The joy of IT software development

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Recently I read an article that stated:

Generally, IT has a reputation as a bottomless cost sink run by people who can’;;t explain what they are doing (especially why they cost so much), can’;;t deliver what they promise, seem to feel contempt for their customers, and appear to have no understanding of business concerns.

I suspect that you may, on occasion, agree with this statement. Sometimes you feel that you’;;re paying too much or things aren’;;t done as quickly as you’;;d like and you don’;;t always understand the explanations.

I would like to take the opportunity to explore a few points from our own extensive experience in HeadChannel, giving you a little insight as to what it’;;s like to work in IT and what are the elements that one has to bring together to make it successful. We gained this experience while designing, building content management systems, mobile apps and varied other bespoke software. Hopefully, this will also shed some light on why things are sometimes not as straightforward as you might think.

To achieve good results in the field of software development requires:

1.    A lot of specialist knowledge – starting with a full understanding of the requirements for the project, how do they translate into a user-friendly, expandable and supportable system; what to quote for the project, which technology to use, what are the limitations of this technology, etc, etc.

2.    A lot of discipline in terms of maintaining processes to ensure that the programming code is written in a way that conforms to recognised standards, that documentation is created, that there is a full knowledge of the project within the team, and that there is a support structure in place. Of all of this, the client is usually blissfully unaware, but it has to be done nonetheless.

3.    Understanding how the aesthetic element of design works with technology. Sometimes, what looks best, takes 5 times more time to do than its next best alternative. Without this knowledge, expensive mistakes can be made (and yes, in HeadChannel we have made some of them).

4.    Passion for learning in general and specifically for learning new technologies. In IT, you can never know it all. There is always a lot to learn as technologies move forward at an accelerating pace. Gaining knowledge at speed is expensive. And to some extent you always learn by your own mistakes.

5.    Passion for helping businesses to achieve success through use of their IT systems. And understanding how this can be done.

6.    Thinking long term, not short term. Some IT companies might cut costs by cutting corners and may deliver quicker results. The result of this is likely to be that any future development will be more difficult and more expensive.

7.    Creating a support infrastructure that is resilient with an automated process to advise when there are major application problems.

8.    Maintaining various different versions – development, test, live – of each system that is developed and keeping track of the status of each version.

9.    That the team works together to achieve the best results. This knowledge sharing takes time too.

10. Management of people who are mostly very bright and talented and want to achieve. You have to keep them on their toes and make sure that they learn and progress all the time. Otherwise they will get bored, leave and take with them all the knowledge they have gained.

11. Good communication – not only to the clients, but between the team.

12. Attention to detail – often small mistakes can cause the greatest havoc… and they are bound to happen from time to time, as we are only human. Unfortunately, those are the ones that the clients will remember.

13. Enjoying the work – it can be a thankless job sometimes, so you have to love what you do.

Beata Green

Managing Director; HeadChannel Ltd

www.headchannel.co.uk

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