Michael Steele started his career in 2014 as a Junior Software Developer, based out of the UK office. Together with Rich Cox, MODS Chief Digital Officer, they worked solely on the products that now form the foundations for MODS software solutions. Michael stayed in the junior role for two years before being promoted to Developer. His latest step up the career ladder has been to the Lead Developer role, where he focuses his talents on the Origin Project for MODS’ Japanese partner and client, JGC. Michael now heads a team of developers and shares his reasons for staying with MODS:
“It's a good learning environment, I would definitely say that I've learned an enormous amount here at MODS. Seven years later, I've progressed from junior to a Lead role in that time span mainly due to MODS giving me a fully-supported, free rein to grow and develop my career and skills.
There's a lot of responsibility to keep learning and be on top form and that is kind of an environment where I thrive. There’s always performance pressure, always with guidance to hand; overall it's your own effort that makes you progress through the company. Everyone has the same goal at MODS, to make our software brilliant. We all seem to have that shared responsibility and there’s maximum effort to make sure our products are fit-for-purpose. It’s like we all own part of MODS, which is the feeling as we’ve all grown together”.
Michael hails from England and now works remotely for the majority of the year from his home in Manchester. Regular visits to the Aberdeen office allow him to catch up with colleagues and bridge any gaps with face-to-face meetings. Michael’s role has changed over the years and now, with his team of fellow developers, he has the opportunity to be more creative:
“As the Lead Developer, I’ve recently taken a back step from development to be more of a manager. I'm looking into new ideas and looking at the architecture and saying, ‘Okay, this would be best for this kind of scenario’, and also doing the research to then come back to the team and say, ‘this will be the plan going forward, this is the new tech, this is how it works’, so there's a lot of investigation for me at the moment and managing the team.
I've been working with the Digital Transformation team from JGC for five years now. We have a really tight connection with all the guys in JGC. My focus is MODS Origin, our software solution for Greenfield EPC projects, something that JGC are the experts in. They love our software and it’s being integrated in so many areas of their business, but our software needs to talk to their Construction Management System that already exists, so the structure has to be set up correctly for this.
On top of that we have very strict deadlines, we cannot have them to wait for our software to be fine-tuned, so we've hired a number of developers and a User Interface developer. One of my main tasks is to make sure that I'm providing guidance, all the documentation and help them with the way the code should be structured and conduct reviews”.
Joining forces with the Yokohama based JGC team has been a smooth collaboration for Michael and his division of developers. Feedback gathered by the MODS Operations team help the joint-team adjust and make improvements to the software already in use. The two-way process works, as Michael explains:
“We have a lot of collaboration with the people on site, and they're the people using the software, so we want to make sure that what they're using on a day-to-day basis, is perfect for them and it fits well. Any suggestions that we get from them, we one hundred percent take them onboard to improve the system.
It still takes me by surprise when one of our MODS operations team tells me: ‘We have 600 users running this at one time’. Knowing that it's something that you've helped create from the ground up, is being used by 600 people, and they're using it daily as part of their job, is a great feeling.
The fact that our software has been used on so many different projects where hundreds of people in each project have been using it. Just comprehending how many Work Packs they have created from the system was mind-blowing as it was in the tens of thousands. It's a great feeling knowing that what you've created is impacting people's daily lives for the better”.
JGC are revered amongst their industry piers for their ability to construct Greenfield projects ranging from the rather modest facility to the mammoth, off the scale, Megaproject. Together with MODS, they are developing a suite of software solutions that will assist in every area of Engineering, Procurement and Construction to the final handover to the client. Digitalization of JGC’s Advanced Work Packaging, the crucial instruction pack for construction operators, has been the revolutionary key to their success as Michael illustrates:
“Our MODS Origin projects are all Greenfield projects, which means we're building the facility from scratch basically, from the ground up. We have a lot of what they call Construction Workpacks, where we'll take data, identify what we want to work on and package that into a large document or folder, with the drawings, what manpower is required and when it needs to be finished. The package can then be printed off and given to people on site.
At the moment, it's all paper-based. One of the key selling point of MODS, is that we can digitalize a very old paper-based system. And because it's digitalized, we can control it incredibly well. We can lock down who can sign off documents, depending on role, especially valuable from an efficiency and time-saving perspective as Permits can be verified and signed off instantly – a daily occurrence in construction projects.
Obviously, you can do that with paper, but most of the time paper will get lost or it’s not filled out accurately and not forgetting the productivity hours lost waiting for signatures and permissions. But with our system, we can track it and we can produce project progress reports.
We have a Punch list, issues that need attention. If we have, for example, a problem with a pipe; there’s a joint integrity problem, or it's not positioned correctly, operatives can take a picture and save it straight into our system, there's no paper filing they need to do. This has reduced the amount of administrative people needed on site, gives an accurate snapshot of real-time status and is far more accurate because it's a highly controllable, digital system.
Now that I truly understand the client’s needs and the practical daily issues front-line workers have, I enjoy doing my small part to make their lives simpler, safer and more efficient, it makes those hours in the software development phase all worthwhile”.
The benefits of a digitalized system are boundless with improved safety, time, and money savings to name just a few. It is no surprise to hear that JGC are pushing hard to transform their business practices to one driven by data. Michael and his colleagues are determined to deliver software solutions to score this ultimate mutual goal. But what does this Lead Developer do in his spare time?
“I have to confess, even in my spare time, I’m on my computer. I’m really interested in 3D model design, so I do a lot of research on that topic, and you won’t be surprised to hear that I also like online gaming. At MODS, especially us Developers, we do get along really well, and we often connect up and game together. Apart from that, it’s the usual social time with friends and family. Working from home gives me great flexibility to balance my life and MODS has been a rewarding addition to my social life and career, I’m very much looking forward to supporting them in these exciting years ahead”.