For the second instalment of the Infocus series the Inform Billing team are fresh from the Channel Champions Awards 2023 and keen to share what happens behind the scenes of their award-winning business. Over the last year as they continue to grow, they have invested further in improving areas that continue to set the company apart from its competitors.
Wayne Churchill, senior developer at Inform Billing for five years, details his responsibilities, daily activities, and the aspects of his role that he enjoys the most.
Wayne’s primary responsibility lies in enhancing and maintaining the various software systems within the Inform ecosystem. He ensures that coding standards are followed, mentor’s junior team members, and actively participates in knowledge sharing between different departments within the organisation. Additionally, he collaborates in the planning stages of software enhancements and minor issues. Organises and is actively involved in code reviews and provides third-level support for the company’s main products when needed.
A typical day for Wayne can be varied and the dynamic nature of his work changes depending on the development cycle:
During the initial phase of a new release, he collaborates with the technical lead and project owner to plan service tickets(1) and determine the requirements for meeting the business expectations.
In the middle of a development cycle, Wayne works on assigned service tickets, ranging from minor issues to substantial software enhancements, while also assisting junior team members.
Towards the end of a cycle, he works closely with the technical lead, head of product, head of technical solutions, and project owner(s) to prepare for the release of code into the production environment. Simultaneously, Wayne provides support and assistance to the test team and resolves any production issues that arise.
When asked about the aspects of his role that he enjoys the most, Wayne said: “I enjoy how varied my job is. Being a small company, the development team have to get involved in all aspects of the development life cycle, which keeps us on our toes. I really enjoy producing solutions to problems posed by the business and writing code to implement those solutions.”
With over three hundred partners, Inform Billing’s award-winning customer service continues to go from strength to strength. Staying close to individual customers’ needs, the billing platform is a modern API driven software product, with a fully controlled development roadmap that has continued reinvestment.
Wayne comments about a time that he has gone above and beyond for one of Inform Billing’s customers: “We often have to get involved with helping other developers connect to and use the API’s we provide, and once I had to help a developer at one of our customers generate an authorisation token to access our API using a language that I have not used before.
Even though this was not our problem, as we simply provide the API for consumption, I took the time to research how to achieve what they needed to do and was able to give them the required code so they could continue their integration with our system.”
Training and mentoring
A key part of Wayne’s position is the support and coaching that he provides to more junior team members. Currently undertaking a training software developer position, Kelvin James, works closely with Wayne on a day-to-day basis.
Focusing on familiarising Kelvin with the Eclipse(2) platform, ensuring he comprehends the purpose and requirements of assigned tasks. The platform is complex, and it can take a long time to fully understand and appreciate the inner workings of it.
Wayne added: “Usually when Kelvin is assigned tickets, I will work with him to understand why the ticket is required and what the business wants to achieve from the work. I will make sure he is completely clear on the result we are looking for and how we want to go about achieving that result.
I think that by doing this it helps Kelvin develop in many ways. By ensuring a developer gains a good grasp of the task they are talking about, in turn will ensure they can be certain that when they produce the required solution, it will meet the criteria that was asked for.”
In complex coding situations, Wayne, along with Chris Butler, technical lead, provides guidance to Kelvin, emphasising the importance of writing code in a generic manner to benefit future projects.
Wayne commented: “Being a junior developer, Kelvin will sometimes fall into a trap of writing code to solve the immediate problem at hand which doesn’t sound like a problem on the face of it, however, more often than not, the solution can be written in a more generic way which would potentially allow other developers to use the code being written for other tasks in the future.
This is something that I personally think will help Kelvin grow into a senior developer and set him apart from mid-level and junior developers. Senior developers appreciate that if code can be written more generically it is quite often cleaner but more importantly can be used by many other processes going forwards without the need to keep re-inventing the wheel.”
Kelvin commented: “It has been great working with Wayne and the team. I have learnt a great deal and I am gaining a lot of experience. Wayne breaks down situations and simplifies things for me in a way that I can understand. The support from him and the forward-thinking team is really helping me develop and grow, especially during the early stages of my career.”
Mark Dagley, head of technical solutions, Inform Billing commented: “The development team has a strong mix of talented individuals. They can support the development and evolution of the software, as well as in-depth customer queries. We are proud to be at the height of our game and have some exciting projects planned.”
Reflecting on the team dynamics at Inform Billing, Wayne emphasised a dedication to hard work and talent, coupled with a genuine commitment to delivering customer-centric solutions. Although a smaller company, Wayne expressed feeling valued and appreciated, a sentiment he felt was sometimes lacking in larger organisations he had worked for previously.
Wayne added: “I have been at the company for five years now and there is a real sense that you are valued. I think being part of a smaller company you feel appreciated a lot more than if you were a smaller cog in a bigger wheel, as I have sometimes felt, when I have worked at larger companies in the past.”
Currently, Wayne is actively involved in a key project focused on developing middleware to retrieve and transform data from Inform Billing’s API.
To find out more about the development team and Inform Billing, please click here.
(1) Service ticket – a service desk platform ticket is an event that must be investigated or a work item that must be addressed.