Friday 26 November 2010

Week 17: BOOM!

"I am pleased to advise New MID ####### has been added and is now ready for use on vTID: #######"

These words might not mean much to you, but this Friday morning, those words lifted our spirits and sparked the machine into action. With these words, we knew the banking configuration was complete, and we were ready to roll.

Let me take you back 17 weeks to 1st August 2010. Our goal was to "get a trial product ready for 1st November 2010". Well, we did that and then we did a whole hell of a lot more. With the help of a willing and adventurous early adopter, we went from nothing to a trial system in just nine weeks, and set the new goal of getting our system to make collections online.

Over the last 17 weeks, we've all learnt new skills, quelled the concern that this might not actually work, and stuck together in a single, team-held belief that you can collect debt completely online. It's not just been about software either, we've struggled with banks, scratched our heads over security regulations, learnt lessons about building a team, and tussled with the mountain of administration that stands in front of all new businesses.

Back to today.

With everything primed, everything set, and everything tested we pointed our system at our customers and waited. The time was 13:05. As the minutes passed, we watched customers opening emails, authenticating, considering, but none biting. Then, at exactly 1 hour 36 minutes and 16 seconds later, our first customer completed a card payment. Proof at last, that people are willing to negotiate and settle, outstanding amounts online.  The excitement was fantastic, and it continued, as another three payments came in quick succession.

This is only the start, only hours into our first collections process. The future can only hold more excitement, more success. We want to bottle it.

Next week, we'll take a moment to reflect and thank the people that have made this awesome development possible.

Excitement levels:  OMG!
Office music this week: Muchuu sweetness

Friday 19 November 2010

Week 16: Bunch of bankers

I'm not going to complain about banks. We got confirmation through from them today, so next week should be the second attempt at a triumphant launch. Still, I did get bogged down in the vagaries of writing the new bank payment security protocol called 3D secure this week. You know it. It's the one where you're asked to verify by Visa or Mastercard secure. You get to the site, forget your password, reset your password, scratch your head, then pay anyway. That one. Thankfully though, it looks like we overcame that little hurdle, so all systems ready.

Rog has been valiantly plugging away at the remaining 2-3 million security rules, but thankfully that is now finished. Just a few more documentation issues to go through and I reckon Rog will have PCI DSS completely done and dusted. We are one very secure shop.

Mike has had a bummer of a week. Not to put too much meat on the bones, but just consider a 10 hour round trip drive for a meeting that is cancelled on arrival. Now add to that listening to the horror that is Radio 1 for those 10 hours and I think you can see that we're lucky he came back at all.

We've received some great feedback recently and made a couple of tweaks to the application that provide a huge amount of benefit to the clients. Now we're just hoping that this really is the last week of waiting.

Excitement levels:  Dear Santa, please let us go live next week.

Office music this week: Headphones... Marnie Stern featured heavily.

Friday 12 November 2010

Week 15: Cranking up the calls

Listen to Gold Panda

So another week has passed and we're still waiting for the bank to sort out their stuff. I wonder how it's possible that such important parts of the economy can work so slowly. Humphing about it won't speed it up though, that's for sure.

This week has been a wrangle of office updates. Rog has been battening down every single security hatch he can find.  It won't be long until we need face recognition software just to get into the office.  Your data is safe with us.

I've been working on our payment page.  It now looks much much better and the user experience is cleaner and easier.  Unfortunately though, I have now moved onto incorporating 3D secure.  That's the Verified by Visa and Mastercard Secure features. It's so incredibly complicated and convoluted that it's a real struggle to protect the user from issues.  It'll take our very best efforts to prevent confusing users when the inevitable password errors happen.  I think we can do it though.

Mike has moved into overdrive now. We've realised that the quickest and easiest way to ensure everyone understands and wants what we have to offer is to get in front of them and offer it to them. The more feedback we get the better we'll be able to resolve any concerns. Easy hey (glad it's not my job).

Excitement levels:  Waiting waiting waiting.

Office music this week: Gold Panda (due to a gig)

Friday 5 November 2010

Week 14: False start

I guess it’s almost expected to happen, but the Savvy team were prepared, tested and ready to rock but we couldn’t launch our first paying campaign. Why? Believe it or not, we had a banking set-up issue with our client that nobody had expected, and so we couldn’t take payments.  They got straight onto the issue to fix it, but our lumbering banking system once again is moving very slowly and it couldn’t get resolved all week.

We found it hard to adjust our plan after expecting to be monitoring live action all week, so we each retreated into our own comfort zones; Mike into sales activity (long drive to Cardiff and email marketing), Roger into PCI DSS compliance (he will grow to love it one day) and me into coding (rebuilt the payment page and all the CSS).

Our attention is now changing to our next development sprint, only we know that we could be asked to go live at any time. Now that’s a difficult balance to strike.

Last thing, we've discovered that we can't actually take the nasty decorative 'art' off the office walls, they appear to be held on by black magic. I have to prop my lovely Jack Hudson print on my desk. Still, nice and close to look at when day dreaming.

Excitement levels:  Rollercoastering.

Office music this week: None (possibly should have used eighties classics to pick us up)