A day in the life of a solutions architect: Bill Lafferty

By Bill Lafferty
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A day in the life of a solutions architect: Bill Lafferty

Hi, My name is Bill Lafferty, and I’m a solutions architect for Acclaro. I’m based in New Hampshire, and part of what I love about my role is that there really is no typical day. I look forward to sharing a few of my highlights with you.

Morning activity

I like to start my morning with physical activity. I eat a light breakfast and will walk my dog for a mile, stack wood, or work in the yard or on the house depending on the season. Here’s Bobo, who clearly prefers option number one.

Acclaro - A Day in the Life of a Solutions Architect

Part of the rewarding, transformative experience of localization

When I log in, I never know what to expect. The SA role is quite cross-functional – I work with sales, operations and product – and I love the diversity. One day might start with supporting a CMS customer, such as a Contentful user. As you may know, Contentful is a headless CMS and is highly customizable. The translation process involves some careful setup at the beginning. For example, I might build or modify a filter in the TMS environment to import specific, translatable keys. It gets interesting when processing hundreds of them! Or, I will convey a special request from the customer to our sage localization engineering team to develop a solution. Localization in the CMS space be a challenge given the infinite number of possible configurations with plugins, themes, and so forth. But, it’s a rewarding experience when being a part of a team that helps translate 10, 20 or more languages for a customer. It’s transformative.

Bringing together diverse needs and viewpoints

I spend time in GitHub everyday. I coordinate with the product team and track feature requests or new releases. This is where having a cross-functional vantage point is key. I draw upon experiences on the operations side, pain points voices by a prospect on the sales side, and then try to advocate for features that will help both. This is one of my favorite parts of the job. I also research API documentation, work in sandbox environments to run tests, or quietly listen and learn from our SEs in meetings to discuss technical details.

A brief break: veggies and ice cream dreams

Acclaro - A Day in the Life of a Solutions Architect

Since the pandemic began, I have been making an effort to improve my diet. In the morning– if I’m on top of things – I will cut and wash various vegetables for lunch. Kale, carrots, peppers, zucchini, tofu… whatever is in the fridge. At lunchtime, I add water to a frying pan, steam them briefly so that I don’t loose any nutrients, add a little bit of flavoring, and then combine with rice. This is probably one of the biggest advantages of remote work. If I’m being honest, though, this whole exercise is a bit of a ploy so that I don’t feel guilty when I order peanut butter oreo ice cream later on.

Meetings and planning

Throughout the day, I spend time in meetings with new and existing customers. In the Zoom era, there are more meetings than ever. It’s probably overkill and will hopefully settle down as we move past Covid-19. But even so, I have to admit that the meetings are worth it. Because if there’s one essential ingredient required to make a localization program successful, it’s teamwork. Localization programs are getting more and more complicated. While there are many mature, stable computer-assisted translation (CAT) and translation management systems (TMS) tools, as well as interesting newcomers, it takes multiple stakeholders cooperating to get everything to work.

Wrapping up the day with sports and guitar

My wife and I are part-time taxi drivers for our two sons in the evening. They play soccer, baseball and basketball. Up here in New Hampshire, springtime little league games are a frigid affair! It’s fun to meet with the parents of the other players and cheer them on. I usually wrap up the day pretending to be a guitar player. I found an online guitar lesson deal about a month ago that I just couldn’t pass up. Looking forward to strumming some Jim Croce or Chris Stapleton about a year from now.

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