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Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer

Is there still a future in development?

Disclaimer: I’m going on an uncontrolled rant here. Close this page while you still can.

I’ll be talking about my geographical region: Western Europe, where taxes are triple of what ends up on our bank account.

Reading advice: imagine me on a stage, wildly gesticulating while reading this.

I’m a software engineer, always have been, always will be.

Actually, no. Scratch that last bit. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to remain a software engineer.

I’m seriously debating my career path as a software engineer.

I’m even doubting the future of software engineering in general for my geographical region.

Why? What happened?

Let’s first look a bit at the past.

Geographically, my region is supposed to be a knowledge economy. It used to be a manufacturing economy, but because our taxes are so high, the wages, and costs became too high. the result is that nearly all manufacturing was moved to low-cost countries. *bummer*

That means a lot of people became unemployed, and do not have the necessary education to move into other roles.

So our government decided to put an emphasis on the knowledge economy.

People were encouraged to choose fields of study that would become more important in the future: Research, Development, Management, analytics,…

So we started training kids to learn how to code (CoderDojo’s), we’ve introduced re-education programs and we’re promoting IT to everyone!

Sounds like a good plan, right?

Except that these area’s don’t actually require a physical presence, because the result is virtual.

It can be done at the other side of the world just as well. That movement started already over 15 years ago.

Large corporations began moving their software engineering to low cost countries. Back in the days, this didn’t work particularly well, because the offshored workforce was too decoupled from the business. To put it bluntly: “They knew how to write code, not how to create software”.

*Notice how I speak in the past tense here.

Many corporations came back from that venture and said: “Never again!”.

Things changed

Knowledge levels in those “low-cost-countries” have risen dramatically. We used to be able to mock about a bit, but let’s face it: those guys are now skilled, have a reasonable understanding of the business they are working with, and they are much cheaper!

The only advantage that us, locals, still have, is a better understanding of the culture and the customer’s IT landscape as a whole.

Cost is the trigger

This is were we bump into the age old misery of IT. IT is considered a cost, not an investment. 30 years since thought-leaders have been saying that IT is not a cost, but a competitive advantage, the corporate world has still not seen the light.

IT investments are still decided upon by procurement departments and the contract still goes to the cheapest, not the best.

You know those quotes flooding the internet about software and quality?

I can guarantee that 9 out of 10 companies will pick cheap and fast.

or this one:

The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten

Sure, but the person deciding on the cheap offer got his bonus and is long gone by the time the project goes down the drain…

You know I’m right!

You might, naively, believe that eventually, quality will prevail and you’ll be paid top notch for fixing the mess left behind due to bad decisions. But deep down, you know that won’t happen.

Actually, I’d even debate whether quality coming from low-cost countries is bad. It might have been 15 years ago, but surely, not today anymore?

Killing off our own chances

As software engineers, we have to stay ahead of the game to remain relevant. That’s how we can keep our competitive edge and still earn money. So let’s introduce a “new” technology which fits closer to the knowledge and skills of today’s youth.

*peut* issue! How can we improve adoption of this new technology? Customers perceive any new technology as expensive and difficult.

Here’s an idea: Let’s make it easier with the right tools, and explain to customers that graduates know this technology already, and can implement it at a much lower cost.

What were we thinking?! Now customers actually expect us to implement whatever new technology, at a third of the cost, because we should be using students.

So I threw this on twitter, and it made my feed explode.

tweet - future of dev.png

Great news for the graduates. Not so great news for software engineers with 10+ years experience, because they’re all of the sudden too expensive.

And actually, while I’m at it, it’s not great news for our graduates either, because it’s great news for graduates in low cost countries.

That’s the thing with software. It’s virtual. You press a button and it’s shipped around the world in an instant, at no cost. It’s not like a prefab house that you have to move with a boat and put together on-site. (wonky comparison…)

So how do we go about?

I’m running the risk here of being a cynic, but I have actually put some serious thought into this.

As a pure developer, our chances are slim. we’ll experience an increasing competition in our local market from all the youngsters graduating IT studies, with heaploads of talent. At the same time, our overall region will be facing a though competition from low-cost countries that are becoming increasingly good at what they do.

