Seth Godin’s post for March 12, 2012 “Extraordinary Software Development Managers”
Rings true (as most things Seth Godin says). He compares software development to building a skyscraper (versus throwing a party). In this brave new world (compared to the 1990’s) so many product concepts are built on a software platform. SaaS solutions and the recurring revenue they generate, are the rage, and the preferred business model in a digital world.
Godin’s comments mirror my own experience having worked with a variety of software-based companies over the past decade—some did well, some not so well. The basis of success for the winners centered on the development team–and the maturity with which the team and the software were managed. Like a skillful architect the software development manager must piece together an ever-changing strategy providing investors and the company with a real plan including costs, timelines and deliverables.
In sports, great players rarely make good coaches–it’s a different skill set and perspective. Being a star rarely prepares a player for the tedious parenting that is necessary to grow a project (or a team) from concept to reality. Not unlike a sales program, it can often be difficult to gauge the productivity of the development function before it’s too late. Software development that is a rogue function in a new company is likely to fail. As Godin points out a good programmer is worth their weight in gold but a bad manager is a lead weight that will drain precious capital faster than a new investor can be identified.