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Honest Career Advice for a US Developer

Jim Doyle
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 18, 2003
Posts: 36

If global outsourcing is here to stay, I am wondering where the honest
advice and guidance is for what Americans should be training and preparing
to do in this new world order.

Quite frankly, I have no idea what I should be doing to prepare for the
future. No-one I've talked to can offer suggestions, just smug advice
that I have an entitlement mentality I need to overcome if I honestly
think that its unfair that I should be competing with thousands of
people 12,000 miles away for a job located 5 miles from my house.

I have been told by people in the MA State Unemployment system that I
need to "retrain" myself. I've also been told by others that I need to
find a new career because my former field is sunsetting.

What should I "retrain" in? I have a Bachelor's in Chemistry, a minor
in Physics. 8 years of software development experience including Unix
internals and distributed computing. SCJP, SCWCD, IBM DB2 certified.
I can develop in any number of UP processes, write use cases and draw
UML until the sky comes down. I am literate and mentally flexible. I
always tested in the upper 95% of those silly exams they gave us in school,
so, I assume, that I am adequately prepared to compete for most jobs.
Oddly enough, I enjoy building systems and build things that are reliable fairly quickly. I entered this profession because it loads my source impedance for intellectual stimulation and I take pride in the quality of my work and relationships with my colleagues. I doubt it my looks or my
age, I look like I'm 25 and run/bike almost every day.

What - pray tell - should someone like myself be "retrained" for ?
What poor choices did I make in my own training and education that
I need to correct for to fit into an entitlement mentality-free global
economy?

Clearly I am retrainable, but in what. I would like to remain in America.
I like the weather and the outdoor activities. Moving to Pune is not
something that I should have to consider. Should I completely cash out
of America?

If am I competing with people half a world away for jobs in my home
town despite having made good life choices and investments in myself,
what exactly should I be doing to prepare myself for the new economic
game plan? They just tell me I need to be retrained... Someone at the
State Unemployment Office told me that they project huge demand in the
next few years as health-care aides. I was hoping I could find something
more exciting to do with my education and background than change bedpans
and push a wheelchair around. I was told to forget about training as a
radiology or nuclear medicine technologist since most of those jobs go
to foreign workers...

Thus far - noone has told me what the new game plan is, just that the
rules have changed and be prepared to deal. Maybe its just my entitlement
mentality. My current gig is up in December and I'm wondering what will
happen next.

-- Jim
Warren Dew
blacksmith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 04, 2004
Posts: 1332
    
    2
Here are the IT jobs that are likely to stay in the U.S., in my opinion:

- Product management jobs. While coding can be outsourced, possibly even successfully, product design - meaning, in particular, how the product interacts with the user's workflow and meets the needs of the user - really requires good communication with the customer, where being a native english speaker and living in a shared culture help a lot. In my opinion, failures in this area are probably the biggest reason for the high failure rate of projects sent to overseas contract houses.

- Operations and maintenance jobs. When someone has an existing web site that's run from their own servers, they are likely to want people on site to fix things when they break. Again, communications is an issue, as is availability to be on call at odd hours. My wife has a job of this type - she actually prefers them - and I do not think it will be going away any time soon.

- Chemistry. You've got a chemistry degree, you could always try getting back into that field, perhaps getting a postgraduate degree first.

The main downsides of choices like that to me, and perhaps to you too, is that they don't seem to be as fun. But, one isn't typically paid to have fun. If you look at the other major industry where people really enjoy what they do - art - you'll see that the pay is rather low. On the flip side, I understand that the demand for COBOL programmers still outstrips supply....

My wife and I have also toyed with the idea of picking up and moving to China, but the language barrier is pretty high.
Tom Clancy
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 04, 2004
Posts: 5
Hi Jim,

There are signs everywhere that tells you that the job market is picking up in the US and is at its best since the last 3 years. Last year this time around I knew so many people who were out of their jobs, but now I hardly know anyone without a job. There are plenty of consulting companies in the US who are hiring big time now. If a person in the US is ready to relocate and agreeable to a lesser pay (45-50k), then there are plenty of jobs to the taking.

Regards,
Tom.
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1304
get some more high level IT certifications then move to China, Taiwan or India with those qualifications and ur experience u should be able to get a job as at least a manager in a software company in those countries.


BEA 8.1 Certified Administrator, IBM Certified Solution Developer For XML 1.1 and Related Technologies, SCJP, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCDJWS, SCJD, SCEA,
Oracle Certified Master Java EE 5 Enterprise Architect
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16070
    
  21

I just checked the local fishwrap yesterday and there's really no sign of a local pickup in software development, nor have I heard of anything major coming online for several months now.

