Friday, January 4, 2008

Hello and Welcome

Well 2008 is upon us and it's New Year's resolution time. Mine is to start a professional blog to record and make public the thoughts, musings, discoveries and general tribulations of my working life. I might get into a few other bits and bobs too - but let's see how things go.

So what has led me to the (possibly rash) decision to take some time out of my busy schedule to maintain a blog?

A bit of background

I am a professional software developer based in the UK who specialises in data management using Ab Initio. I studied computing at university for the simple reason that I liked it and was reasonably good at it and I joined the workplace as a graduate developer back in 2000 full of bright eyed enthusiasm for writing great solutions. Like many developers progressing through the ranks from graduate to seniority I became increasingly disillusioned with the reality of the politics and methods used in the real world. It was especially disheartening to find that developers are almost at the bottom of the food chain in most companies (apart from the testers who, as bearers of bad news, are often treated even worse). We were the people who were creating the system so surely everyone involved would be judged on the success of that system from initial release to eventual decommissioning. Why, therefore, was everyone not not lining up to support us?

There had to be a better way! I just couldn't find it that's all.

It's not that everything was bad, of course. I have worked on many projects, some were great, others were not and most fell somewhere in the middle. On every one of them, I worked beside some fantastic, heroic people who made real difference. Sometimes they were even recognised for it! However, my enthusiasm for the job was seriously waning. I had retained enough of a spark for technology to resist the gravitational pull towards management but I was seriously considering leaving the IT industry to do something completely different.

Thankfully, everything changed when I was introduced to Lean Agile by the inspirational Nancy Van Schooenderwoert. She showed me there is a better way and it's even better than I could have ever have imagined. The Agile principles and practices made immediate sense to me especially the way Lean thinking and Agile methods put the team at the centre of everything with spectacular improvements on quality, productivity and team satisfaction - my suspicions were confirmed!

That's all very interesting Adrian, but why the blog?

The problem we face as data management professionals is that the vast majority of the Agile thinking and literature is focused on developing UI based applications like websites and gadgets using Object Oriented technologies so it's not immediately apparent how to apply agile to data management projects like data warehouses. The purpose of this blog is to publish the findings of my work with Nancy and my company M2Consortium on how to bridge this knowledge gap and explore new ideas as they come up.

Over the past year or so I have been greatly inspired by Jeff Attwood's blog Coding Horror. It has nothing to do with data management or Ab Initio and only makes occasional references to Agile but many of his posts are stimulating I like the way his enthusiasm for what he does comes across very clearly. If I can be even a quarter as good as Jeff I will be very pleased but I am up for a challenge and on his advice I have decided to pick a schedule I can realistically expect to meet. So, drum roll please...

I will post at least once every three weeks.

... cue muted applause...

OK, so it's not very often and I will try and do better, but I have no idea how this is going to work out so I would rather commit to something I can definitely manage than set the bar too high. Please watch this space and Happy New Year!

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