Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Should you pay less for multi-skilled consultants?

While clicking away at the multiple choices in my R8.5 Application Development update exam this morning I came across a piece of Javascript that I didn't comprehend. It was one of those questions that gives you a scenario and asks you which piece of code would Randy have used to accomplish the desired outcome and I can't go into more detail without violating the conditions of the test.

Anyway, I probably failed that particular question (but comfortably passed the test anyway) and it left me with an interesting question about the need for self-education with software development ie. How do you put a limit on the education effort that you need in order to be a professional application developer with Domino R8.5? Obviously if I try to learn ALL of Javascript (ha!) then I'm probably spending too much time Learning and not enough time Earning, but at least I can justify the self-education effort with Javascript on the grounds that it enhances my Domino programming abilities.

So (tongue in cheek and waiting for the barbed responses) how do individual Domino Developers who have decided to learn Sharepoint and .NET (or Google Apps or any direct competitor to Domino) justify selling themselves at their same old consulting rates for Domino work, since their Domino skills must inevitably have suffered from the decrease in their staying-current-with-Domino time? Should customers demand to pay less per hour for multi-skilled consultants on the grounds that those consultants obviously can't be fully skilled in any technology - Jacks of all Trades and Masters of None? That's not a slur on the technical ability or character of anyone, but there is obviously a limit on how much technology any of us can learn. Or perhaps more accurately, they might have been Masters in the older versions of Domino but are no longer at the Bleeding Edge of the Yellowverse.

I'm interested in knowing how other people decide how to put an upper limit on what they learn with Domino and (if they are moving to the Dark Side) at which point do decide to stop the serious self-education effort with new Domino technology such as XPages, Themes or Lotusscript classes.

Anonymous posts are acceptable (and expected).



John Turnbow said...

You've heard the old adage "Jack of all trades, master of none", these are generalists. Yes, they should get paid less, they are usually competent in many ways and they usually don't know the full capabilities of a product like Notes or Sharepoint and can not use these products to their fullest extent.

I have multiple Black Belts in martial arts. I only teach one style as that is the one I have mastered.

Oh, only a coward does not post his or her name!

Just an opinion, that and $3.00 will get you a cup of coffee. LOL

ChrisC said...

Interesting point. Suppose we are all trying to position ourselves in different ways (a good thing) - it is all about having depth of skills and knowledge in a particular area - sometimes having skills outwith a certain area can bring things to the table - especially in the web development world (RIA, Javascript frameworks etc).

You don't get these things in manuals or training books - you get them by working on projects (or by using others knowledge).

My experience in the dev world is 15 years Domino / Notes - but I have serious experience in the above as well as SQL integration / DB2 integration yada yada...

I don't have the skills of a network guy or infrastructure guy - I have a network of people to call on though...

Horses for courses is what I am saying (I think!!)

Oh yes before I bore everyone to tears - skills / knowledge should be market driven (current customers / emerging trends) - not the other way about..

Richard Schwartz said...

I have always felt that the key to justifying higher rates is by stating that your specialty is "Notes AND...".

There are two ways that this works to your advantage. I call them "intersection" and "union".

The positioning for intersection goes like this: "Notes experts can help you with Notes. I'm a Notes AND... expert, and I can help you with your specialized jobs that require skills and experience at combining these two things."

The positioning for union goes like this: "Notes experts can help you with Notes. X experts can help you with X. Notes and X are both about collaboration. I'm a collaboration expert with expertise in multiple tools and environments, and I can help you at every level of this job, from defining the problem correctly to picking the right tools and environment for the job, and making the best use of tools and environment to solve your business problems."

Note that for either intersection or union, the "AND..." doesn't necessarily refer to a technology. It could be a vertical market ("Notes AND medical") or a business methodology ("Notes and Six Sigma"), etc.

Sharepoint can fit in with either the union or intersection positioning. You can select which way to go for any given customer and project.s