the obligatory about page
By Julian Browne on January 20, 2013. Filed Under None
Hello and welcome to the new site. My name is Julian Browne and I work in the software industry, or rather I work for businesses that commonly say things like "we're not a software company" (to justify why they spend millions with large consultancies and on large software packages) when it's abundantly clear that their commercial livelihood depends on the success of said software.
I work mostly in software architecture, a role I usually feel the need to apologise for because it's done so badly in so many organisations. My background is in operations - I was a Unix performance consultant early in my career, then went into development, and then to architecture. I tried management but discovered it's not really my thing. At least not at any scale. Although the basics of good software stay the same, packages and languages move on apace, and management is the best way to slip completely out of the loop on important details like tool appropriateness.
I left my last proper management job in 2007, taking some time off to get better acquainted with Ruby, Lisp, and Functional Programming generally. It also felt like a good time to explore some ideas and say some things I felt needed to be said about why IT has seemingly self-destructed in the last ten or fifteen years, hence this blog.
I love software and what it can do, and daily still have that they-pay-me-for-this? sense about it. But I also know it's hard not to feel worn down by the armies of the incompetent who don't get it. Over the years IT has become more and more populated with unskilled people drawn to the higher salaries. And consultancies have exploited the fears of corporate leaders to persuade them that they can no longer manage their own IT. The fact is though that none of this need be the case. A handful of people can work wonders with very little budget. The world is full of great cheap and free software.
Consultancies are not a necessary evil, they are an unnecessary evil.
What's more I think times are changing. I think the example set by some modern internet business has shown that big budgets aren't necessary. I think it's clearer than ever that large software packages do nothing but harm. Large ERP and CRM projects that supposedly use out-of-the-box functionality end up hiring more developers than bespoke projects. They customise the out-of-the-box product until it's as good as bespoke. The argument that consultancies bring useful industry experience to bear is patently false, unless you really need experience of chaotic failure where no lessons were actually learned. I don't see it happening quickly because the IT field (vendors and customers) is now stacked with people who have a vested interest in making sure none of this gets out. But it will come, because sluggish corporations will either make the change or go to the wall, kicked out of the marketplace by five developers in a bedroom who've never heard of programme management.
This is such a beautiful field to work in. So few understand just how beautiful, and fewer still see the beauty that could be.
If you've really got nothing better to do you can join me on Twitter or contact me using the link above.
If you're interested the site is written in Rails. It was my first Ruby project and gets periodically upgraded when I feel the need to dink with real code. I write the posts in markdown and use the RedCarpet gem to render them to cached HTML.