CodingCame across this very interesting and enlightening piece by Frank Wiles, in which he discusses various topics that we are all too familiar with pertaining to software projects.

He made a few salient points drawn from his experiences that I have summarized as follows:

  • A good programmer can be as effective as 5-10 average ones
  • Finding good programmers is hard in any language
  • Average pay rates for equivalent programmers are out of sync and are more based on language than skill
  • Seriously consider allowing telecommuting to get access to the best talents
  • It might make more sense to hire expert programmers who can learn a particular language than an expert in that language

Why is it so hard to find good programmers? An offered explanation is that when companies find good programmers, they do their utmost to keep them for as long as possible. Essentially, demand and supply takes care of a possibly limited pool of talent.

However, what caught my interest was Frank’s assertion that simply hiring more junior programmers is often not the answer. Instead, the result often culminates in nothing more than “keeping the seat” warm in most situations.

Excerpt from: A Guide to Hiring Programmers: The High Cost of Low Quality:

Companies need to stop thinking about their developers as cogs in the machine. They are more akin to artists, authors, designers, architects, scientists, or CEOs. Would your HR department rush to find the first person who would willing to take on the role of Chief Scientist, Art Director, or CEO in your company? Of course not…

They realize that having the wrong person in that seat is much worse than having the seat empty. It is absolutely the same with programming.

What about you? What are your experiences with hiring or working with programmers?