So how can we still make the difference?

Well, for starters, we still make great IT Architects. We have a broad knowledge of both technology, functionality, business and economics. so we can put two and two together and move into a much higher view, guiding the overall IT strategy of companies.

But ask yourself: how do you become a great IT architect?

By having tons of experience as a software engineer/analyst.

So in another 10 years, the low-cost countries will have great Architects as well.

In other words, I can squeeze in another 10 years as an architect, and then I’ll need a plan C.

What else?

Well, in the current market, customers don’t actually like having long running development projects. they prefer to have an off-the-shelf semi-finished product which they can adapt to their needs. So the smart entrepreneurial Software engineer may create his own products and resell those to customers. The cloud based model (HCP for example) makes this a lot easier.

That means, becoming an entrepreneur, rather than just a developer.

But again, competition is stiffling, because 6 months after you release something, someone else will come up with something similar, which is slightly better and slightly cheaper. (App economy) So you have to keep on releasing.

Future of development

So I’m not saying development has no future whatsoever, but it’ll be very different from what we know today.

A freelance developer will have a hard time making a living, no matter how talented he is.

Succesfull developers will have to be more, than just developers. They’ll have to be architects or entrepreneurs. And that is no easy task.

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      Author's profile photo Jan Penninkhof
      Jan Penninkhof

      I'm afraid I have to agree. Although I happen to hear that software is supposed to be seen as a craft instead of commodity quite often. Unfortunately those phrases are usually only said in speeches to developers. In reality, IT is seen by most companies as a cost center and is therefore quantified by only one number: cost (not investment), and most managers have the objective to minimize cost.

      I think you're also right to look at a plan B and even plan C for after a development career. Perhaps even before the so-called age-discrimination kicks-in, which is another topic many developers are in denial about...

      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author

      We could ofcourse try to move to a low cost country ourselves.

      but that's a bridge too far for me 🙂

      Fact is, we've been sticking our heads in the sand for way too long, being distracted with the motivational speeches.

      We need to find a new *zing* which puts us back in the game.

      Architecture is nice

      Entrepreneur is nice

      But I'm still looking for the golden egg...

      and I won't let you all know when I find it 😀

      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author

      PS: in case you missed the underlying slings and arrows: It's all due to the fact that our governments have made employees to darn expensive around our neck of the woods.

      So probably, it's our own fault.

      Author's profile photo Christian Drumm
      Christian Drumm

      Hi Tom,

      I'm happy you took the discussion from twitter to SCN. I guess this topic needs more discussion then I can put in 160 chars.

      I'm actually not so pessimistic about the future of developers. First, I think your observation regarding skill levels in developing (cheaper) countries is totally correct. However, there is other important points. Not only the skill level of the developers is growing but also the whole economy. This in turn generates also additional needs for developers in the developing countries itself. Furthermore, IT and software penetrates more and more parts of our life. Areas that historically required no IT at all (e.g. you house) will in the future be packed with IT system and software. This will also generate needs for developers. Second, I don't think there is something like a developer career as of today. I guess only a very few people can earn a living by being just developers. Instead every developer requires as of today already additional skills, e.g. as a consultant, architect, entrepreneur, with addition process knowledge etc. I guess, as you mentioned,  there will be a shift in the future from developer skills in the direction of the other skills. However, this won't make the developer obsolete. Finally, the main point that separates software from other industries is, as you mentioned, that software is virtual. It doesn't matter were it is developed and build regarding the finial costs (in contrast to houses or cars). Therefore, every developer is basically in a global competition. However, this is also true for the industry worker. however, in contrast to this area it is much easier for a developer to compete. If one has a good product, solution etc. he can simply sell globally, whereas an industry worker would have to move to a developing country and work for lower wages.

      In summary, I thinks you are right. The world developers live and work in is changing. However, I'm not so pessimistic about this change.


      Author's profile photo Steve Rumsby
      Steve Rumsby

      I think this is inevitable. When new things first appear, only a few specialists can do the work. As the field grows, the basics become easier and accessible to non-specialists. It should be no surprise that "coding" is becoming a commodity activity. But coding !== development. Where the good people previously wrote code, now they have to let go and move on to other things where their skills are still required. You've already mentioned the "architect" role. I would suggest there's a "design" role in between, too. And I mean programme design, not visual design. Writing code from a specification is one thing, writing the spec is another thing entirely. Especially if it is going to be handed to a "coder" who writes code without thinking.

