Random Acts of IT Project Management

Project Management for Information Technology

Posts Tagged ‘development’

Random Stats

Posted by iammarchhare on 30 June 2009

I was a little surprised today when I was looking at Dice.com.  It turns out that there are only 3072 results for “project manager” in the US.  Of those, 2060 are in “development”.  I really expected a higher percentage to be in infrastructure and/or networking.

If you are interested in locations, New York had the highest in “development” and “project manager” positions, coming in at 101.  It had 179 overall.  Even San Francisco only had 81 PM positions (less than half).  However, even then San Francisco was tied for 2nd place with Chicago.  Cleveland only has 23.  Jacksonville, FL comes in dead last with only 12.

I was originally looking for information on programming languages, actually.  Since it seems that roughly 2/3rds of us are dealing with developers or software engineers, I will share that with you as well.  I’m not trying to start another religious war about programming languages, but I did want to see what employers and clients are looking for.  Keep in mind, though, that languages are just a tool.  We may have our favorite tools, but they are still just tools.

Java – 8268 results

C# – 4036

C – 2355

C++ – 4103

COBOL – 481

Flash – 843

PHP – 1073

XML – 4337

HTML – 3155

SQL – 9168

I ended up throwing out the .NET number because the numbers just didn’t add up.  It seems to me that a lot of the HR/recruiters still don’t know the difference between .NET and C#.  Or, is there really a C# implementation outside of .NET (because I’m not aware of any)?

So, why do this exercise?  Well, if someone wanted to learn a new skill in this economy, would it really make sense for it to be COBOL?  Yes, it has its uses.  It might even be fascinating for some people.  However, if your aim is to improve your stance in the marketplace, I think COBOL should not be your target area skill set to upgrade to.  If you understand Java, perhaps it would be easier to be hired in as a project manager overseeing a Java development team.

What do you think?  Other than certification, what can you do to increase your value in the marketplace?

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Agile Development Principles and Pareto’s Law

Posted by iammarchhare on 19 June 2009

Helium writer Kelly Waters wrote an article on “Agile development principles explained”.  I’m going to confess that I often read others’ articles and then write my own version (Helium has authors compete for ratings under the article’s title) because I just don’t like the #1 article.  I’m not going to try to top Waters’ article, although I would have liked to have seen more in it.  It is hard sometimes to strike the right balance between too much and too little information.  In my opinion, though, this particular article should have been named “Pareto’s Law” instead.

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“Project Focused Hours” Per Week?

Posted by iammarchhare on 10 June 2009

Most places I’ve worked have had 75% – 80% of a developer’s time for projects.  80% of a developer’s or engineer’s time was actually quite reasonable at one large company I was at.  However, one place I worked had so many meetings that it seemed I was lucky to get 60%!

Steve McConnell writes on his Software Best Practices blog 10x Software Development in an article “Industry Benchmarks About Hours Worked Per Week”:

Based on what we see in our consulting practice, I think it’s rare to average 6 hours per day of truly project-focused work in a non-startup company. The most common distraction from project-focused work we see is time spent supporting prior releases that are in production.

You know, that to me just indicates either they are releasing bad software or just aren’t planning in enough transition time.  The last place I worked had a “warranty” phase that the project went into once deployment occurred.  It was often 2 weeks long, and time was allocated for developers, DBAs and anyone else that might matter.  That would take care of the last problem.

How do you fix the first problem?  What if the software is just crap?  Well, you have to answer “Why is it crap?”  The answer is likely to be one of the following:

1. You inherited crap.  Crap in, crap out.  The only ways out are replacement or remediation.  If this truly is your problem, it is time to bargain with the ones who hold the purse strings to let you loose on it.  If you truly have inherited crap, it should be easy to show it is crap and it should be easy to show an ROI.

2. Your staff is undertrained in some areas.  I think the solution is obvious.  Again, you probably can show an ROI for this one.  If nothing else, you should be able to show how much you are spending in extended warranty above and beyond normal.

3. Someone on your team would be happier doing something besides programming.  If you are the resource manager, then it is your job to identify these people and make them happier by being somewhere else.  I’m not trying to be mean, but the fact is that they will never achieve greatness, they will always have lousy job performance reviews, they (hopefully) won’t get promoted and if they stay no one, not even they, will be happy.

If you are a project manager, you may have to tactfully bring some of these things to light.  Pound on the ROI, though.

If you are a resource manager, then hopefully you are aware of this before the project manager says something.

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Future of Development

Posted by iammarchhare on 8 June 2009

This post is targeting development teams.  Justin James of TechRepublic wrote a paper “10 skills developers will need in the next five years”.  It’s a short paper, and it isn’t meant to be exhaustive.  Agile is on the list, as is .NET/Java/PHP.  No surprises there.  There are some more interesting items on the list, though, so go check it out.

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