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Communication is one of the main objectives that an organization needs to have in place to stay efficient and productive. A breakdown in accurate and efficient communication between departments at any point in the organization can result in conflict or loss of business.  Sadly, the efficiency between different departments in an organization becomes most evident when communication breaks down. As an example, David Grossman reported in “The Cost of Poor Communications” that a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.

With the dawning of the big-data era and the global competition that Machine Learning algorithms has sparked, it’s more vital than ever for companies of all sizes to prioritize departmental communication mishaps. Perhaps, today, as a result of the many emerging markets, the most essential of these connections are between IT and the business units. CMO’s and CIO’s are becoming natural partners in the sense that CMO’s, in order to capture revenue opportunities, are expected to master not just the art of strategy and creativity but also the science of analytics. The CIO, on the other hand, is accountable for using technical groundwork to enable and accelerate revenue growth. Since business and technology people speak very different languages, there’s a need on both sides to start sharing the vocabulary or understanding of what is expected in order to avoid gridlock.

In the McKinsey article, Getting the CMO and CIO to work as partners, the author speaks to five prerequisite steps that the CMO and the CIO can take in order to be successful in their new roles.

--- Be clear on decision governance
Teams should define when decisions are needed, what must be decided, and who is responsible for making them.

No industry is as global as software development.  Pervasive networking means that software developers can, and do, work from anywhere. This has led many businesses to hiring development subcontractors in other countries, aiming to find good development talent at lower prices, or with fewer hassles on entry into the US.

While this is an ongoing and dynamic equilibrium, there are compelling reasons for doing software development in the United States, or using a hybrid model where some parts of the task are parceled out to foreign contractors and some are handled locally.

Development Methodologies

The primary reason for developing software overseas is cost reduction. The primary argument against overseas software development is slower development cycles. When software still used the "waterfall" industrial process for project management (where everything is budgeted in terms of time at the beginning of the project), offshoring was quite compelling. As more companies emulate Google and Facebook's process of "release early, update often, and refine from user feedback," an increasing premium has been put on software teams that are small enough to be agile (indeed, the development process is called Agile Development), and centralized enough, in terms of time zones, that collaborators can work together. This has made both Google and Facebook leaders in US-based software development, though they both still maintain teams of developers in other countries tasked with specific projects.

Localization For Americans

The United States is still one of the major markets for software development, and projects aimed at American customers needs to meet cultural norms. This applies to any country, not just the U.S. This puts a premium on software developers who aren't just fluent in English, but native speakers, and who understand American culture. While it's possible (and even likely) to make server-side software, and management utilities that can get by with terse, fractured English, anything that's enterprise-facing or consumer-facing requires more work on polish and presentation than is practical using outsourced developers. There is a reason why the leaders in software User Interface development are all US-based companies, and that's because consumer-focused design is still an overwhelming US advantage.

Ongoing Concerns

The primary concern for American software development is talent production. The US secondary education system produces a much smaller percentage of students with a solid math and engineering background, and while US universities lead the world in their computer science and engineering curricula, slightly under half of all of those graduates are from foreign countries, because American students don't take the course loads needed to succeed in them. Software development companies in the United States are deeply concerned about getting enough engineers and programmers out of the US university system. Some, such as Google, are trying to get programmers hooked on logical problem solving at a young age, with the Summer of Code programs. Others, like Microsoft, offer scholarships for computer science degrees.

Overall, the changes in project management methodologies mean that the US is the current leader in software development, and so long as the primary market for software remains English and American-centric, that's going to remain true. That trend is far from guaranteed, and in the world of software, things can change quickly.

Millions of people experienced the frustration and failures of the Obamacare website when it first launched. Because the code for the back end is not open source, the exact technicalities of the initial failings are tricky to determine. Many curious programmers and web designers have had time to examine the open source coding on the front end, however, leading to reasonable conclusions about the nature of the overall difficulties.

Lack of End to End Collaboration
The website was developed with multiple contractors for the front-end and back-end functions. The site also needed to be integrated with insurance companies, IRS servers, Homeland Security servers, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, all of whom had their own legacy systems. The large number of parties involved and the complex nature of the various components naturally complicated the testing and integration of each portion of the project.

