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If they don't care now, don't expect it to get better

My friend was telling me about a programmer she used to work with. He was a junior developer, and he had been assigned the task of producing some reports. Reports are a very visible, important part of many applications, but often programmers find them dull. This programmer was no exception. He didn't spend time right aligning the numbers. Empty date values were showing as "01/01/01" instead of blank. Monetary values didn't include a currency symbol.

When he was asked to fix these problems, he only did what was pointed out to him. He didn't take the time to review all of his reports to make sure it was fixed everywhere. He thought the whole effort was beneath him.

Eventually, this guy didn't get the promotion he thought he deserved, and he moved on. Good.

What this programmer didn't realize is how important and visible reports can be. I understand they aren't glamorous. Report development isn't exactly my favorite programming task, either. But reports are often used by high level personnel. They can be the expression of the value of the system that we are building (users may enter data into a system, but until they can retrieve that data in meaningful ways, it is useless.) Reports with aesthetic problems are distracting and make the programmer look careless. This can make the user question the quality of the data.

If a programmer thinks they are too important to work on reports, you don't want them working on your project anyway. They are unlikely to improve if you give them another task.  Hire a programmer who cares about the small details as well as the big ones.

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Avonelle is a rare IT professional who can communicate with business users on a level they can understand, and who can recommend creative technical solutions that are in line with the business goals and the business budget. Avonelle is conscientious not only about meeting deadlines, but also exceeding her customers expectations around quality software while providing superior customer service. Avonelle is an inspiration to me.

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