Although the last 2 years have turned many industries upside down, software developers and owners of digital products don’t have reason to complain. Our work has always been organized more or less in keeping with the current model, the e-commerce market is registering record growth, and demand for new online products is growing exponentially. So what can we look forward to in 2022? What should we focus on? What will be the biggest challenge for our sector?
I will try to answer the above questions taking into account the broader perspective of our organizations, the industry, technology, and various inter-dependencies.
It’s about people, fool
Demand for programmers has been skyrocketing for years now. The EU market needs around 600 thousand more specialists, and the pandemic has geared the whole planet towards remote work. This means that attracting top talent to your company is going to keep getting more and more difficult.
The employers who can build a culture focused on the human aspect are going to come out on top. I’m not talking here about “fruit Wednesdays” or some technical benefits, but about an actual and genuine focus on the human dimension of work. Let us create workplaces that allow people to realize their passions, let’s curtail micromanagement and bureaucracy, let’s build deep and honest relationships. Let’s treat each other like adults!
Focusing on people and relationships based on trust should form the basis of not just our internal teams, but also the business relationships formed between clients and software houses and other partners. Often we conceal our true needs behind “professional masks” and place our business egos above transparency and honest feedback. Let us trust each other, and be patient and consistent about it. People first!
The aim of developer teams is not to write code but to create valuable products
A return to craftsmanship
Every year we see new programming languages, enterprise solutions, and trends. Many companies offer “specialist courses” and promise that in six months they can make a competent programmer out of anyone. Specialization is on the rise, but the produced code is still of poor quality, its implementation takes too long, we are buckling under technological debt, and most digital products don’t work the way end users expect.
In my opinion, the solution is a return to the roots, which I understand as focusing on professionalism, technical perfection, and the client’s satisfaction. We often forget that the aim of developer teams is not to write code but to create valuable products. Sandro Mancuso’s Software Craftsmanship manifesto put it best:
We have to start valuing:
- not only working software, but also well-crafted software;
- not only responding to change, but also steadily adding value;
- not only individuals and interactions, but also a community of professionals;
- not only customer collaboration, but also productive partnerships.
Lack of time is a poor excuse
Learning will prevail
You’re throwing the word “agile” left and right, but have you ever read the actual manifesto? You want to remedy all of your team’s problems by hiring a Scrum Master, but do you understand his role and how it differs from that of a Project Manager?
We often use slogans (usually inadvertently) distorting their original meaning. The IT industry would benefit from a return to the roots and introducing a culture of learning. We should ask ourselves:
- When was the last time you saw someone reading a book at work?
- Did you share with your colleagues what you learned during an interesting training course?
- When did you last allow your opinions to be challenged by someone with a different point of view?
That is a culture of learning! The process might seem complex, but only at first glance, and it’s definitely worth pursuing, because this investment pays off. Given how quickly things change at the moment, learning should be part of our companies’ DNA, and not having enough time is no excuse. From my experience, the biggest opportunities await the organizations that give their employees space to learn, and encourage their partners and clients to do the same. The result is a more engaged team that keeps improving its skills and effectiveness.
Having every possible specialist on board is becoming a challenge
Agility in team building
The era of teams that can do anything (usually only in theory) is quickly coming to an end. Specialization of services forces us to keep deepening our knowledge and experience, which means that having every possible specialist on board is becoming a challenge. This is mostly dictated by the changing trends in technology, including: the growing number of frameworks, the role of Big Data, abandoning monoliths in favor of headless solutions and microservices, the growing role of Product Designers in the process.
I anticipate that in 2022, a big challenge for our sector is going to be creating teams across multiple organizations. The hybrid approach, i.e. a team understood as a combination of client (sponsor) competences and several providers, is going to be the key to delivering products to the market faster, and tailoring them better to the needs of end users.
It’s time we stop working in silos, we have to set our egos aside and focus on partnership and transparency in “inter-company” relations. We’re all playing for the same team!
Focus on the result often prevents them from seeing the foundations on which the product is supposed to be created
WHY? and HOW? before WHAT?
We often see clients with a very clear idea of what they want to do: dozens of pages of analyses and reports, very specific functional requirements, a detailed vision of what the product is “supposed to do”, and a roadmap of launches extending a year and a half into the future. Such laser focus on the result often prevents them from seeing that which is more important, i.e. the foundations on which the product is supposed to be created.
Drawing on S. Sineka’s famous “Start With Why” idea, I’d like us all to spend more time asking ourselves the following questions:
- WHY is the product being made?
The answer will allow us to better understand the business context, which will directly translate into looking for optimal solutions, ex.: less complex functionalities that nonetheless meet the client’s needs, focusing on the goal, playing on the same team. Furthermore, this will give a sense of purpose to developer teams and increase their motivation.
- HOW do we want to make it?
The answer will let us increase the success chance of the whole endeavor. For example, it will allow us to analyze how the software is to be created, and therefore – which process should be used. It will also let us ensure that everyone is on the same page, to define individual roles, their purpose and their responsibilities.