December 11, 2017
In this post I’m seeking to convince managers to pursue a basic understanding of programming in order to automate some of the tasks they find the most time consuming and redundant.
Our daily lives offer a million reasons to learn programming if we look for them. Things like great career opportunities, hobby coding, a desire to make people’s lives easier through software, and many more. One often overlooked aspect of learning to program is to make your own life easier (regardless of your current occupation). You don’t need a career in software development to justify the use of programming to increase productivity.
Mimir’s development team recently adopted Agile sprints, and I’ve taken on the role as project manager (scrum master) in addition to my normal duties of leading the development team. The sprint methodology requires many calculations to put into perspective how many features we are shipping per sprint. However, there is more than just computations required to understand the pace at which your team is outputting features.
Human analysis is also required to understand the numbers you’re looking at, external variables that could affect them, and how those numbers have been adjusting week over week. Some tools, like Jira, offer this information in some form or another, but others, like Asana, don’t produce clear, interpretable data points on sprints. Since we use Asana and are fairly happy with it, we needed to create a dashboard for this data on our own. With a fairly simple script that even a beginner could have written, we were able to create a spreadsheet featuring all the data the project manager would need to plan for the next sprint.
Programming also creates an outlet for building things in a way that once was restricted to those with high budgets. If you love video games, even basic programming skills can be all you need to create simple and captivating experiences. Programming can make it easier to access and digest your favorite sources of information and creativity.
For example, Medium, Twitter, Pinterest, and most other social media outlets offer APIs which will let you write your own programs to search, filter and display the things you are interested in. Ultimately, this makes your life easier. Simple projects for personal use, like Trello, can evolve into million dollar ideas that address common pain points that no one had properly addressed yet.
Learning to program is no easy task. Akin to learning to paint or training for a marathon, it takes practice, frustration and failure to develop a useful skill. However, programming can be extremely rewarding both professionally and personally. Consider making an investment in your own productivity by signing up for a local workshop or dissecting one of the many tutorials available online.