This morning at work, I gave a presentation to a client of a project that I’ve spent the entire last week developing from scratch. It had been a tumultuous week to say the least; much of what I was doing was either tech I hadn’t touched in far too long, or brand new methodology that I was teaching myself on the fly. I had some successes and some roadblocks along the way, worked 15 hours on Thursday, had some hair-pulling and some fist-pumping moments alike. Needless to say, I was anxious to deliver the first milestone this morning and see how the client would react.
Fortunately, they ate it up. The client was so impressed with the work that I and my fellow developer had done on the project that they spent about fifteen minutes after the presentation asking us questions about our development methodology. Apparently they were impressed that I was able to engineer the UI and my colleague was able to code a functioning back-end in parallel (that is, independent of each other) and then merge the two together. It was a bit weird for me to hear that someone thought of this as a novel strategy, since it’s the one that I (and the companies I’ve worked for) have used for nearly a decade.
Mostly, though, we were just happy to hear that our hard work had paid off — that’s among the best thanks you can get for putting in a lot of hard hours on a project. I also had a good feeling about the fact that it had all been done by two American guys working for an American company (and delivered to a UK client, as it happens). In a world where it seems like most companies are choosing the Indian or Chinese contractor who puts in the lowest bid even if quality and expediency suffer, it was nice to not only be chosen for this job, but also to prove via our own skill and efficiency that all expectations could be exceeded.
And in the end, that seems like the best strategy to combat being totally offshored. Prove that you can kick serious ass, and then your reputation will precede you. Provide the kind of support that only someone who takes the time to learn and understand your business can, and make customers realize that paying the premium for quality work is often a sound investment. Otherwise known as “doing it right the first time”.
Times like this, I enjoy working at a small company where everybody knows each other and we all get the opportunity to put our skills to the test in a variety of areas. Although I’ve complained about being saddled with too many titles/tasks/responsibilities and bitched that I was becoming a jack-of-all-trades, today I was directly congratulated on that very ability to multitask and bring multiple skill sets to the same table. Although we Americans may not be able to compete with certain other countries on price, I’m quite sure that we can more than make up for it with a killer cocktail of versatility, detail orientation and ethic.
Where today’s trend seems to be for companies to get larger and larger (consolidating through buyouts, mostly) and increasingly arrogant along the way, working for a small outfit that hasn’t yet had its moral compass corrupted by the powerful stink of money is perhaps all the reward that a homegrown geek could ask for.