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What Skillset Is Needed for Enterprise Systems Success?

This is the first in a multi-part series on the key skills needed for success in enterprise computing. As research for this post and the ones to follow, I have gathered and analyzed information from job postings from companies looking to hire programmers, programmer/analysts and developers for jobs in mainframe computing.
All Job Postings Aren’t the Same
Job posting have different origins. Some come from the hiring manager who has experience as a programmer/analyst so they are specific and detailed, whereas others are more general and contain some more generic language. If you look at 10 or more job postings, you start to see a pattern emerging where the needed skills can be grouped into three main categories. Descriptive labels for these skill categories include:

1. Domain-specific (e.g., COBOL and CICS)
2. Effectiveness (e.g., strong written and verbal communications)
3. Education, certification and experience (e.g., a bachelor’s in CICS, project-management certification and 5-plus years in the workplace)

Domain-Specific Skills
All the jobs for programmers, programmer/analysts and developers are looking for someone with general programming skills. This means you understand that design comes before coding and you can design (or read a design) and create working code.

Programming language knowledge is important too. COBOL is still dominant but many other languages show up in the list (e.g., Natural, REXX, Java, SAS, etc.). Since this languages work with related tools like library-management systems and debuggers, these tools show up as well in the job posting.

The job postings also ask that the programmer/analyst know access methods and database technology. Also, z/OS, TSO, ISPF, security software (e.g., RACF), job scheduling, problem and change management tools, and other IT discipline products are also mentioned. Transaction processing monitors (e.g., CICS and IMS) and other middleware (e.g., WebSphere Application Server) are also listed. The product list in some job postings is quite long and since some jobs ask for just a few years of experience, it makes one wonder how someone with two or three years of experience could have any real knowledge of all these tools.

Knowledge of system development methodology is also important, as is a formal approach to testing. Finally, some employers are looking for knowledge of commercial off-the-shelf software that is specific to an industry. You can imply from the job postings that some employers develop their own applications whereas others rely more on third-party industry software.

Next Post
Next week I’ll continue with this series. My focus will be on the second category, effectiveness skills needed to be successful in enterprise systems.