Gant Software Systems


Your Value Is Not Your Profession

One thing that separates successful career programmers from those with a bit…less success (we won’t call it failure, because it usually doesn’t manifest as abject failure, but rather as stunted potential) is their ability to figure out their value to the people who are retaining their services. Regardless of what that job posting says, what the recruiters tell you (more on this in a minute), or what you’d like to hear, you are NOT ever hired into a position simply to write code. You are hired to solve a problem that someone has, with the expectation that your solving of said problem presents an advantage greater than that provided by simply keeping (or using elsewhere) the money required to hire you. It’s a simple thing that is missed fairly frequently when discussions of programmer salaries come up, as well as when programmers sit and complain about the messes they deal with at their jobs. It also happens in just about every other industry. I’ve had similar discussions with people in other industries. The fitness industry, for instance, is loaded with people who live under the belief that the fitness program they are selling is actually the reason they have clients, instead of what the clients are actually there for, such as losing weight, gaining muscle, just the feeling of accomplishment and pushing past obstacles, etc. The dividing line between the successful ones in that industry and those who are unsuccessful is also remarkably similar, in that the latter fail to line up their offerings with what their customers are actually buying, versus what they think they are selling.

10 Ways to Unintentionally Screw Your Clients

Contract software developers have to deal with a lot of issues, especially if they are honest. There are loads of scam artists out there who can’t code particularly well, but will throw an application together for a client quickly, often disappearing shortly afterward. I’ve cleaned up lots of code from that sort and it’s a headache. This article wasn’t really written for that sort of developer, however, as I believe it’s very easy to accidentally screw a client over, even when one is otherwise trustworthy and honest, simply because you don’t think through all the implications of what you are doing. Here are ten ways I’ve seen developers screw their clients, without intending to do so. This is aimed more at solo developers, although a number of these points could apply to larger companies as well.

The Rant Is Overdue

Probably at least once every couple of weeks, I get into (sometimes heated) discussions with other software developers about their careers. I see so much helplessness, so much hopelessness, and so much dependence on others and it’s all entirely unnecessary.

So, it’s time I said some things that need saying. It’s time to smash some ugly, easy lies so that beautiful, subtle (and often difficult) truths can flourish. It’s time for me to have THE TALK with you (no, not that one, this one). It’s time for me to tell you why you are absolutely nuts as a software developer not to be making progress towards self-employment. After more than a decade in this industry, I can tell you that the best time to have gotten in business for yourself is five years ago. The second best time is right now. Below are some very good reasons. It may sound like I’m bashing employers; I’m not. It’s just that their concerns and yours are increasingly not intersecting. As a consultant, that is fact number one in your mind; as an employee, it should be, but is easily ignored until it can’t be ignored.

The Cost of The Deathmarch

I’ve had a few projects over the years that have required insane amounts of work in a very short time period and usually have tremendous and horrible consequences for at least one person on a team (or the company as a whole). Besides the occasional server crash or “if we get this thing out, we land a huge customer” type of work, I’ve noticed some significant commonalities about deathmarch projects that I believe could be used to help an individual detect whether they are about to sign onto one. It’s hard to tell when you are interviewing, but after mulling it over, every single time it has happened to me, the signs have been there all along. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce some warning signs that I’ve noticed that frequently come during interviews or the first week of working a death march project.

16 Things No One Told You About Freelancing

Wise generals of the past have an old saying. No battle plan survives first contact. It’s true. Whatever you have planned is subject to the whims of fate. I had plans going out on my own as a freelancer. Some have come to pass. Others have been…adjusted by experience. I think everybody that makes it through their first six months or so has a list (and everybody further out probably has updated their list as time goes on). This is my list so far of the things I’ve noticed that nobody really told me (or they suggested, but I didn’t listen very well). Here are my top 16 things that I just didn’t really understand fully until I started freelancing.