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A bit off-topic: "We're Not *Resources*"

Posted by terrencebarr on July 20, 2008 at 11:37 PM PDT

This is a bit off-topic but it struck a chord with me. Mark Turansky posted an article on JavaLobby a few days ago which analyses the thinking that creeps into the planning process when you term software developers as "resources" - as arbitrarily exchangeable quantities in the process of developing and delivering software projects.

In the age of globalization with its in-, out-, and cross-sourcing beyond time zones and country borders it is easy to think of developers as "raw material" that you can apply to your manufacturing process like conveyor belts or assembly robots. But software engineering is arguably one of the most complex things humans are capable of doing. So in todays increasingly complex world with rapidly evolving requirements in terms of security, reliability, usability, and efficiency you need experts with deep and well as broad skill sets coupled with experience and the personality to match to be able to build software systems that deliver.

True, the law of ever-increasing productivity that has served us well for thousands of years doesn't stop at software engineering. Drag-and-drop design, high-level abstractions and interfaces, middleware, scripting, code generation, and similar technologies spare us the grunt work and now some of that work which previously required experts can potentially be offloaded to less skilled "resources". But at the same time the leading edge keeps moving forward creating new technologies and complexities that require expertise and the right balance of skills to understand, evaluate, and put into production use.

The opportunity for complexity and specialization in the software industry appears limitless as far as I can see (for better or worse). Anyone who clubs this fact into submission by using arbitrary "resources" and fixed durations in a project planning tool is setting themselves up for failure. As if the world hasn't seen enough disastrous IT projects yet ...

Find the article here.

Cheers,

-- Terrence

Comments

Hey, *my* company would never refer to us as "resources"! We are each an "FTE"-- full-time equivalent. Because obviously assigning 1 person to a job at 100% is the same as assigning 5 people each spending 20% of their time...

The very old polemic subject in IT market.. actually, software market is billionaire, and computer people are shy by nature.. this simlpe combination opened the doors of software market to a lot of people that actually never get skilled in computer techniques but are eager to find money anywhere...

So, the IT market was fulfilled by lawyers, administrators and human resources that knows nothing about computers or software :) and the result of this quiet invasion during the last few decades is a lot of models where the speech is more valuable than the code..

These alien professionals are doing a good job proving everyone that they are more important than the code.. and while me and you are coding and thinking on how to expand the limits of the software industry, they are planning on how to create a more tricky speech, the new fallacious, the new capability model :)

It is the human nature, I will back to the code now :)