Appmania (or how to find professional software engineers and architects)

Once I heard that, for the first moonlanding, NASA had the same processing power for the entire system as your smartphone has. Ok, maybe it’s some more or some less. But do you know the difference? The rocket did not crash ;-)

Today every company needs an app for marketing reasons. Every petroleum company has an app to see, which of their gas stations is next to you.
There would be several possibilities, to let people know, where the next gas station is. I’m sure they could also put it to google maps, or something similar, looking the same professional way. But I think thats not the question. It wouldn’t have the same marketing effects.

Analysis

The problem is, every of these apps has been created by a software developer. Maybe it wasn’t the professional rocket science developer, but still a developer with enough experience, education and salary to create an app that looks nice and will not crash. Because even for marketing reasons, and even when there is not one single user, it must be stable and reliable.

Ok I know, for a lot of people there is a big obscure cloud called software and devices and that cloud comes from nowhere. It was there even before human. But as we know, that this is not the case, every software needs to be developed and this is a lot of work and therefore money.

But what exactly happens, when there is always more and more software to be developed? You need to take “non-well educated” developers to answer the massive request for professional software. The try to take artisan to do an scientists job.
And as an ordinary person you can not rate several aspects of the software, such as security, stability, performance etc. But why should you then take the more expensive one, when you can’t see any difference? You want!

The same counts for employees. There is a developer and there is a another developer. One works with data processing and the other does too. But that one clicks together some reports over data he does not understand and the other is able to collect the data from the machine, bring it to the database, dispatch it to other systems and build a fully integrated reporting system, you will most likely not see in one hour discussing with them.

Solution

When trying to figure out which is which, I force the discussion on soft skills, methodology etc. I think that, if there is enough time, every person can learn everything. So for me it’s less critical what he knows or is experienced with, than how he works. I need to know, if some one is able to understand the customer and to bring up the best solution for his issues. (There is also another post on this)

And how I do so?
First of all, I ask any “stupid” question. Let’s say “how could you help me to travel to outer space?”.
If the answer is just, “that’s not possible”, the case is almost closed.
But most other reactions are acceptable for me, even, if the previous answer was in the first place. E.g. if he starts to ask “what time do we have to find a solution?”, “what is the budget?”, “we will need help from NASA” etc.

Why is this important?
Because he does not value my question at the beginning. Instead he tries to figure out, why I ask, if I am serious etc. This even counts, if he just answers with a simple “I’m the wrong man for that”.

The second thing I do, is to ask for a serious and professional solution. In my case this could be a manufacturing environment with the need, to collect data over hounders of plants or what ever. There is not enough time to find a solution of course, but because of that, I can see, how his way of work looks like. Look for an example at this blog.

Of course, it is possible to skip the first querstion and directly use the serious one, if you don’t want to appear that experimental or extraordinary. But for me, the reaction to the first question is more personal.

Summary

If you want to find a person that focuses on solutions instead of just “doing his job”, you should check his softskills and methodologies. The technique he needs to solve a problem, at least for an experienced and professional developer or architect, will easily be learned.

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