Statistical Programmers: What Challenges Do you Face on a Daily Basis?

SAS Programming

What are some of the daily hassles and problems that you face as a statistical programmer? We want to hear from you!

We’ve been placing talented statistical programmers at top biotech and pharma companies throughout the US for years. From this experience, and one-on-one discussions with our staff and consultants, we’ve learned that even the most experienced biostatistical and SAS programmers run into problems, hassles and challenges on a daily basis.

Some of the challenges we hear about are:

SAS programming and telecommuting

With the globalization of more and more companies, many programmers are forced to telecommute because their team is spread out across different cities, states and even countries. While some SAS Programmers prefer to work from home and feel that telecommuting maximizes efficiency, some believe it can lead to problems with miscommunications among team members or a feeling of isolation from the group.

Learning and adapting to the client’s implementation of the SAS system

While the SAS system is constant, there are different ways of implementing it. Some organizations use highly personalized systems, and some use more standardized systems. It may also be difficult for some programmers to adapt to the client’s system if it is different from what they usually work with.

Identifying and implementing requirements and specifications into SAS programs

Many times requirements and specifications are deeply embedded in documents such as statistical analysis plans and data definition tables.  Finding and appropriately implementing these requirements can be challenging.

Accurately filling out forms that document and recording information regarding the development life cycle of SAS programs

As SAS programmers develop and test programs it can be burdensome to fill out QC or validation forms and record issues and issue resolutions.  Test cycles and information shared between developers and testers is easily lost.  When one does make the effort to record this information, it can be disruptive to development efforts, preventing the SAS programmer from doing what they do best, writing SAS code.

These are just some of the common challenges we hear about among SAS programmers. It’s our job to make sure projects go as efficiently and smoothly as possible.  That’s why we want to hear from you. What are some of the daily hassles and problems that you face as a statistical programmer? What would make your job easier? What tools do you use (or need) to better communicate with your team?

Please share your stories, ideas and daily challenges with us!

2 Responses to “Statistical Programmers: What Challenges Do you Face on a Daily Basis?”

  1. Frank

    I personally am very grateful that the structure of our work has changed. I love working from home. As far as isolation is concerned, I’m not sure in our line of work collaboration necessarily equates to team building. As programmers we work for the most part alone even if we are contributing a small part to a larger program. IM and phone calls are more than enough to stay connected. More frequent feedback from lead programmers in regards to our performance would be helpful. As would clearly defined goals and timelines at the beginning and milestones of a project.

  2. Bruce

    My jobs has many facets to it. I’m primarily an applications developer, but I also work in a support capacity so I troubleshoot and help solve problems that users are experiencing. I enjoy troubleshooting, but it does detract from my primary function and it can take up a lot of time. It takes a lot of focus and discipline not to get too distracted. I have on occasion spent too much time trying to resolve an issue where it should in fact have been escalated to an IS specialist. I’ve telecommuted for the past seven years and that takes a lot of getting used to. Most of my communication is via email with the occasional phone call. Keeping people informed about work status is even more important when working remotely. It is isolated, but if you focus on the work it’s not hard to manage. I do find that I have to make sure I have an active social life interacting with others outside of work, doing sport and other activities to balance things out.


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