Catherine Powell

Catherine has spent the last ten years working throughout engineering, including development, test, support, and product management. She focuses on agile team management and effective software delivery, building high-performance multi-functional teams that work effectively with business needs. Catherine's projects also include non-dogmatic agile training for teams just starting up or looking to move to agile methods. Past experience includes an enterprise storage system, a tablet solution for restaurants, a mobile data synchronization platform, a marketing analytics platform, and several web-based applications.

Have Code to Go Along With Your Resume

Posted In Looking in Tech
Printed Code
Tip of the Day When you’re a software engineer, the resume is a tricky beast. It can describe the technologies you’ve worked with, but can’t say what you were able to do with them or show a hiring manager how well-structured your code is or how scalable your designs are. Hiring managers want to know how you produce software, preferably in an environment like the one they’re going to put you in. Additionally, they need to know that you can… continue…

4 Tips on Choosing External Software

Examine Software
The “Not Invented Here” syndrome is infamous in the software world. That’s too bad. Some things we have to write, but for many others, we’re better off choosing to use libraries, plugins or other external products. Choosing a library involves several technical factors, including compatibility, scalability, security and robustness. But let’s talk about non-technical factors. When choosing an external solution, you should consider: Licensing Support Community History and Roadmap Click here to find IT management jobs. Licensing Licensing is mostly… continue…

What the Next 18 Months Hold for Software Careers

Tech Forecast
It’s easy to put your head down and focus on the work that you have to do today. To think about the job you’re doing now. To think about the technology you know already. To understand the team structure you’re currently in. That’s what’s now. But what’s next? Let’s take a walk through the next 18 months and see where engineering is going. Focus on Learning What’s Going On: Hiring managers have figured out that tomorrow’s skills won’t be today’s… continue…

How to Estimate a Budget When the Project’s Undefined

Calculating the Budget
December and January are when most companies focus on budgets, but you can be asked to estimate a project most any time of the year. And no matter what happens, managers are always measured against their budgets, so you want to get your estimations right. But when we don’t know exactly what the dev team will be doing, we’ll have to take some educated guesses that involve estimates. That’s why managers fan out across their teams to start asking questions… continue…

How to Get Your Boss to Support Learning

Posted In Working in Tech
Learning Key on Keyboard
Think back for a minute to what you were doing five years ago. Now think about what you were doing ten years ago. Were you doing the same thing? Were you doing it in the same way? Probably not. Today I run development teams and write Web applications using Ruby on Rails, Java, Ember JS and Backbone JS. Five years ago, I was writing mostly Perl to test storage applications. Ten years ago, I was mostly writing Java and a… continue…

What Does a Project Manager Do, Anyway?

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A few months ago, we looked at what a developer does all day. This month: What on earth is the project manager up to? Project managers don’t actually make anything. They don’t write code. They don’t make graphics. They don’t sell the software. Yet a good project manager can be the glue that holds a project together. So how does that actually happen? What does a project manager do all day? Meet Jeff Jeff is the sole project manager at… continue…

How to Help Your Product Owner Help You

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We’re engineers. We build stuff. As for what we build, well, that’s a good question. Enter the product owner. This is the person who knows what we should build. They come in a few disguises: product manager, product owner, CEO, channel manager and VP customer relations are some aliases. No matter what their background, this is the person who translates between the customer, the market and the engineering team. That all sounds great. Having one person who can make product… continue…

What a Developer’s Day is Really Like

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Ahh, the developer. Wakes up, rolls into the office, sits in a cubical all day writing code. Takes a break while eating lunch at his desk. Writes more code. Goes home. Writes a chunk of code for a personal project. The stereotype is clear: Developers code. Period. Too bad that’s not at all true. Coding is an important but ultimately small part of the developer’s job. On top of coding, they do all the general “office worker” tasks just like… continue…

How to Choose The Right Conferences

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Look to your right. See those conference listings? They all sound great — fun, informative, valuable. They also sound expensive. By the time you add up the conference, tutorials, travel costs, hotel and missing work, you’re easily out a few thousand dollars. Is it really worth it? The answer, of course, is: “It depends.” Whether you’re spending your own time and effort or making a case for your boss, here are some tools you need to make sure that you’re… continue…

How to Get Your Team’s Buy-In to New Processes

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In my last post, we discussed the tactics of process change, in particular choosing either a “big bang” or incremental approach. This time we’ll address the other big factor in making a process change successful: team buy-in. Buy-in takes effort. You have to start early. You have to take the meetings. You have to be convincing. You have to do something the team will accept. Fiat is a lot easier. So why bother with buy-in? Why Does Buy-In Matter? The… continue…