Bradley P Lehman * IVR and VUI design

Dayton VA 22821 * 540-879-3576 *

This resume is current as of 27 May 2008. * Source:

17 years experience as a full-time computer software developer. Doctoral and master's degrees in music performance and musicology (historical and analytical research); undergraduate degree in mathematics and music.

Bradley Lehman 2008 portrait Designing and building business and public service IVR applications: VUI designer (Voice User Interface), Visio and database-driven call flows, voice dialogue design, Web applications and modeling, EPOS Firstline Encore and ScriptExpress (IVR tools equivalent to Avaya Dialog Designer or Nortel/Periphonics MPS: Media Processing Server Developer), Nuance speech recognition, voice talent coaching, Audacity. Other background skills aiding IVR design: SQL Server 2000/2005 database integration and design, PL/SQL stored procedures, Oracle, XML, HTML, CSS, ASP (Active Server Pages), JavaScript, data conversions, web development, copy editing, documentation. Continuing to learn some C# and ASP.NET 2.0 in spring 2008. [MS Word resume]

Other: Harpsichord performance, organ, clavichord, piano, classical recording production, music arrangement and editing, composition, basso continuo improvisation, tuning harpsichords by ear. Conversational in Spanish and German, and able to read French.


Role: A designer/programmer/analyst position building and improving customer applications, preferably IVR.

I design and test sensible call-flows for automated support, self-service, and administrative systems. I make them efficient, clear, and non-intrusive.

My major projects 2000-2008 have been for large corporations, state and local governments, and universities. The user interface is typically telephone touchtone (IVR), speech recognition (VUI), and/or web-based. Communication is typically with a business layer of SQL Server stored procedures and tables, XML web services, or with a legacy mainframe host.

Location: I live in Dayton Virginia, about 125 miles from either Washington DC or Richmond.

I prefer a mostly-telecommuting arrangement from an office in my house, if possible. This has worked very well full-time from 1999-2008, with internet and phone connections. Daily commuting to Bridgewater, Harrisonburg, or Staunton is also OK. Travel time should average out to be less than 10% of any typical day or week.

My family time with my wife and two small children is also a very high priority, when off-duty from job hours. I must be home most evenings and all weekends. My wife is a university instructor and department head, teaching conflict transformation and peacebuilding courses while finishing her dissertation. Our children are 5 and 1.

Work experience and education

See the MS Word version of this resume.

Sample work

  • Sample 1: design of an IVR application and its database-driven development environment.
  • Sample 2: a five-minute video I wrote and produced, directly demonstrating my IVR style
  • Sample 3: design of a web-based wholesale ordering system.
  • Sample 4: design of an IVR system as interactive web page mock-ups
  • Sample 5: a single question for speech recognition, showing the necessary design issues
  • My automated telephone manifesto: explaining my practical principles of design

Principles of effective work – personal mission statement

While my technical skills are fine and always changing, I prefer to emphasize my effective principles. I have been required to learn new toolkits, business procedures, and connectivity in almost every project, developing innovative cross-tool solutions.

With training, examples, and an opportunity for on-the-job real world use, I pick up new environments and tools quickly to be able to build solutions in them. I thrive on flexibility, pattern insights, modification of in-progress models, and team cooperation with different skill sets.

Carefully elicit what the customer really needs, from the untrained user's perspective.

Design a business process and user interface to serve that need in the most natural, intuitive, and flexible way while remaining cost-effective.

Learn new systems quickly, and be able to see it somebody else's way to understand what they're asking for.

Catalyze the best work from colleagues; lots of people already have good ideas, or can be convinced to develop them.

Work diligently, accurately, intelligently, and plenty of time to prototyping and revision processes.

Build and use reusable parts from similar projects, wherever practical: examples that have already been successfully tested.

Train the client to understand and troubleshoot most of their own product intelligently, since they own it.

Test the system thoroughly and proactively during all stages of development; expect the unexpected, and ask all the silly but plausible questions.

There are at least three workable solutions to most problems; find five, and know how to get to a best one with the available resources and requirements.

As with a bridge game, or accompanying music on keyboard: success comes as much by being a capable, reliable, communicative, nurturing, flexible partner as by raw skill.

If something goes badly, acknowledge it politely once and move on; if something goes well, acknowledge it politely once and move on.

Somebody is always going to know better; let them.

Be able to communicate the system, and understand the problem, at all levels of detail...or none.

Without being patronizing, an effective end-user solution should be mostly graspable by a child: elegant, attractive, and transparent. Don't create unnecessary problems that make the user apprehensive or confused.

Being able to get to something resourcefully is almost as important as knowing it ahead of time.

To get a task done well, focus on nurturing talent and understanding.

Excellent work sells itself by example and by clear presentation, not by hype.

Interdisciplinary perspective into a concept is valuable; recognize appropriate patterns wherever they exist.

My professional accomplishments – highlights since 2000

  • Designed and developed two current VUI/IVR (speech recognition telephony) applications for the state government of Illinois: childcare support and food stamps renewals.
  • Designed and developed the current web-based system for Dean Foods to restock its products weekly in more than 1000 supermarkets.
  • Designed and developed the current delivery-tracking IVR system for Nestle Waters delivery in North America.
  • Music: I discovered Bach's special harpsichord-tuning method, wrote a major scholarly paper about this research (published 2005), produced three CDs, did university guest lectures, and created a web site ( to promote these resources worldwide.
  • Developed and maintained parts of the current IVR systems for state government administration of unemployment benefits: Colorado, Virginia, Arkansas, and Vermont.
  • Developed a web-based application and maintained IVR systems that provide course registration functions to colleges and universities (each interfaced with Datatel's "Colleague" software).
  • Developed standardized auxiliary features (web, fax, e-mail, message queueing, and transaction inquiry) for the proprietary product line "FirstLine Encore" (principally an IVR implementation platform).
  • Supported and customized parts of the HR systems for Tier, Footstar, Walt Disney World, and several other clients.
  • Developed the current IVR system to administer Medicaid inquiries in the state of Utah. (Unfortunately, since it was turned over to their own staff's maintenance, some of the phrase recordings apparently got truncated, corrupted, and resequenced...making those selections unintelligible. I've reported the problem and they're working on it.)
  • Music: I played more than a dozen harpsichord and organ concerts as a soloist and ensemble player. Most recently (19 February 2008) I collaborated with three other musicians to perform concerts and record a CD from Thomas Jefferson's sheet music collection at Monticello.
    [ music resume]
  • Gave SQL database development assistance to other teammates on their projects.
  • Eight years of scripting, testing, and troubleshooting applications in the proprietary scripting language of EPOS and Tier (FirstLine Encore, ScriptExpress/ScriptWrite), with various host and database connections.
  • I always have a strong concern for the easy usability of end-user interfaces. A finished system must be elegant and intuitively obvious. [IVR demo] [speech recognition demo]
  • Several Nuance voice-design classes in 2005 helped to convince me that voice prompting is a good focus for me. So have several books on the subject of cognitive psychology in speech applications. It is a fascinating challenge. I enjoy designing sequences of words that will be clear to senior citizens, non-native English speakers, non-computer users, children, and any distressed or distracted adult callers. I read children's books aloud to my own children every night, paying attention to vocabulary and sentence structures. A good VUI/IVR design must consider these things. Every word needs a reason. [My IVR design manifesto]
  • One of my 10-minute videos demonstrates my harpsichord-tuning principles with the simplest possible captions and the fewest words. I have boiled down the gist of my 50-page academic paper to this short film.

A several-page history of my programming career is available, including more details about my business style and documentation habits. [ Continue...]

© 2008 Bradley Lehman