IT Employment

Computer systems analyst and software engineer: Least stressful jobs?

According to a list compiled by Careercast.com, computer systems analyst and software engineer are the least stressful jobs.

According to a list compiled by CareerCast.com, a job search Web site, computer systems analyst and software engineer ranks near the bottom for stress.

The list took into account 21 different stress factors, including deadlines, life and death situations, and physical demands. The two most stressful jobs were surgeon and commercial airline pilot. I can understand surgeon, but I don't think these guys or these guys were exactly stressed.

I know that there aren't many life or death scenarios for software engineers, but I think it could be a pretty stressful line of work. Any time you're dealing with creating a product that has to satisfy another group of people is, in my opinion, fraught with stress. What do you think?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

27 comments
jck
jck

I don't know who CareerCast interviewed, but they didn't interview any software engineers at NASA or in other government sector jobs involving classified projects. I've worked on a few projects where I was told the main objective was "personnel longevity". Nuff said.

Ocie3
Ocie3

It does not seem to me that the ranking implies that systems analysts and software engineers do not have stressful jobs -- quite often, they do. But perhaps the jobs are not quite as stressful as others that precede them on the list. Then again, I have not seen the entire list. What I do know is that while I was a programmer, and subsequently a systems analyst, I worked at least 60 hours per week, usually at least six days of the week, and without compensation for "overtime" ("comp time" had not been invented yet). So did everyone else who held the same job at the company where we worked. (Some had wives and children who hardly ever saw their husband and father, respectively -- some suffered divorces because of it.) Even the programmers, called "coders" now, I suppose, worked at least 60 hours per week, and we all worked even more hours and every day of the week when we were approaching the deadline to finish a project. In my experience, the people who planned and organized software development projects (as well as others, such as equipment procurement and installation) based their plans on identifying sets and series of "tasks" which, when completed, would result in software that satisfied the specifications that had been created for it. Some times all of the necessary tasks were not identified during planning and organizing the project. However, the most common problem was that the planners and organizers ordinarily did not have a clue as to how long a particular task would likely require. Often they had poor definitions for most of the tasks. Some tasks were very broadly defined, and were actually composed of many identifiable sub-tasks. Still other parts of the project were broken into many tasks in seemingly infinite detail, regardless of whether that part of the plan actually required so much "granularity". The planners also never used a range of time for estimating task completions, just a specific amount of time, usually allotted in hours. In planning, they usually did assume a 40-hour, Mon - Fri work week for each person who would be participating. But they also assumed that no one would ever need any "time off" from the job while working on the project. Which is to say that they seldom included [b]any[/b] allowances for contingencies, since doing so was largely discouraged. That was discouraged because concrete, simple goals respectively for time and for budget were expected, even demanded, by supervisors of the planners and organizers. Concrete, simple goals were expected, in particular, by the non-EDP managers of other departments -- usually the departments whose personnel would be using the software. Either a committee composed of them, or perhaps one specific non-EDP manager, typically had the authority to approve a proposed project, and/or to cancel one in progress that was not meeting their expectations. They tended to treat the time and budget estimates as "promises" that EDP managers in general and "the team" in particular must keep. Oddly, very little formal concern was evinced by these know-next-to-nothing managers about the utility and integrity of the software that would be produced. So, in such a context, eventually, simple overwork began to deprive me of too much sleep, social activity and recreation. As the adage says, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." I did not have time to shop for food, let alone plan and prepare meals. So I had a very poor diet -- high in sugar and fat, low in fiber and requiring vitamin and mineral supplements -- which eventually led to digestive system problems and others. All of these characteristics of the job(s) ultimately resulted in what was called, at the time, "job burnout". The truth is that I had to quit because the hours, as well as other job-related stresses, began to exact a heavy toll upon my health. After I used all of the few allotted "sick days", per-diem deductions were made from my salary. It did not matter that I might work 12 hours each day for four days after a three-day absence, I would not be paid for any day that I was not at work, unless it was a Sunday when we were not "on deadline". Acting under my physician's [b]written[/b] advice, I began limiting each work-day to eight hours, and working no more than six days each week (usually "only five"). So I was not "getting things done" according to the expected time and cost goals of the project manager (although I was not on a specific project, [i]per se[/i], at the time, just doing "maintenance" updates and bug corrections). The EDP managers began watching for every "infraction" of their unwritten rules, never mind official policy, trying to build a case for having me fired. Eventually, I just got fed-up with the increasingly tense and nasty situation, as well as my deteriorating health, and resigned. After a succession of five jobs, the last three of which were more-or-less identical in nearly all respects to the preceding description, I decided to change careers. As much as I loved computer programming and creating useful, even truly significant, software, I could not find an employer whose fear of losses was only exceeded by their greed. Even when a project succeeded in reducing costs and improving efficiency, they could regard it as a failure because it did not do enough to increase or to maintain their expectation of Return On Investment.

