Idiots with credentials (rant)

Great, first the ACS, now Engineers Australia have fought for the right to accreditation of IT professionals. According to this article, I’ve now got 2 bodies wanting to accredit me.
No, I’m going to put it more bluntly. Two outdated, inconsequential organisations who wouldn’t know real world software development if it was stuck up their respective asses with a bamboo pole are interested in getting money from me so they can say that I know what I’m doing.
Well, guess what. Fuck you all. I actually know what I’m doing. And you can just piss off with your money making ventures in the guise of professional standards for the industry – attached to an accreditation scheme – would improve risk management practices in Australia and put “downward pressure” on IT project insurance costs. Who has the highest insurance schemes for their professions ? I’d guess doctors and lawyers. Two of the most heavily regulated and accredited professions on the planet. Why ?
Moving on anyway. We all know that having licensed drivers means we have no accidents on the road. All the current crop of “professionals” in HIH, Enron, Accenture (all with sparkling credentials I’m sure) that perpetrate these crimes means that it some validity. Yeah. When was the last time a computing professional was sent to prison because they didn’t perform their professional duties on such a significant scale ? And we want to follow that model ?
They’re idea of accreditation is going to continue the long standing “risk management by writing documents” tradition that is handicapping our industry. For people who think that “success == control” in software development have a read of this very interesting paper.
And as for this sparkling bit of advertising placed as news it is expected to be a sought-after expectation of employers, well, as somebody who actively interviews people and provides recommendations on hiring I can honestly say that I don’t give a shit if you’ve got a piece of paper that says you’re a genius. I’m more impressed to see that you’ve spent time writing Open Source software and show a geniune passion for the occupation that you’ve chosen. I’m more impressed if you can tell me about the activity in the industry and tell me about the books you’ve recently read. I’m even more impressed if you can show me your blog, or your postings where you’re helping others in the industry by answering questions about which you have expertise.
You know how to put downward pressure on IT project costs. ? Get people who know what they’re doing. It’s not that hard. But what it does mean is that the management of organisations need to show a bit of diligence in project operations.


6 thoughts on “Idiots with credentials (rant)

  1. I’m actually in favour of accreditation, but my requirement is that the accreditation process actually counts for something.
    It’s easy to sit back and say that management needs to get people who know what they do. Unfortunately, management doesn’t know how to identify such people. Let’s face it: your typical project manager doesn’t know IT, their boss (who recruits the project managers!) don’t know IT, and they don’t want to. What they want is a cheap and effective way to find people who _do_ know IT.
    The current push for accreditation is actually aimed at the consumers of IT services, not the producers. If the accrediting bodies convince managers that they know what they talk about, they’ll wrap up the game – just look at the MCSE for example. 🙂
    My current theoretical accreditation model is one based on reputation and peer affirmations “You know me, I know Joe, and I say Joe does a good job”. This is the model used by guilds for apprenticeships – an apprentice blacksmith from London could go to the guildhall in Liverpool and be accepted becuase the Liverpool guild trusted the reputation of the London guild, and vice versa. Pete McBreen pushes this a bit in “Software Craftmanship”

  2. Without sounding too rude, but you’re nuts if you think places like ACS and EA will implement a scheme like this.
    The scheme will involve paying a certain amount of money to either of these organisations for “training” and you’ll have to have so many hours of training each year to maintain your certification. These organisations are only interested because it’s a massive untapped cash cow.
    I actually agree with you about the scheme you propose, and Steve Hayes has similar comments on his blog.
    Finding good software people is no different to finding good plumbers, mechs, sparkys, lawyers and doctors. You ask other people, and you monitor the job they do over time.
    I wouldn’t know a good car mech if (s)he hit me with a spanner. And I’m sure there’s exactly the same variation in quality in their industry as in the computing industry. And they’ve got a certification scheme.
    However, you’ve hit the nail on the head about “management of organisations”. I would propose that a board of directors for every organisation has an experience software developer. That would go a long way to decrease costs as then you’d have somebody who actually understood what they were doing in a position where they could influence decision making.
    Too many organisations treat software development as some black magic that is outside the scope of normal good corporate governance (Like review of goals, business cases etc).

  3. I agree with Jon on that certification is more or less is a piece of paper which has no meaning, because what u learn over the years by experience and making mistakes, u just cant learn by getting certification, Say, a technolgy can’t be learnt just by passing a certification exam. That’s why most developers end up in wrong jobs, because they are interviewed by Managers and to some extent some senior tech guy. Managers normally look at the resume and see if the following person has some certification, if not they just throw it in their recyle bin. Classical example is Microsoft cerifications, which they claim to help in producing more so called Microsoft known tecnologists!.
    ACS seems to me following the same model, which seems to be money making exercise, and i presume they have to rely on these things to run this body as the funding by big corporations and by our beloved!! government is not enough. If this trend continues we will see more and more people getting certification and more brilliant people available in the market! and doing good inovative! (other then cut, copy, paste style in Microsoft) things.

  4. I’ve just re-read the Australian IT article – they barely mention how it will actually make IT more ‘reliable’, but in a few places they mention how much money will be made out of the fee’s. Gee, I wonder what the agenda is here? 🙂

  5. Jon:
    Hear, hear!
    You would love “Capitalism and Freedom” by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. He devotes a chapter to occupational licensure and how it lowers quality and enriches those that are licensed at the expense of everyone else.

  6. I’ve seen people passing C#, ASP.NET, WebService etc etc exams in 2 days without having to write a single line of code! MCPS? MCSD? It’s rubbish! Most question sets are already available on the internet and if if people do study without resorting to cheating, they’ll buy books and learn answers by rote! Tell them to write a single application from ground up which does something useful, you’ll get excuses like ‘I haven’t used that technology in a long time..’ etc etc etc…

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