Ivory Tower Development

I've always discouraged ivory tower development-- teams where developers are cloistered away for years in their high towers, working on technical software wizardry. These developers have no idea how users will respond to their software they're creating. They probably couldn't even tell you the last time they met a user! In the absence of any other compelling evidence, developers assume everyone else is a developer. I hope I don't have to tell you how dangerous that is.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2005/02/ivory-tower-development.html

Ivory Tower? This analogy makes my current situation sound prestigious. I’d like to call it a dimly lit mine shaft. I currently work on a project with a team of contractors who are physically separated from the corporate office. So not only is this project dealing with a “disconnect” from the main line of business, but they have an entire team of individuals that are interested in the tasks they have at hand and not in the success of the overall project as a whole. I am very curious as to how this project will succeed (or if I will be around long enough to witness it).

Are you referring to offshoring or just plain outsourcing?

But yeah, isolation is a huge risk with those kind of projects too. That might be what you’re there for-- to act as a technical business analyst and keep the offshore developers on track with user needs.

G’day Jeff, and thanks for something to think about. I am just starting to think about my own model of development, and started looking at XP (especially stories) as a way to get some “shared vision” from my (in-house) customers. Cheers,

I know this is a bit off topic, but it’s not offshore, it’s overseas!
I’m sick of people calling them offshore developers. They’re not programming in the middle of the ocean floating around on a boat.

Drilling for oil can be done offshore. There is no such thing as offshore developers. It’s overseas.

AMEN! Thankyou!

I have an excellent suggestion on how to facilitate these meetings: How about, after hours, users calling get the option:

“Press 1 to speak to a representative in India about the problem, where its now daytime and people are awake and at work. Press 2 for the personal cellphone and/or home phone of a development team member nearest you. Be assured if they don’t answer the phone, our automated attendant will provide you with a personal home address, so that you can send a thankyou letter.”