IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

Day in the life of

  • 3 May 2011
A Day in the Life of Business Analyst Daniel Reeve
Ellie: It’s been far too long since I interviewed one of the Retail Assist team for our ‘Day in the life of’ feature, so today I’m speaking to a relative newcomer to the business, Business Analyst Daniel Reeve. Daniel, how long have you been at Retail Assist now? Daniel: I’ve worked for Retail Assist since February and was employed by Aurora Fashions for eight months prior. Ellie: Could you describe a typical day at work for you at Retail Assist please? Daniel: It’s extremely varied and for the most part no two days are the same. My job role incorporates project management, business analysis and elements of support so I generally move between tasks within each area. Ellie: So what is it that most motivates you to get up and go to work in the morning – what aspect of your job do you enjoy the most? Daniel: I really enjoy how varied a working day can be, the days and weeks go so quick. I’ve always enjoyed seeing a development through to delivery, it’s very satisfying to remember when a project was initiated with just a stakeholder conversation and then months later you deliver the solution and the business benefits. The work and effort required during a project can be substantial but very rewarding. Ellie: Yes I think a lot of people will be able to identify with that feeling after successfully delivering a project. On the other hand, what aspects of your role do you find most challenging? Daniel: The biggest challenge within my job role is working for a client, which is then broken down into separate brands or businesses. Each brand uses a different combination of our core systems; they use different versions of those systems along with brand specific processes and procedures. With this business model, development cannot be standard as you have to factor in each brand’s variables. Ellie: That’s really interesting. I know that you’ve already mentioned working for Aurora Fashions, but what other previous experiences helped prepare you for your role? Daniel: The majority of my experience was spent with Argos for seven years. I worked in a number of IT roles during my time there and this is where I picked up a lot of project management skills. It was a very fast paced environment, working within a lot of business areas and there are many similarities within my current role. Ellie: Thanks for taking part Daniel. If any members of the Retail Assist team would be interested in being interviewed for the next ‘Day in the life of’ feature, or if any external readers would be like to write a guest blog for Retail Assist, please email…
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  • 21 Feb 2011
A Day in the Life of Product Coordinator Andy Thomas
Ellie: For my latest ‘Day in the Life of’ interview, I’m about to speak to one of Retail Assist’s longest serving members of staff, Product Coordinator Andy Thomas. How long have you been at Retail Assist now Andy? Andy: I’ve worked for Retail Assist for 10 years and 10 months starting in the Technical Services team and then moving to Store Systems when that team was created. Ellie: What’s a typical day at work for you then in the Store Systems team? Andy: A typical work day for me is usually split between support and development. I tend to get to work around 8:00 and that gives me time to deal with any support issues that may need to be resolved before the stores open. Throughout the day I’ll continue to dip in and out of support, dealing with calls as they arrive. In addition to my support role I work closely with a number of our clients on a daily basis progressing various projects. I’m also responsible for managing our RaX solution. This entails checking that all the services are running smoothly, dealing with any alerts that have been raised and setting up any new interfaces that may be required. The rest of my time is spent on software development; this could be writing new RaX interfaces for communication with new partners or adding reports/tools to enable the support teams to work more efficiently. Ellie: So out of everything you’ve described, what do you enjoy most about your job? Andy: The part of my job I enjoy the most is solving problems, these may be clients with a support issue or a project that requires software development. It’s a great feeling when you’ve got it working! Ellie: That must be really rewarding. As ever, I’d now like to know what you find most challenging about your role. Andy: Part of my job is covering on call for Store Systems. This is 24 hour coverage so the phone can ring at any time. There are lots of automated processes that run overnight and if the phone does ring you know that you’ve got to do your best to get things running again. No Pressure! Ellie: Did you have any previous experiences which helped to prepare you for the pressures of your current position? Andy: In my previous life I worked for an EPoS software provider starting in software development and moving to systems engineering. This taught me loads about retail, but also set me up well to join Retail Assist as the last client I worked on there became Retail Assist’s first client. 10 years on the knowledge I gained is still in daily use as another one of our clients is still using that same software I helped to develop. Ellie: Thanks Andy. If anybody reading this would like to find out more about working at our Support Centre in Nottingham, please email our Human Resources Department:…
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  • 17 Jan 2011
A Day in the Life of Operator Richard Pateman
