Fred Williams
Certified Agile Coach
Fred is a specialist in introducing Agile in big companies. He deals with three topics: gathering requirements, running documentation and project sabotage. He used to work in such European IT-companies as Zoom Technical, IDC, Kit Digital, Sitronics Telecoms Solutions.
"It shows that currently, there is little correlation between rates of pay and standards of quality", — Fred Williams
ITEM: Project documentation is responsibility of PM, Programmer, QA or Product owner? Who should be really in charge of documenting?

FW: Everyone on the team is ultimately responsible for ensuring that information is captured, sorted, and made available to those who need it. Some of my agile friends hold the position that technical writing is a skill, rather than a role. In their view, anyone can write documentation.

I wish this were true. But my experience shows that few developers have the skill or interest to write quality documentation. Writing is not a natural process. It takes years of work, and decades of reading, to understand how and what to document. Most developers are not, and never will be, writers. Partly, this is due to empathy or the lack thereof. Good writers focus on the audience. The best developers are focused on code and control of technology. These are wildly different from each other.

So while ideally everyone can and should write documentation as a normal part of their work, in reality most companies discover that it's best to find someone who is more talented at this work, and allow those who are more talented at coding to do what they do best.

ITEM: What companies you consult take care about documentation most of all?

FW: There are two Czech companies whose development philosophy I really admire. They both recognize the importance of clear technical communication. Showmax (tech.showmax.com) and PostSharp (http://doc.postsharp.net/) both put a lot of thought and resources into ensuring that their API documentation is world class. Both companies have spent considerable time and money training their developers in the skills required for quality technical documentation. They also train their developers on how to write technical blogs, sharing their innovations and insights using classic rhetorical techniques. As a result, their developers are able to express themselves effectively, and the companies customers and partners have confidence that the technology is rock solid.

ITEM: If you can compare, what are the differences of Czech and Ukrainian market of software development services? Or if to compare with the US?

FW: I am looking forward to the ITEM conference precisely because I've never been to Ukraine. (I'm actually skipping conferences in the UK and USA this year in favor of attending ITEM.) So I cannot yet directly compare Czech and Ukrainian companies. However, I can say that Ukrainian software developers are highly respected and in demand in the Czech Republic. The major problem is resolving the longstanding backlogs in processing visa applications. Some media reports suggest the process has been hijacked, and I'm eager to see the authorities regain control so that all visas are awarded according to merit rather than cynically gaming the system.

ITEM: What is your impression about Ukraine as business partner? What does Czech IT business think of Ukrainian outsourcing?

FW: I've now worked with three Czech companies that used Ukrainian outsourcing for some of their development. In each case the Ukrainians were considered world-class. The blog at HackerRank (https://blog.hackerrank.com/w hich-country-would-win-in-the- programming-olympics/) puts Czech programmers at 9th best in the world, and Ukrainians at 11th.

A great advantage that Ukrainians have working with Czech companies is shared philosophy and culture. The languages are similar, the education system is similar, and the way of working is similar.

The Czech Republic has seen massive growth in the IT sector in the last two decades. It was once considered a low-cost center for programming. Now it's increasingly recognized for high quality and innovation. I suppose Ukraine will follow a similar path. Looking at the rankings, it's surprising that a country like Sweden, where pay is sky high, is not as well respected. It shows that currently, there is little correlation between rates of pay and standards of quality. As collaborative technology like video conferencing and shared documents continues to improve, these differences ought to be reduced, so that a great programmer in Ukraine is paid the same as a great programmer in Stockholm.