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Enter the Business Engineer: Part 3

on November 2, 2010

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As I have discussed in the prior two ‘Enter the Business Engineer’ posts, the business engineer is an amazing new type of human capital. These men and woman are few and far between, and seeing them in their natural habitat is a rare treat. Fortunately for us, Mendix attracts and breeds business engineers with its visual modeling tools and one-click cloud deployment. For part three of this series of posts, I got to spend some time with a real live business engineer. I interviewed a colleague of mine, Jornt, pictured here.

As you can tell, Jornt is a snazzy guy with a pretty cool job – he works with models. Well – business models… He takes business problems, turns them into technical requirements, and solves them – no code required. In fact, Jornt has a finance degree, and just about no technical background. The only remotely techy thing about Jornt is that he wears those sunglasses inside, but the theory that business engineers are adverse to bright light is still in its developing stages.

Anyhow, Jornt was never really interested in information technology; he likes working with people and solving their problems. He avoids code whenever possible, which made Mendix software an enjoyable coincidence when he signed on. Now that you have a bit of background, let’s get to some of the more interesting questions…

Question 1: Do you consider yourself a business analyst?

“I guess I consider myself a business analyst because I take business requirements and turn them into business applications, but if going the extra step of creating a prototype means I’m a business engineer, I suppose I am more of a BE than a BA. So, what would I be if I tell you I create complete applications?”

Question 2: What’s the most important difference between the two?

“Being able to create a working prototype of an application or a piece of functionality and get immediate feedback is extremely powerful. Having that immediate feedback loop is what saves you the most time and hassle and discussions about how the functionality should actually work.”

Question 3: In your experience, what’s the optimal work situation for a business engineer?

“Sometimes, the best situation is when an internal employee at a company, who has all of the domain knowledge, has the ability to build applications for the organization really quickly. On the other hand, it helps to have a consultant come in with experience in multiple industries. Then they can apply that knowledge when they’re building the application.”

Question 4: And how do business engineers contribute more to business agility than business analysts?

“Being able to respond quickly to a changing business environment is the key to business agility, right? The speed of building the application is what adds to this. The knowledge of the business engineer contributes to the quality of the application, but since these applications are so flexible [with Mendix at least], they become better and better over time – which makes them future proof in a way.”

Question 5: What traits best describe a business engineer?

“A BE has to be curious and willing to learn. At this point, their jobs have little to do with their academic background, so an innate curiosity for solving business problems with tech solutions is a good trait to have. Also, you don’t have to be a genius, but you have to be somewhat intelligent and have problem solving capabilities. Most of the time, we have to learn a lot about the business problem before we know which course to take to generate a solution. The faster we do this, the faster we can deliver a solution that solves the problem.”

Well there you have it folks; wise words from a real live BE. I’ll keep you posted with more news about this novel and interesting member of the SDLC club. We are sure they’re going to turn heads as they inspire more business analysts to tear up the requirement document, put on those stunna-shades, and work with models. Business models of course.

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