I’m not able to effectively live blog from the JISC Conference this year due to borked internet connectivity so I may not be capturing things as effectively as normal. The first morning of the actual conference and my first parallel session is ‘local developers using remote services’. I’m not sure the session quite addressed the ‘remote services’ element of the title but it was an interesting debate about why developing local developers is a good thing!
One of the main focuses for developers within the JISC context is DevCSI (Developer Community Supporting Innovation) and the Dev8D events. They have produced numerous case studies around how maintaining, training, promoting and praising a local development team within an educational institution is not just a good thing, but a real business benefit.
So what arguments can effectively be made NOT to buy an outsourced solution but to invest in your
I asked two questions:
- An argument often made is that it is not worth training and investing in developers as they are immediately poached by commercial organisations. How do we deal with this attitude?
- Developers = staff = an overhead. It is far more difficult to justify an overhead (particularly with current redundancy and pension concerns) that it is to justify an external procurement. How can we make the right arguments to senior management?
Here are some of the sounds bites from the ensuing conversation:
- Development is not driven by detailed specifications, written and then procured. We work in the world of the perpetual beta where you develop quickly, deliver quickly and then enhance, enhance, enhance. You need a local team to be able to do this.
- If you don’t touch and enhance software atleast every six months you already have a problem. How often are your commercial systems updated??
- We need to provide opportunities for developers to be able to have a career path within education without being forced in to management roles where their skills are not used.
- Local development is not a ‘cheap’ argument, it is a value for money argument. Overheads can be more difficult to justify than procurement.
- The only way to provide a good user experience is being able to respond often – a local development team is more effective at this than commercial outsourced solution.
- Maintaining a local development team does not mean you cannot make the best use of cloud services – it is perhaps arguable that good techies that understand the cloud architecture are essential to make it work?
I think these are arguments that may get lost in the rush to outsource – so thoughts we should all definitely keep with us.