      But you are right that where-ever you move to now is likely to become commoditised eventually. That's the nature of IT. We keep finding ways to make things easier, which means they need less skill. The message is, keep looking for new things.

      This is not unique to programming, of course. Other areas of IT suffer from the same problem, as do non-IT fields.

      The world of Basis is changing in a similar way. With virtualisation, cloud, Iaas, Saas, etc. the need for people to be able to handle bare metal is going away. No longer do you need to know how to configure an OS and its storage, or even specify hardware to be bought. Technical architecture design (there's that architect word again) is now the place to be for SAP basis guys. Eventually that will go too.

      Look at BI. A few years ago, you needed BI specialists to produce nice looking reports and charts from your data. Now you can download Lumira for free and do it yourself, and do it pretty well. The skill now is not in producing the reports - that's a commodity activity - but in understanding the data.

      Not too many years ago, connecting a computer to a network required knowledge of subnets, netmasks, gateways, routers, etc. Now you buy a broadband router, plug it in, and instantly all of your devices can connect via WiFi without knowing how any of it actually works. You just need specialist help when it fails, which isn't that often.

      So, keep being curious. Keep exploring new things. And don't hold onto the past. Be ready to let go of the old and grab the new.

      Author's profile photo Robin van het Hof
      Robin van het Hof

      A freelance developer will have a hard time making a living, no matter how talented he is.

      I don't consider myself a hardcore developer, but as a freelancer I beg to differ. I genuinely think we can have it much easier making a living than employed developers.

      In the current economy, having a permanent position at an employer doesn't mean a thing anymore, you can be laid off any minute. Freelancers naturally face end of projects all the time, but they have greater flexibility, from both personal, professional and tax standpoints.

      As you rightfully state, it may take a bit of entrepreneurship, but in the end I'm certain you will be better off.

      And although it may sound quite logical -- the actual execution is where your entrepreneurial skills are needed -- I'm willing to share you my one-and-a-half golden eggs, income-wise:

      1. Do not depend on one single source of income (i.e. do not depend on an income generated by a fulltime project), which leads me to the true golden egg:

      2. Find a source which generates recurring income for you, without you actually putting much effort into it.

      That 2nd point is where the magic is, and as (skilled) developers, we have at least a dozen different options to make that happen.

      Author's profile photo Matt Fraser
      Matt Fraser

      Find a source which generates recurring income for you, without you actually putting much effort into it.

      The famed "automatic pilot" that most seek but few actually find. Still, we keep looking. However, how will you do this as a consulting developer, when designing a custom solution for your client is the added value they are paying you for? That still seems like "hands-on" work, whether done on-site or remotely. Now, if you have developed the next killer app, and all you need to do is keep selling copies of it, that's an autopilot (Tom's "Entrepreneur" model), at least for a little while, until someone else comes along, as Tom says, and offers a better, faster, cheaper version and now you need to go back to work to either improve yours (arms/app race) or develop something else new entirely.

      So perhaps the golden egg is not to develop the app, but to develop an easy, intuitive app-development tool, so you can sell that to all the would-be app developers out there. Of course, pretty soon someone will use the tool to build a better tool, and eventually the tools are designing and building better copies of themselves, and then...

      ... we have the Singularity. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author

      Well, you're not just a pure "programmer/freelancer" are you?

      You're an entrepreneur

      otherwise you would never have been nominated as a mentor 🙂

      that's my point.

      You have to be more, more than just a programmer.

      Author's profile photo Wouter Peeters
      Wouter Peeters

      Interesting remark by Steve Rumsby that you have a "Architect" role, a "Design" role and a "Developer" role. Maybe the Design role is more of a Technical Analyst role?

      As I mentioned on Twitter, I believe most of the companies do not know what 'technical debt' is. This is the result of cheap and fast implementation. Young/graduate developers are able to build anything with the right amount of time - but most of those developments don't stand against the change of time.( extensible, maintainable, reusable? ). Also greater chance that defects are discovered in production, which is often more expensive in total.

