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Working with Coders: A Guide to Software Development for the Perplexed Non-Techie

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Get introduced to the fascinating world inhabited by the professional software developer. Aimed at a non-technical audience, this book aims to de-obfuscate the jargon, explain the various activities that coders undertake, and analyze the specific pressures, priorities, and preoccupations that developers are prone to. In each case it offers pragmatic advice on how to use this knowledge to make effective business decisions and work productively with software teams.

Software projects are, all too often, utter nightmares for everyone involved. Depending on which study you read, between 60 and 90 percent of all software projects are completed late, run over budget, or deliver an inferior quality end product. This blight affects everyone from large organizations trying to roll out business change to tiny startups desperately trying to launch their MVP before the money runs out. While there has been much attention devoted to understanding these failings, leading to the development of entire- management methodologies aimed at reducing the failure rate, such new processes have had, at best, limited success in delivering better results.

Based on a decade spent exploring the world of software, Patrick Gleeson argues that the underlying reason for the high failure rate of software projects is that software development, being a deeply arcane and idiosyncratic process, tends to be thoroughly and disastrously misunderstood by managers and leaders. So long as the people tasked with making decisions about software projects are unaware of these idiosyncrasies and their ramifications, software projects will be delivered late, software products will be unfit for purpose, and relations between software developers and their non-technical colleagues will be strained. Even the most potent modern management tools are ineffective when wielded blindly.

To anyone who employs, contracts, manages, or works with software developers, Working with Coders: A Guide to Software Development for the Perplexed Non-Techie delivers the understanding necessary to reduce friction and inefficiencies at the intersection between software development teams and their non-technical colleagues.

What You'll Learn

Discover why software projects are so commonly delivered late and with an abysmal end product

Examine why the relationship between coders and their non-technical colleagues is often strained

Understand how the software development process works and how to support it effectively

Decipher and use the jargon of software development

Keep a team of coders happy and improve the odds of successful software project delivery

Who This Book Is For
Anyone who employs, contracts, or manages software developers--such as tech startup CEOs, project managers, and clients of digital agencies--and wishes the relationship were easier and more productive. The secondary readership is software developers who want to find ways of working more effectively as part of a team.

234 pages, Paperback

Published August 2, 2017

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Profile Image for R K.
488 reviews65 followers
August 12, 2022
There was nothing wrong with this book but I find the job field to be boring, so reading a book on software management was excruciatingly painful
Profile Image for Anna.
192 reviews
August 31, 2017
I don't write reviews often these days but I just had to say a few words about this book.


As a person who has worked in software development for some years, I had multiple "YES", "Exactly!" and "Spot on" moments while reading it. I wish more managers, product owners, stakeholders, bosses and other people, technical or otherwise, would read the book and grasp the wisdom.

There is nothing new in there. Alas, these simple truths about how to work with other people and how to not fail your project (or at least fail it less) are forgotten 90% of the time. I work as a tester and I wish I could make all of our management read the book and think about it for a while :)

What I absolutely loved about "Working with Coders" was the author's quirky sense of humour and the added "gems" of various funny (or sad) facts, articles and tips. I burst out laughing many times, and I've made a ton of "highlight this quote, it's soooo true" notes while reading.

To anyone who has ever worked with developers, project managers, scrum masters, testers and other weird and wonderful people: this book is for you :) It was pure pleasure to read, and it has so much reason and sense and logic in it. If only our management applied at least 30% of Patrick Gleeson's advice, our daily work would have been so much easier - and we'd have way more happy customers and income.
1 review1 follower
August 5, 2017
In “Working with Coders” Gleeson imparts some practical advice for non-technically minded professionals on how to work best with those of a more technical persuasion (i.e. your coders and software developers). Gleeson effortlessly covers relevant concepts like Agile, a software building process, and Lean, a buzzword with quite a bit of support behind it.

Perhaps not surprisingly the book has a nice down-to-earthness to it. Although some basics of programming are covered, it’s not a coding manual. Gleeson is still an experienced software developer and it shows. His somewhat quirky style is entertaining, but he sticks to the point. If you identify as a non-coder and need to deal with techy people, you need to check this title out. The book delivers on what it promises.

The main selling-point of the book, in my opinion, is its take on damage control. There’s plenty of potential minefields in software engineering projects and Gleeson is here to help you steer around them. The most important chapter in the book in my opinion is Chapter 9: Keeping Coders Happy..
Profile Image for Dimitrios Mistriotis.
Author 1 book39 followers
December 1, 2017
I bought this book in order to see how the outside world sees "us" and also to get inspired from /steal some material for my material on www.itarchetypes.com. Got a 2 / 2 here.

I think it is the first book on the subject so as a trailblazer it deserves congratulations. In some chapters author tries to describe what programming is and there things are becoming a bit hard to follow. With these chapters skipped, the rest of it has some very nice insights and concepts that would be beneficial to book's non technical readers. In some cases like trying to decipher why developers might be leaving your organisation or how to deal with "legacy" technology, we have pure gold.

Concluding the book has some more than great stuff, lots of intelligent insights and some material that should not be there at all. I would give 3.5 stars but since this is not possible, strong 3.

I will buy the second version on sight if we ever have one.
Profile Image for Atanas Nikolov.
204 reviews9 followers
November 24, 2022
The book is good, well-written, easy to understand. It was very easy for me to get, because I have some experience in the field, but I imagine some parts might be a little too mindbendy for some folks. With that said, it is a fairly useful book for anyone who doesn't want to work in the field, but has to work with people in the field.

I take 1 star because I think some parts could have been expanded a bit more (e.g. I'd put in at least a few more recommendations for future research, some words to look up, etc.). And also, for 2022, the book is a tad outdated in some elements, namely its chapter on testing and QA, and... well, remote work. I don't really fault it for it, after all, the book has been out there for a while now, but still.
312 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2018
IMHO it's a bit too verbose way of telling totally inexperienced, but aspiring, 'entrepreneurs' how to play a game of software development projects on 'easy' settings, occasionally talking to people actually doing the job (coders?, I guess testers, DevOps guys, UX team and others are just on holidays ;-). It's a nice premise for a book, but execution is rather poor. I gave it 3 🌟 mostly for the effort, as I don't recall reading anything modern trying to fill the human-coders void for a while now. If you read Peopleware or Poppendiecks' LSD there is very little you are going to learn here.
Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews

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