Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eight reasons CIOs think developers are clueless

I usually blog about things from a developer's perspective, so to give some balance here are some thoughts about how, according to some CIO's, developers need to gain the bigger-picture view of their organisations:

1. Developers Don't Think Practically

Developers often look for an elegant or slick solution to a problem, but they don't always look for the practical one.

2. Developers Still Don't See the End-User Perspective

"A development team can create an application that does everything from balance your checkbook to burning your toast, but if the user interface sucks, no one will use it-period. No amount of training or re-training will make users sign on to an application with a difficult UI. That simple concept seems to be a struggle for developers to understand."

3. Developers Can't Get Away from the "Wow" Factor

Developers love the "cool" or "wow" factor of applications. CIOs seek stability and standardization.

4. Developers Don't Think About ROI, TCO, and Other Business Priorities

"The developers have a limited number of tasks to do and can pretty much concentrate on one item. Many have spent their career focusing on the development of simple working units, not running a business."

5. Developers Don't Get the Underlying IT Value Proposition

The executives that CIOs have as customers are trying to get an answer, perform some function and get their jobs done. "IT to them is like electricity: they need it, but they don't appreciate it."

6. Developers Don't Have (or Want) Corporate Skillsets

"I think a survey would show that 80 percent of the CIOs that came up through IT to be a CIO came through the operations side."

7. Developers Aren't Into "Group Think"

"Each technical person is different and when asked individually you will find that they do not all share the group opinion, thus solving for the group's suggestions won't bring about all of the desired results."

8. Developers Don't Understand Staffing

One CIO says that developers think that profitable companies shouldn't have layoffs, which the CIO feels is clueless. "That's like saying as long as the flowers are growing, you shouldn't prune," the CIO says. "Efficient companies need prune back in areas they grow out of to preserve the strength of the overall company."

I don't agree with many of the above generalisations (are you surprised by that? :) ).

Some developers take a deep interest in a business, others may consider the work as just another job. That is not particular to developers.

It is in the interest of management to
facilitate getting developers and end-users working closely togther as it usually results in better outcomes. However, in many highly hierarchical and/or highly political work environments it is common practice for managers to keep developers and end-users apart so that all issues and decisions must flow through the manager; the manager often has an incentive (bonus, promotion, etc) to be seen as the driving force of an initiative.

I wasn't surprised by the suggestion that 80% of CIOs come up through the operations side of the businesses.

It's often useful to consider the other point of view :)


Anonymous said...

I am a developer, and I agree with most of the reasons outlined here. I do not include myself into this, but after working for 4 years with developers who have been in the game from 3 to 15 years, I must say that a lot of them are like that. They are into the 'wow' factor, they don't see the ROI or TOC, and yadayadayada. I gets frustrating to work with this kind of freaks, and I see them on every contract I do.

They think they know it all about IT, they think IT is about IT, they think the client is clueless, etc. They don't get it that without a client, there is no IT. There's no point on being religious about your views, you have to present them in business-speak, and then you might get an answer to it. There is to many of them thinking management is clueless, but the matter of fact is they are often clueless themselves. They think inside the box, they don't dream anymore. They're... pathetic!

On the other hand, people coming from the operations side of the business have always been more practical. Although a lot of them seem technically challenged by development issues, the matter of fact is they manage to get around this to deliver when it really matters.

A developer disgusted by his clueless collegues.

Renee Culver said...

I have always been a developer.

It seems that's the large complaint of CIO's are that engineers are engineers and are not management.

That's the good news!