After you know several of the corporate business processes (like accounting or product distribution) and how they relate, and you are a respected and confident programmer in your company, you should move on to a plum job. Your manager probably will consider such a request, because you are a proven and productive programmer for him or her, and your request is a signal (or it should be) that you want to move on up. Ignoring your request is opening the door for your exit and the loss of a valuable programmer.
By now your manager is well aware of your strategy of moving on up, then probably out, but it is still to his advantage, and particularly his managers advantage, to keep you from leaving and to find a way to accommodate your request. It helps if you have shown your prospective manager your understanding of the business function to which you plan to move. For instance, if you want to move from working on accounting applications to warehouse distribution, you should let your prospective manager know that you knowor are interested in learningthe flow of the companys warehouse distribution system.
Having decided what business process you want to concentrate on next , focus your one hour a day of learning on that process. The basics of the operations and flow of any major business processaccounting, manufacturing, whatevercan, I believe, be learned in two weeks of one- hour -a-day attention by an interested and inquisitive corporate programmer.
Working on mainstream corporate programming jobs is what brings you the highest level of compensation and gives you the most independence, security, and marketability . It would be wonderful if these mainstream jobs were also the jobs that are the most challenging, creative, and funbut that wont necessarily be the case.
Almost all corporate programming jobs revolve around expertise or experience in a major business process: financial, warehouse and distribution, manufacturing, or CRM (Customer Relationship Management). You need to find the corporate programming work that is most in demanda need for your experience and skill in hundreds or thousands of other companies. That usually means a vendor-supplied software application package with a very large installed base, a package that is so comprehensive (a.k.a. complex) that its hard to find programmers to work on it.
Another possible consideration in your selection of the target business process, and even the vendor application package, is the location of potential companies that might hire you. For instance, expertise in comprehensive and widely installed financial software packages is probably the most universally transferrable programmer expertise, probably portable to almost anywhere in the world. But expertise in a manufacturing software package may severely restrict the locations where you can work. Now is the time to think about where you might ultimately want to live, and start planning for it by becoming universally valuable.