A Talk: Soft Skills for Hardware People

Credit: KDKA Weather Center

In April 2022, at the GMIS Illinois GIANTS conference (https://www.gmisillinois.org/giants-conference) I presented to my Government IT peers about being a Business Analyst. 


All of the ideas expressed in this article are my personal statements and opinions, and do not reflect the opinions/statements of the City of Urbana.


My main point:

As business systems and infrastructure move to the Cloud, our jobs as IT Managers are changing. Now we spend less time managing servers & installing desktop software; our jobs are simplified down to "secure dependable connectivity" to the Cloud. Since that was the focus of IT shops for the last few decades, what does that mean for our jobs?

My message is that government IT workers can add value to our organizations by helping our users select, implement, and use new technology. Drawing on 30 years (??!) of experience in this role, I shared my lessons learned as a Business Analyst. 

For those who just want the facts, here are the lessons, arranged more or less sequentially in the phases for a project: https://blog.tectonicspeed.com/p/15-minute-business-analyst-university.html

Here is the 40-minute talk: 

The format for my presentation was inspired by "5 Minute University" from comedian Don Novello, performing as Father Guido Sarducci. Unlike the live presentation - you have time to watch it here:


A few notes about the presentation:

  • After using his name and likeness (see this part, https://youtu.be/e6Gg5nTrW8k?t=2050) I shared this with Michael Albert (forgiveness > permission). He gave perspective that is much better than my points about the analogy of translating technology to non-technical people! He said: “…I don't exactly "pare down information" or "slow down" necessarily. What I DO is present information using not just fingerspelled words or a salad of signs. Rather, I try to present *concepts* in Sign Language which I feel will convey the meaning of the technical terminology to the lay-person. For example, rather than spelling "ventilator", I might indicate a tube down a throat connected to a machine that pumps to help someone breathe. Or rather than the acronym EKG which some people might not know the term for, I might indicate the electrodes stuck in the body, connected to a machine, and then trace jagged lines to indicate what the EKG looks like (sort of) which most people have seen.”
  • You can find the key points from this talk on this page for easy access: https://blog.tectonicspeed.com/p/15-minute-business-analyst-university.html These are presented in the order you'd go through in procuring, implementing, and using a Cloud solution.
  • Even though I’d promised it was not a Cybersecurity presentation, I did a little phishing of my IT friends at the end. Early in the presentation, I implied that I’d share a link to the “5 Minute University” video – and at the end I had a QR code that I left on the screen. (It’s at the very end of the YouTube video, too.) If you scanned the QR code it took you to this page: https://blog.tectonicspeed.com/p/5-minute-university.html I was proud of my trick, but I don’t know if anyone fell for it. At least, no one TOLD me that they did!