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I'm doing work that involves writing code and managing developers in a "special projects" division of a large company. I'd like to define my role better and figure out if there's an industry standard term for what I do, so that it will be easier for me to research best practices and work on a career path

What I do all day:

  • A macro that connects an Excel sheet to an Access database is acting funny; I get called in to figure out what's happening and debug it.

  • Someone needs data extracted from a bunch of files on Sharepoint. I figure out a client-side solution because I'm not authorized to do anything server-side and getting IT to do anything would take several months and need a business case.

  • A manager wants a new data entry tool for their team. I interview the manager and team members to work out the functional requirements, then design/develop/test the application.

  • Someone needs a VBA script to crunch some data for their presentation that's due in two hours. I drop everything I'm doing to hack out a quick script and run the analysis, without much in the way of testing.

  • A developer has been hired to build a database for one of the teams, since I'm working on too many different things and don't have time to take this project on in the timeframe required. I direct his work and push him to meet certain deadlines, interview stakeholders to get more info that will help him figure out how to build the necessary forms, and modify the functional requirements of the database to fit in the timeframe.

  • Someone wants to load a set of data into a GIS system and set up an ongoing refresh and reporting of this data set. I facilitate the conversation between the GIS developers and the owners of this data set, and design a demo application as proof of concept.

It's kind of an "all-purpose programming and IT management" position, but it's not officially IT because the company has an actual IT department with a rigorously defined system of submitting requests, developing code, and managing projects. What I do, I guess, is more of a handyman job, where stuff falls to me because I'm the geekiest one in the room. Is there a standard term in the software world for what I do?

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The term I sometimes hear for this is "Technical user" or "Power user", but those aren't very official-sounding. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Dec 5 '12 at 16:43
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MacGyver comes to mind... Chief MacGyver Officer –  Newtopian Dec 5 '12 at 16:45
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I dont know what the job title would be, but it sounds like the company would be screwed if they lost you. –  GrandmasterB Dec 5 '12 at 17:15
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@sigil: Any title with the word "User" in it immediately loses its connotation. –  Joel Etherton Dec 5 '12 at 17:33
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Sounds like you are a horn tooter... For the IT Programming Support team you are that guy that keeps writing these crappy applications we will be expected to support... aka dbag. But all those tasks can be tossed into the lap of an admin assistant. –  Chad Dec 5 '12 at 21:48
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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Sounds like support engineer to me. Granted you're an internal corporate developer getting tossed halfway between IT tasks and projects, but using code as your go-to tool for solving problems makes your job one as a programmer/developer/engineer regardless of everything else.

I would call it support engineer or even something like internal professional services engineer in this case because those are developers who typically do one-offs like you're constantly talking about. They're the developers that get stuff up and keep things running, not the ones whiteboarding in the back room while banging out something enterprisey for months on end.

At least that's what I've seen, others may have seen professional services and support engineers doing different things.

That said, I do think there is a wealth of best-practices and industry knowledge for how to do professional services engineering and support engineering well that could definitely benefit you given the work you're doing.

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A similar title that can also be described by this answer is something like "tools engineer" (and, in some cases, "tools administrator"). I've seen these used to describe the people who build and maintain the tools and systems used by the project teams, but aren't part of the delivery to a customer. You can pretty much add "manager" or "lead" to anything to add the fact that you direct, manage, or run projects. –  Thomas Owens Dec 5 '12 at 17:43
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Unfortunately, there is no international system of weights and measures for IT jobs. However, from what you describe, and from experience in dealing with other people in similar positions, I've seen these job titles:

  • Technical specialist
  • Technical consultant
  • Support Analyst Programmer
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It varies a lot from company to company, but a lot of your duties sound like short-term or ad-hoc solutions to business problems. Business Analyst, Business Intelligence, or Systems Analyst seem like the best tags (the last one being the least probable). I would really go with Business Analyst, myself.

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Business Analysts & Systems Analysts don't tend to cut code IMHO... –  Robbie Dee Dec 5 '12 at 23:17
    
@RobbieDee My first job out of college was as a "Systems Analyst" and I did write/maintain code. –  Michael Dec 5 '12 at 23:21
    
I too cut code as a Jnr Business Analyst but it isn't a generally accepted part of either role... –  Robbie Dee Dec 5 '12 at 23:24
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