Software development is changing again. These are the skills companies are looking for

Software development is changing again. These are the skills companies are looking for

While the almost constant digital transformation means that software development still plays a crucial role in modern businesses, successful developers are likely to excel in both personal and technical aptitude.

Gone are the days when a great software developer was defined by his ability in a single programming language. Today, good developers work on the whole stack; in fact, its success depends on its ability to engage with a number of stakeholders to deliver business results, says Spencer Clarkson, director of technology at Verastar.

“I think what a good developer does today is this rounded understanding,” he says. “They have to be agile in their work style and also understand the concept of doing agile development: fail quickly, develop quickly.”

This is something that others also recognize. Forrester technical analyst says agile delivery is critical to successful digital transformations, but the best companies go even further. Only 47% of less successful companies have 75% or more of their development teams using agile software development practices, compared to 93% of successful companies.

SEE: What is Agile Software Development? Everything you need to know to deliver better and faster code

In the case of Verastar, which offers a range of business services to over 160,000 small businesses across the UK, Clarkson says the long-term success of his business is directly related to the ability of talented IT staff to offer great data-driven services. to customers.

“And so for us, a good developer thinks about why he wants to change or build something, but he also makes sure that they understand the data and how it will be presented as information about the glass to the user,” he says.

Clarkson acknowledges that this focus on business performance and customer requirements is an abrupt break with the past. He has developed a broad base of coding skills during his own career and can program in up to 20 different languages.

However, their IT leadership responsibilities make them unlikely to get their hands dirty with code these days. More specifically, he also doesn’t want his staff to spend all their time programming, and if they do code, he certainly doesn’t expect them to specialize in one language.

“I think having a single programming ability is not the way to go,” he says. “I think you have to be able to point your hand at any language, construction or framework.”

Clarkson says software developers should combine proficiency in object-oriented languages, such as Java, C ++, C #, or Python, with a business-centric understanding of modern technology integration concepts, such as microservices and cloud computing.

“Software development is now much more about sticking things together than building something from scratch,” he says. “There are a lot of good apps and products. It’s how you paste them, that’s your IP. People need to have that ability first and second, be versatile.”

Gartner also says organizations and their employees should be prepared to move in multiple strategic directions at once because of current innovation and digitalization requirements. The analyst predicts a shift towards more autonomous work styles over the next three years as organizations adopt remote and hybrid work models.

SEE: With 900,000 developers, this is where the next big home ecosystem will be

The new normal means that developers will work in a variety of ways with a large church of partners. In addition to internal developers, Verastar uses outsourced capability and works closely with some key digital transformation partners, including Salesforce.

“We have a very hybrid team. People have to learn to work together and on different teams. We put it all together with Agile and sprints. Working in a virtual world means it’s very rare that you’re all together in the same office now. says Clarkson,

“And this is definitely our case. Although we have a center in Sale, Manchester, we have developers working remotely, our partner works remotely and there will also be a near or offshore base, so it can end up with a pretty broad team. “

Dal Virdi, IT director at Shakespeare Martineau Law Firm, is another chief technology officer who recognizes that a successful modern computer team relies on a hybrid combination of internal developers and external specialists.

Virdi acknowledged about 18 months ago that his company’s ongoing digital transformation strategy and the way the business was introducing a wide range of technologies meant they didn’t need to have in-house specialists focused on a language or platform.

“We need a broader set of architectural and engineering skills,” he says. “So we need them to be the best they can be, but we also need them to cover our entire landscape.”

Virdi says it has increased its internal development teams with external development partners. Shakespeare Martineau uses the resources of these partners on an ongoing basis to support some of the things the company wants to develop.

“For example, we have a testing partner who supports us with all the testing we do with all of our new systems and services,” he says. “We are now increasing many of our services to provide the levels of experience we need to offer these accelerators on our journey, to move forward and do things with different technologies.”

For Virdi, the key to success is to increase internal talent in the most effective and profitable way possible: “If we can buy services and eliminate some of the internal overheads, that’s what we’re looking at.”

Of course, the changing nature of software development, with more focus on broader goals and less time on unique projects, means that CIOs will have to work hard to ensure that talented software developers are satisfied with this new way of working. .

Adam Miller, head of Markerstudy Group’s computer group, says the key to retaining and attracting new talent is to offer people interesting jobs to stick their teeth into. “To be honest, there’s a pretty diverse set of activities that we have, so I’m lucky in that regard,” he says.

However, Miller also acknowledges that keeping software developers happy is not just about focusing on their current projects. Talented staff should know that as the nature of computer work continues to change, so does the opportunity to develop and flex their own skills.

“It’s about supporting their ongoing training and development and exposure to newer technologies. Everyone wants to learn what’s new and wants to be prepared for what’s to come,” says Miller.

“Therefore, being able to combine these two factors – looking at new things, working on interesting jobs – is crucial, as well as paying people fairly and respecting their requirements for reconciling personal and work life as much as possible. “I think these are the most important aspects of creating a healthy work environment.”

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