May 2, 2017 • Smart Resources
Getting Smarter with Tim Tatum
At Smart Resources, we aren’t just a big group of IT consultants or tech minds. We’re a family. Our team is not only one of the most skilled in the country, but also one of the most interesting. Each month, we feature a conversation with one of our great consultants so that you can get to know us better. This month, say hello to Senior Programmer Analyst Tim Tatum!
Name: Tim Tatum
Position: Senior Programmer Analyst
Years with Smart Resources: 3
Professional Background in one sentence:
I’m a former middle school teacher with a passion for doing things right and over 20 years of experience in business/organizational applications design, development and support utilizing the Microsoft applications/database stack.
Describe your typical day.
I’m up at 5:15, at my desk by 7:00, a bowl of soup at my desk for lunch and then leaving at 4:00. During those 9 hours I usually spend half the day involved with an “improvement opportunity,” either investigating, fixing and/or discussing a change with end users and managers. The other half of the day I’m often engaged in new development. Sometimes that involves heads down coding. It often, however, means having an end user teach me how she performs an individual task, how we can design the application to facilitate her task or how we can improve a newly developed screen to more tightly integrate the technology with her work. After dinner, I often look into some new approach or learning a technology that could be useful.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Hearing the end users say “This is so much better than the way we used to do it.”
Tell us about the most memorable moment of your career.
While on contract with a state agency a few years ago I developed an internet-based application to generate protective order petitions. Individuals who are seeking a protective order are in a stressful situation. The paperwork is very complex. They’ve been abused or threatened, so they’re in need of immediate protection and they need to fill out paperwork that can be as complicated as their taxes. Now they can go onto the web application I developed and answer the questions that apply to them. Once they’re finished, they open the encrypted pdf, print their paperwork and take it to the court clerk. Essentially, we’ve abstracted the complexity of filling out the paperwork. It feels good to know that my work makes life easier for those in distress.
What will be the biggest tech trend of the next 5 years?
Recently the number of Android operating systems in use surpassed the number of Windows operating systems in use. Users will continue to become more demanding and they’ll expect to use “mobile devices” instead of “computers.”
What career advice do you have for someone just starting out in IT?
You must maintain your technical skills and listen carefully to those who will use your application. It’s important to understand that productivity improvements occur because the application is tightly integrated with worker tasks. To successfully apply technology to work you and your user must 1) have a clear understanding of work processes, 2) identify opportunities to leverage the judgement of the worker and the power of the technology, 3) design a new process based on #2, and 4) continue to extend the application as improvement opportunities arise.
Do you have a favorite software program?
Yes. YouTube. The training and do-it-yourself videos are amazing. Once, for example, rather than call a plumber I fixed a toilet myself with a part that cost less than $1. How cool is that!
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Richmond area?
Explore the rich history of central Virginia.
Describe your favorite meal.
Rachel Ray’s spaghetti and meatballs with Cabernet Sauvignon.
What’s your favorite song?
Passion Play, Jethro Tull, 1973.
Do you have a hidden talent?
My only “natural talent” is that I tend to see patterns and causal relationships that no one else can see.
What’s your favorite thing to drink in the morning?
Dark roast coffee. Have to have it.
The best movie you’ve ever seen is:
Walking Tall, 1973, because my father’s in it.
What’s your most prized possession?
My house. It was built around 1860 by the nephew of President John Tyler.
To learn how you can join the Smart Resources team of consultants, view our jobs here.