True or False? IT Pros are good communicators…


Software development has seen a myriad of change over the past decade – spiral development gave way to RAD (rapid application development), agile, extreme programming, scrum, and variations thereof with a common goal:  achieving faster, cheaper and better software development.

There’s no doubt that the scrum movement delivers releases faster – light years faster in some cases – than waterfall or even spiral methods.  The cheaper is questionable because the costs of co-locating customers, reworking designs as the software grows, acquiring specialized skills and training is at least as high as on other projects.  And is it “better”?  Better is a subjective word that can mean higher quality (the jury is out on whether agile methods deliver higher quality) or better alignment to requirements (again a subjective comparison)…

The true assessment (IMHO- in my humble opinion) of “better” comes down to whether the customer business needs are appropriately articulated into technical requirements.  Better depends on the communication skills of the customer team (who know their business) AND on the communication skills of the IT professionals.

IT ProWhat do you think?  What is your experience with IT professionals and their communication skills?  Here’s a short quiz to give you a hint about whether your IT Pros are good communicators:

1. True or false? –  Most IT professionals do not know what the acronym TCPIP stands for?
(True)

2. True or false – Most IT professionals know exactly what Markup Language (as in HTML) really is?
(False – markup language is the computer machine code that takes markups such as to denote what to do with text (i.e., make it bold).

3. True or false – IT professionals who were computer science majors had to take a communications course in college?
(False, it is not usually a requirement for computer science majors to take a communications course in college.)

4. True or false – Most IT professionals come from a background of engineering, computer science, technology or math?
(True)

5. True or false – Most IT professionals are introverts?
(True)

Bonus question: True or false:  Management in IT (and other professions) is expected to gain communication skills by “osmosis” as they ascend the corporate ranks?
(True, but this is fortunately changing as corporations realize how important is communication to delivering on customer “expectations”.)

How good are your IT professionals – would you give them a 10 out of 10 for communication?  Could the “better” – in terms of faster, cheaper, better – be a function of how good at communication are IT Professionals?

Happy communicating!

Carol


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2 responses to “True or False? IT Pros are good communicators…

  1. In agreement with the responses to all questions. Sometimes what is seen as arrogance by outsiders is due to the introversion of developers. Sometimes the developers are so engrossed in doing what they “believe” is the customers desired results they instinctively build a shell around themselves.
    The need for communication courses in the technical degrees is as important as breathing. Why? By interrelating with others of different career training paths there is an opportunity to understand that each has distinct language requirements unique to their career. Where one thinks of requirements as a customer stated desire set firm (software/hardware) in the medical field requirements can mean that, but also they can mean the ever changing symptoms of a patient as diagnosed by a trained physician. Also, a facilities professional could have a similar discussion with different implications given the environment worked.
    I am sorry for my long winded comment but I have seen everyday where as the famous Irish poet once said we “are separated by a common language”.

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  2. OK, Carol, I am a math major so you have to help bring me out of my shell!! Actually, I personally think a lot of IT people wanted to keep the mystery in what they were doing so they tended to look down on people that didn’t know about what the developers were doing, customers included. All one needs to be a developer is to be able to think logically and creatively which most educated people should be able to do. (See how condescending I am getting??) So I think the lack of communications actually is caused by both sides. The developers wanting to keep the mystique of what they are doing and the fear of the customer of sounding too out of the loop as far as IT goes.

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