The one-man development team

It’s a bit weird when you are your company’s whole development team. We’re used to work in groups and collaborate with others. It can be pretty stressful, specially if what you develop is the software that the whole company uses to do their work.

That’s been my case for the last 4 and a half years. Most of the time it’s been fine, but it has had its little drama here and there. I still remember when I had to look for a laptop in the middle of the night while on holiday in Thailand to solve an issue that was too urgent to ignore.

With all these years of experience, I believe that there are a few things that you can do to deal with it without going crazy in the process:

  1. Understand that you are the only one doing this. We all want to take our time to do our job, we don’t like to be interrupted, and we don’t like to change tasks continuously. But in this kind of job, that’s a luxury that you can’t afford all the time. There will be times when you need to solve an issue, bug or maybe change your priorities. That’s how it is, but you should also…
  2. Mark your territory. This is very important. Software development is your thing, you are who knows about it. You have to be able to tell people that they’re wrong. It doesn’t matter if the one who is wrong is your boss. You’re the expert and you have the last word.
  3. Learn to say no. This apply to life in general, but it is extremely important on this case. I’ve learnt it the hard way. It took me a few years to realize that I’m not Superman (yeah, I’m dumb). Sometimes what you’re asked is just not feasible, and you shouldn’t try to demonstrate anything. This is about getting things done, and done properly. You don’t have to demonstrate anything.
  4. Be aware of your limitations. You don’t know everything. And you’re gonna make mistakes. Probably lots of them. There will be things that you do really well, and other maybe not so much. That happens when you’re asked to do many different things. But don’t get angry, just learn from you’re mistakes and keep going.

I think when you’re in a situation like this, the most important things are not about coding, are about the way you work. This is the best advice I can give. Ah yes, I almost forgot, don’t reinvent the wheel.

P.s main pic is by Simon Abrams

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