Interfacing with Remote Developers

One of the interesting things about my job is that I get to work with a lot of developers. I recently spent a week in Riverdale, MD with a group of developers that we usually only work with remotely – via phone or e-mail, or when we enter a trouble ticket against a system issue or software bug. Working with this team face-to-face was a really rewarding experience.

One of the things that I have learned is that it’s very easy for our team to reach out to developers when something isn’t working. From a professional standpoint, we have all the things necessary to kick up a conversation – something in common (the software), a catalyst (the bug), and a goal (making it work again). With our local development team, that we get to see every day, it’s easy to say, “hey – everything is working swell again, thanks.” With our remote developers, this is a lot harder; it doesn’t really make sense to call them up and say, “Hey – I just wanted to call and say everything is a-ok!” – there is no catalyst.

So, when we got together with our remote team this last week, I wanted to make sure I got the chance to let them know that we appreciate their work. The software system in question (The EOSDIS Core System – ECS) is one of our main data management systems at the NSIDC, and is the most reliable and stable. And yet, we enter more tickets against ECS than any other piece of software in our organization. Additionally, we put in more tickets than either of the other centers that use ECS. I wasn’t sure, but I always felt like from the developer’s end, they might believe we believe they write poor software of that we didn’t like ECS.

The truth, in fact, is quite the opposite. We file so many bugs because we use it so much; we are bound to hit special cases that the team did not necessarily expect. Further, as our center evolves, we need new capabilities, and we want ECS to acquire those capabilities because of its trusted status. So, because we like it so much, and we trust our remote development team to deliver what we need, we feel comfortable requesting it – a lot.

Category(s): Operations
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