      To fix that part, the years of developer experience comes in, or the "Design" role or even greater the "Architect" role. I wonder if these roles are still kept locally instead of offshore, if even kept at all.

      But overall, I agree that the skillset must widen in order to stay in demand: developers should be analysts too, notion of testing, notion of design, notion of user experience. Keep a customer/solution overview, be able to advise the customer and correct/give feedback.

      Maybe some customers also start measuring quality/technical debt - as Tom Van Doorslaer mentioned on Twitter, manually or automatically, but than again I can imagine that isn't easy with SAP codebase in comparison to others platforms/technologies.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Do I agree? Yes and No.

      Yes -- I agree that cost is everything to companies and more and more work is going to go offshore due to low cost and it has already been happening for more than a decade and will continue to happen.

      No --

      The no of jobs going to offshore are decreasing and some companies are already started reversing it.

      GM Moves IT In-House As Offshoring of IT Slows - The CIO Report - WSJ

      1)  Quality is for for sure one reason not just because of lack of quality people but time difference, communication gaps etc.

      2) Quality of life for software engineers  in so called "low-cost-countries" is getting better due to better economy and lot of salary raise and gap is narrowing down between the cost.

      3) If you are good you are just good people will pay more and I would like to take the challenge even if there is more competition and I hope there are lot of them who share my feeling 🙂

      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author

      well, my region is always lagging behind on everything. the offshoring wave is only just starting to hit us.

      If you're good, you'll always have work. True. and I do not have a single problem selling myself to customers in all sorts of roles, yet they're constantly haggling over my pricetag...

      The real issue, is trying to sell projects, which involve a lot of development.

      those projects always go to the cheapest.

      And I'm no fan of bodyshopping...

      Author's profile photo Simone Milesi
      Simone Milesi

      i live in Italy so it's your same region @Tom Van Doorslae and i feel exactly the same you so clearly put on words.

      And in Italy, to be honest, the situation is even more darker and pessimistic even if IT endured the bad economy moment pretty well (comparing other sectors).

      Now company requires (last job offer i received a couple of week ago) an IT Manager with a page of requirements and task (from managing IT consultant to choose the best roadmap for future developments).
      Sound nice and challenging until i read the offer carefully: they require this figure for 2 months.

      So, where is the quality of the work done in this? (Sadly it's not the only one i saw/received)
      Preparing a Roadmap in 2 months? For a company IT department?
      If i'm lucky and smart like hell 2 months are just the time i need to find out weakness and strenght!

      i do not know where my future will take me, really.
      Sometime i think to change radically my career, still i do my best to keep up with what i love to do: develop and create software.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I see where you're coming from, but I'm convinced we are putting too much effort

      in maintaining the no longer viable model of pure implementation consulting (both

      technical as sap functional). While working together on projects was the reason we

      were into it, circumstances are no longer allowing this.

      It's like the big silo wave that rolls up and down, I think the future is there for the 'A-team'

      kind of enterprises/entrepreneurs. All with a common set of technical skills, but each one

      with his/her specialty on top of that. (people management, deep business knowledge,

      marketing/sales skills,..) With the big difference that the 'soft' skills and 'extra's' are now

      the real reason you'll get picked and payed correctly.

      This will surely mean that quite some people will be left behind, but let's face it, certainly

      in our region there are and will be enough companies left that are just happy with maintaining

      the status quo on their controlled cost department 😉

      Author's profile photo Robin van het Hof
      Robin van het Hof

      Couldn't agree more!


      I might get stoned for this, but I am 100% convinced it is way more beneficial to hire an A-team group of consultants/freelancers/rockstars instead of one or more of the big implementation firms (I'm especially talking at you, European central governments!)

      Although these A-teamers might come at a higher rate, you only need 25-50% of what the Big Firms bring in, (less overhead, no 'learning-on-the-job' consultants, and since every single person is adamant to make the project a success, you generally end up in time within budget)


      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author


      I remember an inspiring guy saying once: "Quality isn't job #1. Being totally frigging awesome is!"

      But apparently, being Cheap has become job #1 for some...


