I have 20-plus years of experience related to the use of many analytical software applications. I have experience in managing the gap that exists between business user requirements and technology solution providers. I am currently taking classes to be a Microsoft/Oracle Application Solution Developer. I don’t plan to be a developer but would like to combine this new education in technology with my previous experience to move into the management sector of IT that deals with reconciling a company’s business needs with its IT capabilities. What types of technology job titles would be appropriate for someone with my goals and background?

I’m curious as to why you are taking these classes (which must be expensive) when you don’t have a concrete goal in mind—or even a job title. I’d imagine that, like a lot of people, you read about some classes about a product that you’d heard about before. You signed up for the classes, figuring you’d decide where you’re going once you’re underway.

I don’t think that’s a good strategy. It’s kind of like driving around without knowing where you’re going because you figure that, sooner or later, you have to end up somewhere interesting. You can waste a lot of time and gasoline that way, and there is no guarantee you will ever get anywhere worth going.

So, my advice is to stop taking the developer training classes and to not take any classes until you have developed a detailed career plan. Then, you will be able to put your time and other resources into education or other training that is more relevant to your objectives.

Create a new plan
To create your plan, you need to research real jobs where decades of experience working with software and managing that gap you mentioned will come in handy. You need to find out what someone in one of these jobs does on a day-to-day basis, and you need to find out what kind of training, experience, and knowledge is required.

For example, a job as needs analyst might be something you can do. A needs analyst (there are many job titles for this type of work) is someone who works for a software vendor or a consulting firm. The main activity in this kind of job is to work with a client or prospective client to make sure there is a good match between the software’s capabilities and the client’s needs.

Or, as a needs analyst, you might work inside a company helping the company determine its information and data requirements, and then work as part of a task force to find software to meet those needs. You would also take part in evaluating the prospective matches to see how they perform.

You may have started taking development courses because you thought jobs like these required you to know how to write the code. But you don’t have to delve that deeply into what makes the software work. What’s more important in these kinds of jobs is getting the needs accurately portrayed.

Jobs such as these are mostly related to a specific type of business need or to a category of business needs. Therefore, you would need to choose a category of business software to specialize in, such as human resources, accounting, customer retention management, or content and data management. What you choose should have to do with what you spent the last 20-plus years doing.

I have mentioned one type of job that you might consider, and I suggest that you come up with at least two more. Spend some time reading the various business publications and resources (such as the one you’re reading now). Look for articles that talk about how companies are meeting their business needs through software and hardware. Keep a close watch for titles associated with people quoted in these articles, and you will find some more jobs to research.

Make sure that any future training is geared toward the job requirements. For example, if you want to be a needs analyst, Learning Tree has a class in identifying and confirming user requirements.