Locally, if you can do simple VB (ASPs) or web page design, there's some advertising, but nothing Enterprise-level.

Listings in computerjobs.com look better, though as a general rule, figure 1 out of 3 jobs there is "real", with the others being "fishing expeditions" or the same job from different agencies.

I had the benefit of being one of those blacked out for several days after the hurricanes swept Florida and it pretty much confirmed for me that if there hadn't been software, I'd like to have gone into something involving chemistry and/or physics. We get a lot of heat here, and it would be nice to be able to bottle it and use if for something (like powering my servers!) instead of having to move it around via air conditioners, etc.

However. Chemistry is no safer than IT. It, too can be (and has been) offshored. GE not only does IT in Bangalore, they have some pretty respectable jet engine, biotech, and physical sciences R&D facilities as well.

That's why the "We need to educate/retrain workers" line is just empty noise. The essence of any knowledge-based industry is that it's almost invariably geography independent. Only if you're dealing with tangibles are you safe. Pulling cables isn't offshorable, but remoting not only development and the sysadmin jobs is - and, for the most part, the servers themselves can be offshored.

Which is why we keep coming back to the same old thing. If you can do your job without touching anyone or anything in the city where you want to live, your job is in danger. Sometimes even then. Already grocery stores are trying to go self-service, and MacDonalds has been testing a burger-flipping robot.


Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.
Helen Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 13, 2004
Posts: 1759
There's law. Lot's of employment there. We are entering a new age of litigation. Britain is fast catching up with the US and may even
pass them sooner or later. Biggest payout deal, biggest divorce deal - all in Britain.

Here we have a pretty skewed picture. Britain is apparently the leading car manufacturer in the world while production elsewhere has dropped. The government is backing IT- training courses which'll cost you �5,000 on average excluding Sun and IBM certification fees and books. Some of them don't even have classroom study but instead come home and set up courses for you to do on your own.

Came across this small group that started a small company about 2 years ago with investments from parents,relatives. It's ebay-in-reverse auctioning commodities for manufacturerers like tea and sugar, Mars bars who need to buy several thousand tonnes of the stuff. They operate from this dump with asbestos lined ceilings. They are very serious about what they do and have attracted a �30 million investment recently but still operate very frugally and have long-term career development plans, pension plans,health plans.(Pity about the ceilings ).
[ September 14, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]

Le Cafe Mouse - Helen's musings on the web - Java Skills and Thrills
"God who creates and is nature is very difficult to understand, but he is not arbitrary or malicious." OR "God does not play dice." - Einstein
Warren Dew
blacksmith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 04, 2004
Posts: 1332
    
    2
Tim Holloway:

I just checked the local fishwrap yesterday and there's really no sign of a local pickup in software development, nor have I heard of anything major coming online for several months now.

There's definitely a pickup in the Boston area, based on experience from half a dozen Java developers I know. There's also buzz that the venture capitalists have money that they're looking to blow - er, I mean invest - again.

I think there will be a small boom over the next few years - nowhere near the bubble, but perhaps peaking at what some of us think of as a 'normal' prebubble level. However, there will be another bust after that, hopefully not as deep as this last one. It's really for the longer term - say, ten years out - that retraining might make sense.

However. Chemistry is no safer than IT. It, too can be (and has been) offshored. GE not only does IT in Bangalore, they have some pretty respectable jet engine, biotech, and physical sciences R&D facilities as well.

Research facilities can be moved around - though access to a source of smart people, like local universities, can help. The difference is that in IT, production can be easily moved around, because our work can be sent over wires, so the individual workers don't even have to be at the facility. In contrast, a chemist working at a refinery has to live near the refinery, and even a researcher has to live near the research facilities.

and, for the most part, the servers themselves can be offshored.

This will probably be true eventually, but I question whether this is true yet. Last I checked, overseas data capacities are orders of magnitude less than domestic capacities - laying oceanic cables is a lot tougher than putting up domestic lines.
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1304
I had to move to another country because I couldnt find any jobs for 7 months despite the fact I had lots of certifications and finally I gave up looking for jobs in the original country i was in
Eric Lemaitre
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2004
Posts: 538

Hi Billy !

[q]I had to move to another country because I couldnt find any jobs for 7 months despite the fact I had lots of certifications and finally I gave up looking for jobs in the original country i was in[/q]

And which were these original and destination countries, if not indiscrete ? I am interested to know.

