WOW Developers

Often times our failings and shortcomings in the real world define what we’d like to happen, what we wish existed.

When an airliner crashes, experts carefully comb through the wreckage to find out why. Engineers study the result to trace back to what the cause was, and then develop new materials, new processes, new technologies, new methods, that will prevent that from ever happening again.

Nobody likes it when software fails. Due to our dependency on technology today, when technology fails the result can range from mildly inconvenient to catastrophic. Unless you’re in the medical profession, catastrophic doesn’t mean life threatening—but something like Wall Street shutting down for four hours has a huge impact.

To a business, a software failure at a critical time results in a poor customer experience and loss of revenue. How the customer experience is impacted can define whether the repercussions impact future revenue.

All of this leads me to one inescapable observation: brilliant software developers are worth their weight in gold to an organization trying to go viral.

Bugs happen. Even the best devs, with a stringent and thorough QA dept backing them up, don’t solve everything. Different software combinations, different hardware, conflicts somewhere within the bazillion lines of code are inevitable. Yes, we strive for perfection. Yes, mistakes happen.

How do we recover from that mistake? First and foremost we have to communicate with the customer and let them know what’s going on. Good, bad or ugly, telling the customer the truth and what’s being done is paramount. They won’t always like it, but I have yet to see a case where giving the customer a “spin” story did anything but backfire somewhere along the line.

Second, the problem has to be identified, resolved and rolled out. This is where the best developers shine. They know the code inside-out, how it’s supposed to function, they know the system architecture like the back of their hand. When a glitch happens, they can dig in and identify where in the software work flow it failed. They can dig into the code and find the recalcitrant syntax error, the wrong call, the command that’s sending electrons to the wrong location.

That’s where the great developers come to the fore. Sure, great devs have fewer problems. But even more so, they can respond to a crisis, identify and get resolved a critical problem in short order.

There’s the old story of a consulting engineer who was asked to troubleshoot a critical problem with a machine. He went into the plant, looked over the machine, then after an hour of pouring over the controls and mechanisms, pointed to the offending part and said, “That’s your problem.” Sure enough, it was, and the next day with the repairs complete the machine was up and running.

The company received a bill for $10,000. The company balked, questioning the amount for one hour of work. The engineer responded, “One hour of work, $150. Twenty years of study and research to identify the problem in one hour, $9,850.” The company paid the invoice.

Great developers are like this. They know how and why the whole package is doing what it’s doing. When a glitch occurs, they know where to look and find problems quickly. They’re almost god-like in their knowledge of the system. Some say they can walk on water when it comes to software.

WOW developers. Worth their weight in gold.

There are three pillars of going viral: Great Product, Great Marketing, Great Support. When the crap hits the fan, and it invariably will, that WOW developer identifies and solves the problem fast, getting the resolution into the customer’s hands. The customer’s reaction? “Wow, that was GREAT service!” Which further strengthens your reputation and gives a second meaning to “WOW Developers.”

WOW Developers. If you don’t have a couple, get some. You’re going to need them.

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