itadmin
itadmin

I've been both a surgeon (consultant for 15 years) and programmer (about 8 years). Real, naked stress is not actually found in programming. Frustration, yes. When the patient is dying under your hands, that's stress. It's here and now, not because a politician with the gift of the gab came up with a stupid idea but carries the day, like Churchill with Gallipoli. That may cost 50,000 lives later on with very few making the connection to the politician or whoever was responsible. With the surgeon it will be different. Luckily it happens very infrequently. I remember being asked to do a tracheostomy on a patient with a bull neck after the aneasthetist had failed over several golden minutes to put a tube in. The patient was turning blue and fighting the obstruction. He bled like a pig and when I got to his trachea the rings were solid. He was about fifty and the cartilage was calcified, as sometimes happens with age. I had to break a hole into his trachea. That's stress, and what's more, the surgeon cannot allow himself to become stressed. And then there are the few cases which turned out sub-optimally. It happened to me about once a year in ENT surgery. A general surgeon colleague told me it happens about three times a year in general surgery - they deal with "sicker" patients. He told me everyone of them wanted him dead, which is the same in all branches of medicine. An orthopaedic surgeon told me orthopaedic patients don't die, they live to sue and complain. Psychiatric patients commit suicide and then the psychiatrist must take the rap. Psychiatrists have the luxury of being able to say their patients are mad :-). In one hospital I worked in a psychiatric patient hanged himself in the bush behind the hospital. It was very hard on the psychiatrist - a group of people not always the same as you and me. Don't think this is all the doctor's mistake. Humans, unlike machines, have their own reactions. If one drills a 1.5mm hole in metal it will be a 1.5mm hole. Not so in humans. Sometimes surgery which one thinks could have gone better comes up with optimal results and an operation which really went well yields less than optimal results. Most stress was due to humans. In programming it's much the same. The trick is to avoid humans - sit in a back room and code with classical music playing in the background.

vucliriel
vucliriel

... to see a public figure such as the author of this blog use her position of authority to give credit to crass, superficial sensationalism when a simple read of these two cases proves that commercial pilots are under incredible stress! I suppose Ms Browers believes that saving over 100 people landing a plane with no power after both engines shut down shortly after take off, last year on the Hudson, is just part of the normal workday for a pilot? That pilots experience countless close calls and that almost every one of these close calls were handled so expertly under duress that no one even realized how close they came to disaster? Maybe Ms Browers show go back to journalism school and take a course on ethics, because it sure seems that her blog is only fit for the National Enquirer, not the professional venue that Tech Republic is. Two thumbs down!!!

ngkashiva
ngkashiva

What are the '21 stress factors' taken in account by Careercast team? In my opinion there cannot be a common list of factors that can apply to all kinds of jobs. It all depends on the nature of the job, the adaptive skills of the individual and the desired expectations from the deliverables. It will be interesting to look into how CareerCast team arrived at this conclusion and what are the different job types they included in their compiled list. It is fundamentally wrong to generalize job types into such categories w.r.t Stress. Stress can be quite subjective to the individuals' personality traits and his suitability to the job. Also, compensatory factors, like job satisfaction (moral, social and monetary) and other incentives closely coupled with the job type, play an important role in modifying the quantum of stress experienced in a particular job type. Generalization is good for 'statistics' but is a dangerous phenomenon as it can alter our perception and reaction to a particular problem or situation, often leading to ineffective faulty decisions. Ask the 'surgeon' to work as a 'software engineer' and see what he has to say about stress after a month :)