TIA, best regards.


Eric LEMAITRE
CNAM IT Engineer, MS/CS (RHCE, RHCX, SCJA, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, Net+)
Free Online Tutorials: http://www.free-tutorials-online.net/
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16070
    
  21

Originally posted by Helen Thomas:
There's law. Lot's of employment there. We are entering a new age of litigation. Britain is fast catching up with the US and may even
pass them sooner or later. Biggest payout deal, biggest divorce deal - all in Britain.

[ September 14, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]


Yick. I don't expect to see lawyers themselves outsourced, but a fair amaount of back-office work can be. Around here, most of the legal work I've gone up against was actually done by paralegals anyway.

Not that I'm representative. I avoid civil law like the plague, though, and -- Ascroft willing -- hope to stay out of the criminal justice system. For all I care, we can learn to like nice together and let the lawyers all starve.
Helen Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 13, 2004
Posts: 1759
Originally posted by Warren Dew:
Tim Holloway:

and, for the most part, the servers themselves can be offshored.

This will probably be true eventually, but I question whether this is true yet. Last I checked, overseas data capacities are orders of magnitude less than domestic capacities - laying oceanic cables is a lot tougher than putting up domestic lines.


SOme airlines are getting their carriers fitted with in-flight Wi-Fi access so "road warriors" can go online at 30,000 feet. Another shift and these could be networked carriers.
Helen Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 13, 2004
Posts: 1759
Originally posted by Tim Holloway:

For all I care, we can learn to like nice together and let the lawyers all starve.


"How many lawyers should you hire?"

<blockquote>
  • 8 to argue
  • 1 to get a continuance
  • 1 to object
  • 1 to demur
  • 2 to research precedents
  • 1 to dictate a letter
  • 1 to stipulate
  • 6 to turn in their time cards
  • 1 to depose
  • 1 to write interrogatories
  • 2 to settle
  • 1 to order a secretary to set up a lawyer and light bulbs contract,
  • and
  • 28 to bill for professional services
</blockquote>

Of course, it'll take just one lawyer to screw a lightbulb.
[ September 14, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16070
    
  21

Originally posted by Helen Thomas:


SOme airlines are getting their carriers fitted with in-flight Wi-Fi access so "road warriors" can go online at 30,000 feet. Another shift and these could be networked carriers.


Undersea cable isn't the only route. Although satellites have too long a time delay for decent telephony or real-time computing, it's debatable how many websites I routinely visit could get enough slower to notice.

Of course, if all the back-office work was already offshored, that part of the business would actually see faster response times.

Then again, I'm sure that someone's working on modular units that can be hauled in by unskilled forklift operators, plugged in by cable monkeys and administered remotely.

I refuse to underestimate the lengths to which businesses will go to save a few pennies, no matter how many dollars it costs them in terms of real losses, annoyed customers or anything else. I live in a house where the first thing I did after I moved in was replace doorstops because instead of using the $1.00 model, they used $0.75 models that all broke - some of them even before closing on the house.

Forklift operators get decent pay around here. Maybe that's an idea.
Derek Grey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 09, 2002
Posts: 204
My current gig is up in December and I'm wondering what will happen next.


This is one possibility:
You will find another one before december....breath with a sigh of relief for a few months...get the same feelings a couple months before that gig ends...get another gig...[welcome to the world of IT Consulting]...and then...either you will keep going on like that or you will give up and get yourself a low paying but permanent position in the state/gov. related agencies.
Andrew Hamilton
Greenhorn

Joined: May 12, 2004
Posts: 5
I have been a developer for a long time. Too long to mention, probably. I was putting FORTRAN on punch cards in the early 80's. I love doing development and always have. I've done it professionally since the early 90's. I don't get to do it anymore. I've become a Systems Engineer and Architect for very large scale projects. There are jobs out there for you if you have the right kind of experience. I gave up on being a professional developer a few years ago. Most places that want developers, don't want to pay you for your experience anyway. They can get developers with less experience at a far lesser rate that can do the job. Perhaps not as well, but the bean counters believe that the costs associated with the bugs and lack of reliability are less in the long run. Not sure I agree with that but I'm not a bean counter. I only do development now for fun. To keep my skills sharp. I have the experience to do other kinds of things. I think you should probably look at other types of IT positions that take advantage of the experience you've gained. Good luck.
scott dawson
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 30, 2003
Posts: 18
I know salaries are down, and there is alot of competition, but are things that bad?? I mean Jim does not sound like a rookie. I know I've had to lower my expecations of my career quite a bit (compared with the "key to the future") mentality when I got my BSCS in '81.
If you have this much programming experience, plus a degree in Chem I'd look at BioTech. Might not be what you want to hear, but that field appears where programming was 20yrs ago.
Good Luck,
Scott
Wai Hung
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 15, 2004
Posts: 23
I really doubt if any employer will consider a Chemistry degree 8 years ago, if you don't have relevant experience.
I have two master degree, one in Computer Sci and one in Financial Economics. I have been a software developer for 12 years.
No one will ever consider my application to any fin. related jobs.
If I apply IT position, they don't interested in my Fin. degree, even the position is in Financial industry.
Jason Cox
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 21, 2004
Posts: 287
Just a couple of observations here, and take this as you will.

