What do software developers want?

Written on Jan 28 2012

Fred Wu recently had a great blog post about what software developers (or technical co-founders) look for at companies. One of his elements, curiosity, details how business and technical leaders can coordinate on projects:


In web-based projects, it is surprisingly easy to have “what if …?” scenarios. Not sure which sign up form will have a higher conversion rate? Easy, just make two or more of them and run A/B tests.

Sometimes, as developers, we are so in the zone that we would keep on building stuff the way we envisioned. You will need to step in, pull us out, and say “hey, have you thought about …? What if …?”

All to often, I think the business and IT communities do a terrible job at communicating. Business leaders are always aiming for strict targets, accountability, and set expectations. In a world where technical projects are an average of 197 percent over budget, business leaders need to know how to deal with ambiguity when it comes to IT.

Leaders need to do a better job setting realistic expectations at the start of a project. Executives need to understand that “bug free” and “strict deadlines” aren’t always the best way to approach technical tasks. That can be difficult for them to accept, given that other sectors of business tend to be more conservative and target-driven. On the other hand, technical leaders should face the facts that no amount of planning can account for every possible negative scenario. They should set expectations and build crisis or “what if” (or perhaps “what when”) plans so actions are clear if things go south.

What other things can business and IT leaders be doing to work better together? What types of things to software developers look for when evaluating candidate companies?

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