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Living in Standardsland

Let’s start a discussion on how iT should be done

Let’s start a discussion on how iT should be done

I’ve been thinking about standards lately. Standards, you say? We have plenty of standardsÉenough standards to fit every programmer, process and task in our shop. And each standard is unique, just like a snowflake.

The reason I’ve been thinking about standards is due to some recent changes—personnel, projects, and responsibilities. I’ve also been thinking about the “Mack truck” theory. This may not be the most comforting thought, but what if I were hit by a Mack truck on the way home? Would someone be able to step in and finish my tasks, or would they have to spend a considerable amount of time just trying to figure out what I was doing?

The Standard for Standards

I’ve been an IT professional for more than 30 years (yes, I started as a toddler), and I’ve worked in a lot of shops. I’ve worked in shops where programmers would write code as they saw fit, and there was little regard for standards. I’ve also worked in shops where there were specific coding, promotion-to-production and operations standards. I’ve worked in shops where programmers would promote code to production after they’ve completed unit tests, and ones where code wouldn’t be promoted until it went through a peer review, unit and regression testing, quality assurance, and user acceptance signoff. I’ve worked in shops where the IBM i support people were long-term employees and had developed standards over the years, and I’ve worked in shops that used contractors that didn’t adhere to the shops standards. I know many of you are contractors and consultants (as I am), and I know that many will assume the standards of the shop in which they’re working. Of course, if there are no standards, the temp folks do what they feel is best.

I want to start a discussion—a discussion about IT standards in the midrange arena. We i programmers, operations folks and leadership people have years and years of combined knowledge. We know what’s worked and what hasn’t; we know the processes that have saved time and processes that have increased quality; we know best practices. We are a community of IT professionals, and we can “share the wealth” of our combined experience with each other to help grow our community.

Please share your ideas with the rest of us. I’ll introduce a new topic every couple of weeks, give my thoughts, and open the forum for the professionals to step in and lead us to Standardsland—it’s a beautiful place.

Here are some of the topics I’d like to discuss in this series and I’ll take your ideas for topics as well:

  • Program naming standards
  • Development lifecycle
  • Promotion to production
  • Test
  • Quality assurance
  • Security
  • Operational tasks

Remember, this is for our community to exchange ideas and help raise the knowledge level of our fellow i citizens.

Michael Ryan is a technical editor with IBM Systems Magazine. Michael can be reached at michael@ryantechnology.com.



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