Saturday, June 16, 2007

Measuring the impact of the Sales Force

K. Scott Allen solves a common problem for developers - how to define the impact of what salespeople do.

I first became familiar with this phenomenon when working for a software development outfit. I really liked the salesman (singular), who taught me the term "Salesman's License". This refers to the fact that the customer is always right and can only be sold if the requested feature is "in the pipeline". He took some license with the current state of our products, based on what he thought we could do or were actually thinking about doing.

Thanks for helping me find a vocabulary to talk about this issue! ;^)

How do you do it?

I'm beginning to crack. I'm skimming more and more, compiling a few quick samples rather than building a useful app, adding more blogs than I drop on more and more subjects. I know other people have expressed this, so....

How do you handle it? It must be easier when, say, WCF development is your job. You are surfing one of the first waves of a new technology. I'm more of a generalist in my job. I may have to handle "my system doesn't work" questions as well as "I need to know how many angels danced on the head of pin between June and December of last year". Inbetween, I try to keep my mind alive by enhancing our main web app, writing a utility, or exploring new technologies.

But my natural curiosity takes me too far, into too many areas. It's just all so fascinating! So, what do you do when it's not your job to keep up with technology but you crave doing it? Do you use will-power and make yourself stick with a few things at a time? Explore F# just up to the point that you know you could rewrite your query app in it, even if you don't actually do it?

I've heard you talk about the issue - what do you actually do to handle information overload?

Netscape 9.0 beta

I started with Netscape long ago, before IE was actually out. As IE started to compete, I stuck with NS (obviously at first, since IE was nothing much). Even after IE became a browser and our company decided to become a "Microsoft shop" by entering into the Solution Provider program, I volunteered to test our apps with the "other browser".

I stuck with it until the HR page of the new company I started with failed to register one of my kids for insurance, because a Microsoft-only feature did not show up when I used NS. When I found out about Avant, I dropped NS and have not looked back until now.

I've known that there was underground development of NS going on, but as IE7, Firefox 1.x and 2.x came out, it meant less and less. Finally, I decided to try 9.0 beta, partly for nostalgia.

Right away I was put off by the tab text refreshing at the same rate that .gifs and other elements were being downloaded. This began to bother me so much visually that I uninstalled it. That's rare for me, as I tend to the packrat end of the spectrum.

I will probably try another version someday, but I'm not sure why NS is still going. In skimming the features, I failed to see what they have that isn't being done well by someone else. It's sad from a "good old days" point of view. But only for a moment, as the firehose continues to pump. Acropolis, Silverlight and DLR are adding to my already-crippling burden of things to track.