My analytical mind sometimes gives me sleepless nights. One time, in its furthest parts, (4th core at 10 per cent capacity), it began to deal with one question – who actually is a professional in the IT area. We recognize many professionals in various areas of sports, science and technology, but within IT, since it is a very young industry, examples or ideals of professionals are rather scarce.
Quite obviously, the first thing that popped up was to find out what that professional actually is using Google/Wiki. One basic definition states it’s a person who earns living performing given activity. This implies that in IT everyone who gets rewarded for their work is a professional. An explanation like this just didn’t feel quite right, so I began to research even further.
I thought, a definition of a professional idol needs to be specified. And not only from the professional but also human aspect, as well. I needed to know what qualities should a professional posses to get employed and grow.
I also looked for a person that can definitely judge whether one’s a professional or not. I found out that client’s point of view is the most important, perhaps, as they eventually pay for my service and my colleagues who work with me on the same projects.
From the point of customer (team leader, product owner, superior) I discovered the following properties of a professional:
On time – this means deliver everything on time, be at required places on time, etc. What helps here is a simple and direct thinking without unnecessary complications. Focusing on problem and time management.
Faultless – an old saying states ‘Simplicity pays’. The less complicated system, the less mistakes. And the more meaningful tests, the less faults.
Nice and neat – every customer wants to be given nice results. There’s no room for ‘tape and wires’ coming out of the screen.
Reasonable price – there’s a famous triangle price-time-quality. If we fail to deliver on time and without meeting quality expectations, the price rises to discomfort of a client. On contrary, being faultless and on time, a higher hourly rate can be negotiated.
Demanding and listening – A crucial point. We have to realize that we materialize customer’s ideas. Failing to understand their ideas, and frankly often crazy ones, can lead to problems. My advice is to listen to customers till the end with no interruptions and without your own ideas. A soft direction and regulation of ideas will certainly be to client’s benefit, though. Synchronizing with a customer almost down to the personal level can also help. A professional can communicate with a person that is utterly unlikable.
Mindset – if I say I cannot climb a mountain, I simply won’t. If I say I deliver a project, I simply will. It’s good to realize that we create a system and it will be just as complicated as we make it ourselves.
From the point of colleagues it’s these extended characteristics:
Team work – a professional can work in a team despite personal misunderstandings with team members. They will do everything to deliver their work on time and quality.
Study – we need to realize that our duty is to study continuously. Studying and learning not only new technologies but also a business model and processes used by clients. Quite often during development itself.
Knowledge and skills sharing – this strengthens collegiality and team spirit. An idea that not telling something to a colleague, as to have an advantage over them, is simply a myth. If somebody is actually better than we are, they will make a leap whether we help them or not.
Keeping rules – A very important professional feature. Boarding on a train called company’s processes, one has to drive along, even when some of them may not be to their liking. I can always make suggestions while accepting if they are not taken. We have no clue from where and where to this train goes.
Excuses – a professional simply does not excuse themselves. Accepting responsibility for a mistake and saying openly and sincerely how things are, helps quite a bit. Mostly when we don’t delay it.
A drought period – don’t panic when a time in which you simply can’t get anything done comes. Even the most experienced come across this. Have a chat with colleagues, superiors, google, stack overflow, … a solution will show up.
A motto at the end:
Complicate complicated is simple!
Simplify complicated is ingenious!