Meet the Team: Heather Smith, Delivery Manager
Heather Smith juggles the managed services unit’s clients with working from home in The Netherlands while being a mum to a busy three-year-old. Her secret to success? Planning. And letting off steam on a bright green super bike.
Alison: What is it that you do at Annertech?
Heather: I am a “Delivery Manager”. I am essentially at Annertech to make sure that the clients of the managed services team get the value that they would expect to get out of our service – so they get what they’re paying for. I’m here to grease the wheels, keep the flow of cards moving and make sure that the clients are happy. It’s a lot of planning, a lot of communicating and a lot of meetings. The managed services team like to call me their human; I’m the face behind the cards.
Alison: What exactly is ‘managed services’?
Heather: The managed services team is the well-oiled engine room of Annertech, and I’m glad to be a part of this fantastic team.
We've a wide and varied remit that covers everything from security updates, bug fixes and version upgrades to shiny front end functionality, Accessibility fixes and general site assistance.
We're a team of 15 highly skilled technicians and 2 delivery managers
Whether success for you is having the latest features on your website, simply fixing broken things or you measure your success in uptime, managed services has got you covered. You can read more about what we can bring to your website here.
Alison: So how did you actually get into this line of work – planning, communication and meetings sounds a lot like marketing?
Heather: You’ve actually hit the nail on the head. I didn’t come into this role the traditional way. I started my career going on 10 years ago in the customer services department of a Continuing Professional Development organisation in the UK that focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. So that’s my background. I’m a customer services person – that’s what I’m trained in.
As part of that job we were building a new website and I was roped in from the customer services team to test the website from our perspective. I enjoyed doing that so much. We had a bigger project a year later to build an app. This project needed a projects assistant and I was seconded from the customer services team into the marketing department where the project was happening.
I did that job for three years and then we made the decision to move to The Netherlands. The company wasn’t geared up for remote working but it turned out that the agency that built the website and the app wanted to employ me. So that’s how this happened - I started remote working for another Drupal agency and then, yeah, here I am.
I’m a certified Scrum master and I’ve always done project management and that side of things. But web development and the internet and technology is actually where I love to be so that’s why I’m working with websites, rather than on a customer services hotline. One day, I might even learn to code.
I feel like I’m adding value, like I’m making a difference and it’s just generally an enjoyable place to work, at Annertech. The staff are great. It’s a cracking team.
Alison: Do you enjoy what you do now?
Heather: I absolutely love it. I feel like I’m adding value, like I’m making a difference and it’s just generally an enjoyable place to work, at Annertech. The staff are great. It’s a cracking team. I’ve been with Annertech since May last year, so I’m still fairly fresh blood. It’s been crazy for the last few months; it’s just been constant growth, which is great. The longer I’m here, the more I learn and the more enjoyable it becomes.
Alison: What does your general day look like?
Heather: Essentially I’m a digital project manager for 40 or 50-odd clients of varying sizes and levels of need. I take care of clients’ ongoing development needs. What that actually means is that I spend a lot of time on Trello, Teams and Zoom. I respond to all of the clients' new cards as the first point of contact, and ask the questions that need to be asked.
I do about 95% of my communication with clients on Trello. Because everyone can see everything there, it just makes life easier. That includes things like responding to reported bugs, asking questions for new features, making sure the development team can get started on those.
I’m also on email quite a lot. On email, it’s more about the bigger picture, so if client have bigger bits of development work they’d like doing, or longer term goals like the Drupal upgrades that we’ve just completed, then it’s easier to get it down on email.
Day-to-day it does get a bit hectic. It depends on what’s going on, but there’s a lot of time spent responding to clients and nudging tickets along, and generally being a helpful face for everyone: answering questions, finding documents, writing documents. If there’s a gap or a need, I try to fill it.
Alison: What are your interests outside of work?
Heather: A lot of my free time is taken up by my three-year-old daughter. When I do get time for myself it’s generally spent outdoors. Working from home means I spend a lot of my time within four walls or in the supermarket when I’m not at home, so it’s not exciting.
I like to try get out on my motorbike when I can, when the weather is good. I have a Kawasaki Ninja 650 from 1999, so it’s almost as old as I am. It’s my dream bike. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted a bright green Kawasaki Ninja, and I now have one…. sitting in my garage. So I am the happiest person. I’ve had it for about six months now and I love it to pieces.
The biking scene in Holland is quite big. You see a lot more cruisers though, like the bigger style Harley Davidson bikes, especially where I live. About five minutes down the road is the local Hells Angels club. The leader lives in our road, about two doors down, and there are always big bikes up and down our street on a weekend. I also have a small petting zoo at home with a dog, cat, three fish tanks and a Koi pond. More than enough to keep me busy!
Alison: What is it about your job that gets you going in the morning?
Heather: It is about watching sites evolve. I enjoy doing that; seeing things grow and the possibility of new things happening. For me to get out of bed in the morning and put on the computer and see a client requesting something new, that makes me happy. That’s what I’m here for – to see smiling faces. As life is increasingly lived online, being a part of shaping the landscape is hugely exciting.
Planning is such a fundamental part of any project and you do need someone to manage that side of things. People don’t always realise that. So often I’ve seen projects get in a hole because there hasn’t been time made for project management. It’s one of those things where you don’t know you need it until you need it.
Alison: Is there anything that you’d prefer to stay away from work-wise?
Heather: What I like to stay away from is a lack of planning and a lack of preparation because then you have to rush things and you don’t have the time to communicate properly about things. It just makes things stressful. It’s things with tight deadlines — and tight deadlines come because you haven’t planned enough.
Planning is such a fundamental part of any project and you do need someone to manage that side of things. People don’t always realise that.
So often I’ve seen in projects we’ll put time down for project management and the client will come back and say ‘I don’t need that much time for project management. I don’t need to pay for that. I’m going to manage it myself’ and then six weeks later you’re in a hole because you haven’t made time for project management. It’s one of those things where you don’t know you need it until you need it.
Alison Visser Head of Content
After more than two decades in journalism, Alison now collaborates with Annertech's clients to ensure that their content is the best it possibly can be.