Tuesday 10 March 2009

So, what is it that you do again?

Being a developer is a mixed bag. Generally we like to create, invent or fix things, but we often end up spending a lot of time maintaining, or optimising, or fire-fighting, or planning, or evaluating, or discussing. Although these things are all engaging tasks too, they are commonly not what drive us, and worse, they are pretty much un-measurable.

So what's the big problem with that? In a nutshell, most managerial types don't get what we do, and when it comes to performance review time it really makes it hard to shine when most of your work can't have a valid metric applied. This is easy to understand when you try to compare measuring a dev or sysadmin role to measuring a role with monthly sales target. "99% server up-time" doesn't cut it anymore.

Obviously meeting deadlines for project milestones are measurable and carry significant weight, but in reality many startups have a more fluid development path, and many of us are not working on projects where we can control or are responsible for milestones.

So what can we do about it? In short, not a lot. Try and set as many realistic measurable goals as you can, keep a log of anything adhoc you do that will look like a measurable win, so you'll be ready when review time comes along (or if you want to push for a pay rise).

Since the daily trials and task lists of most of us are out of our control, I thought I'd start this blog to suggest ideas over the coming weeks that can help you define your role in a tangible way, or maybe just have a "look what I did" moment. Hopefully they will also be "measurable wins", or at least interesting to read.

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