This month, we’re bringing you a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the people behind our software and giving you an idea of how we work. We’re really proud of the work our brilliant software engineers do to create a system that is working hard for our clients, helping them to work smarter and faster. Over the next four weeks, we’ll be introducing you to each of our four development teams – Surf, Cove, Beach and Ship.
“I’ve been involved in Sennen pretty much since the start so I’ve been part of the technical team that has seen it evolve into the sophisticated product that it is now. Internally we have written our own development framework, and our customer-facing products are all built in this framework by our primary development teams Beach and Cove.
“My team is responsible for ensuring the framework functions seamlessly and offers the best user experience. We are constantly updating and adding new features – for example, we are currently working on a new feature which will allow users to filter their data from a slide-in sidebar, freeing up valuable screen space to show important data compared to the current fixed filtering. Development time required to roll out this feature to existing screens is minimal thanks to the underlying framework.
“Because our products are built this way, it’s crucial that the framework is robust and resilient, and we spend a lot of time ensuring we deliver the best user experience possible. I believe Sennen’s rapid delivery of features, when compared to our competitors, is because of this unique core framework. We don’t have to constantly build products from scratch, and we have been able to build and expand our products rapidly while maintaining a consistent look and feel with fewer bugs. Issues that do arise can be resolved quickly. As a result, we can put our focus on being proactive with our clients, refining their needs, and developing and enhancing products accordingly.
“There’s a great culture at Sennen which is based on trust. Each developer gets a lot of freedom to work in the way that suits them and it’s also very supportive. Having Paul (our chief technology officer) at the helm is really helpful because he understands the developer mindset and is heavily involved in the development process. We all solve problems together, and this is a huge benefit.”
“Team Cove has been working together for nearly two years. We’re all based in different parts of the country, from Devon to Cheshire, but we speak every day to share progress and problem solve together.
“We look after two aspects of the Sennen system – the Asset Portfolio Management product and the downtime analysis and SCADA data tools. We try to make sure each member of the team gets to work on both so that there is a breadth of knowledge.
“One of the major downtime analysis upgrades we’ve been working on recently is additional graphing features that allow a user to drill down into a lot more detail about individual wind turbines. Users can see real-time data on aspects such as temperature, wind speed and energy generated so that they get a complete picture on what is affecting turbine performance.
“We’re also working on a new feature, which one of our clients has requested, that will allow users to manage the event timelines all in one block so, if there’s a downtime event that affects the whole site, it will be much easier to record this from now on.
“In close collaboration with Team Ship, we are also in the process of implementing various upgrades so the tool can handle multi-technology assets, such as solar, as well as wind.
“Some important upgrades to the asset portfolio management features are also in progress. For example, one of our clients needed the system to process different currency exchange rates so we set about creating a feature that automated all of this, integrating a third party currency API, which allows them to pair different rates. We’re also collaborating with a client to expand the contract tracking capabilities so that a user can easily track the status of the various contracts they are responsible for managing, as well as automating some of the common jobs that need to be done.
“Another important part of our work is making improvements to the back end to ensure the system can scale to deal with large amounts of data. As more clients come on board with more assets, we have to make sure the performance of the system is not compromised. This is challenging but interesting work – and growing pains are a nice problem to have!
“As an organisation, we are very client-focused. We are often working in collaboration to solve a problem for them. Everyone in the team is dedicated to the work and takes it seriously, but we also have a relaxed, easy culture. No one worries too much about what hours we work, as long as the work is done. People are always happy to jump on a call and help each other. We have regular social get-togethers and the weekly Friday company quiz is always fun, with topics ranging from “Name That Sandwich” to “Guess The AI-Generated Art Style”. A recent quiz was unscrambling anagrams of Sennen team members’ names, although I have mixed feelings about my newly assigned anagram name: ‘Brit Bro Hormones’!”
“Our team works mainly on building applications and dashboards for the offshore wind platform and making upgrades to its functionality.
“One of the big projects this year has been improving the way restrictions are managed and handled in the system. A restriction is an issue affecting a particular location which operators need to be aware of while scheduling work and carrying out maintenance. Managing restrictions is a key health & safety consideration so it is important that we provide our users with an effective interface for it.
“Our upgrades now allow operators to report restrictions individually or in batches, activate and deactivate as well as archive them. We also make sure they are shown to the right users at the right time (to planners while they plan, marine coordinators while they acknowledge personnel transfers and so on).
“Our team is also working on Sennen’s new construction module which has been developed in conjunction with Ørsted. They needed a tool which allowed them to plan, schedule and optimise logistics during the construction of South Fork wind farm off the coast of New York. It is also helping them identify simultaneous operations (Sim Ops), ensuring two different teams aren’t inadvertently sent to the same location.
“It’s been an iterative process and we are excited to work on a brand new application of our platform, supporting wind farm construction.
“I enjoy working at Sennen. We solve challenging problems on a daily basis, but it’s not a high-pressure environment. People are realistic about what can be achieved in a given timescale. The freedom we’re given and the lack of micromanagement makes work enjoyable and it keeps our productivity high.”
“Team Ship is largely responsible for data integrations – essentially getting our clients’ data and making sure it is integrated properly into Sennen. We mostly work on the offshore wind product.
“No matter how different the data is, or where it comes from, we have to make sure that when it reaches our system, it is adapted to our internal standards in terms of format, units of measurement and so on, so that other parts of the system don’t have to change and that the user can do what they need with it.
“Often we are working with a variety of data sources such as APIs, databases and AWS Athena. At the moment, I’m working on integrating a lot of solar data into our downtime analysis tool.
“As a team, we are generally most active when a client is going through the onboarding process. Like the other teams, we work in three-week sprints, which is a way of separating a development project into smaller, more manageable blocks. We agree tasks, milestones and what we need to deliver and then we will meet each day, remotely, to discuss progress.
“The work is organic and diverse, and we get the chance to work with the other development teams or on small individual projects when the integration side is a bit quieter, which I enjoy. We get to experiment with new ideas and we respond to what the client needs.
“It’s great to be involved in projects that make the system work smoother and easier. For example, I’ve worked on building a generic data exporter which makes it easy to query time-based data, for example turbine SCADA data, and export it into a file (such as csv/parquet) to a specified destination (such as FTP) on a schedule. Our clients use this service to feed other systems, such as weather forecast providers. For us internally, the advantage is that, for some integrations, we can just configure the generic data exporter and we don’t have to build a brand new integration which keeps our code base lighter and cleaner and delivers the results quicker.
“The culture is very relaxed at Sennen. There’s not much in the way of hierarchy or micro-managing and I enjoy the flexibility that remote working offers. It means I have the quiet I need to focus on my work but it feels very natural to jump on a call and chat when I need help.
“I also really value the no-blame culture. In the development world, it’s important to be able to own up when mistakes are made. If you try to hide them, it gets messy. As a team, I think we are good at saying when something hasn’t gone to plan and then working out together how we solve it.”