There are dozens ”perhaps hundreds ”of other tools that can enhance the programmer s capability and give him the power to master programs he could never otherwise complete. It is human nature (at least, mine) to try almost infinitely hard to succeed at something important. But even a programming bulldog will eventually give up when constantly stymied.
The question is, can you get the tools you need? Some tools (like a private office and a fast computer) are assets you know you will have or not have before you take a programming job. You will have to inform yourself about the other productivity tools available to you.
Unfortunately, many managers don t understand their programmers need for productivity tools ”particularly software productivity tools. They may lack this savvy because they never did programming work, or they did their programming before the advent of these powerful tools, and before the rise of the networked and mission-critical environment common in today s corporate computing. All too often I have heard a manager say, Why do you need that? or First time I heard of that when a programmer requests a widely known and reviewed productivity tool.
So it will probably be up to you to make a clear case for your manager s getting that tool. To explain why you need it and how it will increase your output ”even to find out that such a tool is available ” you ll need to keep up on developments in your field. But that s no burden . In fact, you are probably on various mailing lists that bring you, unbidden, IT newsletters chockablock with new-product evaluations and suggestions for free educational downloads. For the sake of your career you need to keep networking, going to users conferences, scanning technical Websites like mcpressonline.com and ibm.com, and buying and reading books and magazines aimed at programmers. When you learn about a new tool you think might help you in your work, clip the product review and have it handy to show your manager.
Your company s information technology department budget will typically be about 1 percent of the gross sales of the company, depending on the industry and the individual company. As the hardware continually drops in price, the majority of the costs are in personnel, including programmers. Spending just 1 percent of that budget on productivity tools and professional development for its programmers would generate a burst of productivity by addressing the greatest barrier to dynamism in an IT department ”the human- neuron -bound, plodding pace of its programmers.
You, like your IT department, should be willing to spend 1 percent of your annual salary on your own independent professional development ”programming books, programming magazines, and professional seminars and off-site meetings. Many corporate programmers do not spend any of their personal time or money on their own professional development, and they don t press their IT management for continuing professional development and productivity tools. And they and their company suffer for it.
It is easy to become complacent on the job; too many programmers do just that. To be less vulnerable to downsizing and more eligible for promotion, you need to become one of the best programmers in your department. But you won t outstrip your colleagues by arrogantly deciding to use your brainpower alone. Start calling on the power of productivity tools.