Pen behind the ear…
Where have they all gone?
A couple of years ago Excel + VBA + C++ and a bit of maths and the world was your oyster.
Last year it was all HFT which is just nerd tastic engineering stuff.
This year it has been mainly risk and regulatory control.
Are there Quants any more? what tech are they using? how many mid and back office people are they carrying?
I keep wondering about doing a masters in financial chicanery, but I think that boat has sailed. Probably safer going back to furniture making.
Is the all the quant stuff really only done in Matlab, R or SAS now?
Some poor Fin Servs company in Zürich has been searching for a Silverlight developer for weeks now.
That’s some ex-devs’ CV polishing hobby horse turning to bite them on the arse. The dev has probably moved on and is now doing this weeks flavour of the month tech (MVVM?), leaving the client dependent on this dead tech that no one wants to touch.
That said, I chucked my CV in for a VB6 job today, first one I have seen in a long time ( a decade???). Also a tech no self respecting modern .net clicker would want to touch… I still would though, at least VB6 had a point, more than can be said for SilverShight.
I’m still waiting for VSTO to go the same way, but at this stage I am beginning to wonder if MS are genuinely committed to it. I doubted it for a long time, but its there in VS2013, and they don’t have many other options, apart from the obvious helping to extend and improve ExcelDNA. Or buying Add-in Express. (jobserve still doesn’t recognise VSTO and changes it to VSTS, that’s better than Vista which it used to do).
Any of you seeing much client demand for VSTO?
Lets say a decent permie rate for Excel work is 60k
Contractors are more efficient as they don’t have all the 1-1 reviews and career planning bullshit, and are paid a risk premium for being easily sackable so lets say 100k pa or 400 per day. (In this case, via a decent agency the client would probably pay less than 500 per day.)
A good contractor can work most of the year so can approach the 100k total, less holidays (no sick time – everyone know contractors are never sick).
Employment law in most countries is completely bolloxed up meaning the party that wants a flexible skilled resource and the person willing to provide that flexibility and shoulder some operational risk have to jump through all kinds on hoops to achieve their joint aim. Hence agencies and a whole other bunch of buggeration.
Worse than agencies are the body shops, these ‘consultancies’ exploit dysfunctional employment rules to weasel into these flexible requirement gaps.
In the above example, they will take on the ‘permie’ (on a fixed term contract normally) on the 60k, or most likely take a more junior person on say 40k. They then pimp them out to the client for 1,200 per day. They can do this because the only thing more fooked up than employment law is modern procurement practice and the cursed ‘preferred supplier’ scam.
If they can’t sucker someone into a fake permie role (of course they promise to pay you even when you are not charged out to a client, but that won’t last long before you are dumped), then they will try and sucker a contractor in by offering slightly better than the 40k pa, like 200-250 a day instead.
A normal agency adds no more than 20% to the workers rate, these clowns are adding 300% or more. I won’t mention any names, the evidence is clear on the jobsites.
It seems that a few of those missing 400 per day Excel contractor roles are now 200 per day roles so some body shop can make their kilo of flesh, and blood. (Bear in mind the cost to the client has increased in this scenario – and the quality of service has generally declined). But procurement are happy as they have less 2 pound supplier credit checks to do. The banks aren’t generally dumb enough to fall for this but government departments lap it up.
(Sadly this pointless bodyshop approach is the standard in Switzerland, hence why I am looking Europe wide (had a sniff of a Dublin job last week – Guinness at Keoghs every night? – tempting!!))
Are you consulting in the public sector carrying an astronomical, unjustifiable bodyshop overhead?
Have you seen these sort of job ads?
I would say that iPads are good for content consumption, not so great for content creation. I’m thinking more of business type stuff rather than cat videos. Feel free to disagree and tell us why in the comments.
Sharepoint is ok for organising content but not so great at creating it. You can create apps for sure, and you can host Excel Services apps etc. But much of the list type functionality is related to organising existing resources like spreadsheets and word docs.
Both of these two are large growth stories.
Years ago at an Office Developer Advisory Council meeting (way back, when MS had a clue) Biggus Dickus made the point that they seemed to be focusing on managing content rather than creating it. And how was all this stuff for Sharepoint lists going to get created in the first place?
I understand the current fashion is collaboration and consumption. But surely at some point people will realise that there needs to be content creation too, or all you are sharing and consuming is old shit. Panda videos from 2004 are just as funny as current ones (as confirmed by you’ve been framed almost every night it seems). But that energy arbitrage opportunity? Bit different in 2013…
Maybe I am just missing all the ads for these content creator jobs, but most of what I see could be classed as re-presenting the same pap in a different way or different client (bloody browsers – I have even seen jobs for Silverlight – I thought that died years ago and both people who had used it had already migrated to Java?).
I realise that up and down the country there are people every day slogging away creating business insight with Excel/Access and even VBA. But I am just not seeing anything like the level of jobs there was say 1-2 years ago, and not enough to sustain the output. Maybe content creation has hit critical mass and the current creator workforce are creating enough to keep everyone consuming and collaborating for the foreseeable? (my, that sentence had a lot of c words in it)
Do you worry that creating (business) content to share in the future seems to be in terminal decline?
And if not, then what tools are they using? (because it sure as shit isn’t MS Office)
The European Spreadsheet Risk Interest Group is a collection of academic and business people with an interest in the risks in spreadsheet based systems.