The errors displayed, and occasionally the lack thereof, indicated an absence of coordination between the parties developing the separate components. A failed sign up attempt, for instance, often resulted in a page that displayed the header but had no content or failure message. A look at end user requests revealed that the database was unavailable. Clearly, the coding for the front end did not include errors for failures on the back end.

Bloat and the Abundance of Minor Issues
Obviously, numerous bugs were also an issue. The system required users to create passwords that included numbers, for example, but failed to disclose that on the form and in subsequent failure messages, leaving users baffled. In another issue, one of the pages intended to ask users to please wait or call instead, but the message and the phone information were accidentally commented out in the code.

While the front-end design has been cleared of blame for the most serious failures, bloat in the code did contribute to the early difficulties users experienced. The site design was heavy with Javascript and CSS files, and it was peppered with small coding errors that became particularly troublesome when users faced bottlenecks in traffic. Frequent typos throughout the code proved to be an additional embarrassment and were another indication of a troubled development process.

NoSQL Database
The NoSQL database is intended to allow for scalability and flexibility in the architecture of projects that will use it. This made NoSQL a logical choice for the health insurance exchange website. The newness of the technology, however, means personnel with expertise can be elusive. Database-related missteps were more likely the result of a lack of experienced administrators than with the technology itself. The choice of the NoSQL database was thus another complication in the development, but did not itself cause the failures.

Another factor of consequence is that the website was built with both agile and waterfall methodology elements. With agile methods for the front end and the waterfall methodology for the back end, streamlining was naturally going to suffer further difficulties. The disparate contractors, varied methods of software development, and an unrealistically short project time line all contributed to the coding failures of the website.

What are the three most important things non-programmers should know about programming?
 
Written by Brian Knapp, credit and reprint CodeCareerGenius
 
 
Since you asked for the three most important things that non-programmers should know about, and I’ve spent most of my career working with more non-programmers than programmers, I have a few interesting things that would help.
 
Number One - It Is Impossible To Accurately Estimate Software Projects
 
No matter what is tried. No matter what tool, agile approach, or magic fairy dust people try to apply to creating software… accurately predicting software project timelines is basically impossible.
 
There are many good reasons for this. Usually, requirements and feature ideas change on a daily/weekly basis. Often it is impossible to know what needs to be done without actually digging into the code itself. Debugging and QA can take an extraordinary amount of time.
 
And worst of all…
 
Project Managers are always pushing for shorter timelines. They largely have no respect for reality. So, at some point they are given estimates just to make them feel better about planning.
 
No matter how much planning and estimation you do, it will be wrong. At best it will be directionally correct +/- 300% of what you estimated. So, a one year project could actually take anywhere between 0 and 5 years, maybe even 10 years.
 
If you think I’m joking, look at how many major ERP projects that go over time and over budget by many years and many hundreds of millions of dollars. Look at the F-35 fighter jet software issues.
 
Or in the small, you can find many cases where a “simple bug fix” can take days when you thought it was hours.
 
All estimates are lies made up to make everyone feel better. I’ve never met a developer or manager who could accurately estimate software projects even as well as the local weatherman(or woman) predicts the weather.
 
Number Two - Productivity Is Unevenly Distributed
 
What if I told you that in the average eight hour work day the majority of the work will get done in a 30 minute timeframe? Sound crazy?
 
Well, for most programmers there is a 30–90 minute window where you are extraordinarily productive. We call this the flow state.
 
Being in the flow state is wonderful and amazing. It often is where the “magic” of building software happens.
 
Getting into flow can be difficult. It’s akin to meditation in that you have to have a period of uninterrupted focus of say 30 minutes to “get in” the flow, but a tiny interruption can pull you right out.
 
Now consider the modern workplace environment. Programmers work in open office environments where they are invited to distract each other constantly.
 
Most people need a 1–2 hour uninterrupted block to get 30–90 minutes of flow.
 
Take the 8 hour day and break it in half with a lunch break, and then pile in a few meetings and all of a sudden you are lucky to get one decent flow state session in place.
 
That is why I say that most of the work that gets done happens in a 30 minute timeframe. The other 7–8 hours are spent being distracted, answering email, going to meetings, hanging around the water cooler, going to the bathroom, and trying to remember what you were working on before all these distractions.
 