First of all, I think global outsourcing is here to stay, but it is still evolving. We're seeing some businesses move away from it completely while others are figuring out that it is good for some things but it is not a silver bullet. Actually, offshoring always gave me a little chuckle because just as we saw non-IT companies finally admit there is no technology silver bullet, many of them turned to offshoring for everything.

Regardless, companies that were offshoring but not hiring were not going to be hiring anyway. That is one lesson I learned last year while contracting with a previous employer. The money they were using for building their offshoring IT projects would have likely been spent elsewhere, not on hiring more IT staff. After checking around with colleagues at other companies and just general research, I can say that this is generally the case. I think offshoring often becomes an easy scapegoat, but in truth there simply were no jobs and would likely not have been any significant increase in jobs even without offshoring.

I think the reality is that the IT profession is still evolving. I think the professional developer with over a decade of experience is in trouble. I know in my own company that are trying to move me beyond just simple development tasks and I have only 5 years of experience. The problem is that software development really does have a limited return on investment. After awhile someone with years of experience is actually worth more in a design, architect, or project management role. While I admire people who are so passionate about their work, how much is software development worth to a company? I actually work in an IT company and the more successful projects aren't necessarily ones with more experienced developers. It tends to be a combination of good project management practices and having an architect who enforces the application design. Most of my frustrations occur when this doesn't happen, and it doesn't matter how experienced or talented the other developers are. I think a lot of corporate IT departments are starting to become savvy to this concept and are questioning the investment in people who hold a lot of seniority in just software development.

If you have experience in systems design, then I definitely encourage you to look into moving into an architect role.

At the same time, 8 years experience is not really a great amount for a senior developer position. I don't know what kind of techniques you are using in your job hunt, or what the IT demand is in your area. I do know that I had no results from on-line resume submittals or recruiters. I landed my current job by updating my resume on Monster.com. I definitely encourage you to keep your resume "refreshed" on the job posting sites. My previous job came about after an Executive VP heard me speak at my local church. It definitely taught me a lesson about staying active in my community and networking. Every real opportunity I had was usually through networking meetings or just hanging out with people I knew who had jobs. I encourage anyone who is out of work to engage in activities where they are routinely around other people, preferably people who are employed. You're much more likely to stumble across an opportunity that way.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16070
    
  21

Originally posted by Rob Aught:

Regardless, companies that were offshoring but not hiring were not going to be hiring anyway. That is one lesson I learned last year while contracting with a previous employer. The money they were using for building their offshoring IT projects would have likely been spent elsewhere, not on hiring more IT staff. After checking around with colleagues at other companies and just general research, I can say that this is generally the case. I think offshoring often becomes an easy scapegoat, but in truth there simply were no jobs and would likely not have been any significant increase in jobs even without offshoring.

As they say on Wall Street, "Past Performance should not be taken as an indicator of future results".

At the bottom of the IT recession, even offshoring was down. It's not like companies decided to only pour money down ratholes and decided an overseas developer was a good sinkhole for cash.

The thing, I think that irritates us the most is that it's generally accepted that the growth for IT itself has been projected steeply upwards for as far into the future as we can see (and considering how much junk passes for software these days, there's obviously much work left to so). However, the hiring isn't there. Of course, the entire U.S. economy is pretty much stalled, but having a lot of insecure or unemployed IT people isn't exactly providing fuel to the economic flame.


