The economy brings more bad news every day. The dollar is battered, interest rates are at record lows, salaries are shrinking, and overall unemployment is expected to hit 10 percent by year's end. Times are tough -- for everyone except software developers. It's time we gave credit where it's due.
According to recent studies, development budgets are actually increasing despite the recession, and the market for programming jobs will still grow by 7.4 percent in 2009. The U.S. Department of Labor ranks software engineering as the country's fourth fastest-growing occupation, a trend it expects to continue through 2016.
What gives? Surely in these lean times, in-house development teams are just like everyone else? They must be cutting corners, creating efficiencies, trimming the fat, and doing more with less?
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The sad state of software development
Not so, say the analysts. According to one IDC study, 7 out of 10 companies report that their in-house code bases have grown increasingly complex in the last two years. Often they're so complex that debugging is "problematic," leading to slower development cycles and escalating costs. Meanwhile, a study by the consultancy Voke found that application development is fraught with waste; a third of all projects are abandoned after being implemented, and of those that get deployed, only slightly more than a third meet user requirements.
That's one hell of a résumé. Yet in the midst of a recession, software development has garnered an ever-increasing share of the bottom line, thanks to a bravado mix of poor quality control, inefficient processes, missed deliverables, and broken promises. Doing more with less? Hardly -- we're doing less with more.
So let's take this opportunity to say to all the software project managers out there: Thank you. Thank you for keeping programmers in high demand, even when folks in other fields are losing their jobs. Thank you for ensuring us a never-ending supply of programming work, even when other projects are scaling back.
Dare we list the many ways you've made our jobs recession-proof? How about these, for starters: