What does a technical consultant do?

Name: Hajo Hoffmann

Age: 38

Position: Technical Consultant

Education: Diplom-Informatiker

Company: Spirit Link, digital communications agency focusing on healthcare

What do you do?

“Talking and painting” is my favorite answer to this question. In general, I support all involved in technically complex projects in order to better understand the connections and possibilities and to consolidate the various opinions. From this I design corresponding system and business processes and document the requirements for the implementation, so that the necessary systems can be implemented and configured accordingly.

The “talking” in my answer is due to my role as a communication and translation interface regarding the technical aspects of projects. The “painting” refers to my penchant for whiteboards and flipcharts, which I use in almost all meetings to sketch and model the technical relationships. Also for the documentation I like to use a graphical modeling (for example in UML or BPMN). This form is usually clearer and more accurate than pure text.

How did you come to this task?

Originally I worked as a software engineer “hands-on” in the bowels of large software systems. Most of the practical knowledge that I often need today for my current tasks, then came in several years as a consultant for “Requirements Engineering” added.

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In addition, a longer trip to the project management gave me a helpful look beyond the horizon. All of these experiences can now be wonderfully combined in my role as Technical Consultant at Spirit Link, as my heart beats for the content of the work in our project teams.

Describe as clearly as possible a project that has particularly impressed you.

One customer had the problem that the new marketing processes for a completely new product of the company were no longer practicable. The processes were created from a “prototypical” form of the product and only loosely integrated into existing processes. With the growth of the product, the shortage of personnel, the many dependencies, undefined tasks and ad hoc voting became more and more confused.

The procedures became unbearably tough and the participants increasingly frustrated. Our task was to unravel the growing network of processes, to find out the actual needs of the participants, to clarify the overriding priorities, to determine which interfaces exist to existing systems and processes.

Ultimately, we should put together the requirements for a new system, which should be the heart of the marketing process in the future. I was particularly excited about this project because of its high complexity, the number of participants and the entrepreneurial importance.

Which feature helps you the most in your everyday life?

Curiosity and talent for improvisation. Curiosity is crucial for the technical part of my role. There is only one correct solution for almost no technical problem – what was a good approach yesterday can be completely unsuitable tomorrow. Many truths are always correct only until you have the next conversation, read the next article or heard the next podcast.

Certainly sound technical knowledge is very helpful for this role, but more important is to be open to new insights and developments.
Improvisation talent is basically advisory activities. The best plan and the most thorough preparation can quickly collapse when a new stakeholder comes along or unfamiliar aspects open up completely new contexts. Since such a thing happens in the middle of a workshop, it is advantageous to be able to adapt quickly.

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What is most important to you about your job?

Cross-departmental business processes in larger companies affect many people and many systems. When a project engages in a tangle of tasks, user interfaces, data, news, and algorithms, I enjoy it most. Above all, I like the challenge of paving the way for the innovations so that the current operation is impaired as little as possible.

My job is indispensable because …

… it is now hardly possible for a company to have the expertise around its own systems and processes under one roof. For example, almost every major technical project requires access to experts from other branches or companies that are likely to be spread around the world.

Such projects almost require that there be someone in the many meetings who consolidates, documents, and, depending on the stakeholder, business or technical perspective, consolidates the technical aspects.

If you were not a technical consultant, what would you be?

Clearly, game developers with constantly new ideas: For my children, for large groups at events, for long game evenings with friends, for networked masses on the smartphone … or for whatever platforms may come in the future.

Also interesting: What does … a Creative Coder?

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