Bad Developer, No Twinkie Part 5: Assuming people know things

As a software developer, you have to work with people.  It’s part of your job.  Sometimes those people are other developers, sometimes they are your clients.  Despite what it looks like, software development is rarely, if ever, a solitary effort.

As such, you should never assume that whoever it is you are working with knows everything.  I had two rather frustrating instances this week with two different parties, simply because they made the assumption that I knew things – things which were not obviously stated.  It essentially made me feel like an idiot.  No one likes feeling like an idiot.

Let’s look at a few examples of this:

    • Don’t assume your clients know technical details.  Maybe you are lucky, and you have a tech-savvy client who actually knows a bit about software development.  That doesn’t mean they know all the ins and outs of whatever it is you’ve built for them.  Don’t treat them like an idiot, but also don’t assume that they know everything about the software you’ve built for them.
    • Don’t assume new developers know the technical details.  Building software is often a complicated affair.  Every piece of software is different.  So is almost every development shop.  New developers won’t know all the details of the stuff you’ve built.  Take the time to coach them properly.  Time invested now is more time saved later.
    • Don’t assume developers have all the domain knowledge they need.  Developers don’t know everything.  I’ve worked on software for at least two major different industries.  In both cases, it took a fair bit of reading and discussing with other developers on the team to gain the necessary domain knowledge to fully understand the problems we were trying to solve.  Even after working in a particular industry for a few years, there’s still a lot that I don’t know.

Don’t take this to the extreme though.  Treating your customers like they don’t know anything has a similar effect.  Essentially, if you are doing your job right, you should be in frequent communication with your clients anyway, and should have an understanding of where their knowledge level is at.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s