John Leaman is Senior Lead, Business Systems with StandardAero. John lives in St John's, Newfoundland. It is a beautiful, magical place and if you ever have the chance to visit, don't miss it! ASNA has worked with John Leaman for more than ten years. John's shop was one of the first to migrate an IBM i RPG application to .NET with ASNA Monarch all those years ago. John has been with that project since the beginning and it's probably fair to say that he knows as much about ASNA Monarch as we do!
Let's get to know John a little better.
Who do you work for and what does that company do?
I work for StandardAero. We provide maintenance, repair and overhaul services for a variety of aircraft engines, components, and airframes.
What is your position with StandardAero? What's a typical workday like for you?
My title is Senior Lead, Business Systems. Basically, I work with the various business units to design software changes they need and act as a project lead getting those changes applied to our code and deployed. When the developers or help desk have questions or technical issues, we'll work together to address them. I also take care of the deployment side of the web side of our product. And that's the beauty of it, there's no such thing as a typical day.
Tell us a little about Standard Aero's IT/Dev team. Your shop is a little bigger than the average ASNA customer shop.
Here in St. John's we are just a part of the IT support team for StandardAero. We have a group of about 12 ( 4 help desk, 8 development) to support an ERP package that is used by about 1000 employees around the globe using 4 different servers to host our sites. With all the time zones, we have active users 24/6, sometimes 24/7. It's a pretty good environment here so we do tend to retain our people. Our most junior developer has been here for eight years. Development is done in cycles based on changes the business units want. At the end of the cycle, we deploy the changes to a sandbox where it goes through user acceptance testing and then onto production. There is some overlap between the stages within a cycle and the cycles themselves, but that’s basically it.
What platforms (Windows, Linux, IBM i, or whatever) do you spend most of your time on?
I spend most of my time on Windows doing web work. There was a time when I preferred the AS/400 but now I'm only on that box when dealing with the back end.
Your shop has been using ASNA Monarch for a very long time. What, briefly, is the challenge that Monarch solves for your business?
We were able to bring a modern interface (and all the things that go with that) to our application without a complete rewrite. There are things we do now which are not available in the green-screen world, such as drag & drop, the ability to work with attachments directly in our application and controls such as trees to show structure; not to mention there’s a whole lot more real estate on the screens. (Read the ASNA case study about the Pathix/StandardAero Monarch project.)
You have customers in places very far from Newfoundland. What are your issues and strategies for dealing with remote customers and other team members?
Time zones are the single biggest issue but we do have a layered approach for support. We have standardized on a browser so we generally don't have to deal with individual machine issues which are handled by local personnel. Basically, each location has a support person or superuser who are in turn supported by a team within each business unit. These teams are very knowledgeable about how their particular unit has our application configured and are involved in the design of new changes. If these support teams cannot solve the issue, then our help desk gets involved. If something is an obvious bug such as a page crash, then it goes straight to our help desk. We have direct access to all the production support infrastructure so we handle deployment of updates and fixes directly. We deal with both the support teams and end user when developing enhancements so that everybody is kept ‘in the loop'.
What has your personal trajectory been to being a professional technician? Was your trajectory by plan or by golly?
It was a bit of both. I came across computers by accident--then I was hooked and decided to make it a career. This was in a time when a small computer was about the size of a small car so the general public did not have much exposure to computers.
What are the biggest technical challenges you face on a day-to-day basis?
We have a pretty good group here, there's not much they can't figure out. Our single biggest issue is just the sheer size of the application (1500+ web pages). Sometimes it can be a massive effort just to do something that otherwise would be relatively easy to do.
R&B, oldies, heavy metal, top 40, or country: Oldies with a sprinkling of R&B
Fish or red meat: Fish
Morning person or night owl: Night owl
Hoodie, T-Shirt, or jacket and tie: T-Shirt
Comedy, drama, or action movie: Comedy
Read a book or go to a party: Party
DC or Marvel: Does it matter?
Apple or Android: Apple
Thanks for your time, John. It was great to hear a little about you.
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