10 July 2018
Being one of the two Delft-FEWS product managers is fascinating. Every morning when I commute to the Deltares office in Delft, I wonder what the day may bring. With operational forecasting and water information systems running in almost every time zone means having clients, consultants and colleagues all over the world, there's never a dull moment. The external e-mail feed from Australia is the first to enter (already saw those during breakfast...), followed by the ones from Asia, Africa and mainland Europe. The UK comes when I have my second coffee. After lunchtime and a quick stroll on the Deltares premises, North & South America wakes up. In parallel to this, there are also an internal feed of many Deltares colleagues (Delft-FEWS configurators, developers and ICT experts) who may need me at some point in time during the day, sending me e-mails, lyncing or skyping me or just wait at my door…
I immediately have to admit that it's not every day like this, but I just want to stress that it is a dynamic environment which I am (actually we all are!) working in. I think this is mainly caused by the nature of the scientific and application domain we are all in: operational (forecasting) systems. This operational aspect of the software we develop and services we provide in combination with the time zone fact it's a 24/7 span of attention.
Incoming questions requires certain expertise and JIRA* issues are good examples. They are all assessed on their priority. How urgent is it? Is our client still able to run their forecasts (with a workaround)? Or do we need to interact with and have a remote look at their (backend) system now? Depending on the answer, we have to act accordingly. Besides that, external questions always outweigh internal ones if you ask me. This operational dynamics is part of our job and I think it runs through our veins in some way or even we can call it some sort of addiction...can't hardly live without it.
As a product manager for Delft-FEWS you get a (very) wide range of questions or topics to consider. In whatever situation, the caller immediately assumes you're THE expert (and in some cases that's true ;-) so they expect a prompt, correct and applicable answer straight away. Since the question most probably relates to an operational issue and should - preferably - be solved today, if that's not possible this week but no later than by the end of the month.
All of the above more or less describes my day-to-day activities. Constantly switching between different attentions and appropriate responses which feels like holding a number of balls in the air like an expert juggler. Besides this metaphorical juggling, I have to admit that real juggling is also an old hobby of mine. I wonder who is challenging me bringing 3 clubs or 4 balls next time we meet...
By the end of the day I hope I have lived up to everyone's expectations to have (most of) the outstanding questions, actions points and e-mails answered or have them assigned to someone for further investigation or answering. One thing's for sure. Tomorrow will be roughly the same, but it could also be totally different….that's what I am looking forward to every day.
So, if you have ANY Delft-FEWS related topic to discuss…you know how to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
*JIRA: Deltares' bug reporting and feature requests tracking system
Delft-FEWS Product Manager Developments