ron.jasper
ron.jasper

About a decase ago a there was a project from psychologist to do this same thing and number 3 didn't even make this list. Police officer wasn't even shown yet they deal with ever changing technology, life threatening situations, and rotating shift schedules. Number 2 on that list was surgeon. Here is the one that you would never expect at number one. It was the lowly Telemarketer. It is generally a low paying job where no one's life is generally in your hands all though I know of two specific instances where we had to figure out how to get a call to a respondends local 911 because they had a heart attack while on the line and couldn't hang up to do it themselves. The stress comes from the fact that you are contstantly making or receiving calls all day long where you expect the person on the other end to be rude or outright verbally assaulting and you are not allow to be so back. Think about how you felt the last time someone chewed you out. Now imagine expecting and getting it all day long. I've been on the phones for over 4 years in call centers and in IT at call centers for over 4 years at past jobs. I'll take the IT job, thank you very much.

alanbond
alanbond

I think it's very unfair to suggest that all commercial pilots are asleep on the job... Although for the most part pilots work is routine systems monitoring it has moments of sheer terror; I'm aware of a senior Boing 747 captain flying for an major international airline who following two galley fires has given up flying; the person in question could no longer deal with the responsibility of having 400 plus people depend on them for their very lives. How many IT people could say that they have the direct responsibility for the lives of hundreds of people who WILL die if they make a mistake? It puts almost every IT persons job into perspective when you think of it in this way! As regards the most stressful IT job, the old addage 'If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen' applies. How many of us would have chosen IT as a career in out teens or twenties if we knew in advance that we would be as stressed out as we are? I have contemplated on many occasions leaving IT altogether and retraining as a plumber, but my employers have yet to push me that far...

ian.digby
ian.digby

The job of systems analyst (I am one) is not necessarily stressful in the sense that other people stress you out on a daily basis; but it is often very very stressful in terms of the mental demands of developing or unravelling complex systems and code, with often little guidance or certainty that anything is going to work; managing user expectations and your own credibility; and handling the deployment of code, where if one character of code is incorrect, the whole system may not work. It does me 'ed in.

akhanda
akhanda

I disagree. As a software engineer, I found the job stressful, especially since ego clashes are far more frequent in the software industry, and schedule planning is woefully inadequate, giving rise to constant unreasonable deadlines.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I've done many roles in my career, from marketing and sales, development, business analysis, desktop support, project management and people management. So I've seen stress in many roles and companies as small as 3 people and as large as 100,000 employees. Stress can come from within a person. Stress can come from external factors, only one of which is the type of job they are doing. Every job can have stress, and different people can cope with different types of stress better than others. Stress can also result from relationships in the work place, how the economy is doing, and both long and short term factors. It is in my opinion pointless to argue about whether one role is more stressful than another. Its how we cope with stress. I'm sure that many airline pilots have learned how to deal with the stress of their jobs. Whether or not a systems analyst or software engineer feels stress depends alot on the circumstance and even the particular project. I know one of my biggest stressors these days is the impact of a reduced workforce on my projects. The groups I have to work with to complete a project have fewer staff, less bandwidth to help with my goals. I'm expected to make it happen anyway. James

Kam Guerra
Kam Guerra

Add in ever changing requirements, daily meetings (in an agile environment), quirky company policies, and it starts to add up.