      Author's profile photo Robin van het Hof
      Robin van het Hof

      Totally friggin' agree. Well, as seen on SAPPHIRE:

      EDIT: Hmmm, not sure why the tweet isn't shown embedded, but here's the picture:

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Robin, I agree completely and, in fact, I've always been recommending for our projects to find some freelancers with specific expertise instead of "one size fits all" consultancies. But, as Matt pointed out, unfortunately management seems to be interested in covering their behinds more than anything else.

      Author's profile photo Twan van den Broek
      Twan van den Broek

      Thought provoking blog Tom, again, good job!

      Maybe the problem is even bigger than 'only' for developers. The whole SAP consultancy market is changing rapidly nowadays. Like your example of the skilled developer, think of an experienced FiCo consultant (20yrs project experience), what will S/4HANA in the public cloud bring him?

      Guess we all need to move to Walldorf and apply for a job at SAP 😉

      Kind regards


      Author's profile photo Matt Harding
      Matt Harding

      Hi Tom,

      Love the controversial nature of your post with definitely more than a few realities thrown in.

      I think Twan is answering this in the right direction.  If we think about SAP developers, versus pure custom software engineering in the application world; then it's a slightly different discussion. Related but let's focus on development in the SAP space.

      The thing which is obvious for me (but so few implementation consultants it seems), is that there is a big difference between implementation development and custom development.  Implementation development is usually the type of development on a greenfield implementation, that a functional specialist (who practically knows ABAP already) designs a solution for that requires an enhancement or two. So they throw these documented enhancements over the artificial business/technical fence that exists to get done.  These, I agree, are not what you want to base your career on (though an architect role can be another role to engage in).

      Custom development, on the other hand, typically requires solving a problem that is not possible with off-the-shelf software, at least without some innovative thinking (that may result in no custom development). This is where the art of Software Engineering,  development, etc; comes into play and what people should get paid big bucks for.  Not only that, this is exactly the type of development where the developers should be in the room, talking with the business to understand the requirements, and if possible, driving the design discussions. 

      So if you're a developer who can do an effective design thinking workshop and methodology with end-users, understand what capabilities are present in off the shelf (SAP) solutions with some help of some functional consultants or customer subject matter experts; understand what good usability is, not necessarily build what the users are asking for, but proposing iteratively what they need, know how to effectively build and test a quality solution, plus understand and are passionate about the latest solution technologies and design patterns that fit the organisation you are building for to not architect a support nightmare and finally to know what you need to go and learn if you can't outsource the bits you don't know; then I think you're set for the future. 

      In other words, a (good) developer should never just develop to a spec but be a valuable resource from start to finish of the project driving the final and correct outcome.  With the threat of S/4HANA making functional consultants more (but not completely) redundant, this all-encompassing developer role for the bits that don't fit ,is more important than ever.  But hey - this is my opinion and is why I decided to move from Enterprise Architecture back to a not-so-cheap developer - as I see a real need for this going forward.

      Lastly, getting passionate and potentially capable junior developers with a flair for engaging the business is still valid and worthwhile for companies, as developers technologies may change, but the ability to learn them does not.

      Anyway, just wanted to put my 2 cents in as I believe there is a strong message (to CxO's, IT leaders and business stakeholders) that needs to go out about delivering on "good, fast and cheap" but with quality software engineers/developers being the key.



      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author

      Anyway, just wanted to put my 2 cents in as I believe there is a strong message (to CxO's, IT leaders and business stakeholders) that needs to go out about delivering on "good, fast and cheap" but with quality software engineers/developers being the key.

      I agree that this message must be received by those CxO's, and by procurement departments. But we have been shouting this for years already.

      Custom development, on the other hand, typically requires solving a problem that is not possible with off-the-shelf software, at least without some innovative thinking (that may result in no custom development). This is where the art of Software Engineering,  development, etc; comes into play and what people should get paid big bucks for.  Not only that, this is exactly the type of development where the developers should be in the room, talking with the business to understand the requirements, and if possible, driving the design discussions.

      Funny you should say that. What made me boil over was exactly such a project where those high end software engineers were too expensive.

      Maybe I'm just looking at the wrong clients...

