Do you need someone highly experienced in programming who can complete specific tasks you have outlined? Or, do you need someone who can take an active role in determining the best plan of action from an IT standpoint?

There’s no right or wrong answer, it all depends on your business needs and objectives.

Computer Programmers are more likely to be focused on the details and tend to obsess over small things. However, they are constantly learning or creating new software tools using a number of technologies or platforms.

Business Analysts are often exposed to big picture goals and need to communicate with senior management, and bridge gaps between opposing or conflicting points of views. So a Business Analyst’s job tends to be more big picture compared to a computer programmer’s who is given specific tasks and then left alone to get their job done.

We inherited a problem with one of our clients a while back where the original programmer never understood the business goals. Without going into details, this company managed a local system interface that tied into a national database.

Since the programmer didn’t understand the business rules, it would have been easy for this company to be out hundreds of thousands of dollars if the issue had gone undiscovered.

Two of our developers were assigned “bug fixes” and soon realized they weren’t dealing with bugs, they were system problems. They had occurred because the programmer didn’t understand the business rules. Obviously the company was very grateful that we were able to find the error and quickly remedy it.

If your programmer doesn’t understand the business processes, it’s important that someone in the organization who works closely with the programmer does have a grasp of the big picture.

There is a growing trend to hire programmers overseas. However, there’s only so much you can do via phone calls and video conferences to relay important business information. It’s never really going to sink in. Whether you outsource your programming or hire within, the programmer is essentially told what to do and simply programs. They don’t have the business sense to analyze if a certain decision is the best option.

The decision to hire a programmer versus a Business Analyst is one that should be made after thorough consideration of the internal resources available to the potential hire.

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