2005 – 2006 / IRW Systems

Thursday, 02. 9. 2012

Yes I know, lame title. I did consider a wordplay around Northern Irish politicians, but do like to leave Glasgow in one piece on a Friday night. Anyway, working in Paisley with IRW was pleasantly satisfying. Having been the ‘techy guy in a design environment’ here I was the ‘design guy in a techy environment’. Jack of all trades master of none (and) in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king. Choose your cliche, they were both relevant here.

IRW were, and still are, a good old fashioned (and I mean that in a positive way) software solutions company. When other .COM’s were floundering and realising that people may not want dog food delivered to your door via courier, they were growing slowly by doing the ‘heavy lifting’ propeller head stuff really well. It may not be sexy, and it may not get you in Wired, but without the back end infrastructure, network and support there would be no .COM funkiness.

The long trail from Dunblane to Paisley was eased somewhat by the fact that I looked after IRW’s big kahuna client in Glasgow city centre. I was thankful also because the reduction in the number of trips to Paisley probably increased my life expectancy. IRW provided all IS/IT services to this client, a sales and marketing company with an interesting (and remarkably effective) business model that involves them capturing point of sales information in real time. So, in addition to administering on site support to the business, IRW also designed, built and integrated the software used by the sales force.

Sid and nancy

some familiar servers

It was ‘requirements engineering’ nirvana; working with representatives from various user groups within the business on the design of a web service which would replace their existing live data capture system. We were a small company, so as a requirements analyst and project manager it was necessary to consider non functional as well as functional requirements. This was round about the time I was building PC’s of various specifications (and with various degrees of success) at home, so the focus on issues such as hardware requirements, network configuration and disaster recovery bore a degree of relevance.

I think what’s particularly satisfying about being ‘closer to the tin’ is that it’s possible to understand more about the guts of a solution and why it is the way it is from the ground up. When I worked with Virtuality in 1994 it was a bit like being a racing driver in the 1930′s; not only did you have to know how to use your machine, but you had to be able to fix it if something went wrong. In the last 10 years or so as computing and IT services have become increasingly sophisticated and spawned a multitude of roles and specialisations. As a result the IT/IS guys have gone one way and the web dev / design the other. IRW was a good opportunity to realise how much I’d forgotten of both :-)

the 'Hillington Address'

the 'Hillington Address' given by Andy Walker the day I left... quite funny was Andy...

Leave a Reply