Arlington + Meditation On Analysis

A collection of visual candy from my trip.

I spent the majority of last week away at a Residence Inn in Arlington, Virginia; where I met with fenestration industry professionals to discuss further development of the NFRC’s commercial program.

Bad Weather and Real Priorities

I hate leaving my family behind when I travel, mostly because there’s so little you can do to help in case of emergency; which made the beginning of my trip a bit ominous.  After my plane touched down at Reagan International Airport I received a text message from my wife telling me our region of upstate New York had been placed under a tornado watch by the National Weather Service.  Luckily we’re not prone to extreme weather events, so by midnight any danger had passed.

I was greatly relieved!

My Role

Where work is concerned this was an exciting trip.  More idea than decision (and I do so like to play with ideas).  Part philosopher part geek, the focus of my visit was to provide an extra ear at the intersection of process improvement and software development.

My Own Mental Symposium

I was a shut in most of the week, but the nature of the conversation did generate some interesting thoughts in my head; particularly as they blended with ideas emerging in other areas of my professional and academic life.  In reflection, here is a short list of thoughts stemming from the mad chasm of my mind:

  • It’s empowering to remain technically neutral in the early stages of systems analysis. Processes can be better defined when not constrained by a particular technology during the planning stage.
  • Non-technical stakeholders can be easily tempted to seek a technical solution before devising processes and intended outputs. Where the general emphasis of information systems development is to increase value through more efficient process, failure to exercise discipline during planning can be detrimental to the final outcome.
  • Process maps, and workflow diagrams, are a critical tool in an analyst toolbox because they not only allow him/her to see and evaluate processes but also allow stakeholders to visually identify where things need to be clarified so work can be done more efficiently.
  • To aid stakeholders who are attempting to set priorities, or make decisions, it’s sometimes helpful to present a solution and allow them to accept, dismiss, or refine it.
  • New projects can seem overwhelming to both new and seasoned analyst. To overcome the stress of embarking on new work, resist the urge to jump ahead or try to accomplish it all at one time.  Like trying to eat an elephant, large projects are best handled one bite at a time.

Keep calm.  Breathe.  Create.



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