Leadership, Opinion

Developers are not Resources

p01tptn0I’m starting with a bit of an upward slope on this one, but I’ll plough on regardless…

It’s a difficult place to start because the Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘Resource’ as the following:

(usually resources) A stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively:
“local authorities complained that they lacked resources”

And you obviously have ‘Human Resources’…

So yes, technically your developers – your staff – are ‘Resources’ but as a term it really emphasis the wrong thing.

Developers – and most other professionals – are highly skilled unique contributors to a project, often bringing a specific set of skills, opinions and experiences to bare when creating something. And for all the talk about making sure we don’t have single points of failures we often have a single or small group of people that can productively work on a problem without requiring significant lead to get up to speed.

But using ‘resources’ ignores that. It highlights the (often held but incorrect) opinion that developers are interchangeable, that one ‘resource’ can replace another or that a ‘resource’ can be brought to bare on a problem without issue.

Can you imagine a Doctor being referred to as a resource?

“We need to find a resource to take out that man’s Kidney!”

Resource is the right term when dealing with a collection of interchangeable ‘things’ like stock, raw materials or money.

It is not the right term when dealing with skilled and talented developers.

It’s much easier to say “we need some resource to fix this over the weekend” than to say “we’ll need to ask Mark and Alison to work over the weekend” or even “we’ll have to ask someone to cover this weekend”.

When you refer to your developers as ‘Resources’ it shows a lack of respect for their skills, their contributions and their opinions. And that opinion will affect how respected your developers feel and how much they think you care about them as people.

So stop using the term ‘Resource’ to refer to what are the most valuable parts of your business. Stop other people from using it and suggest alternatives which are much more respective.

Like “Developers”.

In an interesting coincidence, the day I originally wrote this is now #WorldNoResourcesDay.  Which is a truly terrible name, but worthwhile nonetheless.

1 thought on “Developers are not Resources”

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