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Don’t Explain Too Much

November 29, 2012
sketch

Leave out the details when communicating with management.

I was reading a note recently from a DBA working at a software company. Their management wanted to ensure clients had a simple backup solution and were leaning towards Windows OS backup instead of SQL Server backups. They were planning on running databases in simple mode instead of taking transaction log backups, which were seen as too complex. While this can work, I’m not sure this is the type of discussion that should even come up.

Management should be concerned with the higher level goals. Clients need a simple scripted backup. Period. The implementation of that isn’t something that management should be discussing with developers. This is the perfect example of where the software development goes off the track with micro management. Managers becoming deeply involved in technical decisions and implementations is a sure way to ensure that less than optimal decisions are being made.

What should happen? Technical developers should get the goals of management (a simple backup process for clients, every day). They should then recommend a solution, but with a minimal of technical details. Managers should have no idea that transaction log backups are being made or a part of the process. Developers should write scripts, tools, or processes that allow an administrator to accomplish a goal in an easy to execute fashion, but shouldn’t need to explain how every detail works to the end user.

Keep it simple and effective. That’s a mantra that’s worked well for me throughout my career.

Steve Jones


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From → Editorial

2 Comments
  1. I think this works in cases where you can lump all of management into non-technical people. In some roles the manager is *very* technical and expects all of the details – and you have to be very careful about when to gloss over anything or leave out any specifics.

    • That is certainly a tough situation. In those cases, you do need to be careful and try to get the manager to trust your judgment or have them take ownership. It’s not bad to debate technical details with a technical person, but it’s not always the best thing. I’ve had managers that hadn’t been current in technology make decisions that were, IMHO, poor. Think about how many little details have changed in SQL Server since 2005, and we might configure things differently.

      On the flip side, a good technical manager will challenge you to explain things and ensure you understand your solution and have thought it through. I’ve had some managers that gave me other ideas, or perspectives, and reinforce my thinking, or altered it slightly.

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