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Situation
I work at a large multinational company where I am part of a smaller department consisting of around 30 people. I am a BI Developer/Analyst. I have no coworkers with a similar job description, meaning I do not have any coworkers to discuss technical challenges with.

My job is mainly to assist engineers with varies reports supporting their decision making. I do not make any business decisions myself. We have a lot of interactive reports where the engineers can build them for their usage, meaning they rarely have to ask me to make them a report. This means my job consists almost exclusively of developing new features, with most of them not being business critical. The fact that I only have non-technical coworkers (and boss), means that they have no way of judging whether I finish my tasks in a reasonable time, which I have started to slightly abuse - reason stated later on.

Issue
The combination of having nobody to do the technical discussions with and no business critical tasks, which basically means I rarely have a deadline for anything I do has caused my motivation to decrease, consequently making me abuse the fact that my boss cannot judge whether or not I work at a reasonable speed. The decrease of motivation has happened because I have entered a state of mind thinking "well, it does not really matter whether I finish today/tomorrow/next week anyway, so I might as well call it a day now".

Question
Is there anything I can do to get my motivation back in my current job? To this end, I do have a quite understanding boss so I can bring this concern to him, but I normally do not like bringing an issue to him without having some kind of solution as well, hence the question.

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I do have a quite understanding boss

That is your opportunity. Even if the boss would not be understanding, you would still be in a favorable situation. Why? Simply because you need to go to the boss to ask for more work. Bosses are always happy to assign work. They might become unhappy if they would be requested to give money.

So do just that: go to your boss, and tell him that you feel under-loaded, that you can take over some task. Just be careful that you do not get a huge task, which would prevent you doing your main task - supporting colleagues in decision making.

You might actually be lucky, and be able to choose what activity you take over, in order to maximize your motivation. Additionally, you will have a more favorable boss in the future, since he knows that he can trust you and your honesty, and your willingness to get involved.

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  • Could you elaborate on how to approach him with this? Apr 8 '20 at 9:29
  • Just go to the boss and tell him what you told us. That you cannot fill your 8 hrs/day with the current task, and that you are available to take additionally another task. Keep it simple, no need for fancy words - especially that your boss is a cool guy. If you have a specific task in mind which would make you very happy, ask him for exactly that task - you have a chance to get it.
    – virolino
    Apr 8 '20 at 9:33
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I am a BI Developer/Analyst. My job is mainly to assist engineers with varies reports supporting their decision making.

We have a lot of interactive reports where the engineers can build them for their usage, meaning they rarely have to ask me to make them a report.

This means my job consists almost exclusively of developing new features, with most of them not being business critical.

I have done a few BI-related internships in the past, so it may not be as technical as your current position, but I hope to share some of the ways I kept my job interesting.

I think one area you can try to work on is to communicate more with the engineers that will be using your features. The one thing I learned from doing BI is that there is no such thing as a perfect report; there will always be ways to tweak it to better suit the needs of the team. I have also listened to one of the executives at Shopify give a speech, highlighting that they moved up the ladder from a data scientist position by improving their communication skills. They used their communication skills to interpret the needs of the technical staff and pass the concerns along to management, and this skill was what helped lead them from a data scientist, to team lead, to manager, and to executive. By working on communicating with the people using your features, you get a chance to work on your communication skills, giving you the opportunity to both improve your own skills as a BI Developer/Analyst while also giving you the tools to move up the ladder one day.

Along that thought, have more talks with your manager as well. Understand the impact that your features may have, business critical or not. Some of the work I did as an intern saved more than 500 hours of work for a small team every year, despite the non-critical nature (I no idea on this until after I collected the stats while doing a report). A job doing BI is interesting because the work you do is the link between data and people’s understanding, and at times you may get to directly impact how they make business decisions based on how you present it. By understanding the impact you have on your team, you can beef up your resume ;), and have more fulfillment from carrying out your tasks.

As developers, none of us work in a void. Communication is what keeps us synced with our teams, and can motivate us to do better and understand how we can improve ourselves. Hopefully some of what I wrote was useful to you, and I wish you the best of luck!

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