Ellie: For the next instalment of our ‘Day in the life of’ feature, I’m about to interview Operator Richard Pateman. Hi Richard, we haven’t worked together much as you do a lot of out of hours work and are based at Retail Assist’s Northampton Data Centre – how long have you worked for the company? Richard: Hi Ellie, I have been at Retail Assist for 4 years and 6 months now. Ellie: So what is a typical day (or in your case, sometimes night) at work for you at Retail Assist? Richard: Since I starting working for Retail Assist I have seen a lot of new systems and contracts coming on board and I am responsible for monitoring all these systems to ensure 24/365 continuity which also includes day to day checks ensuring the Data Centre is kept operational. The types of things I do vary very much, these can include making sure that Merret SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are met by monitoring all of our overnight schedules and ensuring that any issues with our clients AS400’s are escalated to 2nd and 3rd party support personnel. I’m responsible for monitoring all of the Retail Assist Network, servers, routers, switches and hardware, which again involves escalating any issues to 2nd and 3rd Party support. I also keep regular checks on WDFE, RA-X, and Selfridges BMC, not to mention the remote desktop monitoring of Jane Norman, White Stuff and Awear. I look after a lot of the backups running on our client systems and can be asked to run manual restores of lost data and saves of a specific library or object. I also assist Jan Benjamin, the Operations Supervisor in setting up new procedures and documentation which the Ops team use to assist them overnight and during the day. There could also be a number of calls I take from clients or Retail Assist personnel that have issues with equipment or software out of hours which I would log on Ambercat / RSD (Retail Service Desk) and pass over to the relevant support party if it is something I cannot resolve myself. Ellie: What do you enjoy most about your job – what is it that motivates you at Retail Assist? Richard: It’s good to see the company expanding every year and the list of clients we support growing, as it is a vital part of Retail Assist. I also feel fortunate to work in an environment which has very good support teams and have found it brilliant working alongside Technical Services. They have aided me in understanding the job I do and systems we look after better than I could have done on my own. I have also built up some good friendships with people in Nottingham, and Northampton. Currently I am enjoying showing the new Operators around and teaching them the job as others did for me when I was the new boy. Ellie: That’s really nice. I’m afraid I’m going to ask you what you find most difficult…
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  • 24 Dec 2010
A Day in the life of Receptionist / HR Administrator Alaine Martyn
Ellie: For my next ‘Day in the life of’ interview, I’m about to speak to one of my good friends at Retail Assist, Alaine Martyn. Alaine, you started at the company before me, so I’m not sure exactly how long you’ve worked here – how long has it been now? Alaine: I’ve been here for 4 years and 2 months exactly. Ellie: Could you describe a typical day at work for you please? Alaine: Much of a typical day for me would be spent answering and making calls – along with reception duties I also carry out general admin tasks. In particular, I have a responsibility for HR, and act as a PA to the Directors as and when required. Ellie: To me, you come across as very bubbly and confident, which I think is important for your line of work. What previous experiences helped you prepare for your role? Alaine: That’s always nice to hear. Previously I worked for a security company and looked after 50 security guards, where there was always a query to be answered! I think that gave me confidence in working closely with people. Ellie: So what do you enjoy most about your job here? Alaine: I think that would have to be the people I work with – I’ve got to know some really nice people here. Ellie: That’s good – hopefully I’m one of those people, so I’ll take that as a compliment! On the flip side, what aspects of your role do you find most challenging? Alaine: My role can be quite pressured and demanding and I’m expected to meet tight deadlines. At times it would be helpful to be able to turn my 2 arms into 8! Ellie: So being an octopus would be useful? Alaine: Exactly! Well that concludes my usual ‘Day in the life of’ questions, but as it’s Christmas Eve, I’d also like to ask you what your festive wish would be a) for Retail Assist and b) for yourself? Alaine: I hope that all goes well for Retail Assist in the New Year and that we keep growing and expanding. More awards for the company would be good please. Ellie: We’ll do our best in the Marketing Department to enter some more awards next year! Alaine: For me, I just hope that all my plans for 2011 work out well. I’d like to do lots of socializing and seeing friends and hopefully meet a nice man for cuddles on these cold winter nights! Ellie: Haha I’m sure the offers will come flooding in after this interview! Thanks for that Alaine – Merry Christmas to you and everybody reading this. The next ‘Day in the life of’ feature will be published next year.…
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  • 26 Nov 2010
A Day in the Life of System Support Technician David Pollard
Ellie: As part of Retail Assist’s regular ‘Day in the life of’ feature, I’m about to interview System Support Technician David Pollard, who is based at our Data Centre in Northampton. Hi David, my first question as ever, is how long have you been at Retail Assist? David: I’ve worked at Retail Assist for 4 years now. Ellie: In 4 years I’m sure you’ve had lots of different experiences, but would you be able to describe a typical day at work here? David: For me a typical day can vary greatly, on a typical support day it will start by checking the unassigned technical services calls in Ambercat (our specialist call logging software). Those with a higher priority will be reviewed and resolved first, and then I will assign those that will require more attention to the support queue. For the rest of the day I will work on the calls that are in the support queue and monitor the unassigned calls queue for any new support calls. On non-support days I will typically assist with projects that other Systems Engineers are working on, and carrying out planned maintenance on a range of servers that we host at the Data Centre as well as at the Hub (Retail Assist’s Head Office). I will also be assigned resource work that people (internal and external) will have booked my time for – such as PC/Server Builds, software testing/implementation and other project work. In addition, I carry out a number of weekly/monthly tasks such as ensuring Anti Virus is up to date on all servers and clients, checking for inactive domain accounts, as well as assisting with desktop support at some of our client sites. Ellie: So what’s the best bit about your job then? David: I like the variety and the challenges each day can throw at you. I also find it quite rewarding when a fix I have implemented resolves a call. Ellie: What aspects of your role do you find most challenging? I know I may make your life difficult by logging a fair few Ambercat calls myself! David: Oh that’s just part of the job Ellie! There can be busy days where I am trying to resolve multiple calls simultaneously whilst keeping numerous people updated and fully informed of progress, those days can be particularly challenging. Obviously giving people answers that they really didn’t want to hear can be difficult. However, the most challenging aspect of the role for me is when there is a problem and I know the solution, but have to implement about 10 other solutions to get to the point where I can implement the solution that fixes the problem. On days like that the old rhyme about the old woman who swallowed the fly springs to mind. Ellie: For anybody who was thinking of applying for a job here, I think it would be useful for them to know what previous experiences helped prepare you for your role. How did you get into working…