Ocie3
Ocie3

One time, when I was "between (IT) jobs", I temporarily worked for a cable TV broadcaster as the "dispatcher" for the employees of three independent contractors, who performed installations of the cable TV service into customers' homes, or activated service for a customer when service began or was restored over an existing cable. The addresses and routes were determined each day by a set of IBM AS-400 computer "printouts" (of which I had a copy), one for each contractor's supervisor(s) and others which the supervisors distributed to each of their respective installers, that had the installer's specific assignments on them. So, I basically had three roles. One was making "pre calls", i.e., by telephone, to people who were in the current time-frame that they were told to be available to admit an installer into their home. A surprising number of them were not at home during that time, and I had to mark them on the printout, which was used to verify the report by an installer when they could not enter a home to install the cable, or had a problem activating service that required access to resolve, but no one was there to let them in. The second was "tracking" installers and installations. Each time that an installer completed an installation, s/he was expected to use the customer's telephone (if there was one) to let me know that it was done, and I would record their progress on the printout. (This was before "cellular telephones" were invented; radiotelephones cost a small fortune to buy, use and maintain.) Often, the installer had to move on to the next customer, and after installing or activating their service, borrow their telephone to update me with two, three, or maybe four installations. At least once a day there would be some kind of problem somewhere -- usually suspected theft of service -- and I had tell our radio operator to relay the installer's report (to me by telephone) to the installer's supervisor by radio. The third was to field customer inquiries as to why an installer had not arrived when they expected. Some of these calls, of course, were from people who were not there when I called, and were not there when the installer arrived. Company policy was that the installer had to return to that customer if they had enough time left after visiting all of the others who had been scheduled for an installation -- not happy news for anyone except the customer. From time-to-time, one of the supervisors would call me to ask whether any of their installers were not on schedule. So I had to look through the printouts and tell them where each of their crew members were and how long it had been since they had called me. One day, someone looking through the door to the office in which I worked took a photograph of me. I had a telephone handset on my left shoulder and was holding another one between my right shoulder and right jaw while I was leafing through the printout on the desk in front of me. I was busy every minute each and every day, with only a ten minute break in mid-morning, 30 minutes for lunch, and another break in mid-afternoon. If I wasn't making calls, I was answering them and everything tended to go on at what was, to me, a somewhat frenetic pace. The stress of that job was not particularly psychological, but physical. Which no doubt sounds odd, since I sat at a desk all day, talking on the telephone. But I am an introvert by nature, so I was totally [b]exhausted[/b] by the end of each day just from expending the energy to do all of that talking!! At the end of the day, I would sit in my car and relax for ten to fifteen minutes, just letting the adrenalin fade away before I could even think about driving the car. After four weeks, one of the "permanent" employees who worked there decided to accept the job. The manager of the cable-TV firm personally thanked me for my job performance, and every one of the subcontractor supervisors said that I was the best dispatcher with whom they had worked. Frankly, though, I was glad to go do something else for a change. :-)

brokenspokes
brokenspokes

I agree that most of the stress in IT jobs isn't necessary. Having to be responsible for the lives of other people is real stress to me. I would add bus and train operators to the list. There was a story about a school bus driver running over a child after the child climbed underneath the bus to retrieve something that he had dropped. That is a really stressful job. I sometimes have to remind people at my workplace that the stuff they are complaining about isn't life or death. Then again, I am the only person in our office with military combat experience. It must be the fluorescent lights that causes people to go insane in the office environment.

Englebert
Englebert

The greatest stress I encountered was during on-call year-end. Phone, pagers beepers going off like crazy. Knowing fully well that I could not resolve all these problems in a few hours, just called others and delegated each problem, leaving myself to look at the outstanding ones. Now, imagine if red-lights started going off in a plane. No comparison.

doogal123
doogal123

Been in the software development business. Ridiculously short deadlines and client demands (to me) in the software side of the house are much worse than analysis.

propellerheadus
propellerheadus

I do software engineering in a healthcare consulting context. If my code is not a life and death thing then it is certainly important to many patient's comfort and well being. In the most stressful situations I dream of digging ditches instead, but when I overcome the stress and do something good in spite of it I do get a pretty good charge out of it. That feeling keeps me going...

mikeyb4444
mikeyb4444

Kam I do not agree with your post. I work on a helpdesk and I must admit I am a frustrated engineer on 2nd line support who has the skills of a third line engineer who is waiting in the shadows to be made a third line whom does not have to speak to end users (Let's face it no one wants to speak to users). And in my 10 years of IT Support I have never really known of a developer having to speak to end users when clearly it is a coding issue! And not something that a support engineer should be involved with. However the support engineer has to act as the go between. To me it seems that developers have a pretty easy ride in terms of not having to deal with the stress of dealing with a end user constantly calling for an update. When in fact it is due to the Developer not calling the user with an update! Does this not sound real? If not it is probably because as a developer you have not had to take the calls from end users. I do not wish to argue but the writer of this article is 100% correct in my view. I would rather sit in meetings and match dealines than take calls from angry users and have to lie about why a call is taking so long when it is all down to lack of feedback from a single individual. I have lost count the amount of times i have wanted to give out a DD for a developer so the user can call the developer and give them the ear ache.

