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The Implications of Software Craftsmanship

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By replacing the traditional software engineering metaphor with software craftsmanship, we open a whole new realm of possibilities for the software development community.
Pete McBreen is the author of Software Craftsmanship: The New Imperative (Addison-Wesley, 2001, ISBN 0-201-73386-2). Software Craftsmanship has been named as a finalist in Software Development magazine's 12th Annual Jolt Awards (see http://www.sdmagazine.com/jolts/press_r1-29-02.htm).
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Since writing my Software Craftsmanship book, I have been involved in many conversations about the long-term implications of the craftsmanship model. The idea of focusing on personal reputation and downplaying certification has far-reaching implications.

Software Craftsmanship Supports Small Companies

Software craftsmanship is personal, so it doesn't support the large guru-led consultancies. These large consultancies typically roll out the guru for the negotiations and the kickoff meeting, but then the bulk of the work is done by new hires who were recruited after the contract was awarded.

In contrast, the software craftsmanship model suggests that the key idea is that customers hire a specific master craftsman to develop an application. It's not a case of putting blind faith in an organization; the customer hires the master craftsman to do the work and expects the master to devote himself or herself full-time to the job.

Yes, the master craftsman will have a team, but it will be a small one. A master can really only handle one new apprentice a year. Assuming that an apprenticeship takes 4–5 years and a few journeymen stay around after completing their apprenticeship, a master craftsman will have 6 to 10 coworkers. This doesn't come close to the size of typical consultancy operations, where even a small regional consultancy has 100+ consultants.

Several master craftsmen could band together for marketing purposes, but the leading names would still have to be involved in actually working on the projects awarded to them.

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