      Author's profile photo Matt Harding
      Matt Harding

      Unfortunately many businesses still do not have the right leadership to see what is fit for purpose or won't take any accountability or take any risk, and hence will pay more for a company they can sue if things go wrong, rather than a company with the right people to do the right job efficiently to get the right outcome.  It's reality still but I'm betting on this reality changing as the status of enterprise rock star developers takes off (hopefully this gets to your region at the same time).

      FYI - I feel your pain as I've seen really massive $ blow-outs on projects where I've recommended the project needs SAP developers familiar with end to end custom development and not just implementation developers. I wish it made me feel good, but it actually also hurts as this causes custom development to be seen as something to avoid at all costs, even if it is the right thing to do.

      Author's profile photo Matthias Steiner
      Matthias Steiner

      Hi Tom,

      I take the opposite view on that matter:




      Author's profile photo Michael Appleby
      Michael Appleby

      FAST service CHEAP won't be GOOD initially and won't be CHEAP after the initial deployment.  Pick your poison carefully.

      Cheers, Mike

      SAP Technology RIG

      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author

      The only way of having something Good, Fast and Cheap, is if a smart entrepreneurial developer noticed a gap in the market, invested his own time and money in creating a solution, and can then resell that solution to multiple customers, keeping the pricetag low.

      That way, the customers get something Good, they get it cheap, and they get it instantly, the moment they realize they need it.

      And it's easy to say something like that in a secure environment where innovation is the core business (like SAP).

      It's not so easy to do this as a small partner stuck in the classic consulting model, and barely having the budget to run such internal projects... It comes down to late hours and coding through the night on a trial account to be able to ship something.

      But now I'm describing what I'm doing to get around the problem. thruth is, I'm not the least bit worried about myself. I'm in a luxury position, knowing all these new technologies, having the connections at SAP. Having support from my own organization...

      But I'm not the only employee here. And I'm an exception. There are other colleagues here that are stuck in the maintenance modus of a dying consultancy model.

      So what all of you are saying here is: 1 out of a 100 will find a way to make profit out of those new technologies, and the other 99 get left behind, being swamped by low cost workers. (arbitrary numbers)

      Do you see that there is an issue on a larger scale?

      - It's not SAP's fault for bringing out new technology.

      - It's not IT in general's fault for evolving

      - It's not the low-cost-countries fault for being cheap. That's just smart global economics.

      The source of the issue lies in globalization, and the western world (governments) not being able to make themselves competitive again, because our own people are resisting every change to their daily life.

      I'm so deviating from what originally made me boil over... 😏

      Author's profile photo Christopher Solomon
      Christopher Solomon

      You forgot to mention robots. Yes, robots will be the end of us all!!! 😛

      That is "tongue in cheek" but I mention it for two reasons. (1) yes, the ol' "<insert thing> will replace us...we will be out of the job" never seems to fully happen...there will always be a place for you....but maybe you will have to look a little harder to find it and/or "evolve" as well (2) I mention "robots" but really this means "keep in mind the unknown factor as well"...there always exist the possibility of a "third" option....something out there coming that you are not even aware of yet or have considered....such as "thinking machines" developing quite suitable code as well (especially as AI develops further and the whole IoT "network" becomes more developed). Always have a backup plan! haha

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Awesome blog, Tom, and I'm so glad it's not just me having similar thoughts. Also thank you for saying it out loud that IT is usually treated just as a cost center. Sure, there might be 10 or so "visionary" companies with huge budgets, but the rest of the corporate swamp - "Innovation", right... dear lord, whom are we kidding?

      As a practical suggestion - you might want to look at the US market where companies are still willing to pay extra for glamorous European accents to add some flair to their SAP project. 🙂 Also I'm finding there is actually quite a demand for people able to fix what was done by the cheaper workforce:


      Author's profile photo Matt Fraser
      Matt Fraser

      I can fake a European accent..... will that work?

      Author's profile photo Michael Appleby
      Michael Appleby

      How about a pirate accent??  Arrr!

      Cheers, Mike

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Matt, if your name had 'van' or 'von' in the middle that might work. I'm pretty sure that alone adds like 20% to the billable rate. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Helmut Tammen
      Helmut Tammen

      Hi Jelena,

      could you please post the american job center pages here? I speak understandable english with a perfect german accent and I'm always open for 20% higher billing rates. But my name misses the 'von' 🙁 which I probably could buy somewhere 😀 .