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  • 15 Nov 2010
A Day in the Life of Marketing Manager Alex Ievins
  Ellie: As part of our ‘Day in the life of’ feature, I’m about to interview my boss, Marketing Manager Alex Ievins, to discuss what working in Marketing entails. Alex, you’ve been at Retail Assist for 6 months now – could you describe a typical day at work here? Alex: That’s a tough one as each day is different. Every Monday involves a meeting to review where we are at with regards to the marketing plan. A typical day tends to involve working on press releases, developing copy with the sales team, and any partners that may have been involved, plus liaising with clients for sign off.  We then work with our PR consultant to ensure we get effective distribution of the piece in key publications. We are currently in the process of re-developing our websites, and therefore every day involves monitoring any progress with our designers. This also means having relevant copy, images and photography in place, alongside newer marketing mediums such as podcasts and video content. Our social media strategy is key; we make daily updates to our corporate Twitter and Facebook accounts and weekly posts on our blog and LinkedIn page. At present we have a strong marketing campaign to introduce Merret to US retailers.  Therefore much of my time is spent managing this campaign, speaking to our partners SPI in the USA and Triquestra (an EPOS partner) in New Zealand. Whilst an important aspect of marketing is identifying new opportunities and lead generation, so is looking after our current client base, and gaining recognition for what we already do. Therefore arranging corporate hospitality events is of high importance.  We are continually working on award opportunities, entries, and developing case studies. Recently we have had a number of events, all of which require organising, inviting appropriate clients, getting together an internal team and co-ordination to ensure that everyone has a great time. Ellie: So what do you enjoy most about your job? You’ve certainly described a lot of different activities to choose from! Alex: The best aspect of my role is variety and the continually growing opportunity and changing environment for marketing, particularly in the IT services and retail sector.  There is always scope for new ideas, creativity, and trying things out particularly in the digital age.  Achieving our objectives is also another very satisfying aspect of the role, such as higher lead generation, gaining coverage in our key publications, setting up and running successful events.  Our industry and the role are very interesting, and also working with a great Business Development team. Whilst working hard I find that we have fun in the process, and therefore is a very enjoyable role. Ellie: And what aspects of your role do you find difficult? …Other than working with a difficult Marketing Coordinator that is! Alex: An aspect of the role which is challenging is finding new ways of getting our name our there, raising awareness and trying to ensure that we get in touch with the right people…
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  • 1 Nov 2010
A Day in the Life of Help Desk Team Leader Anthony Collings
Ellie: As part of our new ‘A day in the life of’ feature, I’m about to interview one of Retail Assist’s Help Desk Team Leaders, Anthony Collings, to find out more about his job and what it entails. Anthony, how long have you worked for Retail Assist? Anthony: I’ve been here for 4 Years now. Ellie: What is a typical day at work for you? Anthony:  At the beginning of the day, I have to make sure that everyone internally knows what they are doing, check Retail Service Desk and Ambercat (Retail Assist Service Desk software) for any p1 (high priority) calls. This ensures that we keep our clients up to date and do not wait for them to chase us. Then I generally just react to events and manage the Help Desk to ensure any jobs that come in over the course of the day get completed. This involves monitoring the ring times and call volumes to make sure we are achieving our client SLA’s (Service Level Agreements). I speak with clients throughout the day, both over the phone and by responding to and dealing with numerous emails. I also have to make sure that I’m available to help out any of my team if they need me. Ellie: What would you say that you enjoy most about your job? Anthony: Seeing problems get fixed is very satisfying. There’s also a great busy working environment on the Help Desk – all the team get on well. It’s good to get involved and make and suggest changes so that we can always improve. Ellie: Equally, what aspects of your role do you find most challenging? Anthony: The job can get a bit hectic when multiple clients simultaneously need support and call the Help Desk at the same time, so it’s important to manage your time to ensure that nothing gets missed. Ellie: What previous experiences helped prepare you for your role? Anthony: I worked in sales roles previously so was used to dealing with clients and speaking to people. I had little experience in management but have gained this ‘on the job’ working here. The key to enjoying the Help Desk is being able to work well under pressure and having a good sense of humour. Ellie: That’s great thank you Anthony. If anybody reading this would like to find out more about working at our Support Centre in Nottingham, please contact our Human Resources Department on 0115 8533910.…
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