When everyone talks past each other

If large software projects are annoying or even fail, it is often because the developer and the specialist department do not speak the same language.

The times when software was virtually developed by one person go back decades. The image of the lonely software developer from the 90s sitting in a darkened basement room, now and then having to be supplied with large quantities of hot or cold pizza, cola, coffee and chips through a mailbox-like slot or a hatch, is simply no longer true.

Job offers reflect this: Today, programmers also need communication and teamwork skills. Communication within a team is usually easy. Especially when the colleagues in the team have the same tasks, have a similar background and level of knowledge or even have a good command of the same programming languages ​​and know their libraries by heart. The team members can then talk in their own language.

It gets more difficult when development teams from other areas join. For example, when front-end and back-end developers work together or with a database team. It can get really bad when IT teams are supposed to communicate with specialist departments. Then it can happen that “outsiders” – from the point of view of the IT staff – only understand every second word in a conversation. And that can not only be annoying and waste time, it can also cause entire projects to fail.

Each area has its own technical terms

Outsiders from the perspective of an IT team can also include IT project colleagues who do not belong to their own group. For example, the colleagues who specify technical functions or processes: They may not know anything about arrays or strings, a database is often a “file” for them and a table is what can be seen on the screen, not necessarily what is in the database.

Instead, they know other terms that programmers have never heard of before starting a project in another industry. In construction there is, for example, the line of flight, in agriculture there is a blow and at the tax office there is the marginal tax rate. The two groups speak different languages, but they still have to come together and understand each other so that a technical specification becomes a program that fulfills the desired task.

Filling up the unclear with imagination

I’ve been a software developer for many years, and I started my degree in computer science almost exactly 25 years ago to the day. At that time you studied for a few more years, worked 20 hours a week on the side and full-time during the semester break as a well-paid software developer. So I have a lot of practical experience and therefore also experienced a lot in terms of communication such as large software projects that are delayed and more expensive than planned or fail.

A lack of communication between the project participants is not always the reason, sometimes the planning was simply bad or the project too big. But it is often like this: People talk past each other, in case of doubt not inquire and unclear areas are filled with imagination.

What do you think?

Written by toyanc


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