The Blog

Jan 26, 2008

I Miss Writing Code 

by Maxim Porges @ 11:54 PM | Link | Feedback (6)

There was a time when my job consisted mainly of coming in to work and cranking out code until I went home (usually late). That was six years ago. Since then (even while I was managing development teams), I still wrote a lot of code. It was fun.

Unfortunately, over the last six years my job has consisted of writing less and less code. Instead, these days, most of my coding takes place outside of work. Most programmers will understand me when I say that programming is an addiction that must be fed constantly, much to the chagrin of friends, relatives, and especially girlfriends/spouses. Not being exempt from this rule, I have a deep-rooted need to write code that pervades my life (if not every minute of my workday).

At the present time, my job consists mainly of coming in to work and making it possible for other people to crank out code until they go home (hopefully not too late, unless they really want to).

Am I pissed off about this? No. I find my job satisfying for a number of reasons.

1) I've been able to push our corporate IT environment pretty far toward being academic and putting the technology first. This has allowed others to come in and really take our code to the next level.

2) Order is beginning to emerge from the chaos. It actually looks like there is hope of us getting our jumbled legacy systems in to a place where we can rocket them in to the future with cutting-edge practices and technologies.

3) There is an expectation in my mind that one day (hopefully sooner than later) my job of bringing order from the chaos will subside, and I'll be able to go back to spending more of my day cranking out code and less dealing with departmental management, strategy, and corporate politics. Honestly, if this expectation wasn't there I'd already be out consulting independently or working for a small startup or large tech firm on the West-coast.

Sometimes, I have wild fantasies about breaking off a chunk of our IT department and establishing a whole new breed of corporate IT response. Imagine a set of small, focused development groups working directly on specific business problems in close quarters with the people receiving the software, with minimal corporate drudgery/needless managerial involvement. I also imagine bonus programs for the development staff, tied to core business metrics based upon the initial success of the technology solution.

I get shudders just thinking about it. Anybody with half a brain and even minimal experience in the world of corporate IT would see how the "startup" model would work in a wonderfully more efficient way than traditional "command and conquer" IT.

Funnily enough, I've been having discussions along these lines with my boss and some other senior management at CFI. They are pie-in-the-sky "what if" discussions at present, but we have a few projects ticking along that work with some (not all) elements of the structure I'm imagining, and they are going swimmingly.

If only we could connect the rest of the dots, I think we'd be in great shape to revolutionize our business with technology - something it desperately requires. I'm hopeful, and the discussions are under way - so let's see what happens.