‘Working on right project, team leads to success’

By : |February 28, 2010 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: Dr. Venkat Subramaniam, founder of Agile Developer, Inc., in conversation with CIOL, shares his views about the Indian developer community, their challenges and how to overcome them.

Tell us something about the training and mentoring program that you provide?

My efforts over the past dozen or so years have been around two key areas; application of languages and technologies in the enterprise and helping organizations succeed by prudently applying software development practices.

I have had the privilege of training thousands of software developers and managers around the world, mostly in the US, Canada, and the Western Europe and India over the past four years. I have also had the privilege to be embedded with teams in various organizations and help them with either excelling in a particular language or framework, or in applying certain agile software development practices.

In addition, I have been teaching students and writing technical books on topics I am most passionate about.

What are the challenges faced by the Indian developer community?

The Indian developer community is exceptionally hardworking and very capable. The developers are passionate, and excited about excelling what they know and do.

I see three biggest challenges. Organizational impediments, cultural impediments, and lack of technical acceleration.

Consulting organizations are eager to win bigger projects. In the process, they may lose sight of the fact that winning the projects is only the beginning. Delivering results is very important for their continued success and sustainability. In order to deliver results, organizations should empower their capable developers to think about the results they are responsible to achieve.

They should be given the responsibility and then made accountable. In quite a few organizations the developers either are not empowered or feel that they aren’t. It is important for an organizations to influence a culture where it is quite healthy for developers to make mistakes, learn quickly from it,
and make improvements.

For their part, developers should work towards breaking some cultural impediments. We need to develop a culture to politely question the authority, challenge insane assertions, really learn to ask Why.

When we interact with clients or our managers, we should be very realistic to the expectations. If the expectations are not reasonable, it is our professional responsibility to indicate that we are allowing ourself (as individuals and organizations) to be setup for failure.

Good developers learn to be successful and work hard to associate themselves with successful teams and projects. This is a cultural change for a lot of us.

The last challenge I see is that quite a significant number of projects tend to use technologies that are in downward trend. It is quite understandable if the projects maintain legacy applications. However, if active development is happening on a project, the developers should take active steps to figure out relatively newer technologies that improve their productivity. Some of the newer technologies can provide several magnitude of productivity gain.

Developers are professionally responsible to figure out what tools best suite their product and use the right tools for the job. If they don’t influence these decisions, they and their organization lose out on significant opportunities. I am not suggesting that developers rapidly keep changing their tools. However, they should devote some of their time for continuous learning (not yearly but daily or weekly) to improve their skills and knowledge portfolio.

A lot of what I talked about is not just specific to Indian developer community. These are the things I would say to any developer. Certainly given the magnitude of development going on in India, and the size of the developer community in India, these concerns are very critical and relevant to the community here.

How would our event SPARK IT, help Indian developers to boost their career?

I would attribute my professional growth to my local user groups, conferences, and community. When a developer gets out to a local user group (like the Java user group, C# user group, Agile user group, etc.) or a technical conference like this, they get exposed to what others are doing. They quickly learn that others have similar concerns and challenges. They learn how some of them are dealing with it.

While they listen to someone ask a question or make an effort to answer, they begin to learn things they never knew exist. They may learn a new technique or simply a different way to approach a problem. Learning within an organization is important as well.

Once they go back from the event, they should spend time talking with others at the office what they learned and how those will help improve their product or their organization. These kinds of interaction is what makes us valuable. So, if you’re a developer and have not attended a local user group in the past few months or attended a conference in the past few years, you owe it to yourself. I certainly hope to see you at a local event.

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