Coding and being productive

I still cut code! Yes, and I enjoy doing so. But many people, have never learnt to or have forgotten how to and the mere thought of writing a computer program is considered to be an inane task, that should be given to others.

When its given to others, a considerable amount of effort is required to translate domain knowledge into a form that the developer can learn from and then use to write the application. Most people underestimate the amount of effort involved here, the complexity of writing down, I mean really spelling out in its simplest form what needs to be achieved and hence do not put the effort into the required activities. This leads to a mismatch of expectations and systems developed that don’t meet the dreams and aspirations of the original requestors.

How do you fix it? The simplest way (forgetting politics and previous training) is to get the people with domain knowledge to be stronger participants in the construction of the system. Am I saying that they should cut code? Yes!

They will understand what is feasible and realistic to be achieved. Far too often, I see one sentence requirements, being one of many functional requirements, that upon further investigation would require their own system to satisfy.

I saw today an interesting post on 3quarksdaily where a US College will be training Journalists also in IT. That is combining the skill sets, so Journalists will be code savvy.

Where else does this issue exist? It actually exists in ICT itself, where Business Analysts, in Analytics focused organisations, have developed strong skills in Spreadsheets (eg Excel) but can’t write programs to harness data from other sources (eg online data from government or other providing organisations). What happens when the volume of data grows to Terabyte or greater sizes? Are these guys going to be able to process the data in Excel? More importantly are they going to be able to respond in a timely manner to ensure the Analytics that they produce give you a competitive advantage?

There is a wealth of new information being created that can be consumed through electronic means over the internet by writing a computer program. He who can leverage it in a timely manner has an advantage.

The person that can’t write a computer program has no productivity advantage!

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