Amy’s Answers: How to work with an engineer

I originally posted this on the Udacity Peer Chat forum, but thought it was so relevant that I would release this on my blog: from the wife of an engineer, how to work with one.

  1. You need spec. This is engineering jargon for technical specifications – for software dev, that would be lists of existing and planned features, as well as requirements for resources such as what equipment / hardware / software components such as NginX, Apache, etc.
  2. You will need to be as precise as possible when discussing features and things needing to be done. This means addressing one concept in a block of text IF you are going to be using any pronoun. Use as few pronouns as possible (“it,” “they,” “that,” etc.)
  3. Attitude is key – if you end up frustrated, seek clarification and do not attempt to blame-game. Engineers can and will cut you down in a nanosecond.
  4. Providing a full roadmap will help engineers build current features for the future development AS PLANNED, and this will save a ton of money and time in the long-run.
  5. Tech development is a lot like remodeling versus building a residence house – remodeling (going back in to add features that were not planned-for) can cost ten times more – I write this from literal decades of experience!
  6. If your role is SALES – engineers are the worst clients and the best clients all at once – they focus on features, capacity to handle what the product is sold for, and are straight-shooters. They can detect puffery or lack of understanding from miles away. They are also extremely aware of ROI and can be time-conscious. To sell to an engineer, information and product knowledge – and awareness of market competitors’ products – are key.
  7. If you’re going to HIRE one – do not waste anyone’s time. Know your budget and be willing to give a number up front. Have a detailed list of expectations and be ready to discuss how performance will be measured.
  8. While it may seem like they’re not doing much – engineers’ job is to THINK more than they act. Do not be angry or surprised if a particular task seems to have stalled. Instead, ask what roadblocks have been found. Seek a better understanding.

Hopefully fellow coders, project managers, and business owners will benefit from my insight.

All the best into 2021,

– Amy Barnes
Software engineer
Paralegal, criminal defense

December 29, 2020

About Amy Barnes

Author has extensive experience in Retail, including two years as a supervisor. Educated in Psychology, Financial Accounting, Criminal Justice, and Programming. Work experience in Law Enforcement, Security (IT), Programming (REALBasic, SQL, VB, JAVA), Retail.
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