What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate
I enjoyed “The Most Important Skill” in the Nov. 15 issue.
I place the burden of avoiding the 70 percent of errors you mentioned on the shoulders of the programmers. They know what questions must be asked and what types of answers are required for the programming to run smoothly.
The emphasis is in understanding the nature of a customer’s problem. For example, hardware problems resulting from software problems often blindside those with the problem because they can understand and explain their problem only in terms of “hardware” malfunction.
Customers don’t understand branching and Boolean logic and what-if scenarios. Programmers don’t take the time to fully understand what the customer is looking for and what happens when customers stray from the typical approach and use alternative processes.
More emphasis should be placed on the following skills:
1. Communication skills as they relate to IT and practical industrial applications.
2. Programmers getting to know intimately the product or process for which they are programming.
3. Programmers asking the right questions, including routing exceptions and ways that information is physically being input by the customer.
John J. Kula
Facilities Planning, Design & Engineering
In my 10 years of IT experience, and three years as project manager, I have been baffled by the amount of poor communication between the IT department and the company business units. It seems they all say one thing, document another and produce something totally out of scope.
Over the years, my career has not been a joyride, and I grow grayer by the minute. Fortunately, my IT-business background allows me to play a linguist role between all participants in the corporate Tower of Babel.
The ability to communicate surpasses any college degree or IT certification. I just hope that in time, company managers are more keen in making communication and listening skills a top priority over the tons of certificates we are required to have to get a job interview or a promotion.
Project Manager – IT Consultant
Communication is by far the most required asset of an IT professional and the one most lacking.
The problem IT has is that the work they do is usually for someone else, and thus the need to communicate is even greater. The schools need to teach a course on how to get the most out of IT.
Most managers, directors and executives don’t have a clue on how best to work with the IT department. Since there isn’t a set of best practices, every CEO organizes his IT department differently, and the day-to-day interactions with other departments are unique in each company. The schools need to prepare all business majors on how to handle this relationship.
As a result of this lack of understanding, we have high CIO turnover and ongoing dissatisfaction with the results of IT. Many of the problems are due to IT’s inability to communicate. But also at fault is a lack of understanding of how to work with IT.
A Vote for Certifying IT Workers
Your call for a mandatory national certification program for IT workers is about the sanest thing I’ve ever seen proposed in an IT magazine [“Certifiably Sane,” Nov. 15].
Working as closely as I have with IT types over the past decade or so, it’s never ceased to amaze me how little attention has been given to systems engineering issues in IT, particularly in the face of the increasing rate of change of technology.
That small problem in the knee bone would be worry enough on its own, but with the foot or hip bones being replaced or upgraded every so often, the ability to deterministically know functionality, reliability, supportability and maintainability with certainty becomes increasingly important, particularly where public safety is a concern.
Systems Engineering Manager
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Massachusetts General Hospital