Why developers should love technical assessments
The title of this article may sound like an oxymoron because why would any developer love a technical assessment? Are they not just a form of torture invented by stuffy business people to eke out superiority over software developers that have taken over the world?
An interesting question you may say. I have even more ammunition to level against this very dubious practice. When last have you vetted a doctor or a specialist surgeon during your visit? After all, they are only dealing with your most important asset, your health. Think about it. We are happy to walk into a doctors’ office without so much as an investigation into the validity of their diploma hanging on the wall. According to a recent Johns Hopkins study, death by medical malpractice is the third most common form of death in America. Isn’t that astounding?
That brings me back to the point I want to make about developers. Surely the world will end if a developer does not do a barrage of technical assessments and checks? Makes no sense, right? Or does it?
The truth is practising medicine, despite what we are told, is an inexact science with the best doctors being part scientist and part artist. That is the very same description I would give the best developers. They are part techno whizz and part da Vinci. The process of taking an idea and writing code that creates something that never existed before is part science and part magic. So why a technical assessment? Is it even possible to test the intangibles of software creation? The answer to that is most likely no but there are real tangibles that can be tested.
Creating software is like playing a team sport, and with every sport, there are rules. If every football player decided to play the game any way they liked, the team would most certainly suffer and never win a game. In the same way, each developer has a specific set of languages and unique skills that the team needs to deliver a project successfully. The technical assessment is merely a way to check if the 'player' knows their position and the rules that govern it. It's vital to ensure that everyone can play the game according to the rules and in so doing achieve their end goal.
I believe another way to look at the technical assessment is how an artist looks at their portfolio. It usually takes pride of place and shows potential buyers what they are capable of creating. Developers, as we discussed, are part artist in their own right and by having a portfolio of work should be a point of pride and not something negative.
So where does that leave the technical assessment? It is not going away any time soon; therefore we need to change the way we look at it. It could either be viewed as a painful task - something to be done begrudgingly, or as an opportunity to showcase the meeting point between art and Science. Either way, you choose.