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

"I sometimes have to remind people at my workplace that the stuff they are complaining about isn't life or death. Then again, I am the only person in our office with military combat experience" Chuckle, it can make a difference in one's outlook upon life, can't it? Not that every veteran of military combat learns to deal with stress well. It depends upon the individual and many factors (a list too long to go into here). And, of course, most folks only remember or think about the "exceptions" as versus the general rule. That is, those combat vets (a very small minority) who "lose it" and go postal, have mental breakdowns, or who become homeless addicts seemingly unable to deal with life. I served 3 combat tours in Nam (all voluntary), and do get disgusted with folks who seem to have this mental image in their minds that "most" combat vets of that war are like what they have seen in some idiot movie or some dark novel about the horrors of war and the poor, broken, creatures that came back from it. Egads, there are literally millions of vets among the general population who learned to cope and deal with their experiences, who went on to live quite normal, productive lives. Often with their neighbors and co-workers being totally unaware of what that vet may have seen or done. Chuckle, even my daughter fell for that movie stereo-type crap. She was, of course, aware of my military service. After Nam I went on to do a career in the service. But like daughters, and sons, everywhere she only had a very superficial awareness of what Dad did when he was not at home. And when I was home, I likely acted pretty much like most fathers do. And around her and my son, I never really discussed the dark and ugly things I'd seen and experienced. In any event, at one point in her later teens she came to know this one Nam vet. This fellow was one of the "broken" ones. I don't fault him for that. It is inevitable that there be some, given the millions who served. Combat injured, but more to the point he suffered mental issues. Was declared disabled (not physically). In truth, the guy was pretty badly bi-polar. Pretty much an alcoholic and unable to function "normally". In any event, he lived in a subsidized apartment, was on Social Security Disability, plus qualified for VA physical and mental assistance. Daughter took to feeling sorry for the fellow. And to doing things for him. Everything from making sure he had some things he couldn't otherwise afford, to simply visiting with him as a friend, to inviting him along to our family gatherings, picnics, fishing trips, holiday celebrations, etc. I certainly did not object. I only had the rule that when he was with us, he stay sober. He understood and complied. Otherwise, I treated him as a friend and almost like a family member. It was the least I could do. Unfortunately, one day I guess he gave up, took an overdose of some pills, then chugged a bottle of booze. Had been dead over 24 hours when a social worker who dropped by to check to him found his body. A pretty hard pill for the daughter to swallow. She was more than a trifle upset and broken hearted. I consoled her as much as I could. And to this day we visit his grave each Memorial Day, to say a few words, remember him, and leave some fresh flowers. Anyway, after his death daughter went into one of those tirades about the unfair nature of life in general, and about the "thousands or maybe millions" (her words) of poor, broken Viet Nam vets. Chuckle, which is where I lost some patience and dropped an, "Ohhhh, Bull SH*T !" on her. Which startled her into silence, and listening mode. I reminded her, informed her would probably be more accurate, that there were millions of combat vets in the US. And that the hospitals and mental wards were NOT flooded with poor, mentally and psychologically dysfunctional vets. Yep, there are some. And we should do what we can for those. BUT ... by far, by an overwhelming majority ... most vets were well adjusted, well functioning people. NOT emotionally or mentally scarred to any significant degree. I pointed out to her that -I- was a combat vet. Something she knew, but rarely thought about. By this time I'd been retired from the service for several years and working a regular civilian job. The scars on my body gathered during my service time she was so used to she probably never thought about them. I pointed out that my brother, an uncle she is very fond of, had to have a portion of his face reconstructed after getting ambushed while he was riding patrol for a truck convoy. Mentioned two other long time friends of mine she knew so well she calls both "Uncle" even tho we're not blood related. One who is also a combat vet, who luckily was never wounded in combat. And the other who is an ex-SEAL, who carries entry and EXIT wound scars from an enemy machine gun plus has a knee that had to be rebuilt as a result of a 5th bullet. My brother is a carpenter these days. The other two are a network administrator and a mechanical engineer, respectively, these days. I also reminded her of Joe, a fellow who has a lake cabin next to ours up at our family lake place. She looked puzzled over his mention. She only knows him as a commercial pilot. She likes him and his wife a lot and has known both for as long as she can remember. I informed her that before good, old Joe became a commercial pilot, he'd been an Air Force pilot, flying "Wild Weasel" missions over Viet Nam. That is, he'd deliberately fly over North Viet Nam acting like a fat, juicey, easy to hit target. Deliberately trying to get the enemy to shoot anti-aircraft missiles at him. This was so that the missile launching sites could be identified and targeted by his partners who'd be flying some distance behind him. Of course, this meant that at times he had to play a game like "dodge ball". Only one where if one does