I am always amazed talking to people who don’t understand what goes on in Information Technology or IT. Most people who have never worked in this department believe it is just made up of developers and help desk technicians. Of course, they have a few stereotypes about all of us as well.
Architecture is a misunderstood role in technology. These people try to develop systems at a high-level. This can be quite challenging so we usually have people with some experience in these positions.
The system that everyone wants to work but they don’t know where it is called infrastructure. This might include some devices in a server room or perhaps machines on the cloud. Where ever they might be someone has to manage it and keep it running.
We connect to all this stuff over the network. This is a lot more than just the Wi-fi. Although many of us connect to it and want to make sure it works well. The network is the vital backbone for commerce today. Without computers connecting to other networks, we couldn’t do too much!
When I first started in technology there were no smartphones. I know I am a dinosaur. Now the devices that we can access organizational systems is amazing. We now can work from almost everywhere. Which can be a curse…
The overarching move into more connected devices has push security to the front. Organizations are keeping a closer eye on information and websites and applications. Also, with the barrage of large organizations information in the news for data leaks, we know how important that is.
There is a push to teach more people to code. The demand seems to continually increase as we become more reliant on software. Developers come in many flavors and specialties. From old mainframe systems to new mobile platforms organizations need them. Working as a developer for almost twenty years I have seen things change but, the demand is still there.
Mixing operations and developers are great to mix to tackle some of the challenging changes we ask of our technology teams. This is a relatively recent phenomenon that seems to be gaining steam. The idea is that when we bring these two roles they can collaborate and solve problems quickly.
Testing & QA
I like to get things done quickly. I know I can get in a hurry and miss things. Having a good Quality Assurance team has saved my bacon many times. Testing is a real art. Most programmers don’t do it well. Even if they do test-drive development they can easily focus on the wrong things.
Program & Project Management
Managing projects have encountered a big change as more organizations embrace agile project management. The traditional waterfall is used less and less. We have learned a great deal about how we can’t really estimate time. We work better when we have things in small chunks and provide feedback.
There is value in understanding the business. I have worked with some wonderful business analysts that understand the process and procedures well. Creating software without someone who really understands can be quite problematic. They need to be detail-oriented and patient to work with the developers.
A common phenomenon in IT projects is called “Scope Creep” otherwise know as requirements management. I find it similar to when my wife says she is going to the store and my teenage son keeps asking for things. When an analyst or product owner begins to gather requirements they have to get a litmus test. Deciding what is in and what is out.
Doing consulting with large companies I find they have the process down. Maybe sometimes too much for my liking but, they probably need it. They usually have a process that changes must follow and sometimes a review board. Although they may call it by different names. This can be helpful as organizations grow and have more people involved.
Business Intelligence & Reporting
Technology departments will be asked to report on many things. When we have so much data it can be hard to analyze it properly. With the recent explosion in Big Data, we have more companies researching what they have. They look at their data and reports to guide intelligent decisions.
User Experience or as it is commonly referred to “UX” has become critical to application success. I confess to being one of the worst at it. An intuitive layout can allow people to jump in and start using it. If it is cumbersome you need to create a user manual. This can be a good sign you need to change things. The companies that do this well can gain wide adoption.