Job Title: Software Developer Consultant
Type of Company: I am self-employed as an independent software developer and computer consultant, as I have been for most of the last ten years. My clients are in the surety insurance business and financial services.
Education: BS, Finance, Towson State University MS, IT Management, Johns Hopkins University
Previous Experience: I was a corporate applications manager at T. Rowe Price and lead software developer for the Arist Corporation.
Job Tasks: I write software to solve client's problems. My primary client is an insurance company that guarantees bail bonds. The software I wrote and continue to enhance runs their business as well as being suitable for use by their customers who are bail bond agents. Reporting from the agent's version of the software to the insurance company's version is electronic, saving my client (the insurance company) an immense amount of labor. The software is written in Visual FoxPro. Originally, it was written in FoxPro. Neither of these was the cutting edge at the time. However, the client specified "tried and true", since most of his customers are not technologically savvy.
My day consists of working on enhancements, correcting errors and occasionally dealing with the bail bond agent when requested by the insurance company. I act as Level Two support. In addition, I will from time to time perform data conversions when my client, the insurance company, has obtained a new client. The data conversions consist of obtaining and examining the new client's present system; offering a quote on the time and expense of the conversion; and eventually doing the conversion. The conversion itself is accomplished with a series of utilities that translate the agent's data into a format and the data fields required by my system.
Enhancements include new reports and new data items. Many of the enhancements are designed to make the insurance company more aware of the activity of the agents sooner.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is when my direct client or indirect clients appreciate the effort I have made to solve their problem in a timely way.
The worst part is dealing with those clients and the people who work for the agents who do not listen to what they are being told.
1.) Listen as well as talk. Most software development projects fail because the client didn't know what to ask for and the developer didn't understand what was needed.
2.) Try to put yourself in the client's shoes. You have IT to deal with, they have their whole job.
3.) Deliver early and often before the client changes his requirements.
Additional Thoughts: Don't. Most software development has been outsourced to foreign countries.
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