Steve Jones (@way0utwest | blog) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. The official topic this month is: “What issues have you had in interacting with the business to get your job done?”

Learning the Business

Until just a few weeks ago, when I changed jobs, my primary job was to write (and edit, and manage) reports for the business. I spent three years working at this for a small company. I learned, after the first few reports, that my job wasn’t simply to write a query and drag fields onto a table. The job was much more involved than that. I found out that not asking questions beforehand often meant I’d spend more time redoing my work than I had building it the first time around.

So, I spent time learning the business side of my job. I educated myself on business terms, understanding cost, price, margins, profits, days to ship, days to pay, and any other important items that were mentioned. I also took it upon myself to understand our business. I researched our biggest suppliers, so I knew what kind of information we could get from them. I studied and worked with our largest and smallest customers, making sure their needs were met.

It would always surprise me, then, when someone else inside the business would not have at least some knowledge of these things. Workers in accounting had no problems understanding commission formulas or what should be on the balance sheet, but they often failed to look past the numbers and at the people we were working with. The account reps would be familiar with customers and suppliers, but I would often have to spend time with them, explaining how certain fields in reports were calculated, or sending definitions of gross margin and average days to pay. I spent a lot time asking if what they requested is what they really wanted.

It is frustrating to work with someone who does not understand the basics of business, or the company you work for. I am not just in IT; I work for a business. Everyone does. I think we should all try to learn more about what our companies do, and how our jobs fit into that, so we can interact with other departments and coworkers more effectively.