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Assessing coders productivity

By markstone ·
I am a manager with an underperforming coder. Or maybe they're not, and my expectations are too high. And that is the problem - do I or don't I have cause for concern?

I won't bore you with other experiences so far, but so I can get feedback from you experienced coders out there (which I am not), here is a recent example.

We need data downloading from a website. This is then put into a SQL table. This part is successful.
The data then needs to be put into a delimited file, in a certain format.
The resulting file is then ftp'd elsewhere in the world for use by another system.

We are at testing stage, so a manually exported file is all we need. Later on we'll automate the process and add a GUI so our internal customer can do the job themselves every week.

We know the structure of the sql tables. We know the structure of the file needed by the receiving system. There are a few differences in heading names, but the data under them are the same. There is one field in each record where incoming text must be changed to something else to suit the final system - but they are always the same equivalents so a translation should be easy.

But it's taking forever to get a converted file out that we can FTP up for testing. I'm talking about 4 weeks now. I've been reassured by the coder that she'll have it done "next week", but our internal customer has pointed out we've said that 3 times now. I'm at the point where I want to pull the plug and outsource the job (we only have the one coder), but I shouldn't have to for something this "simple". Not only would this cost money, but it brings into question the competence of a staff member who I expect to be the "expert" on these matters.

Tell me I'm being unreasonable. As a manager I need to trust the experts I hire to do the things I can't do due to time constraints or simple lack of knowledge. Do I believe what they say, and lower my expectations while fending off our customer? Or am I right to be worried and have a staff member who's somehow in over their head?

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One week is too much

by obislavu In reply to Assessing coders producti ...

To transform a flat file to another flat file you can expect to be coded and full tested in one day! No more.
1) Write a small program in any language to do that. I will choose PERL and the job could be done in less that 60 lines of code. If in the conversion is data needed from a DB , Perl DBI is aware of that.
2)Create a DTS (Data Transformation Package) that will load the file, convert that column retrieving data from other tables and create out file.
3)Use Excel to load the file, convert that column.
George

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Hum... several problems here and probably a lot of homework

by jslarochelle In reply to Assessing coders producti ...

You do have a problem with this programmer because he should be able to tell you exactly what is wrong and how things are progressing (how he plans to solve any pending problem).
However, as a company that develops software (for internal use or for others) you should have a process in place that help you monitor progress:
Requirements review: where developpers can ask question and clarify things).
Design review: where you can see at a high level how the programmers plan to solve the problem. This is where you would see the class or procedures involve in solving the problem. This is also one of the critical step where developpers can revise the estimated time to complete the work.
Code review: where peer programmers can validate each others work.
Your programmer should know about unit test and he should be able to tell you which classes unit tests are completed and where things are not going right.
If you do not have a good programmer that can take the leadership on this you should hire one.

Good luck!

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