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Improving the market with client education

Due to the low barriers of entry into IT, there is a glut of inexperienced people. Potential clients of programmers and technical firms generally don't have the knowledge to distinguish between them.  It is difficult for managers already working in IT, let alone those who work outside the field, to distinguish between those who approach their work as professionals and can add value, and those who are inexperienced or are overstating their qualifications.  This gives the entire field a bad name and leads to commoditization.  If all programmers are equally bad, why not use the cheapest? 

Licensing is clearly not an option because the wide variety of tasks and technologies makes it difficult to establish objective standards.

Other fields make efforts to educate the public.  Article such as "How to choose a tax professional", "How to select your financial planner", or "What to look for when selecting your home contractor” are one way to accomplish this.  They can be provided to your clients when initiating contact with them, or disseminated more widely via professional organizations.

What we need to do is develop ways to educate the public, and to teach them how to evaluate their options when hiring programmers, technical managers, or IT firms.

Lee Semel
Sunday, October 19, 2003

In context of work: a plumber is a plumber is a plumber and a manager is a manger is a manger, therefore a programmer is a programmer is a programmer.  Right?

While it may not be true, it is the preception.  Joe knows Java, Jane knows Java, Brian knows Java.  Obviously Joe=Jane=Brian.   

In the case of a plumber, if they show up to unclog a drain and for no explaination, it takes them four hours, and $400, we don't bring them back.  Loss? $400 

Now choose a project, like building a house.  Rarely would that be the work of multiple plumbers.  One company would run the project and sub-out most of the work.  In the end however, a plumber would be plumbing, an electrician doing electrical, etc. 

Yet, a software project of similar scale, each individual works on what is next.  However, the expectation is that it is "computer work" so you can do it as a "computer person." 

Education is making people recognize that a developerA does not necessary equal any other developer, even if the skill sets are the same.  In addition, having 10 developers does not reduce the scale or time to one-tenth. 

In the end, it is setting expectations and while it should be simple, we shoot ourselves in the foot by often claiming "we can do it" when what we mean is "we can figure it out." 

Sunday, October 19, 2003

> In the end, it is setting expectations and
> while it should be simple, we shoot ourselves
> in the foot by often claiming "we can do it"
> when what we mean is "we can figure it out."

Instead of that, we can say "I haven't worked with technology X yet. I have a good background in IT, and this is why I can learn this technology, and perform the needed task. However, somebody who already knows this technology and has at least 3 months of experience with it can do this task a lot faster!".

Monday, October 20, 2003

I'd like to point out that you can't just measure experience by the number of years served doing something.
Time spent doing something does matter, but the quality of what has been done in the time is just as important.

It's easy to measure how much time somebody has spent doing something, but it's much more difficult to measure depth and quality.

Dafydd Rees
Monday, October 20, 2003

These all seem to be universal problems IMHO. Leaflets on how to get a good accountant still leave some people with bad accountants.

Monday, October 20, 2003

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