They raise awareness of the risks associated with spreadsheets. The annual conference gives a platform to people and organisations to propose their solutions to the issue, as well to researchers working in the area.
I’ve been to the conference a few times, I’ve spoken there a few times, its a great bunch of people.
But I am starting to feel their influence may be having unanticipated negative consequences.
Raising awareness of the dangers of spreadsheets seems like a noble pursuit, but what I see now is fear of spreadsheets in organisations. Which might be ok, except that what really happens is all that budget for well built professional tactical spreadsheet based solutions is diverted to strategic systems. That pressing short term need? The user throws something together in their own time, under the IT radar. So less process, less control, more risk.
Thanks to Eusprig, SOX, Frank Dodd, etc spreadsheets have a bad name. A technology is being blamed for poor usage practices. Like blaming the car when a driver driving too fast crashes..
Eusprig has done a lot of warning, highlighting failures etc, but has always as a matter of principle avoided proposing good practice. They have (deliberately) left that field open for others to address, by presenting at their conference for example.
Avoiding spreadsheets because of the risk is ok if you replace them with something with less risk. But you know what? that thing doesn’t exist.
No technology can deliver many working tools as fast as spreadsheets. So just changing technologies creates a delivery delay during which the organisation is exposed. Not the IT department, but the business department, If they don’t mitigate that exposure (with whatever tools they have to hand) they could be breaching professional codes of conduct even (eg. fiduciary duties for beancounters). not good.
Yes spreadsheets aren’t as stable as forms/browser based CRUD apps, but they are easier to adapt to changing business needs so more likely to be up to date. Try adding a field to a productions database in a large company, and comment on how long that takes. Days or weeks. Add column in a live spreaddie? seconds. Accidentally delete a critical column? seconds also :-)
So I think a big chunk of spreadsheet work has disappeared for now into IT department work queues, and is being worked around (‘temporarily’) by the business, in part due to misplaced and misunderstood fearmongering about spreadsheet danger.
So for me, yes, I think spreadsheet risk is increasing, and I am even more certain that overall organisation risk is increasing as requirements go into IT work backlog queues and/or quick and very dirty end user created temporary workarounds.
Are you seeing this fear of spreadsheets? What do you think is happening to organisational risk?
“The post holder is responsible for explaining to the business how the software solution meets the business needs.”
Erm… Call me old fashioned but shouldn’t it be patently obvious to the customer how the software solves their pain?
This just stinks of requirement Rc.03 is completely met by feature F027…
Which is just another way of IT hitting the users over the head about changed or ambiguous requirements.
‘Here is the email (from 9 months ago) where you asked IT to include a date field, and here is the label that contains todays date. Done, requirement complete, tested correct, finished, this label here meets your need.’
‘What do you mean you want to edit the date? why? Your business process is wrong, You should have told us’… etc etc
Rapidly followed by
‘You asked for a date field, we provided one, if you want that to be editable that is an enhancement and is chargeable, and we can’t look at it for at least 3 months.’
That’s not the kind of role I am currently looking for. Thanks
Although maybe I shouldn’t be so picky, its pretty quiet out at the moment. Maybe I should stop emailing my CV and use the Elfmail instead. I’ll put a copy up the chimney tonight and see what happens. Seems to have worked for the kids.
At one place I worked, the IT department were, you might say, not massively responsive to user needs.
User needs being rapid response (hours or days, rather than months or years) systems development.
The RAD team I was in was a battleground, Users wanting us to rush stuff into production as soon as it compiled, IT wanting us to stop development and start documenting from scratch on new improved word templates. (The improvement being a more consistent theme and styling rather than anything of business value.)
Then a funny thing happened – the users stopped calling us.
They had been recruiting assistants with strong Excel VBA dev skills and were bypassing the whole IT rigmarole.
This is where I think a fair chunk of Excel dev work has gone – under the radar, out of IT control, and off the IT job boards.
And when I say strong skills I mean on a business scale rather than a developer scale. ie crap naming, global variables, no design, no testing, lots of macro recorder pap, etc etc.
Overall, I doubt this move will have a positive impact on long term delivery ability, or quality (compared to decent RAD input – you can’t compare to mainstream IT as they wouldn’t have delivered anything, so sure, they would have less production defects).
Anyone else seen this rise of the super user?
When this happened last year the view was it was caused by sacking off all the experienced staff and offshoring the jobs to cheap fresh graduates.
Presumably thats still going on…
Anyone seen any UK based COBOL or VB3.0 jobs advertised at RBS recently?
The amount of Excel (developer) jobs advertised at the moment is tiny. And this decline is not a temporary thing it seems like a terminal nose dive in Excel development roles.
If no one is recruiting Excel specialists for dev roles then
- Have they stopped developing spreadsheet based systems?
- Have they stopped supporting the existing ones?
- Are none specialists now doing that work under the radar?
- Has everyone just got the right amount of people already?
- IT departments largely have, the business not.
- IT departments largely are trying to, the business not.
- Yes, very much, under the radar with the invisible budget
I have some more posts lined up in this area so I don’t want to add too much, just that I would be very interested to hear your views.
Future posts will look at some of the reasons for this shift and skill set factors (Excel, or Excel & VBA alone have not been enough for a long time).
What are you seeing?