not play well enough, it sucks to be you. In his case, he became very good at it. Did get hit by shrapnel from a close explosion once, which disabled his aircraft but he managed to eject and to get recovered from the ground before the enemy got to him. I went on to mention Howard, also a guy she knows well. He owns a fishing resort down the road from our lake cabin. Likewise, someone she'd known since before she could remember otherwise. "He was an Army LRRP in Viet Nam." (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol) Got drafted into the Army at first, sent to Nam as a truck driver. Decided he was getting tired of being shot at, with only having minimal combat training to respond with. Re-upped for guaranteed advanced infantry combat training, a change in MOS, and became a LRRP. After the Army he became a professional electrician, saved up the money and bought a small fishing resort. Chuckle, she hadn't even been aware that Howard had ever been in the service. Much less that he'd been a Special Ops type dong missions WITHIN enemy territory. Of course, the reality is that all these folks I mentioned to her live quite normal lives as productive citizens, who are as reasonably well adjusted and successful as most anyone else around them. She was unaware of some of the details, because we don't usually discuss certain things around her. Why would we? Mostly its not stuff that would interest a teenage gal. She'd not have the background or context to put what we were saying or talking about in proper perspective. And besides, in reality when any of us get together to exchange old "war stories", its mostly about humorous or funny (to us) events and occurrences. Something that happened, some lark engaged in while on off duty time and in pursuit of drink or women (or both), or who knew the dumbest, or strangest, character in their unit. LOL ... or who had DONE the dumbest, most stupid thing ever personally. My point is that in general, such vets are most everywhere, virtually anyone reading this post who is in the USA probably knows one or more ... but may or may not be aware that the person is a vet. And the vets, on the whole, function as well as anyone else. Its not always true, but true more often than not in my experience, that it takes a bit more to "stress out" that combat vet than is the case with most folks. That's not to say the guy or gal might not get hyped up in a particular situation. The difference is usually seen in cases where once the person has done all that he or she can reasonably do to reduce or remove the cause of stress, to solve the problem or prepare for the worst case scenario. They generally then drop into a "wait and see" mode. They shrug, decide that what can be done by themselves has been done, then go and have some coffee and swap jokes with someone. Or whatever, to relax while waiting to see if the sky really is gonna fall like everyone else seems to think it will. Chuckle, I can remember working for one corporation after I retired from the service where there had just been a new "change of command", and the announcement was made that there would be a major re-structuring of the corporation. Heads WOULD roll, and everyone's job and performance was being closely examined. Locally, in the branch office where I worked, the execs had sent out a new local manager, and his name was "Kick A** and Take Names". Oh Lord, it was great. Everyone scrambling like crazy to look especially sharp and efficient, rumors flying faster than one could possibly keep track of them. People sweating blood, ready to bad mouth a co-worker if that's what it took to look good themselves, etc. Tempers were short and there were a lot of flareups between people. Even between friends. Very amusing, IMHO. I had an office and desk in that building. But in truth I didn't actually have to go there much. The nature of my job meant that most of the time I was at some other site or office, plus I had the freedom of being able to work from my home office if I wished if I were doing paperwork instead of fixing something. But I started deliberately going to my office in this building as much as possible ... because the way everyone was going ballistic amused the heck out of me. On one such visit I noticed one guy who'd been hired only short time before the "Sh*t hit the fan", so to speak. I'd only been casually introduced to him, hadn't yet gotten to know much of anything about him except what his job was. I was strolling around, coffee cup in hand when I passed his desk, noticed an amused look on his face, stopped to chat for a moment. I chuckled and commented, "Geez, look at em sweat and stress out ! What the hell are the new bosses gonna do? Take away their birthdays and ship em off 10,000 miles from home and family, and send em into a war zone?" He laughed, commented "Yeah, BTDT. Still alive to talk about it. 6 years, infantry, invasion of Panama, Operation Desert Storm. Now I'm a system admin. How about you?" Chuckle, I wasn't surprised, in the least. Sometimes I think that its like the old "Serenity Prayer". Which has many versions and ways of expressing a common idea. Most any of which a combat vet would recognize and identify with. "God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference." One comes to acknowledge that there are no guarantees in life, except eventual death. So one does what one can, one's best. But you also acknowledge that this is all you can do. You have no control over anything else. It is what it is, and will be whatever. No sense getting all worked up over those things you can't do anything about anyway. Won't change a damn thing if yah do. So do what you can, don't sweat the about the rest. Besides, the odds are its not as bad at it might seem. And even if it is, might as well enjoy the ride in the meantime because there isn't a darn thing you can do about those things not under your control.

