The Web Gambit

Thoughts on Web Development

Ideal Software Management

Tim Stall had a great post entitled “Why would someone work for your company?” where he outlined a number of things companies can do to be more attractive for top developer talent without breaking the budget.  I highly recommend reading the entire post, but one point in particular got me thinking about software management.

Good developers have the intrinsic need to grow and learn…Any manager that stifles that for any reason will simply push their best developers away. Such excuses may include: “we don’t have time”, “that’s not in the requirement”, “just do it this way because I said so”, “this approach worked 5 years ago”, “your job is to support the business, not research technology”, etc…

As a developer, how many times have you heard those last few phrases? I certainly have heard them many times from several managers in all different industries.  Most software managers would prefer to take approaches which they have personally seen work rather than attempt anything new and unproven. 

This view often seems short-sighted, as most seasoned developers know that every software project can have dramatically different requirements and technical environments.  A good software manager has to understand the capabilities of both the available personnel and the technical environment to determine the best approach to the business problem. 

I have seen many projects fail because the management decided to build a solution based on a previously successful approach but used a different set of programmers and a completely different technical environment.  So by attempting to be less risky by using a tried and true approach, the project actually has created more inherent risk by forcing both developers and technology down a path to which it may not be suitable.

It’s my opinion that if software management is willing to re-evaluate their personnel and their technical environment before embarking on a new project, they should also be equally willing to try a new approach or methodology as well.

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2 responses to “Ideal Software Management

  1. David O'Hara May 21, 2007 at 8:48 am

    There are two directions you can go as a dev – you're either growing or you're dying. There is NO standing pat in this game. And as a manager, you have to provide the environment to foster the former or you're the cause of the latter. I know it sounds trite but it's certainly been my experience.

  2. Karthik Hariharan May 24, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    Couldn’t agree more, Dave.  Developers have to keep learning and need to have a natural love for learning, without it they stagnate and go obsolete with the technology.  Good managers have to recognize that and provide an environment where a developer is secure in their own growth.

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