If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, at times it must seem that techies come from a different universe altogether especially when it comes to communicating verbally. I’ve worked in technology for longer than I’ll ever admit to these days and have no problem confessing it can be bloody frustrating trying to have a meaningful and to the point conversation with an out-and-out techie. And I’m one of them!
There are some questions in particular that are often prone to misinterpretation:
Is it possible to add this new feature to my website/software application?
Your techie hears:
I’m dying to hear about all the different options, tools and plug-ins that you can find which may work for the new feature I want. Hell! Fill me in on all the details for those that won’t work too, this is fascinating!
When will my system/enhancement/report be ready?
Your techie hears:
Please talk me through all the steps you have to go through to design, develop, test and implement my request. Don’t leave out any detail regardless as to how mundane or inconsequential you feel it may be to me. I’m especially interested to hear about all the other non-related work you currently have and about how you are going to prioritise my request alongside everything else you’ve got going on.
Can you please remind me of the business logic we used in Report A?
Your techie hears:
Please cut and paste the different SQL statements used in Report A and send them through to me so I can lose hours of my life trying to work out the original business logic requested.
Does any of this sound familiar? The last example of receiving reams of SQL actually happened to me last year when I asked a techie to provide examples of bad queries report authors had submitted for use in a business presentation I was preparing.
But believe it or not in most cases the techies you’re talking to really do want to help you and are not deliberately trying to wind you up. They are usually doing their best to support you and to give you what they think you want. Techies are very talented, passionate about what they do and take great pride in producing, what are often, great feats of achievement and hard work.
The problem is that in a lot of cases your techie feels the need to take you on a wonderland tour of their thought process and technical prowess, which is of course the last thing you want if you are of sane mind.
So how do you survive tech-talk? You do it by forming your question very carefully and setting the expectation of how you expect the answer to look.
For example if we take the three example questions from above, a better way to ask the same questions would be:
- Please investigate how you can best add this new feature to my website/software application. This is how I would like it to work. Once you have weighed up the options, pros and cons please provide me a brief outline of your recommended solution along with a feasible delivery date and estimate of cost.
- Once you have determined what you need to do to complete my enhancement/report and prioritized against your other commitments, please provide me with a date you believe you can deliver to. If at any time the target date looks at risk, let me know sooner rather than later.
- Please confirm in an email and in concise English business terms the logic used in Report A.
Of course these are simplified examples but I’m sure you get the idea. Try it out the next time you need to talk to your techie and see how you get on. If you still end up tearing your hair out and grieving for the hours lost from your life that you’ll never get back, give us a call.
We can help manage your IT and/or digital teams and we promise to always speak in clear English business terms no matter how technical the conversation needs to get. Call us today on +44 (0) 7972 152548 to get the ball rolling.