“Those guys that sells software are all thieves”
We were sitting at a cafe during a booth setup. Besides me, there were some decision-making figures from one of my most important clients. One of them uttered that phrase, and the chill fell on the conversation.
At the time, NiceFall took care of developing visual software for them!
Hearing those words spoken, I did not make any sound, although the desire to answer was really strong.
My referent took care of explaining who I was and that I was there precisely with the role of project manager of their latest visual product (the one that would have led them to be industry leaders in the presentation of their products, but that’s another story ).
You already have understood, from these first lines, that the title of this post is an ironic provocation. On the other hand, phrases like these are often heard in “payroll” departments.
I write this article because I work in the middle, between those who pay and those who perform, and I have the ambition to create greater mutual understanding. I hope the topic interests you and that you want to deepen it. Enjoy the reading.
Let’s go back to the story: biting your tongue and not answering often pays off and, by the way, leaves you time to think. I thought a lot about the strong statement of the client and tried to understand his point of view.
Actually, digital work, and above all software coding, has peculiarities compared to any other craft work.
Why am I talking about crafts?
Because companies and freelancers dealing with software development are actually nothing more than tailors who sew digital clothes around their client’s needs. They do not sell cold cuts or snacks, which are products designed for the customer and put on a shelf to almost sell themselves. Software development is a work of tailoring. It is made up of meetings, mutual understanding and, above all, research and development to find the best budget / solution compromise. The app store is the mall. The digital agency is the sartorial workshop.
No one raises objections when a tailor asks for € 1500 to make a tailor-made suit: everyone assumes that there is a great deal of size, pattern and sewing machine to get to the result. On the contrary, when someone asks us for € 1500 to program software, we always have the impression that he’s cheating us.
I tried to analyze the causes that, in common thought, therefore generalizing, lead to this thought:
- The product cannot be touched.
- The digital product itself is ethereal, formless.
- Everything is done on the computer and, you know, the computer gives the impression of doing everything by itself. Then tell me that “my 3 year old grandson can use it” …
- The product of your digital “tailor” is displayed on the same display in which you see a moment before an operating system that has cost billions of dollars in development and the comparison leads us to complain that the look & feel isn’t the same.
- We often read articles like this, which told the story of Riccardo Zacconi: between 2015 and 2016, the digital, online and video game entrepreneur sold his company, King Digital Entertainment, for almost 6 billion to Activision; King had created Candy Crush, the video game with 480 million monthly active users. [note 1]
Articles like this make you imagine a world where money is easy in software development and opportunities around the corner. In the real world, software development has very specific entrepreneurial dynamics, first of all a very high potential scalability, but this topic is worth discussing in a separate article.
- Software coding is a historically young profession:
If in the case of art and crafts we have been used for generations to deal with tailors, plumbers, masons, electricians, painters, artists, tilers, beauticians, hairdressers, etc., In our society we are dealing with software coding since less than 30 years. Many, in their individual experience, have never had a single contact with a coding professional.
We come to a first conclusion: if you’ve read everything up to here, you might be imagining a coding with needle and thread in hand. 🙂
Of course it doesn’t happen, at least I hope not! 🙂
In any case, consider that the work of the coder is not a manual work, but a work of research and development.
The evolution of coding frameworks (the platforms that allow you to create programs) is one of the tools that undergoes the fastest evolution of the moment. It is as if every six months a new model of needle and thread came out that makes the one that was used until the day before obsolete and inefficient. The most important job of the coder, therefore, is to chase this very fast technological progress in order to be able to supply products to its customers updated and in step with the times. If you want proof of this, ask any coder how many times in his career he had to change tools to produce his programs.
Whenever you approach a new tool, you have to learn how to use it and, of course, you can’t charge the cost of your training to your customer, not at least 100%. What happens, then, when you spend all these hours studying the new solutions? THE MARGIN IS REDUCED.
In fact, whether we are talking about a freelance who sells his time or a software house that pays employees to write code, the result changes little. Both realities support an outflow of resources (time or money) to keep up with the times.
Hope you like the article. If yes please share with your community, if not please comment below. I look forward to know your opinion!
Thanks for reading!