An open letter to IT Management

June 14, 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

It seems that you have forgotten a something so I want to take a moment of your time to remind you. I, your developer, am a human being. I have a life that is not defined by my job and I have loved ones around me that want to interact with me in real life, not just in instant messenger screens.

I am truly sorry that company revenues are down because of the economic crisis, however, from my vantage point, the company’s performance, in good times or bad, is your responsibility. You would not accept “I did not foresee the consequences of that code” as an acceptable excuse for failure, so I don’t see why I should have to see “We didn’t see this coming” as one.

Instead of taking the responsibility for the financial problems the company is now facing, I see you implement “cost cutting measures”. Most of these measures seem to be simply removing the benefits of my job that help me justify showing up each day. In the worst cases, I see you laying off my friends – other developers – or asking me to take a salary cut. It seems that you feel that words of encouragement after doing these things should be laced with such phrases as “work harder”, “burn the midnight oil” and “all pull together”. To me, this means you want me to work longer hours, for no additional benefits, for a company that you own or own stock in. As I see it, I am putting in all the work but you are reaping all the reward.

So here is my request to you. I will work harder for no additional pay or even less pay to help your company survive if you agree to the following.

  • A member of senior management must be present in the office any time a developer is “burning the midnight oil”. If I have to work 6 days a week for 3 months to make up for a failure in management then so should you.
  • An equal number of senior managers (not middle managers) have to be laid off or take pay cuts in each round of layoffs.
  • Before you cut out my one conference a year where I get to learn new things and actually become a better developer for you, you cut our your management retreats, junkets, and off-sites. If you’ve got to get away to talk, do what we do, walk down to the coffee shop and blow tomorrow’s lunch money on a Latte.

I really think you have lost sight of this one very important fact. Nobody hires us because we have a kick-ass management team, they hire us because we write kick-ass code. When you can do that, you are as valuable the company as I am. Until then, I, your developer, am the most valuable person in your company and it’s time you woke up and fetched the coffee.



Your Developer