I think the reality is that the IT profession is still evolving. I think the professional developer with over a decade of experience is in trouble. I know in my own company that are trying to move me beyond just simple development tasks and I have only 5 years of experience. The problem is that software development really does have a limited return on investment. After awhile someone with years of experience is actually worth more in a design, architect, or project management role. While I admire people who are so passionate about their work, how much is software development worth to a company? I actually work in an IT company and the more successful projects aren't necessarily ones with more experienced developers. It tends to be a combination of good project management practices and having an architect who enforces the application design. Most of my frustrations occur when this doesn't happen, and it doesn't matter how experienced or talented the other developers are. I think a lot of corporate IT departments are starting to become savvy to this concept and are questioning the investment in people who hold a lot of seniority in just software development.

If you have experience in systems design, then I definitely encourage you to look into moving into an architect role.

About the only places I see ads for "architects" are from really large companies, which usually demand insane levels of experience in RUP or other such toys. And, when you read the fine print, you usually see that actual position still requires you do do virtually everything by feed backup tapes into the servers. In my own case, I'm usually the architect AND developer because the groups I work in aren't big enough.

At the same time, 8 years experience is not really a great amount for a senior developer position. I don't know what kind of techniques you are using in your job hunt, or what the IT demand is in your area. I do know that I had no results from on-line resume submittals or recruiters. I landed my current job by updating my resume on Monster.com. I definitely encourage you to keep your resume "refreshed" on the job posting sites. My previous job came about after an Executive VP heard me speak at my local church. It definitely taught me a lesson about staying active in my community and networking. Every real opportunity I had was usually through networking meetings or just hanging out with people I knew who had jobs. I encourage anyone who is out of work to engage in activities where they are routinely around other people, preferably people who are employed. You're much more likely to stumble across an opportunity that way.


Networking is critical. I never got hired just from sending in a resume. But I notice you mention a need for lots of experience before you'll get hired as an architect. I have lots of experience. But where are the future architects going to get theirs if the "journeyman" jobs all go away? It's a question a lot of people are asking.
Jason Cox
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 21, 2004
Posts: 287
having a lot of insecure or unemployed IT people isn't exactly providing fuel to the economic flame.


No kidding. That's a lot of your middle and upper middle class folks who do a lot of the consumer spending. They're not out there stimulating the economy.

The good news is, businesses are starting to hire again. The bad news is they're just barely dipping their toes in the water.

About the only places I see ads for "architects" are from really large companies, which usually demand insane levels of experience in RUP or other such toys. And, when you read the fine print, you usually see that actual position still requires you do do virtually everything by feed backup tapes into the servers. In my own case, I'm usually the architect AND developer because the groups I work in aren't big enough.


I was in the running for an architect position not that long ago, even though I felt I did not have the experience for it. Had I been in the position to move on it faster, I may have gotten it. I guess it really depends on the area in some ways.

However, my company has a natural progression from software development or business analysis into either an architect role in your field of specialty or project management. The different though is that I do work in a technology and business consulting group, so I know that progression is probably more natural than what you see in the corporate IT shops where a majority of the jobs are.

Networking is critical. I never got hired just from sending in a resume. But I notice you mention a need for lots of experience before you'll get hired as an architect. I have lots of experience. But where are the future architects going to get theirs if the "journeyman" jobs all go away? It's a question a lot of people are asking.


I don't think the journeyman jobs are going away. I do think we saw about a 2 year stall in hiring, with quite a few losses as companies reduced costs without considering the consequences. That's actually why I was so eager to get into consulting, because I see that these companies are going to need some folks in the short term to fix the messes they've laid out for themselves. I figure by the time consulting slacks off, I'll be able to move into something less travel intensive.

Part of the problem is that the jobs have shifted. I'm hearing about hiring in places I've previously not heard about for IT. In the meantime, Dallas is still looking pretty bleak and Austin, TX is barely puttering along. Yet the city next door is actually weathering the storm well. You know things are wonky when Fort Worth has lower unemployment than Dallas.
Robert Chisholm
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 18, 2004
Posts: 69
Just to add to the conversation...

I've spent the past 5 years, off and on, with a client that has "ridded themselves" of in-house development. What do I do there? Develop applications so that the applications they bought work in their enterprise.

So far my claims to fame there are:

-writing an application to correct a rollout-stopping issue in their 2 million dollar Oracle ERP suite
-writing an application to add functionality to a COTS package that they bought... which the COTS vendor should have provided but didn't... and then insisted on charging them $160/hr to implement
-writing various applications to validate data-feeds from disparate systems before they went into a 8 hour long processing run... which bombed... a lot

My impression these days is that many companies "just want to buy their software". And then expect everything to work out of the box. It doesn't. Perhaps the days of orthodox in-house software development are over for some of these companies, but they just can't get away from it completely.


