How Can I Find Good Programmers In South Florida?
Most of the entrepreneurs we are meeting at EDC are complaining about the lack of good programming skills in South Florida.
A typical startup story reads like this: “We had been preparing this pitch for weeks… The potential client, out of New York, could indeed become our biggest customer to date. On the big day, fresh off the plane from Miami, we made our way to our customer’s headquarters in Manhattan. During the presentation, the eyes of the VP of purchasing gleamed over our product demo. The CEO of the organization also popped in and got nods of approval and thumbs up from his team. Everyone was enthused until the COO blurted from behind his laptop screen: “… And we assume you have an app for this?..”
The wheels were spinning… An app??? We had had countless talks about going mobile, but the idea had never materialized. We all threw sheepish looks towards Eduardo, our “VP of technology” from ITT Tech in Hialeah…
“Of course, we do! We have launched the beta phase and will be ready with the production version by the end of the month.” Our CEO, knowing full well the limitations of our technology department, looked like he had just been issued a death sentence….
Is South Florida lacking programming skills? My humble opinion is: no. There are plenty of decent schools, and hordes of motivated geeks coming from the Caribbean region. If you don’t believe it, try throwing a “programmer wanted” ad on Craigslist. It is comparable to throwing a sardine to a school of tarpons in the Florida Keys.
If South Florida is not short of programming talent, how is the general sentiment explained? It is triggered by observing poor product development. If programming talent is available, why are good technology products so hard to develop?
Technology management skills are in short supply. Anyone can take online lessons, run through a few tutorials and teach themselves open source programming such as PHP. However, due to the fact that the web has matured into functional products and applications, products can nowadays get quite complex to develop. For example, programming a site like “MySpace” to showcase the profiles of your users is not really innovative. Current products tend to be more complex and sometimes more encompassing, for example: online accounting suites. As products get increasingly complex, they move further out of the reach of the jack-of-all-trade programmer. A company wanting to develop an innovative product must nowadays rely on a solid business analyst and data architect to think through and design the software before coding. Gone are the days of hackers who will “figure it out”. Software is now highly modular, with multiple user levels, integrations, and business rules that have to be planned in advance in order to consider them in an overall business and software road map context.
This evolution in product complexity, coupled with a programming service that became commoditized (try Elance.com or freelancer.com), shifts the responsibility for good software programming onto the software management team. This team is typically made up of a business analyst, an architect, and a project manager. Managing a software project requires both academic training and real-world project experience. Unfortunately, South Florida residents, often coming from abroad, have not had solid opportunities for either. That is why good software project management is hard to come by and this also explains the poor quality of product development in the area.
So, to answer the title question: South Florida entrepreneurs, take heart! Because good programmers can be found locally. The key is to make sure that they are well managed and your company will be off to the races!