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Building automated systems for Filipino schools during a global pandemic

By Jeff Lapuz, Nephila Web Technology IT Team

The different kinds of challenges that we are all facing during the COVID-19 pandemic can be mind blowing. Not only our daily duties are different, but of course, our lifestyles have changed dramatically, perhaps forever.

I know I don’t speak only for myself when I say that there are so many distractions at home that keep us away from work! I did not realize how offices and working close to other members were so important to maintain habits and stay productive throughout the day. There are new noises, well they are not really new, but I did not notice them as much before! It is tempting to get up and do some chores or talk to a relative or the neighbor. And if you don’t have a proper work setup and a good desk, well there’s another set of problems there.

You cannot act like nothing is happening. We must accept and embrace change

It was important to realize how strange this new situation was, and start adapting quickly in order to get back into a habit. It will help regain our productivity, yes, but it also has lots of physical and mental health benefits.

For a while I developed abnormal sleeping patterns. I made an effort to improve on them. Then they came back. You have to accept it but be willing to take action, to return to some normality. Our bodies need more attention than ever and our health faces newer risks, even if we never leave home.

This is our everyday life now. This is what we call “the new normal.”

But how did the pandemic affect my work? How is it affecting you as a professional?

There are many things that continue to impact my work as a programmer during this new normal. Before, work seems to be less tiring since I have my colleagues with me. I can collaborate with them easily in person. Of course, I know I am lucky, as other workplaces can feel toxic, lacking in inspiration or other people around you who have the same interests.

Perhaps, most importantly, at the office you have someone to ask a quick question when you really don’t know where to start. At home, we really don’t have many options. The job of focusing and figuring things out, big and small, is all up to you. We need to be aware of these things and the reason why we do it: For the health of every Filipino.

There were so many times in which I wanted to give up due to stress. But despite all of this, I can tell that I really learned a lot. I learned how to be independent and do things on my own. I had to face the fact that there were some hard tasks that I had to accomplish without the help of others. Which in a way, it means that I had to recognize to myself that I was capable. I’m not saying that it’s okay not to ask for help. Work is definitely better as part of a team. But I want to admit that I’m proud to discover that I am also capable of doing some things on my own. I think every professional should feel encouraged to recognize this in themselves.

All this while I was developing a financial module for our schools

Integrating business process is part of my expertise. Which is never an easy task, even in normal conditions. No matter how modular and flexible we think our code is, each school has unique requirements that always challenge our assumptions. Much like the pandemic itself!

One of our schools requested the ability to prevent a user from taking an exam if there is an outstanding balance on their account. It might look like an easy request, but in reality, it’s not. It was one of my biggest challenges in 2020. The idea of integrating details of an internal process that responds dynamically, and can always change depending on who is managing the project on behalf of the school, can take you to unexpected places constantly.

I admit that at first I declined their request.

But as time went by, and even with our CTO having my back and being reluctant to proceed, we decided to take the time to analyze the requirement, create a plan and try to understand and overcome the complexity of the request. After so many discussions, research and back-and-forths, I finally succeeded, with the help of my supervisor and CTO.

One important thing I have learned is that there is no harm in trying new things, no matter how easy or complex you think it is. Especially when you have amazing people surrounding you (in the distance) and helping you get through it.

My advice? Never be afraid to ask for help or ask questions, especially at work. Think that in every complex task that you’re afraid to try at first, there are so many lessons that you can bring with you afterwards. Collaboration, teamwork, and believing in yourself are keys to success when planning and building a solution. I think it works in life too. Up until now, we and the clients are still using our finance module. We’re still in the process of developing it until they are all satisfied.

Jeff is one of our IT specialists, primarily involved in the development of NeXSIS, Nephila Web ‘eXperienced’ School Information System. He’d love to showcase the modules he and the team has done for you. Learn more about NeXSIS and request a demo today.

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