Eight Reasons CIOs Think Developers Are Clueless

CIO.com has published several stories that examined the sometimes volatile, often misunderstood and never dull relationship between CIOs and application developers-from "9 Reasons Why Application Developers Think Their CIO Is Clueless" to "8 Reasons Why a Developer Would NEVER Want To Be a CIO" to "Getting Clueful: 7 Things CIOs Should Know About Agile Development."

Those articles were presented solely from the programmer's viewpoint, however. We wanted to give the bosses-CIOs and IT leaders who perhaps were irked by the "clueless" label-a chance to respond. Because, certainly, developers can be out-of-touch too-just in different ways.

CIO.com asked IT leaders what they wish developers knew so that the programmers don't appear clueless to the rest of the organization. The bosses' responses, gathered from eight CIOs and IT managers and which have been anonymously condensed, show that many developers need to gain the bigger-picture view of their organizations to appreciate the challenges of those "clueless" CIOs.

"It turns out that the concepts of business strategy bear repeating," observes one IT director. "Developers get so heads-down in the minutiae of coding that they forget about the 40,000-foot view of the business."

1. Developers Don't Think Practically

Developers often look for an elegant or slick solution to a problem, but they don't always look for the practical one. "I've had developers that will go to any lengths to write something instead of buying it, even if their hours cost more initially, plus upgrades and testing each and every time the data base or interfaces change," notes one CIO. "I rid myself of one of those [developers] recently."

This CIO retells a story: "I had to fire a developer who never had an error when his program compiled; he desk-checked [the application] so many times to assure himself (and it was a source of his pride) there were no errors. The compilers had error checking routines to do much of the same thing. His programs were elegant, but he got fired for scarcity of output. Others who used the compiler testing were completing 300 percent of his output, but he just couldn't give up his opinion of the correct way to do it."

2. Developers Still Don't See the End-User Perspective

Solving business problems is more complex than everyone imagines, says one CIO. But to IT management, the business unit and the development team, these problems often appear quite easy to solve. "Getting your development team to truly see the world from the end-user perspective is important and much harder than you would think," notes the CIO. "The developers need to learn to quickly empathize with the end users' needs and issues-and attack the solution from that perspective."

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