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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

A Software Developer’s Life Cycle

L. Gopalakrishnan
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
L. Gopalakrishnan
Tech Ladder in India – is it real or unreal? Most people in India think that the tech ladder does not exist here. On the contrary, I believe it is a reality in India and it’s just a myth that it exists only in California. Why should it be otherwise, especially when local markets are on a level playing field in the new globalized world economy? Why should it be otherwise, when India is the cooking pot for the software required by the whole world? The result is the cloning of wants and needs of technology professionals played out across geographies irrespective of borders.

Let’s begin at the ladder a technology professional climbs – a.k.a the Software Developer Life Cycle [SDLC]. It’s comparable to any other life cycle, mapping out the birth, growth and maturity phases of a technology professional. Let’s not talk about the end, as the learning phase of an IT professional ceases only with physical death in this ever-evolving field. This case’s peculiarity is that depending on the individual, a rebirth could actually take place before death (!) with a hardcore technology professional metamorphosing into a management specialist. Let’s examine what prompts this and otherwise. The following SDLC travelogue is based on my seventeen years of experience as a software engineer. It has been a labor of love for me, as you will see.

Seventeen years of fine experience has been distilled into a graph. The graph is not a whimsical plotting of milestones but rather a deliberate plotting based on facts and figures. ‘Number of Years’ is on the X-axis and ‘ Tech Depth’ on the Y-axis. The area in between chronicles the rise or slump of a pure technology professional.

THE BEGINNING
You (read: ‘technology professional’) are out of engineering school and your head is brimming with ideas. You join a company and try to fit in with what you learn in the workplace. Initially your knowledge curve rises as you learn new aspects at the workplace. You understand the processes, its working and try to assimilate the system at work into your own individual system.

You understand technology by understanding the business of the organization first – how the processes work and how people react to them. Next you start to deliver . This is the first stage of the tech ladder where the foundation is laid for future advancements. Acquiring more skills, you make a genuine effort to become known in the organization as ‘Mr. Fixit’. You understand everything clearer and you deliver more. In four to five years, you will be at the end of the latter stage. Then the conundrum begins– which way to go? Do I need an MBA to progress? Do I need to become a Project Leader or do something else?

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