Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why You (As A Developer) Should Question Technical Decisions

Many times throughout my career I've seen software developers take a lot of pain from their leaders. Throughout history, "leaders" have always been personified as an unstoppable wave in the ocean that everyone rides along with. One way--one direction--one man/woman's goal. A "leader" is the entity which has the final word. To some degree, I can't picture myself blindly following a leader without questioning his or her decisions--There has to be a reason for everything. Furthermore, you (as the developer on a team) should be asking "why" certain technical decisions are being made in specific situations. Positively, you may even end up saving a high degree of effort for your team just by having your leader realize how much of a bad mistake his or her decision was.

Decisions from a technical standpoint should always be strategic. One should always aiming for a goal to achieve and one should always have to look for key people, abilities, or events to transpire in order to make a strong, positive decision that best suits either the business or their team. Incidentally, being in the technical realm has its pains and pitfalls. In software development, a team captain has to take into account his or her experience, skill of his/her teammates, and the level of dedication they are willing to invest in building something heroic.

I live my life with this quote on my mind: "the only reason why you're unhappy is because you made yourself unhappy". There shouldn't be anyone to blame but yourself. This quote is generic enough to apply to anything: relationships, career, or school. Incidentally, from a career standpoint, I see many developers just tough it out without speaking up or challenging certain decisions from a superior officer. Ultimately: if you don't speak up and you have a feeling that a particular decision from your superior could inflict significant damage to your process, you'll end up shooting yourself in the foot.

It is always better to over-communicate than under-communicate. [Great] Technical leaders will listen to and acknowledge your opinion -- It's just a matter of voicing it out and backing up the facts. Be true to yourself. Be a developer. State your facts. "They" will listen. If they don't--then it is your time to move on.

Good luck and have fun,
Jaime Bueza

Jaime Bueza is a software developer in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He has developed web applications for Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Ritchie Brothers, Kiwi Collections, and Cox Communications. When he's not developing useful software that constantly evolves with business requirements, he's creating tutorial videos for aspiring front-end developers.