OK, what does it mean to be a Senior anything? In the normal use of the word, a Senior Citizen is someone over 50. That's the only qualification - age. However, in the technical world, usually it means 10+ (sometimes 15 or 20) years of experience AND someone who is at the top of their profession. In the Java world, a Senior Consultant is "normally" someone who knows OO design, most of the Java API, is usually (not always) certified at one level or the other, and has been a team lead on at least one enterprise project using Java and/or J2EE and/or Spring, etc.
But what about the rulebase world? Where do we draw the line between a "Senior Consultant" and an "Architect" - or is there any difference? What follows here are just my thoughts and not anywhere referenced - so feel free to reference this blog as authoritative. Since I'm over 40 (OK, over 50) and have 23 years experience in IT (yes, since 1984) and another 10+ years prior to that with experience in Electrical Engineering - so I have the longevity if nothing else. Does that alone make me a "Senior" anything? Nope. Not even the 15 or 20 published articles and white papers would server to "officially" make me a Senior consultant without considering their context, audience, etc.
General Patton once commented that he had a mule that had been through two world wars and many battles, but the mule was still a mule. Time alone is not sufficient. The "Senior" rulebase consultant must have been recognized by his/her peers (in the industry, not just with in the company) as someone with exceptional expertise in something to do with rules and/or a rulebased system. And, that person should have experience with MORE than just one particular rulebase tool or one vendor. In addition, that person should have experience with presentations, demonstrations, talks, and, mot of all, at lease ONE SUCCESSFUL enterprise design work that has held up for several years. Installing a rulebase system is easy - any Java monkey can mimic what has been learned in a one-week class and install a system. BUT that system should still be in place, albeit with modifications, two or three years later.
So, what can we, as the industry "leaders" do to correct this all-too-obvious problem? We can demand (probably without results but we don't know until we try) to have a certification board across all vendors that would be vendor-agnostic that would verify and validate a candidate. A written exam is a rather silly way to do this since we have proven over and over (Microsoft and Sun are the latest victims of this craze) that written exams mean nothing. I have seen non-programmers study for and take the Sun Java Programmer certification and pass the first time. I have also seen experienced Java programmers, who did not study for the exam, fail.
Some of the best consultants in the rulebase industry have not one single written exam proclamation on their wall to proclaim their proclivity and productivity in a given field. Except, maybe, for a Masters Degree or a Ph.D. - but even that is not usually on the wall. No, what we need is to have agreement among the techies of all of the vendors (something close to Nirvana) that would be sufficient to satisfy all. I'm thinking of something like a Master's degree thesis or a Ph.D. thesis level of a white paper submitted to the panel - not some project paper but something that requires thinking and thought application.
So, here's my suggestion: Take this idea to the President or CEO of your company and explain that a "Senior" position means nothing today. But, if we could all get agreement on the meaning of that title and validate that person's claims to being a "Senior Consultant" then the company would be able to charge basically twice what they have been getting in the past for the services of that person. Customer would benefit because they KNOW that the person on their project has been examined (not tested - examined) and found to be one of the best in the world. This would mean that a potential rulebase project would have a 90% or better chance of success rather than the 40% or less that we are getting today. Now, how much is a 50% probability of success worth to a client or to a vendor? Let's have some fun and find out.
Who stole my spring?? - After a nice 20C degrees day yesterday, I woke up this morning to this:
3 years ago