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The Customer Doesn’t See Your Code

In his post of a few weeks ago, CEO Greg Galloway mentioned the Induction Program that is now under way at Fenwick Software to introduce four new consultants into the company. Amongst the fifty-four sessions scheduled over three months I have a workshop called: “You’re the Face of Fenwick Software.”  While I was preparing my material I had a chat with Peter Fenwick, he made a simple statement that subsequently became the theme of my session: “The customer doesn’t see your code.” (referring to the programming code).

We’re not in a technology business, we are in a people business.

Information Technology (IT) courses offered by universities, spend a great deal of time teaching their students the technical aspects of IT—including how to write good code. Obviously it is very important for an IT consultant to understand, and be good at delivering, technology based solutions. But our day to day work involves dealing with people—being able to build relationships, communicate, and empathise with our customers, is at least as important as being a good “techie”.

I have an interesting observation from many years of hiring IT graduates—the ones who had part-time work while they were studying, particularly if the job was in a service business (McDonalds, retail shops, restaurants etc.) were more useful more quickly than those who didn’t. They didn’t have to learn how to communicate with customers.

We’re not in a technology business, we are in a people business. All of our consultants have to understand our customers, understand their businesses, understand their problems, and understand their needs. Only then do their technological skills come into play.

If we do our job well, the customer will see a problem solved and a business benefit delivered. What they won’t see or appreciate is the quality of our programming code.

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