Managers, it is always about people!

 

types-of-exerciseAfter years of developing, team leader and project management experience I realized that all good decisions, even the technical ones must include all the people. Well, “everybody” knows this, every project manager, team leader, manager,etc. Really?

Lets focus on the team developers.

 

Imagine you have a project to develop, a software product. You have a team leader and some developers that you will assign to the project. You want to use the new technologies like HTML5, JavaScript and lets add Java, the software product will be an Android app.

The typical decision will be something like this:

1) I have developers and a senior developer team leader

2) They all know Java

3) They all know about HTML5 and JavaScript, because “everybody” knows about HTML and JavaScript. Right?

4) They all know about java and that is the language of the android, and know what is an Android phone, it will be a challenge!

 

Lets remake the decision looking from outside:

 

1) You have developers and at least one of them it’s a Senior.

- Great!

 

2) They all know Java.

- The problem starts here. What they know about Java? The language and some algorithms (even with some years of experience), or they understand how to apply Java in the context of mobile Applications? If this is the first time they will develop mobile applications, they don’t understand the architecture of these applications, how to develop the components, the events, actions, how the hardware responds and send events to the application. The thing here its not the details of the mobile android development, it’s the lack of “mind set” the team will need before start to code, and the result will be most certain a bad quality product, who will need a lot of fixes and rebuilding. (been there)

 

3) Yes, every developer who have developed before web applications knows about HTML and JavaScript, everybody knows WHAT IS, and the syntax and some tricks, but few, very few understands the JavaScript paradigm and good HTML. Be aware of this before anyone tells that he knows about this subjects. It was only in the least 2-3 years that the JavaScript boom has started seriously, and Senior JavaScript programmers are a very small team. Before this language was only used for events in the HTML, now we have frameworks developed in JavaScript, we even can use JavaScript to create servers like “Node.js”!

 

4) It will be a challenge!

- No, it will be a disaster for the company and/or for the customers! The lack of know how in the middle of the project will arise and show all the architecture problems not prevented in the analysis phase or by the Senior. And here you will have 2 options: Remake the whole product from the start, which sometimes its not a bad idea (only for project managers), because the team already acquired the know how and know how to develop in a better way and know what to develop. Or fix the architecture, and this for me it’s the real challenge and here I thing “It will be a challenge” makes all sense! Its like trying to fix an already built house into other blueprint, good luck! (you will see its better to destroy and build again)

 

What’s my point, here?

 

This was just a simple example, to show that the most common way of thinking can lead to big problems, which by the way are always happening.

Before a great decision to be made in the software industry, first take in consideration the people you will choose. They are people with a specific know how and mind set, and to change that it takes time and it is a process you must consider. You can say, you will put them all in training classes. Great, but don’t expect that some dozen hours will create a miracle and prepare them for big projects. Training just gives you an overview sometimes shallow, other times deep, but after the training the people must play for some time before entering the “competition”. You can see this in sports teams. They are professionals, they play for many years, but when something changes, like others players, tactics (projects), coacher (team leader) they need to practice before the real competition to be successful, or you will ear from supporters “they had no time to practice that’s why they are playing so bad”. Probably you say the same about your sports team. Remember those words in your company and your team.

Once someone said, that 80% of the quality of a product comes from management, not the workers, because they need conditions to develop a quality product or project. These conditions include human resources management, understanding human behavior and acting accordingly!

 

What to do?

 

I will not give you a magical solution, from years of experience as a developer, trainer, team leader, architect and project manager, I can help you to take a decision involving all these variables, but as a manager, project manger or whatever manager you must open space for your developers talk about the difficulties and frustrations they have, and not throwing a “it’s a challenge for you guys” like  a magic sentence that in the future will bring its fruits (demotivation and consequently quitting), and I will not talk here how much it costs to bring a new member to a team (think about a new player in a team, even expensive he need time paid by the sports team to adjust to the new environment).

If you are a developer, be more open to your managers, and ask them time to practice, to develop small “challenges” besides the training and before starting a big project, it will give you know how, confidence and experience for a bigger project. Your company its not wasting money its an investment. I think it will cost more to rebuild or fix a bad product than to spend time before doing some “virtual work” and then do the real work. A soccer team plays 1-2 times a week, and receive money from the public, but during the week they spend money training.

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