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Career Story: Computer Application Developer For A Global Manufacturing Company

Computer Application Developer For A Global Manufacturing Company

Job Title: Application Developer IV

Type of Company: I work for a large global company. The division I work for makes coated abrasives, mostly sandpaper.

Education: AAS, Computer Science, Rochester Institute of Technology

Previous Experience: I started in computer programming at a large local bank while I was still in college. I then accepted a full time entry-level programming job with the bank.

Job Tasks: I am a computer programmer/analyst. I work with a team of people to support our division's North American businesses. We support the computer applications used to run and manage the business. Some of the business applications I have worked on include Order Processing, MRP, and Sales Reporting.

Order Processing involves the recording of orders by our central customer service organization or by customers themselves, via the internet; 2) the pricing of orders, 3) an inventory availability check, 4) ship date determination, and 5) invoicing. Materials Requirements Processing (MRP) looks at sales forecasts, inventory, factory orders and purchase orders to determine when to purchase more raw materials and when to re-make the items we stock in our distribution warehouses to meet our customer demand while at the same time minimizing our inventory. Sales Reporting provides feedback to the business on who is buying our product and in what markets, as well as where are we gaining or losing business. This information is used to fine-tune the sales forecasts.

These business applications require modifications on a regular basis. Some are minor: I could develop a new sales report to provide feedback to the Marketing group on sales of a new product line, for example. Other modifications are bigger. I am part of a North American team that's been assigned to move our MRP system off a mid-range IBM computer to a client-server-based global system.

Any modification to any business application has to go through four stages. First is the analysis stage. This includes determining what data is needed as input to get the output we want and what manipulations and calculations are required in between. Second, is the programming step. This entails making a copy of the current program or programs and making the code changes in a test environment. Third is the iterative process of testing the code changes and reviewing the test results with the appropriate business people. Fourth is moving these changes from the test environment to production to activate them. I can perform all these steps for a small modification, or they can be broken down into hundreds of steps each for large scale changes.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I work on different projects with different people and the work day is rarely the same from one day to the next.

The worst part of my job is having to document the modifications. It is a necessary part of the job but can be tedious.

Job Tips:
1. Computer science is no longer mainly computer programming. Try different aspects, from network technician to programmer to network designer and computer hardware engineer.

2. Business knowledge is important. It is much easier to work on an MRP project when you understand what an MRP is.

3. Take a course in project management. It is important on any size project,

Additional Thoughts: My advice would be never to be hesitant to seek help, either from co-workers or the internet. The computer world is still changing and no one person knows it all.

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