Bad communication and information technology staff

Occasionally, as an information technology professional (if that is not an oxymoron) I feel that the criticisms applied to us are totally unwarranted. 

Many is the time in a project I’ve been told we need a ‘user requirements’ professional to translate to a senior analyst/developer the needs of the project sponsor and it has been completely obvious that this ‘translator’ was merely a piece of lint in the flywheel of life, and the project would have been better off without them. No wonder such a high percentage of software projects fail!Photo by laffy4k from Flickr licensed under Creative Commons

To get to the point of being a senior analyst/programmer in many cases you are going to have better communication skills and in many projects you will probably end up with a better understanding of the nuances of the business than a senior manager.  Why? Because you’ve got to produce a model of the whole thing in your head to then translate into software (and work out where you can do it better). 

If you want to really work out how to improve your business go talk to a developer after they’ve done the analysis on your project and ask them, “so if you weren’t doing what we are telling you to do, how would you do it instead?”

So it can be pretty sickening to watch someone speaking in a meeting in pidgin English to a developer who probably has twice the brain and communication skills that the speaker has. 

The other thing that is blindingly obvious is that there is often a ‘weight for age’ handicap we’re missing here. A lot of developers are young – a lot of the people they’re talking to are much older, with much more time to understand the internal politics of the workforce in general and that organisation in particular.

That said, some techies on occasion not only make no attempt to reach a non-technical audience, they seem to go out of their way to bullshit them with TLAs (three letter acronyms). Check out the following that I received today from an internet service provider that hosts a website I’m involved with:  

“[omitted] will be upgrading our router and switch core to bring the latest OS online as well as implementing some patches for the BGP daemons in order to help minimize the cascading effect during BGP4 convergence. We will also be restructuring our router core in an effort to simplify their interactions and increase the speed of convergence while making a failed uplink a more resilient condition.

This will occur in multiple phases, with an expected full network outage which should last for a maximum of five minutes…

The rest of the work will be focused on each of our routers which in turn will cause sub-optimal routing as a by-product of BGP4 convergence. If you notice a hiccup, then please wait around 30 seconds for the ingress paths to stabilize and try again.

The last phase of the work will be turning up our new 100Mbit Savvis uplink and bringing it into full production.

We will do our best to minimize the effects of these upgrades and hopefully the work done tonight will ameliorate the resulting growing pain problems brought to the forefront in the last couple weeks…”

It’s stuff like this that gives techies a bad name …

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Article posted by @Drivelry on April 4, 2009

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