Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Should the head chef know how to cook?

Been catching up with a few old contacts over the many X-Mas lunches, a common theme seems to be how often I hear the words ... "if only the management understood software development", or "why would they appoint a team lead that has never programmed to lead developers?" and the classic .. "they hired 5 developers to create system X, and they are still arguing what X is!" (i.e. they hired well compensated contractors to surf the web).

This phenomenon seems to be quite common in large organizations whose primary business is not software (as in banks, retail..). I guess the senior management in these businesses does not really understand software or the people that tend to build software well.

In other words .. would you appoint a head chef that does not know how to cook? A bank would not do well in the cooking business, so why should they be good at software development.

In all fairness, most large non-IT organizations do tend to outsource their entire IT work to larger IT specialists (with nifty 3 letter acronyms). But, you still need to set the direction and control the army that you just hired.