OPINION7 February 2013

Week 3: Getting there. Or are we?


Tom Holliss is stuck in software development hell, battling bugs and wrestling with big tick-box design decisions. Welcome to week three in his diary of a research start-up.

Part of the business involves an online reporting system. It’s looking great, and a lot of hard work has gone into it. However every time I think I can lay one element of it to rest and focus on something else, a new bug pops up to suck up more of everyone’s time and delay full launch further.

And the further on we go, the more nitty-gritty the work becomes. Thrashing out nine pages of terms and conditions was a delight last week, safe in the knowledge no one will ever read them – and I actually pity them if they do. But at least, should the worst happen and our server be bombed or taken over by pirates, I’m pretty sure we’re covered.

That, along with constant questions – such as whether to put a tick box or a drop down on this page, or flags or currency symbols in the menu (a surprisingly emotive decision that one) – has drained me a bit. When development is complete, I look forward to being able to think a bit more strategically about the way in which the company moves forward.

On the lighter side I did have one reason to laugh this week. As part of the surprisingly long and arduous process of implementing SagePay for online payments, you are asked to jump through certain hoops and answer questions about your business – all to do with data security etc. A few days ago I got an email from our contact there, informing me that the underwriter will only process our application once they have received official, written reconfirmation of our average project turnaround time. Apparently 4 to 12 hours is so much quicker than the industry standard that it’s suspicious and we are not to be trusted.