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Doing technical work in a non-technical department


Doing technical work in a non-technical department

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Doug Lane
Doug Lane
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Have you ever done SQL development or administration while working in a non-IT department? How did you manage expectations? What challenges did you face? Did it ultimately work out?

I've been working as a developer in a unit with three other business analysts for a couple of years now. I use the term developer generically because I'm an experienced ASP.NET developer as well as a SQL developer. From a techincal perspective, I'm far ahead of my colleagues; they use Access/Excel to create datasets, I script them entirely in SQL. From an business analyst's perspective it's almost the opposite; they are much better at translating client requests into a finished delivery than I am. Yet, we all share the title "Programmer/Analyst".

My boss is disinterested in any of the techincal aspects of my work. I build stuff -- our intranet site, a new data warehouse, advanced SSRS reports -- and he likes it but doesn't understand its complexities. His top priority is giving reliable data to the executives of the company (read: the Analyst part of our jobs). I've had several instances where I've shown him a new site feature or a new report -- even things he's asked for -- and he has reacted with near-indifference. Perhaps I need to market my work to him more effectively. Have you ever had a non-technical boss to whom you've basically had to sell your work?

Another challenge I have is that on a technical skill level, I stand apart from my colleagues. My career work is sort of a 10-year SQL/ASP.NET hybrid and I'm a MCSE and MCTS in SQL 08. I don't feel like my title defines me or my work, but I do feel like a title change would appropriately distinguish my technical contributions to the team. I don't want to be advertised as superior to my colleagues because that's not true. Again, they are better, more experienced business analysts than me. Plus, while I'm a mentor to them for SQL Server, I'm nobody's boss so I'm not a manager of any kind. Should I pitch a title change to my boss, and what title would you recommend I ask for?

Lastly, and generally speaking, how did you manage working for someone who didn't understand what you do? Did it work out?

Your thoughts and insights are greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Doug
Dan.Humphries
Dan.Humphries
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I have worked for someone like that a couple times.
It is not uncommon for managers to not understand and often not appreciate the technical aspects of what you may do. I am thankful to say that this day in age this is becoming more the exception than the rule but this was at one time almost a every job occurance. managers did not understnad the technolody and they simply did not care how you acheived something as long as they could use it. change your focus of you conversations with him to how your work will benefit a project or a bottom line. He may not understand how you did it and he likely will continue to not care but he will understand how you have contributed to a project or bottom line. Even then he may be a manger that simply has a hard time expressing any type of gratitude for your hard work.

Dan

If only I could snap my figures and have all the correct indexes apear and the buffer clean and.... Start day dream here.
Doug Lane
Doug Lane
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Thanks, Dan. That's good advice. I should add that I'm not thinking of leaving my job. Rather, I see this as an opportunity to learn an important skill that, at previous companies, was not necessary in order to demonstrate the value of my work.
Dan.Humphries
Dan.Humphries
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something else that might help is type something up about the process you implemented. Often with these types of managers having a pece of paper in their hands can make all the difference in the world.

Dan

If only I could snap my figures and have all the correct indexes apear and the buffer clean and.... Start day dream here.
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