More by chance

I have worked for more than 10 years with system integration and the development of business processes and I feel right at home no matter what the environment is. I get a buzz out of making the lives of colleagues easier when I save them a day’s work with a script or tool that they can use over and over again for instance. Now as an IT manager we can tackle bigger problems using full blown web services and more.

But what sort of problems does one encounter?

Business processes pervade the entire organisation so improvements can be made in all departments from consolidating system dimensioning and system costing to automating software releases and more. But even a product the company is trying to develop and sell requires proper lifecycle management such as packaging tools, streamlined installation, etc., etc. It all points to efficiency: well-defined business processes supported by tools that can automate as much as possible.

How does one identify a problem?

Sometimes the problem is obvious because one hears the complaints at the coffee break but more often people can’t see any problems or understand that it is possible to do things more productively and efficiently. An employee is often given one particular task to do: they receive some information, perform their assignment and pass on the result. Of course, an employee can become more efficient at their assignment but they are often unable to influence the quality and timeliness of the information they receive. This observation applies equally to non-technical (managers, sales, marketing, customer services) and technical (developers, testers) staff.

Is the solution for everyone?

I have worked in companies big (10,000+) and small (<10) and they have all benefited from improvements to their business processes. The solution will always fit the problem, small companies have simple business processes (agile or otherwise) that do not require much investment to improve or automate. Small companies also benefit greatly from having a system integrator role by allowing developers to focus on those first product releases.

After all this time it surprises me that I have met so few others in the software industry that work in this area or with these issues. One reason is perhaps that it is not one role nor is it limited to specific tools or programming languages. Rather than being a specialist, one is working as more of a generalist and this does not fit well with job vacancies which are usually looking for specific competencies. It is more by chance than design that I ended up on this career path, but once on it I never looked back. So I am going to explore those topics that interest me and as a goal see if I can’t make a good business case for some would-be employer.

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