0900 – arrive at work and get coffee. Perhaps the most important part of the day. Stare at the stash of emails in Outlook, and take a scour of various blogs and message boards. This might sound a bit dossy (lazy BBC employee scum!) however part of my job is knowing what’s going on in the industry, and having a feel for what real people think about the services we provide. I used to think that that was always a bit of a pipe dream – that I never actually had time to do that. That was until I realised that I was doing it every morning whilst waking up and supping the coffee.

0945 – normally this would be the morning standup, where the team gets together to discuss what they did yesterday, what they’re going to do today and what, if anything, is getting in their way. (For anyone in the know, yes, we use Scrum – at least a slightly adapted version of it). However today is planning day, so I get fifteen minutes extra wake up time.

1000 – planning meeting! The Freesat team – like most teams in the TV Platforms Group – plan two weeks of work at a time. Everything is planned in a customer focused way (called “user stories”) and are based around themes. One recent story says:

As a producer, I want to to be able to display content in a quarter screen story template.

Which basically means, I want them to allow me to put something on screen for people to read.

In the planning meeting, the stories are broken down into a series of tasks, which are then estimated by the software engineers and the testers. My role in this basically consists of explaining what I want to happen, and answering questions on how I want everything to work, but other than that, my input in the planning isn’t huge. My role is basically a Product Manager role – I work with everyone to decide what’s in, what it looks like, and how it works.

1145 – in some past projects, planning would take all day which was generally horrible (and indeed we did get fed up and did a lot of work to change that!) but for Freesat planning is usually about 90 minutes. Today it is slightly longer. We disperse, whilst I go off with one of the engineers to move a whiteboard – the current one is too small, and there’s a large one near my desk not being used.

1150 – laugh at the day’s Dilbert, stare at my to-do list and start thinking about a meeting to discuss template layout with some colleagues in the FM&T Journalism department. The project designer works from home two days a week, so I need to find out when he’s in the office before I organise it. Then crack on with updating some Freesat requirements documentation.

1230 – realise haven’t pressed send on my email to the project designer (whoops!)

1240 – go for lunch in the canteen. There’s always a wide selection, but on Thursdays there is always, and I mean always, chicken of some form, with rice of some form. Today its lime and coriander chicken with Thai fragrant rice and papaya dressing. Foie Gras remains firmly unavailable.

1345 – more coffee! Answer some more emails (one proclaiming that I don’t want a BBC calendar or diary, because I never use them – the excitement eh?) and set up the meeting with the colleagues from FM&T Journalism. An out of office immediately turns up. Ho hum.

1415 – one of our producers is having trouble loading up one of our configuration tools – I was the producer on the tools ages ago, and they still raise their head every now and then. For some reason, when I start it, all works fine!

1500 – send a batch of information about Freesat configuration to the FM&T Journalism team – they won’t need the information for a month or too, but it’s always good to be ahead of yourself – and if it does arrive early, no one will complain! They ask for a little more info, which I duly provide whilst listing to a backstage.bbc.co.uk podcast.

1545 – one of the engineers comes over with a few questions about templates. It’s a nice, easy question. The kind a like.

1600 – looking at the requirements doc again. Most of the changes so far have been minor. Some new screenshots which need inserting, and a few little changes here and there to make. This version won’t go out for another week or so when I get

1630 – The TV on my desk is still on after I checked something earlier, and now it’s showing “Nina and the Neurons” on CBeebies, where young children are being shown that all scientists wear big white coats, safety goggles, red nail varnish and green eye-shadow. Apparently they’re trying to find out how many colours tere are. It is strangely hypnotic – having a TV on your desk is rather dangerous like that. I switch it off instead.

1640 – Nearly home time. I’m a 9-5 person – rare in this office. Most people do around 9:30-5:30. It’s been a quiet day – Thursdays are non-meeting days supposedly, although all that tends to mean is that my Wednesdays get chocca with back to back meetings. Receive email suggesting a visit to the pub. Hmm… tempting.

1650 – impromptu conversation about Weather. No, not the weather, but the BBCi Weather service on BBCi. But hey, that aside, everyone loves talking about the weather.

1700 – time to head off to The Royal Oak in Borough, although get another last minute suggestion from a friend to meet closer to home later in the evening. Can’t reach Catherine on the phone – in a tube tunnel I presume. Will have to meet up and sort it out. Reasonably productive day – got some things sorted out that I’ve been trying to get done all week. Am wondering though if this makes a particularly interesting blog post…