SCJP 1.4<br />(WIP) SCJD B&S v2.3.3
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
My impression these days is that many companies "just want to buy their software". And then expect everything to work out of the box. It doesn't.

The old model in purchasing applications was to buy a package and modify it to match the existing company processes.

The ERP model is to leave the software package intact, except for designed-in customization API's, and change the company's processes to match the package design. In effect, you are buying software
and a new process model. It tends to infuriate middle management, so ERP requires top management backing. It also means that vendor enhancements and legal/regulatory changes work out of thew box.

For companies, it can save a fortune in line ops and IT. For programmers, it means a few low level coding jobs unless you work for a software house.


Mike Gershman
SCJP 1.4, SCWCD in process
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Hi Jim,

Don't despair. There will still be plenty of US IT jobs. Warren made some good observations. More generally, programming is part creativity, and part mechanical rote. As our technology advances, we continue to make the rote cheaper, either by outsourcing it, or abstracting it away in other layers of/third party software. Remember how we were supposed to spend more time planning than coding, but no one actually does? This will change. US programmers will spend more time planning osftware systems, and then outsource the manual development to code monkeys in cheaper locales (no racial slur implied). This is why I'm constantly telling people not to just learn other APIs and technologies--that's mechanical--but rather to learn how to think about and solve business problems using technology--that's the essance of software.

I live in Boston and (except for the past two weeks when I was away) literally got a call a day about a job--many from recruiters trying to fill specific open positions. Have you tried Craig's List? That's where I see many. I also encourage then to post to our Jobs Offered forum and many have, so check there, too.

--Mark
Svend Rost
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 23, 2002
Posts: 904
I've got a question for Mark:

This is why I'm constantly telling people not to just learn other APIs and technologies--that's mechanical--but rather to learn how to think about and solve business problems using technology--that's the essance of software


Can you recommend any literature concerning the above ?

/Svend Rost
Robert Chisholm
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 18, 2004
Posts: 69
Hi Mike,

The ERP I was talking about did not properly create data for a Government of Canada application that the client absolutely required (rollout stopper). They didn't have time for a TAR. So, it did not work out of the box. The client company conformed to Oracle's ERP and Oracle did not conform to the Government of Canada's software requirements.

Additionally, the ERP could not merge YTD data from the client's legacy system. That logic alone cost the client a bundle.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Svend Rost:
I've got a question for Mark:


Can you recommend any literature concerning the above ?

/Svend Rost


Yes, my forthcoming book (if the publisher ever gets back to me on the contract details :-p). Ok, some might claim that I'm biased in that recommendation, to which I say, 'well, go write your own damn book." :-p Seriously though, I would recommend Peopleware. You can find a review of it here. It changd my view on software engineering.

I also recommend a few process books. You begin to recognize that most software processes are fundamentally the same, but where they differ, they go into why and give reasons, which are driven by non-technical forces. I would also recommend some books on business and/or consulting. I also highly recommend history books. Not just formal one, but anything about something that happened, e.g. biographies, history/bio of companies, stories about projects (from "The Soul of a New Machine" to other fields like the Shuttle Challenger analysis)

You should also try to understand what people 2-3 hops away from you in the company do. I'm sure you've got a good sense of what the other software engineers and QA and sys admins on your team do. If you work with other engineers (e.g. EE, mech) you probably have a decent sense of what they do and why. Do you know what HR does? I don't mean write paychecks and hire people. What do they think they do. What is their job description (it probably talks about company culture and environment)? What's the difference between the CFO, controller, and accountant? Which one of them approves your budget and what motivates them to do so. The consultants in your company, sure you understand after the system gets sold, they do the client implementation, but how would they describe their job function? What turns them on? How does the VP of IT see their roles as they relate to yours? Does your boss like budgets and schedules, or making everyone feel good, providing a vision, or micromanaging? How does this impact your team and the functions of your team with others? How would a different style change the team dynamics?

Also consider night classes, even at a community college. If you just want a better idea of accounting 101, you don't need a fancy school to teach you, either buy a book, or take a class at community college. My gf (who is a very senior exec) told me a class she took a two night course on business etiquette, which included things like, when taking a client to a baseball game, do you eat before, during or after the game?

Sure all this seems random and disjointed. But I've found learning a little about each I can connect the dots and see a larger pattern of how business works. (At least I think I can. :-)
--Mark
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: Honest Career Advice for a US Developer