Moving from programming to something else, anything else

I’ve been programming for a few years since I graduated college with a BS in Computer Science and don’t want to do it forever. What do you suggest?

It seems that I have been asked this question many times in recent weeks (thanks SM, FB, MK, JE, and others for writing in). Their questions have ranged from:

  • Should I study for my PMP and become a project manager?
  • What else can I do in IT besides programming?
  • I like programming, but have found that I’m not very good at it professionally, should I get an MBA?
  • I have a degree in Computer Science. I like to program but truly dislike working in a big company. Where else can I find a programming job that makes as much money as the big companies?

My standard answer for questions of this type is that it’s best to make a professional change toward something, rather than away from something.

What I mean by this answer is that if you make a career move for read more

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Your Department’s Balanced Scorecard

Answer the following questions quickly:

  • What are your department’s top 10 key success factors?
  • How do you measure these factors?
  • How do you report these measurements to your manager and others?

The reason I wanted you to answer these questions quickly is because as a manager it’s essential to have your finger on the pulse of those items that make your team successful.

Truth be told, as managers we seem to always be busy with the work at hand, including going to meetings, performing department-related work, dealing with employee related issues, and so on.  That said, it can be very difficult during the stress of day-to-day work activities to keep an eye on your read more

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The IT to BT transformation and 9 ways to profit from it

The Information Technology (IT) groups we all know and love are, slowly but surely, being transformed into new and more business-oriented organizations, best characterized by the term Business Technology (BT). This transformation of IT from being technology driven toward becoming business driven has long been in the making, is truly taking hold, and will potentially have major implications on your future employment.

I had the pleasure last week of speaking with David Bartoletti, a Senior Analyst with Forrester Research serving infrastructure and operation professionals. His company was commissioned by UC4 Software to evaluate the current state of IT process automation and explore possible areas for improvement. David’s paper was the first place I saw the term/concept of “Business Technology” truly and clearly defined.

For me, the combination of reading this paper and speaking with David brought two seemingly diverse concepts read more

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Do an annual goals reset

In business, a year is very long time.  The economy can shift for better or worse, companies can merge, corporate business units can be bought and sold, senior company leadership can come and go, and projects can start and then surprisingly be canceled.

Under that backdrop, many companies include goal setting for the year ahead as part of their annual employee performance review process.  These types of annual goals have various names, including:

  • Manage by Objectives (MBOs)
  • Annual SMART goals
  • Incentive goals
  • Annual stretch goals
  • . . . and, well, just plan annual goals

All too often, whatever their name, thoughtful and well written read more

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9 Ways to properly prepare for an interview

In most human endeavors, preparation is the key to success. This could be running a marathon, negotiating the price on a new car, giving a speech, or as you may expect based on the title of this blog, putting your best foot forward in a job interview.

Tony Robbins, the great speaker said “The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.” Abe Lincoln said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe. “ The great golfer Arnold read more

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Working in the shower can be very productive

Truth be told, this column will be a lot more informative and a lot less provocative than the title alludes.

As funny as it sounds, some of my best work ideas have come to me when I’m not in the office.  As a software developer early in my career, there were times when I would practically be beating my head against my keyboard trying to define the best way to write a piece of  software and then, have the perfect design pop into my head while watching a baseball game on TV that evening.

Later in my career, as I read more

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15 Great IT telecommuting jobs

I’m considering going back to school for a degree in computer science. If I do, are there any IT jobs that can be done virtually from home?

In short, the answer to your question is yes, there are many IT related jobs that can be done virtually. If fact, as time moves forward, the list of potential virtual IT jobs is growing dramatically in both type and frequency.

Now for the long answer. I would like to begin with a note of caution because you will be new to the world of IT. Beginning your IT career working virtually can make it very difficult for you to gain a deep understanding of IT including:

  • The role of IT within an organization
  • Business and IT related processes beyond your specific task
  • Technology standards regarding process, documentation, naming conventions, and design methodologies

In addition to the items listed above, when working remotely it’s much more read more

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Fishbone Diagrams: Another great root cause analysis tool for managers

This week’s column is my fifth and final column on root cause analysis tools for managers.  In previous weeks I explained Root Cause Analysis in general and three other great analysis tools; The Five Whys, Root Cause Mapping, and Brainstorming.  This week, as promised, I’ll be explaining Fishbone diagrams.

As you can see in Figure 1, Fishbone Diagrams are called Fishbone Diagrams because, well, they look like a fishbone. Its official name however is an Ishikawa Diagram named after its creator Kaoru Ishikawa. Other names read more

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8 Great reasons to attend professional association meetings

A friend suggested that professional association meetings are a good place to network. I went to a meeting and didn’t make any good connections. Do you think going to these meetings are worth going to or are they a waste of time?

Professional association meetings are like Lays potato chips. You can’t eat just one. What I mean by this ridiculous statement is that the power of attending professional association meetings isn’t in just going once. The true value of these associations is going many times, for months and read more

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Brainstorming: A great root cause analysis tool for managers

This week’s column is my forth of five columns on root cause analysis tools for managers.  In the first column I explained Root Cause Analysis as the process of trying to discover the source (or sources) of a specific problem. I then went on to say that in the four weeks that followed I would describe a specific root cause analysis in depth.  To date, we have discussed The Five Whys and Root Cause Mapping (RCM).  This week we will be discussing Brainstorming.

I would like to begin by saying that Brainstorming read more

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