Ocie3
Ocie3

that [i]your[/i] managers are letting you down, if you cannot prevent an "end user" from wasting their time and yours with constant calls for an "update" as to the progress of the work to correct the flaw(s), or to add a new feature(s), to existing software. Is that what you are talking about? If so, then no one should be expected or required to put up with what amounts to harassment. That is what it amounts to when they cannot solve the problem, and have no responsibility for doing so. If there is a specific "end-user", or a clique, who is making such calls to "support", then their manager should forbid them to do that. They should be instructed to direct their concerns to their supervisor, who should then discuss those concerns with their manager. Then the manager can contact, not you, but the manager of the software engineers and/or systems analysts and programmers who are "maintaining" the software -- when he or she is justified in asking for a progress report, which should be made regularly without their needing to ask for one. The manager can then relay that information to the supervisors and particularly to the "end users". People become angry primarily when they are expected to do something and cannot do it, but even more so when there is nothing that they can do while the people who [i]can[/i] do something, and are supposedly doing something, keep them in the dark. If the collective management team doesn't get a clue about that, then the users don't need to make a call to "tech support", they need to make a call to a psychotherapist.

sherwoodpage
sherwoodpage

I have had to be both a Software Engineer and deal with the end users at the same time (at two different companies). I found the timelines in addition to dealing with the end users very stressful. Not all companies have a separate/dedicated support technician dept. If I had to choose between the two however, I would definitely go with a software engineer as being the least stressful.

Harshey
Harshey

Completely agree with you !!

marcedhk
marcedhk

So you don't think the stakeholders in a software project don't get angry? The developers get just as much of an ear ache, and on a regular scheduled basis by people who impose unrealistic requirements to be accomplished on unrealistic schedules. Add to this the fact that these people often have the power to impede your promotion, have you reassigned, or even let go when you don't satisfy them, or lose your cool and finally let them know what you really think about the latest change requests, and that adds up to BIG TIME stress. Secondly, you're making a big mistake by making excuses to cover up for that individual's inefficiency. If you don't let people calling the helpdesk understand that the bottleneck is with someone else, all that frustration and anger gets directed squarely at you. You're much better off being straight up with the caller, and then spending the time being a sympathetic ear to listen to their frustrations than being blasted as the target of their frustrations!

Kam Guerra
Kam Guerra

There's a difference between dealing with the end user, and dealing with the owner of a requirement. If I'm dealing with a product spec with (from experience) 1500 initial contractual requirements, and two years later there are 3000 changes - then there's a customer issue.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Customers had strict instructions to call into our help desk to log tickets. We would call the customers once it was in the system to let them know we had it and when they could expect our visit. The problems would come when they would call the tech directly and then the tech didn't log the case. Then you'd have a overworked tech with not many cases in the official queue. We did try to walk around to get to know users as well. But we still asked them to call in a problem. James

Ocie3
Ocie3

did you actually contact end-users to ask whether they had any problems with their computers regardless of whether they had contacted you?? While I was a property manager, the company for which I worked took a proactive approach to maintenance and repairs. By policy, we had to inspect each and every unit at least once per year while it was occupied. Most tenants accepted it, some were glad that we did it, and others complained, especially if they could not be present while we were inspecting the unit. Of course, there were genuine privacy issues, but some of them were probably smoking marijuana (if they weren't growing it in a closet, too) and they were afraid that we would find their stash.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I worked for a time in a building with 800 users, as a desktop tech. We tried to be proactive. Every case was to have some contact every day. Most of us had between 30 and 40 open cases at any time. Guess what we did while installing software, formating hds etc. If you contact them, before they contact you, then its so much easier. And when we called, we'd say - I hope to see you in the next X hours. That would give them the chance to work with us on the schedule. James

Harshey
Harshey

Anyone who is talking to the customers directly is strongly informed not to "blame anyone even if they are worng" thus simply to say " you are the one who has to take the blame for someone else and have all the ear ache."

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