Is There Really a Shortage of Lotus Notes Developers? Take the Census!

05/11/2011

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Interesting year we're having, eh? Perhaps a bit more than the usual amount of consternation over the future of, well, everything Yellow. Amidst all the hubbub I thought I'd break blog silence to address one specific issue that it seems has been at least a contributing factor in IT decisions to move away from Notes as an application platform. I also set up a census/survey related to this question, but more on that below...

I was inspired to write this post after Lotus Developer and XPage Guru David Leedy last month sparked a vibrant conversation with his post Company might leave Notes App Dev (but not email) due to lack of developers about his former employer in Lebanon, PA. The issue at hand is the apparent shortage of Lotus Notes/Domino development talent and how that has caused this company to consider a complete shift away from Domino apps. That Lebanon is a relatively small market probably makes finding any kind of IT talent a bit harder than many places, but I've heard similar complaints from IT managers in big cities as well.

I don't know about you, but every time I hear someone cite a Lotus talent shortage for why it makes sense to move away from Domino (typically to Sharepoint /.NET), I struggle to reconcile that perception with the frequent complaints from fellow Lotus developers about the shortage of jobs. Clearly there is a disconnect somewhere, and I have an idea about its cause.  What I see here is a "vicious circle" meets "chicken and egg" problem, with a sizable pool of "hidden" Lotus talent sitting on the job search sidelines, too afraid (if they have a job) or too discouraged (whether they have a job or not, whether doing Lotus development or not) to post their resume/CV for potential (or current) employers to see. Employers in turn conclude there is a talent shortage and give up looking to instead pursue a new platform strategy.

It is worth noting that there is also a bit of a false equivalence when comparing the number of available Lotus Notes developers (and more so administrators) to the number focused on Sharepoint/.Net/ SQL/ IIS. Frankly, you need fewer bodies to maintain and develop for the Lotus platform (Feel free to offer specific examples or counter-examples in the comments). And considering how easy it can be to work remotely on Domino administrative and development tasks (even offline - thank you local replication!), Notes shops need not limit themselves to local talent.. Also, as was pointed out in the comments on David's post, you can grow your own developers by *training* them, and there is a ton of XPages training material out now. These points are. sadly, lost on many IT decision makers.

It's hard to dispute that Lotus Notes/Domino is struggling in the market when even IBM are actively downplaying the Lotus brand. It's very easy to rationalize an application platform shift in the current climate, but on this one point about a "talent shortage" I am extremely skeptical. Is there a genuine Lotus talent shortage?

I'd like to hear from you!

I would also like to invite you and any current or former Lotus Developer friends you know to respond to a brief Lotus Developer "Census" (i.e. survey) I set up to validate my "hidden talent" theory. The results of the survey will be shared publicly, but any personal contact info you choose to provide will be seen only by myself. I would encourage you to include your name and email though, as I am hoping this survey will prove a valuable recruiting tool going forward (especially for those of you who are unhappy or underutilized). Your contact information will also allow me to contact you to follow up on any interesting comments you may offer as part of your survey responses. I'm hoping this will be a learning experience for all of us. Thank you for responding and for helping spread the word.

Please Click Here to Take Part in the Lotus Developer Census

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