Thursday 20 September 2012

I go humble....

Apologies in advance for this, it's a bit of a detailed work post.  I don't usually talk in much detail about my job, but I've got something I need to get off my chest.  If you want to bale out now, I'll understand.

Here we go.

I like to think that I'm pretty good at my job.  I work in a pretty big IT department in a pretty big company, and I've been there - pretty much - forever, so I'm well aware that the job that I do isn't exactly out of the IT careers manual.  Within the confines of where I am though, I reckon I'm good at what I do.

Over the years, I've gathered a bit of a reputation for being awkward.  This is mostly self-inflicted by my habit of challenging my superiors hard over stuff they try and make us do that just seems ridiculous.  It's not that I have a problem with authority or that I necessarily object to these things, it's just that I want to understand the thinking behind them, and I expect the people telling me to do them to be able to explain why.  I probably don't help myself with the way I do it, allowing people to write me off as pointlessly destructive: throwing stones without offering up alternative solutions.  Well, that's their right, even if I think that's a lazy, superficial assessment of what I'm doing.  For my part, I'm showing my passion to do better and my frustration that I don't seem to be in a position to influence these decisions more effectively.

My job title is "Business Analyst".  That's a standard IT role, but it's a job title I've only had for a couple of years, and it doesn't really describe what I do.  If you're not au-fait with the ins-and-outs of IT job roles, the British Computer Society describes Business Analysis as "an internal consultancy role that has responsibility for investigating business systems, identifying options for improving business systems and bridging the needs of the business with the use of IT".  I do some of that, I suppose... but I'm basically an account manager, bridging between the business and the IT department.  I have an analytical mind, but I don't really have the same detailed skills as your default, out-of-the-box Business Analyst from central casting.

I've been made painfully aware of this over the last couple of weeks: the programme I'm working on has brought in a couple of contractors who ARE Business Analysts straight out of central casting and who DO have all the detailed skills and qualifications.  I don't think our jobs are directly comparable, in spite of a shared job title, but it's still been a somewhat humbling experience to watch their confusion at the lack of process, clarity and, ultimately, quality in our requirements documentation - mainly written by me - and by our complete lack of process maps and to then to watch them demonstrate how it should be done.  I knew I wasn't really a BA, but I hadn't realised quite how institutionalised I have allowed myself to become, and how far my professional skills differ from the industry standard.

I guess that at this point I have two choices: I could let my pride get in the way, shake my head at them and think "who the fuck do you think you are?  What the hell do you know about working in this place?"... or I could try to see the bigger picture, understand the benefit that their skills bring to my work and seize the opportunity to learn.

I've taken the latter course.  In fact, never mind my own development needs, I've also realised that these guys offer me the perfect opportunity to highlight what a massive skills gap we have and to push upwards for us to make fundamental changes to address that.  It's not just that I'm highlighting a problem that lots of people don't even really realise exists, but I'm also showing what we need to do to fix it and to dramatically improve the quality of our work.  That's a good thing... for me personally and I think for the company.

But hell, I'm only human.  No one likes to be made to feel stupid.  Least of all me.  I'm not sure I do humble well.

Damn them!


  1. An outsider view point can sure help shed light on things. Whilst they may be from 'central casting' in this instance what they're actually - at least in part - highlighting are many of the things that you have probably railed against for years. You push management to be clearer about purpose and process; okay, so the newbies have pointed up that despite your best intentions the documentation and processes are still a 'room for improvement' project, but you could see it as you're both aiming for the same thing.

    Personally, I think you can get some really good skills development out of this experience even if it has highlighted some holes and failings in what you were doing.

    As the line goes: nobody's perfect!

  2. I agree with Lisa. It also seems to me that if you go to the higher ups with the solutions the BAs are offering, your bosses can no longer complain that you're all problems and no solutions.

  3. Well, you know what? I've actually realised over the last couple of days -- for a couple of reasons -- that I'm completely wasting my time in this job. I'm not really interested in a career, and these people are not really interested in me (they don't know what to do with me, and I think I scare them), so it's a total waste of time and I would be better doing something - anything - else. I was talking to our new graduates last week about career development and it just struck me that the whole thing is bollocks.

  4. You said something to that effect on FB. I think that if leaving is what you want to do, then go for it.

  5. I imagine I'll blog about this in more detail, but I'm definitely thinking about it. Life's precious and short.