Short Takes on Software Development and Life

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A Selection of Our Take Columns.

me of impending crisis: "Danger, Pam Young! That author is about to miss a deadline!" or "Danger, Pam Young! You are about to be confronted with an irresistible dessert tray!"

Here are a few things that should set the warning bell ringing for you on your
next software project:

  • Your developers say "yes" to everything you want, even though you suspect you're asking for too much with too little time.
  • Your organization decides to do extreme or agile programming because there isn't enough time to gather requirements.
  • You get a brand new release to test with a comment that the testing should be simple because only "a few changes" were made.
  • You implement a plan to measure and reward testers by how many bugs they  ind.

These are just a few things that should trip your warning switch. Think of some others and be ready to sound your own alarm as danger approaches.

What Do they Expect?
Are you are doing the same job you were last year?

Most of the people I talk to have changed companies or positions in recent years. But perhaps as significantly, many companies seem to be changing you--or at least what they expect of you. Perhaps you survived a round of layoffs (good!) only to find you now have your old job and half of someone else's too (not so good). Or maybe you've shown such remarkable testing or development skills (good!) that people are increasingly leaning on you to create miracles (not so good).

Expectations can be a tricky thing. You want your employers to believe in your abilities. You should rise to meet all new goals and show everyone how competent and capable you are, right? Maybe. Maybe not. Over-inflated or over-zealous expectations are often a diversion from dealing with difficult realities-especially in a techie's world, where people are more comfortable discussing lines of code.

Take a moment to step back and reflect. How has your current role changed in the past year? Does management recognize those changes? If so, then you may experience some career growth from the new responsibilities. If not, then you could be enabling your organization to avoid serious staff or productivity issues. It might be in everyone's best interest to open a positive but frank discussion of where the gaps are and to make a long-range plan for handling them.

"Do more with less" is the mantra of this new world we live and work in. Taking on a few more tasks or stepping up your level of responsibility may be a great idea. But make sure new expectations are well defined and recognized by more people than just you.

About the author

Pam Young's picture Pam Young

Pamela Young has fourteen years of media experience and more than a decade of interaction with experts and practitioners concerned with building better software. She was part of the publishing team that launched Better Software magazine (formerly STQE magazine) and StickyMinds.com and was editorial director for those publications from 2001 to 2005. She is now the director of publications for a national health advocacy organization.

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