Life as a BIG Developer – The Importance of Learning a Project’s Business Domain
By Aaron Emmert, Bits In Glass
Working at Bits In Glass as a developer is both a challenging and rewarding experience. To keep up with the pace of today’s rapidly changing economy, you will be put into scenarios that require you to go beyond just programming. To be proactive in learning business requirements and how they can be implemented on an application platform that follows best practices.
A prime example of an application platform that is designed to quickly adapt to changing business requirements is Appian, and just like the platform itself, the developers should be just as responsive and view the project in a holistic way. By aiming to be as forward-thinking and proactive as possible, developers deliver solutions highlighting Appian’s capabilities more readily.
To highlight this concept, questions like “Can this certain functionality be implemented in Appian and does it follow best practices?” are just as important and relevant as “How can my business process be done in Appian?” In other words, by pairing technical knowledge with the related business knowledge, a developer can contribute much more to a project than just functioning code.
When starting a new project, Sprint 0 (in an Agile process like we use at BIG) will have a series of user story grooming sessions to identify gaps in the current process and ensure business requirements are captured to streamline the customer’s operations. If the application involves a new subject matter or business vertical, how do you contribute during these meetings? In my experience, actively listening to the client for clues as to their business problem will guide you toward offering an appropriate solution or diving deeper.
Understanding the Customer’s Business Environment
You may have done your homework by looking at the documentation, business requirements, and sample use cases, nevertheless, at this point you are likely still depending on the client for more information. Whether the missing information is a legal requirement, an additional workflow, or another business rule, it may have a significant impact on the overall design and the delivery of the application.
In order to focus on getting the right information, it’s important to have both the perspective of a developer and a business analyst because it will give you an idea of what probing questions to ask, whether it be technical or business related. Not to say that a project should replace business analysts with developers, having developers who bring a business analyst mindset is the difference between simple execution of the requirements and understanding what the customer is trying to achieve.
A business mindset is also valuable in user support where agents are required to communicate effectively, including answering open-ended questions, with people having varying levels of technical understanding. This provides the client and end user with an assurance that you not only understand their problem in the right context but how to solve it with the tools available to you.
In summary, as a BIG Consultant with a focus on Appian development, we provide technical expertise and also strive to become acquainted with the project’s business domain: being a knowledge worker as well as a developer. We are proficient at understanding both Appian’s capabilities as a platform and how it can be used in industry, as well as being both independent and productive as possible, only reaching out for clarifications when absolutely necessary. This provides our Appian clients with insights and services they trust and rely upon.
About the Author
As an Appian developer, Aaron strives to meet and exceed the expectation of our clients. He grew up in Superior, Wisconsin, where he is a fan of the Packers, dairy products, and cider. His hobbies include walking the dog, exercising, reading and playing video games.