What the Organizational Chart Doesn't Tell You

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In the lower ranks of the MIS world, sorting out job titles is a
nearly impossible task. Some folks are called Analysts. Some are
called Programmers. Some are called Engineers. None of them has
window offices.

So I have listed -- from lowest to highest in order of prestige -- and
described the 10 most commonly used job titles in a data processing

A truly experienced high-tech professional has held five or even six
of these positions . . . usually all at the same time.

10. Programmer:
This person holds the lowest rank in the DP field. Manages no
one. Answers to everyone. Approximately 50% of the Programmer's
time is scheduled for testing. Another 50% is spent filling out
time cards and progress reports. Any time left over is spent
attending classes on technologies that will never be used in the

The Programmer is appraised on code quality and reliability.
Never has time to write any. Hopes to, someday, be promoted to
Systems Analyst.

9. Systems Analyst:
The Systems Analyst refuses to code anymore. Designs new
systems. Writes specs for new systems. Devises procedures
and work flows for new systems but ends up training users
on how to get by with the old ones. Next in line for Team
Leader position.

8. Team Leader:
A Team Leader manages one project. Doesn't know why he's not
called Project Leader; that's what he has on his resume.

7. Project Leader:
Manages several projects at once. Analyzes Gantt charts from the
Team Leaders' projects. Coordinates schedules from the Team
Leaders' projects. Monitors deliverables from the Team Leaders'
projects. Has absolutely no idea what any of the Team Leaders'
projects are about. Wants to be a programmer again.

6. Operator:
The Operator wields powers that the Project Leader can only dream
about. Makes Programmers beg for tape drives. Makes Analysts
beg for disk space. Makes Team Leaders beg for printouts. Has
an uncanny understanding of career potential in the data
processing industry. Going to law school at night.

5. Systems Programmer:
Even an Operator wants to be a Systems Programmer. A
Systems Programmer has the authority to wipe out disk packs
without warning. Crash the system during user demos. Make
new releases appear, then disappear, then reappear again,
especially during month-end processing.

4. DBA:
No one really knows what the Database Administrator does, and no
one is smart enough to know if the DBA is doing it or not. But
every shop must have one DBA, because no place can afford two of

3. Manager:
The Manager is sometimes called a Director. Or an Assistant
Vice-President. Or an Account Manager. Has completely lost
touch with any facsimile of technology. Wants to finish next
year's budget. Wants to finish last year's appraisals. Wants to
learn the names of some of the Programmers. But instead, only
has time to interview job applicants, especially DBAs.

2. Department Secretary:
The Programmers have word processing. The Managers have
electronic mail. Everyone has automatic phone messaging.
This leaves the Department Secretary with all kinds of time to
manipulate, control and dispense the three most basic employee
needs: paychecks, rumors and supplies. Can make copier
self-destruct just by going to lunch.

1. Contract Programmer:
A Contract Programmer doesn't have to wear a nice suit. Or go to
meetings. Or fill out time cards. Or keep complaints to
himself. He can make all the mistakes he wants. He doesn't get
benefits. He doesn't get training. He doesn't get respect.

But after years in the trenches, the Contract Programmer will
finally achieve the ultimate goal in the profession: He will be
able to make impossible deadlines with inadequate resources for
desperate managers by putting in all kinds of extra hours... and
will be paid overtime for every one of them.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Send mail to jokeman@thejokejukebox.com
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