I almost became an IT developer.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Georgia Tech. The curriculum was heavily weighted towards programming to teach computer science concepts and initially I thought I would become a developer. While I made As and Bs throughout college I realized my senior year that I wasn’t a gifted developer and couldn’t see myself doing that 40 hours each week. I could write code. But for many assignments, the code didn’t flow naturally for me. I saw myself an average-joe developer.
Fast forward to today.
My development skills have served me well in my 20+ years in a technology profession. I’ve been able to do light coding for some work tasks and productivity routines. I know enough to speak intelligently with developers and ask probing questions. Today, I work with development teams to provide solutions for our internal business partners and customers. The importance of IT developers in an organization is immense. Some of them excel at not only knowing how to write code, but they become a repository of knowledge for business rules that govern the day-to-day operations of their business. You probably know a few people like this. They are intertwined with the system, the rules, and the output of work in your organization. I think of them as an organizational czar. They are experts in their area and hold a large amount of influence in how work is produced.
Some truths about IT developers.
Working with developers for so many years I’ve come to realize a few things about them. These are characterizations and not criticisms in any way. I love my development teams. For better or worse this much I know to be true:
- IT developers want to please you so they will tell you what you want to hear. They don’t like to commit to dates but sometimes they’ll give you a date that you want to hear. I often say developers are some of the most optimistic people I know.
- IT developers really prefer to be single threaded and not be assigned multiple things at once. The trick is to figure out how to keep the development backlog full without letting the developer get stressed about having too much to do. Don’t interrupt a developer during the middle of a sprint and ask them to do something different!
- IT developers don’t like to fill out status reports, track time, or write documentation. I’ve not been able to convince most developers that if they use the proper tools to update their status then they’ll see the project manager less.
If you haven’t told your development team how much you appreciate them lately then use this as a reminder to do so. When they give you an optimistic estimate, just smile and thank them. Add a little buffer and make sure to not interrupt them once they get started. 😉
Onward and upward!