Ironically, writers, musicians, and other creative professionals have their own version of this problem and largely work alone and away from other people when they are creating new things.
 
Someday the programming world might catch on, but I doubt it.
 
Even if this became obvious, it doesn’t sit well with most companies to think that programmers would be paid for an 8 hour day and only be cranking out code for a few hours on a good day. Some corporate middle manager would probably get the bright idea to have mandatory flow state training where a guru came in and then there would be a corporate policy from a pointy haired boss mandating that programmers are now required to spend 8 hours a day in flow state and they must fill out forms to track their time and notify their superiors of their flow state activities, otherwise there would be more meetings about the current flow state reports not being filed correctly and that programmers were spending too much time “zoning out” instead of being in flow.
 
Thus, programmers would spent 7–8 hours a day pretending to be in flow state, reporting on their progress, and getting all their work done in 30 minutes of accidental flow state somewhere in the middle of all that flow state reporting.
 
If you think I’m joking about this, I’m not. I promise you this is what would happen to any company of more than 2 employees. (Even the ones run by programmers.)
 
Number Three - It Will Cost 10x What You Think
 
Being a programmer, I get a lot of non-programmers telling me about their brilliant app ideas. Usually they want me to build something for free and are so generous as to pay me up to 5% of the profits for doing 100% of the work.
 
Their ideas are just that good.
 
Now, I gently tell them that I’m not interested in building anything for free.
 
At that point they get angry, but a few ask how much it will cost. I give them a reasonable (and very incorrect) estimate of what it would cost to create the incredibly simple version of their app idea.
 
Let’s say it’s some number like $25,000.
 
They look at me like I’m a lunatic, and so I explain how much it costs to hire a contract programmer and how long it will actually take. For example’s sake let’s say it is $100/hr for 250 hours.
 
To be clear, these are made up numbers and bad estimates (See Number One for details…)
 
In actuality, to build the actual thing they want might cost $250,000, or even $2,500,000 when it’s all said and done.
 
Building software can be incredibly complex and expensive. What most people can’t wrap their head around is the fact that a company like Google, Apple, or Microsoft has spent BILLIONS of dollars to create something that looks so simple to the end user.
 
Somehow, the assumption is that something that looks simple is cheap and fast to build.
 
Building something simple and easy for the end user is time consuming and expensive. Most people just can’t do it.
 
So, the average person with a brilliant app idea thinks it will cost a few hundred or maybe a few thousand dollars to make and it will be done in a weekend is so off the mark it’s not worth considering their ideas.
 
And programmers are too eager to play along with these bad ideas (by making bad estimates and under charging for their time) that this notion is perpetuated to the average non-programmer.
 
So, a good rule of thumb is that software will cost 10 times as much as you think and take 10 times as long to finish.
 
And that leads to a bonus point…
 
BONUS - Software Is Never Done
 
Programmers never complete a software project, they only stop working on it. Software is never done.
 
I’ve worked at many software companies and I’ve never seen a software project “completed”.
 
Sure, software gets released and used. But, it is always changing, being updated, bugs get fixed, and there are always new customer requests for features.
 
Look at your favorite software and you’ll quickly realize how true this is. Facebook, Instagram, Google Search, Google Maps, GMail, iOS, Android, Windows, and now even most video games are never done.
 
There are small armies of developers just trying to keep all the software you use every day stable and bug free. Add on the fact that there are always feature requests, small changes, and new platforms to deal with, it’s a treadmill.
 
So, the only way out of the game is to stop working on software. At that point, the software begins to decay until it is no longer secure or supported.
 
Think about old Windows 3.1 software or maybe old Nintendo Cartridge video games. The current computers and video game consoles don’t even attempt to run that software anymore.
 
You can’t put an old video game in your new Nintendo Switch and have it “just work”. That is what happens when you think software is done.
 
When programmers stop working on software the software starts to die. The code itself is probably fine, but all the other software keeps moving forward until your software is no longer compatible with the current technology.
 
So, those are the four most important things that non-programmers should know about programming. I know you asked for only three, so I hope the bonus was valuable to you as well.

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A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Germany since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about JUnit, TDD, CPTC, Web Penetration programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized JUnit, TDD, CPTC, Web Penetration experts
  • Get up to speed with vital JUnit, TDD, CPTC, Web Penetration programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
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