At Rulesware, we work directly with clients, helping to perfect implementations of Pega software, usually in order to maximize the efficiency of a company’s business processes. We work with clients in a variety of industries, ranging from health care, to retail, to financial services.
This first article in our ‘Day in the Life’ series looks at the role of a Senior System Architect, or SSA—and looks specifically at the typical day of Rulesware SSA Israr Khan.
We thank Israr very much for his time and contribution!
Q: So Israr, what exactly is your title and role with Rulesware, and what kind of client are you working with now?
My title is “Senior Consultant” here at Rulesware. I’m currently working with a client on the west coast, in the health care industry.
I work here with a fairly large team: we have around 11 people from Rulesware working with the client, 7 onshore and 4 near shore resource. And we work with the client team as well—probably 7 or 8 people—in addition to working with 4 or 5 people from another vendor on the same project.
Q: Do you work directly with the client most of the time?
We come to work with the client every third week—which is when I get to see people in person—but I work remotely the rest of the time. Mostly I’m talking over the phone in conference calls and use lync as another communication channel.
Q: How did you get started as an SSA? Where did you work prior to Rulesware, and what was your education?
I was hired recently with Rulesware: I joined at the end of October 2014 as an SSA. Before that I was an SSA with another health care company, CareFirst. It was a fairly similar role: leading a team, working on the same kinds of development activities. The main difference is that I’m now working with a much larger team, and am learning more in order to further advance in my career. It’s been a great experience, I’m liking it so far.
Before I worked with CareFirst, I was with Bank of America as a Java Developer, and it was there that I received Pega training. After a few months of working in Pega there, I really liked it. And my mentor introduced me to the career path for Pega: he said you generally start as a CSA, move on to become an SSA and can then become an LSA, or Lead System Architect. I listened. Currently I’m an SSA and working on my skills and certifications to become an LSA.
Q: Tell me more about your role. What do you like most about it?
What I love about my role now is that I am constantly working with team members on new problems, and that we are all learning from one another.
In fact, one of my takeaways from this role is that you learn so much more when you help/guide someone else. So if there’s something I’m working on that I’m unsure about, and I then try to explain that issue/defect to someone else, it’s the process of describing it that always makes it more clear to me. (Laughs.) I suppose that’s a universal truth.
Q: And what does an SSA actually do?
The SSA is responsible for high quality development on Pega applications. The SSA is responsible for helping with design and development taks, and overseeing other team member’s development, and providing mentorship along the way.
At the beginning of a project, the SSA helps to analyze what’s required; the Business Analysts usually do the requirement gathering but we participate with the design of the solutions.
Q: How do you spend most of your time on the job?
I would say my main activities as an SSA include: answering questions, solving problems / resolving defects, working development stories and helping others.
Q: Can you offer any advice for people interested in pursuing a career working with Pega, or as an SSA?
I would start by saying: Just keep up doing the good work.
And utilize the Pega Developer Network (PDN). There is some good information out there on PDN, make good use of it.
I would also say: Don’t wait for an issue to come to you before looking it up or researching it; be proactive when you sense something might be a challenge, look it up beforehand. Then when it comes up you have some background knowledge and might be better able to come up with a solution.
And of course, don’t be afraid of trying new ways of doing things. Just try it and see if it works.
When it comes to Pega work specifically, my mentor once told me that if you are doing something that’s getting very complicated in Pega, you’re probably doing it wrong. In Pega, try using out of the box features more often. If your code or solution is too complicated, something is very likely wrong. Revisit the code and see if it can be simplified.
And finally: clean up. Once you finish coding, clean up the code.
Q: Tell us what a typical day in your life as an SSA looks like.
8am: I come into the office. Right away, I’m doing my best to go through the list of things I have to do that day: list of defects from our testers, so that I can review it all and have a handle on where we are in our projects.
8:30am: We usually have a triage meeting, followed by a status meetings at 9:30am to 10:00 and 10:00 to 10:30.
Throughout these meetings, I’m usually multitasking, too: trying to look into our list of defects and any new things that pop up.
And then once those meetings are done, we sometimes have weekly meetings. (Laughs) It can be a lot of meetings. Basically most days I’m booked usually until about 11ish. Conversations are always going on in between, too—especially if I’m onsite with the client.
If I’m onsite, I am often pulled into conversations with other developers, or if there are issues / defects e.g. System performance issues etc. Or I’ll get pinged by the testing team, who might see that there’s some strange behavior going on in the code, or might just ask me to take a look at something.
After 11am: After all of this – or in between – we have a tool called Rally, a defect tracker. I’ll see any defects assigned to me. I go in and do hands-on development work on these tasks.
And that takes me until the end of the day—and sometimes beyond. Sometimes I’ll log off at 5pm, or if there’s a crunch, like now a days, I’ll work in the evening—especially if I’ve had meetings all day.
But I’m usually done by 6pm, and work mostly 40 hours a week. That said, there have been weeks when if needed, we all put in the extra hours.
For this project, we are going live on March 9th—so I’m planning a vacation after that!
Are you interested in becoming an SSA with Rulesware? Check our Careers page for open job postings!