Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A day in the life of a local government software developer

I work in local government for East Northamptonshire Council as their Senior Systems Developer. Since April 2008, East Northamptonshire Council and Borough Council of Wellingborough have formed an ICT partnership. What this means is that East Northamptonshire Council provide ICT support to Borough Council of Wellingborough. Therefore my job spans across two local councils.

The purpose of my job is as follows:
  • To act as both Council's key system development resource
  • To investigate, analyse and design systems that will allow the efficient use and sharing of business critical information
  • Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the ICT infrastructure through the creation of new software and the integration of existing systems
  • To create and maintain a customer focused website and intranet across both councils
As well as being the key development resource, I am also the manager of the ICT Development Team, which includes managing the Web Developer.

There is certainly not enough room to describe everything that I do, but some of my main areas of responsibility would include the following:
  • Manage the development and deployment of new software applications, systems software and/or enhancements to existing applications throughout the Council
  • Ensure that development projects meet business requirements and goals
  • Lead on web development projects across both Councils
  • Manage the annual development budget
  • Manage the Development Team

One of the things I like most about working in my job is the sheer variety of work. I get to use a large variety of tools and technologies including Microsoft .Net, Internet Information Services (IIS), SQL Server and SharePoint to name just a few.

My background prior to this job was working for software houses in the private sector, where you generally work on the same product or application. In the public sector, there is definitely more scope to get hands on experience in a wider range of technologies, because you are developing a much wider range of applications across a much larger enterprise.

I am currently involved in a very exciting project to replace East Northamptonshire Council's Content Management System (CMS). This is the application that our Web Content Editors and my team use to surrender content to the web site. Our new partner is Jadu. I am also responsible for defining the necessary business transformations, project management and driving the project to completion. Once the web site is live, I will investigate how I can integrate it with Web 2.0 / social media, and leverage the benefits of those technologies.

I am also involved in upgrading the CMS for Borough Council of Wellingborough, using the same partner. This will involve re-designing their web site, and re-categorising their content as they are moving their content taxonomy over to the Local Government Navigation List (LGNL). All local government services are categorised in a standard way to make them consistent between different councils. So a bin collection in Northamptonshire will be categorised in the same way as a bin collection in London. This helps with navigating and searching for content on local government web sites. So changing their underlying taxonomy is not a trivial challenge, as all content will be affected.

Working in local government as a Senior Systems Developer is exciting and challenging in equal measure, and I consider myself very lucky to enjoy what I do.

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