      Author's profile photo Steffi Warnecke
      Steffi Warnecke

      Your name is "Helmut", you don't need a "von". ^^

      Author's profile photo Helmut Tammen
      Helmut Tammen

      Hi Tom,

      normally I wouldn't have read this article cause I think that this is not the right place to discuss such topics. However because I personally know you I decided to do so and did not regret it.

      I agree with you regarding the developer job. We will not be able to earn our money with programming until we retire (maybe I can cause I'm a bit older than you 😉 ).
      As you wrote at the beginning of your article people had to find new jobs when manufacturing went to low-cost-countries. In these days and in the future people also have to find new jobs cause development goes to those countries.

      So I think that the future for us consultants lies in consulting. In the past a lot of us called themselves consultants but worked as developers. If we concentrate on real consulting (and this can be business as well as technical consulting) we have a good chance to survive cause consulting is done face-2-face and people from India have a long way to Europe.

      So, enhance your skills (what you are already doing) and relax.

      Best wishes for your future


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member


      since you have brought up economics here's a thought or two: as low cost providers compete on cost they still want to move up the value chain and seek higher prices eventually as their suppliers are becoming expensive to them as well. think of turnover in those off-shore centers.

      another area (or OTOH) is security. customers are becoming more and more leary of dealing with overseas providers, so trust, personal attention and instant availablity will become your competitive advantage. think only of time zones when your customer is ready to go to bed and your off-shore provider wants to have a requirements meeting.

      finally, there's still network latency and those closer to customer's decision centers can still deliver quicker. that advantage may be very slim, but it's still there.

      last but not least, look at other professional service providers like attorneys and doctors. they have been able to protect their investments in education and skills and most people still prefer a face-to-face consultation to one done remotely.

      know a little bit about everything and a lot about a thing or two.

      good luck,


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Tom,

      Our company uses developers from all over the world. We have people from India, Nordics, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and South Africa helping out developing our solutions.

      Hourly cost is seldom a defining factor for us.

      We seek skill, independent and great developers that can think for themselves and can deliver great code and solutions without having to create specifications that take more time to create than coding the stuff yourself.

      I think the replies from Matt Harding  Matthias Steiner and Robin van het Hof sort of covers the answer to this:

      You have to be frigging awesome .

      My advice to you is to increase your hourly rate as you bring more value to the customer (Hope our development partners are not reading this  😉 )


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      So True

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Good text! This kind of discussion is always productive. I do believe the future is optmistic. The IT industry is being evolutive.

      The fact of turning to low-cost countries does not reduce the chances, but a real opportunity to be different and improve your skills. The low skilled people in those countries, are now becoming high skilled (fact). The same happens with the hierarchy chain and hundred of other professionals. The distances has gone as you said and I would mention that the same scenario will impact another thousand of professionals in different areas. The Executives are just following the river.

      The direction is unique. The technology exists to facilitate, improve and become out lives better, as well as the crafts (IT) been used to do that. Those who achieve that at low cost, wins!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I've noticed that many new IT workers, and even developers have a weird way to jargon.  They say more than what they do making things sound too complicated when in reality they are not.

      Since I got out from college, so many new words had been incorporated into the field and people may have different way to call the same thing depending from what OS they are coming from.  Being fresh from school has some advantages, but so to be old.  When you are old, you know what you are doing and you can easily spot what is needed to be done in order to solve a problem.

      Let's say, the new developer needs system x to find a bug on an application; I many need to know what you were doing when that happened because I understand the necessary cycle for any application.

      Author's profile photo Christopher Solomon
      Christopher Solomon

      I prefer "experienced" instead of being called "old". 😛

      Author's profile photo Michael Appleby
      Michael Appleby

      Not sure old necessarily means a person knows what needs to be done, but agree that experience (and the scars that come with it) tend to help in that respect!  😏 😉

      The hardest lesson for new developers to learn, in my experience, is knowing when to challenge the requirements. 

      Cheers, Mike

      SAP Technology RIG