Improving Your Professionalism

How does an individual improve their professionalism?

I believe that first you must want to improve and be willing to support that desire. That can mean being disciplined to provide a time and place devoted to self-improvement. For instance, one hour devoted to reading a book or a journal like the IEEE Computer or IEEE Software. Or three hours on a weekend discovering or experimenting with a new (to you) software development technique. Or providing your software-engineering talents on a open-source project.

At one conference, I attended a presentation by Watts Humphrey on his Personal Software Process. I bought the book and started to do the exercises and tests. The goal of this process was to provide you with metrics on your coding capabilities, like how many errors/faults per lines of code you introduce, or how many lines of code per hour you write, etc. If you know how many errors/faults you might introduce, wouldn’t you want to try to find at least that many in your personal QA testing? If you know your average production of code, wouldn’t that help you in your estimation tasks? I intend to revisit that process again with my new development techniques!

We all write something like a requirement at different stages in a project. How many of us believe we can write a clear and unambiguous statement? A good start could be the use of the technique and process developed by Tom Gilb (see Competitive Engineering:A Handbook For Systems Engineering, Requirements Engineering, and Software Engineering Using Planguage ISBN 0750665076 Publisher: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann by Tom Gilb.) He has a wonderful collection of resources at his website.

One other important point for improving your professionalism – do you conscientiously consider the ethical impact of your work?


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