back to article Agile development workshop: Lessons learned

Reader research conducted via the Reg Technology Panel over the last few years has consistently indicated the importance of application development to organisations large and small. Contrary to some of the things we hear, the need for software design, build and maintenance capability has not been killed by packaged applications …


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No silver bullets

Nothing has really changed in the last 30 or so years.

You still need a skilled bunch of developers who are sufficently creative, yet still product focused.

You still need an effective management structure. What is effective for a banking or military project will be different than what is effective for a more consumer oriented project.

You still need enough toys.

No matter what the fashion, the basic recipe is the same.

Snake oil merchants have been selling instant cure formulas since punch card days, there still has not been one that really works.

Anonymous Coward

You don't need no stinking management

developers should be asking for secretaries and managing their own affairs.

It is just bad business not to have money at number one, if it is your hobby then do it on hobby time, otherwise IT is about business.

I think the main problem is this - developers lack a central identification of who they are which is why parallels are always drawn. We get the engineer analogy, which is wrong you are not engineering in the physical realm.

Then there is the author analogy which is stronger that is what you are doing, you are writing novels for computers to read and allow interaction via the user depending upon how the system feels about your novel. But of course no traditional author thinks of their work that way (n.b. the author setup for business is better for a developer though).

The mathematician one is another, there functional is more appropriate, but still most of the time it is not about maths, it is about predicting how the system will operate; more akin to clairvoyance and but instinct than maths.

There are far more lucrative fields and endeavours than development for the mediocre developer, and the profession does need to get harder and more street smart overall, the urge is there but of course the worlds worst managers are all in IT management. They are the ones confusing things with all the other departments and giving IT a bad name.

Easier to can a secretary then someone who thinks of themselves as your boss, but frankly a lot of IT management should be culled, and culled hard.


No shortage of developers, shortage of sysadmins

The conclusions correctly point that there is no shortage of developers. However there is a clear shortage of development sysadmins. Many of the reg readers have looked at a the next portion of drivel spat out by the development floor and wondered in dismay "How the f*** am I going to package and ship this". Some of us have investigated why does the development floor produce such horrid tripe. And at the bottom has always been a case of developers setting their own development, debugging and testing environments.

Frankly, I cannot blame them for that. If you ask the average corporate IT department to set up a development shop they will set in a way that no development can happen. As far as they are concerned development is messy, smelly and spoils their way of the perfect world.

So developers do it themselves. As a result an immense amount of resources is wasted across the industry due to projects not being set up in a manner in which they can be packaged and rolled out later. A lot of this can be saved if you get onboard a sysadmin team that understands how to set-up and maintain a development shop. In fact, it is a significant cost saving as the same people can also package the shipped product and they will do it considerably better than the developers themselves.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to find such teams out there. The few people that can, usually do other things and are payed salaries at the top end of the techie bracket. At present it is nearly impossible to convince management (and the jealous and vengeful IT department) about the necessity of such people until it is too late. So end of the day we continue to waste resources like mad and complain and grumble about this and that (as specified by this poll).

Anonymous Coward

@Shortage of developers

That is not the quote :)

"There’s no shortage of developers telling us that there’s still plenty to be done"

is the quote.

Syadmins for developers some places do have them, the developer tea boys, it sort of works, but on the whole good developers can set up environments a lot better than most of the best admins. Admins don't really understand particular systems, they tend to stop at the default settings, they don't really get under the hood to make the thing fly, whilst still maintaining good stability and security.

I have lost count of the number of poorly set up systems, that have had to be re-jigged because admins have been let loose near them, and it is always amusing to see an admin beg for how to set up a system, but of course it is also duplication of effort.

Still think the secretary idea is the way to go, that way you can move some of the day to day to problems over to someone who thinks on a more interpersonal level, and they can be used to keep the 'facilitators' off the dev backs.

I use to think a good project manager was worth his weight in gold, but the older more cynical, but fun loving self now realises that a secretary is worth a lot more.

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