I mentioned that I was writing another article last week. Well I finished it and sent it in – I don’t know yet if it will be published, but I thought I’d share some of the ideas with you all.
I decided to take 2 routes. Route 1 was deciding to get someone in house to handle your library programming projects (versus a contractor) and Route 2 was how to actually handle the project once it has been offered to you. I am working on a HUGE application (as I mentioned before) at work and what better time to explain the process to others?
I went over some of the benefits of having someone in house – like the fact that they’re always there. I constantly have people stopping by my desk to ask me questions, ask for upgrades, explain what they meant, etc. This helps me with my programming and I think it helps the staff (the users) feel better about the project as a whole. With a contractor you usually only see them once in a while. We had one that only came in one a month to talk to us – and even then not everyone had time to talk with him. Most recently we had a contractor who we have never met. All communications were over the phone and only 2 or 3 people participated in those conversations even though 20 or so of the staff would have to use the application.
Why did we have contractors? Well the first one was before I learned PHP and the second one was there because our IT team (me included) could not figure out how to achieve the result we were looking for. So, even if you have a programmer in house, you may still have to hire and outside consultant, but it will be less frequently (I hope).
I talked about planning the project – meetings, flow charts, more meetings. Which is interesting because I’m reading The Accidental Library Manager right now and Rachel suggests that you have as few meetings as possible and keep the on point and on schedule. I agree with her 100% – but it just never seems to happen that way when you’re talking about changing the way people have worked for 5 or more years. Plus, you as a programmer have no idea how people have been working for the last 5 years, so you have to spend time sitting with them and listening to them until you understand what goal they need to reach – the staff of your library is now your user – I repeat that a lot.
Well I hope you all get to read the entire article, I included some stuff here that I didn’t get to fit in – so you got a sneak peak and the bonus features.