Interesting Response

I recieved several responses to my Who Are You? question and thanx to everyone for letting me know who you are.

But:

1.  Either about 7 people visit the site several times a day or quite a few people would rather just lurk and

2. I didn’t find a single response from anyone who I would call an Independent Excel and/or Access developer.  By Independent I mean surviving exclusively on Project oriented piece-work or who at least have more than one client paying their bills.  It seems everyone has a day job as well or works for somebody doing internal development – all of which is great but concerning !  Hmmmm. 

Could it be that in the U.S. you need a day job to get Health Insurance so being an Independent is dangerous (unless you have a spouse with bens) ?  That would make sense, tragically😦.  But what about everywhere else?  If there aren’t any independents out there what does that say about this sector?  I know of several Independent Access developers in my city alone (300k pop.).  Surely you’re out there (??)

Maybe I have to reach further to find more of us….  I am going to work with a friend to use Twitter to draw more of our “peeps” here..  I’ll let you know if it works.

In the meantime I REALLY appreciate that you guys are here.  It gets pretty lonely out there doesn’t it?

Dick

About Biggus Dickus

Dick is a consultant in London, ON Canada who specializes in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Office Development.
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13 Responses to Interesting Response

  1. Mathias says:

    I am independent too! But Excel in only a part of my activity – and I also often end up working with others on a project team. Becoming independent was a big move, for the reasons you mention, but I have been solo for 2 years now, and haven’t regretted it once.
    BTW, what is your twitter name?

  2. Dick Moffat says:

    Thanx Mathias…. great to hear.

    I don’t have aTwitter name yet – soon🙂 – I’ll let everyone know.

    Dick

  3. Simon says:

    Dick
    I don’t see that many purely independent Excel/VBA devs, and over the last few years I feel it has trended even further away.
    I probably know more independent Access devs than Excel ones.

    I think the issue is the disconnect between those who need Excel services (eg finance department) and those with access to cash for consulting (Is/IT dept).

    I think other techs are (culturally) more conducive to independence

  4. Dick Moffat says:

    Yep – very true. But if that severance between the need and the money isn’t bridged it’ll affect even Microsoft. That’s why I keep pushing to “professionalize” what we do.

    That’s also a reason why I went out of my way to learn BOTH Access and Excel – not only do they belong together but it expands my opportunities (theoretically anyway ;-)) and allows me to sit down with a client and suggest the right tool for the job.

    That’s also why I’ve spent so much effort working with both Access and Excel with SQL Server and ultimately why I am pushing so hard for the success of Access, Excel and SharePoint 2010. Hopefully it can all come together finally in 2010.

    Dick

  5. Dan says:

    A few contrarian suggestions, offered in good humour…🙂

    1) Independent developers don’t read the blogs since they don’t find sufficient they don’t already know to be worth the investment of their time (which, by definition, they need to spend on billable hours unlike us lazy corporate types)

    2) I wonder if the reduction in the number of Excel devs is a function of aggregate improvement in Excel skills by the customers – lower demand resulting in a smaller market

    Now I’ve been argumentative I’ll actually contribtue to the other thread😉

  6. Dick Moffat says:

    Dan:

    ” Independent developers don’t read the blogs since they don’t find sufficient they don’t already know to be worth the investment of their time (which, by definition, they need to spend on billable hours unlike us lazy corporate types)”

    That may be true. it’s unfortunate though because we never know EVERYTHING, do we ? It’s also a good thing methinks to use the Internet to see what’s going on out there…

    “2) I wonder if the reduction in the number of Excel devs is a function of aggregate improvement in Excel skills by the customers – lower demand resulting in a smaller market”

    I’m not sure if I find that (maybe they THINK they are). I find the opposite is often the case – skills have degraded over the years through lack of imagination mostly and people simply don’t have as much time to build and maintain the spreadsheets in my experience. I’m not sure I buy that argument I’m afraid.

    Thanx for your thoughts.

    Dick

  7. Harlan Grove says:

    When it comes to spreadsheets, maybe there are more in-house developers because specific industry or knowledge is essential at least for decision support and modeling applications as distinct from reporting applications.

    Putting it differently, maybe it takes too long for independents to learn the important issues, and they doesn’t necessarily transfer to different industries, so the time invested in learning them is wasted after completing projects.

    • Dick Moffat says:

      Hey Harlan:

      “because specific industry or knowledge is essential at least for decision support and modeling applications as distinct from reporting applications.”

      That’s an interesting point. I believe though, (and others have commented on this), that one of MY strengths is my ability to get up to speed on the business I am working wth as quickly as possible. I don’t find it difficult and certainly experience pays off I find (the older I get the quicker “I get it”). Why should we limit ourselves to only businesses where we have experience? We are experts on our technology and generalists about businesses. Part of our job is to marry the two.

      I think that any one of us here is capable of learning all kinds of new things (we learned Excel didn’t we?) and we should all learn to at least act as if we know what the client is talking about until we really DO understand it🙂.. What do they say “The most important thing in Sales is sincerity. Once you learn how to fake that you’ve got it made.” ….. The same thing is true of spending most of your early time with a new client understanding their business BEFORE even thinking about technology, matching their processes up with others you have seen and learning their inside language and terms. It’s part of Sales. This is equally as important as the other “soft” skills, like learning never to tell your client to f-off (even though they often deserve it :-)) …

      To me this is all just part of the job. It is a bg part of our “Value-Add”. We aren’t just technologists, we are also business consultants or we don’t deserve to get paid a “professional”ish fee….

      Biggus

  8. Jon Peltier says:

    Dick –

    I’m an independent Excel developer who reads your RSS feeds, but didn’t bother to reply to your prior post until just now.

    Responding to Dan’s comment:

    1. I do read lots of these Excel blogs. I know I don’t know everything (or sometimes anything), and I like the discussions.

    2. What “improvement in Excel skills by the customers”? I think these users just don’t know what they don’t know, and aren’t keen on going outside in this climate, with budgets as tight as they are.

  9. simon says:

    Dan, fair point on busy (/not lazy) independents, but equally getting involved on-line is pretty handy marketing.
    On user level skills, I’d say things have declined over the last few years. Now employers assume all new hires have adequate ‘core’ skills, so there is rarely funding for any type of training, and app use has often become more complex too.
    Harlan, yep, I agree on the business specifics side, and like Dick I think we aim to be have a broad enough background to get up to speed v quickly. Thats not enough for many potential clients at the moment though.

    • Dick Moffat says:

      “Thats not enough for many potential clients at the moment though.”

      Actually what clients want now is Business/Technology Analysts who are 25 years old who have 30 years experience in their own company and who are willing to work for free as a favour to them :-)…

      Dick

  10. Simon says:

    Now you mention it Dick I could do with a couple of them for a few weeks!
    Even better if they will cover their own travel and accom costs😉

    • Dick Moffat says:

      “cover their own travel and accom costs ”

      Sorry I forgot about that – that’s VERY important.

      ” could do with a couple of them for a few weeks!”

      But how much could YOU bill them out at ? Nobody wins here…

      Dick

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