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

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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

Comments

1 - "Notes dev talent shortage" - really?

Given all the really talented devs we've seen leave Notes because they could no longer put food on the table, the statement is laughable. Seriously, when you read the words "Notes dev talent shortage" didn't you laugh out loud?

Anyone who can't find Notes talent where there are either lives in a really undesirable location or isn't paying squat.

And I say that as someone who moved to Florida from Atlanta 9 years ago so that I could keep doing Notes work.

2 - When companies say there is a "lack" of qualified Lotus Notes / Domino developers, what they MEAN is that there is a lack of extremely skilled and experienced Lotus Notes / Domino developers who are willing to work for intern level wages.

There are TONS of short term contracts (not that I would take any of them -I'm very happy where I'm at) available right now -but all of them pay less than I was billing back in 1996.

3 - Potentially good news: If IBM rebrands/relaunches Domino as the IBM XPages Server and pushes it properly to SMB, you'll likely see a whole lot of people claiming to be "IBM XPages Developers," including new blood.

4 - @1 - I will admit to laughing inside (followed quickly by crying), but I figured I should have a little more data on which to justify any outward laughter. I also wanted to see if the "shortages" were regional, which is why I ask for location information.

@2 - Pay is a huge problem, and I've seen similar laughable rates quoted. The notion of paying for what you get should be stressed more to say the least. I see this as a side-effect of the false equivalence with other platforms. If folks understood the value concentrated in the smaller number of Lotus professionals they would need to do something (vs. MS), that would be a good start.

5 - Put me in Devin's camp. Besides pay, I'll add benefits on top. Who wants to give up medical and vacation benefits for lower paying contract opportunity with no idea of environment your moving to? I love Notes and especially the community but not willing to compromise my family responsibilities in return.

6 - I work for consulting company and currently working on applications on domino and jboss. We have been struggling to find right talent or motivate other in-house developers (who are good in Java and other platforms) to learn domino skills. Couple of developers left when they were asked to work on domino. Even intern or newly hired grads don't want to learn such technology. We wanted somebody with domino skills with good java, jee,javascript and jquery skills. Our philosophy is that a good developer should be able to work on any technology. Most of developers in our company are good and have worked on multiple technologies. Many developers hired for their java/jee skills also worked/working on .net or php projects or visa versa.

7 - BTW, here's the job posting from David Leedy's old employer.

{ Link }

Let's get someone in there to help dispel the myth!

8 - There are definite, albeit subtle, differences between the US and the UK on this. In the UK there is no market for Domino dev roles, contract or permanent, and only the occasional administrator post.

I have encountered multiple recruiters who wince at Notes & Domino on a CV to the point that people are removing the offending data (or at least relegating it to the "Oh yes and also…" part).

The only roles that do come up are either infrastructure migration consultants to help with mail moves from Domino to Exchange, or companies that are after combined administrator / developer people to maintain ageing set-ups (complete with R4-era apps).

These roles are also extremely poorly-paid, so it is indeed a chicken and egg situation: the market pays peanuts to keep a crappy environment going, and thus Domino continues to suck in the eyes of management.

9 - Re #8, Ben that is the exact same situation in Australia, we see occassional short term contract roles, poorly paid, or desktop support. There is a huge migration from Lotus, in both Government and Private sectors.

10 - I am looking for 2 Lotus Notes Developers, If this is you then please contact me ASAP.

nick.lukacs@hscott.co.uk

11 - Well,
Worked with IT since 1977, and Notes (Admin and Developer and Architect) since 1993,I would say there seems to be a pattern, showing history is repeating itself.
Just to give a few examples:
- Assembler Code on the IBM Mainframes (etc.), were reasonable popular, and even mandatory when leaving education back in the late 1970'ties.
- What happened ? The Cobol and PL/1 came along together with C as the programming languages, that were supposed to hold the 'Business Logic' of the company. Now we are short of people maintaining the Assembler code lying around.
- GUI Design, back in the Terminal-days before PCs, these were designed using Tools (most of the time) hiding the details of the Hardware from the Business Logic in the 2'nd generation languages (C, Pl/1 and Cobol). Then PC's same, and vendors now proudly tell they can screenscrape (and emulate) Legacy Applications.
- What happened ? New Tools does not reap the benefits from knowing whats beneath, so experts still needed to change 3270 MFS or CICS Maps or similar. Now we are short of people maintaining the Screen and GUI designs lying around.
- GroupWare came, when Servers were hitting small and medium sized companies. Along came Lotus Notes, and were succesfull in getting value for small investments. If you tamed (ie. Governed) that platform, you may even have depended your growth on that platform. If you doesn't recognize what you have, you can't decide to move away ! The cost may be pre-emptive or even fatal to a small company, to even think about moving away. What we see, is a shift of interest, towards someting slicker or more fancier platforms such as Mobile (programming), Push technologies and Java frameworks all over. Is this business driven ? No, not entirely I think. I believe programmers gets attracted to gadgets and if they can make money in that area, it get a boost right away.
- What happened ? If Domino and Notes is getting more complex than average platforms, there a risk it loses its attraction. So now we are short of people maintaining Notes/Domino Platforms, since something else seems to attract.
- I could say the exactly same for (IBM) Mainframe platform, IBM even tried to sponsor lots of money to make it attractive again, over the last decade, but without luck - as I see it.

So what can I say - we are humans !
Emoticon

12 - Urgent Hire for Lotus Notes Domino8 developers for State VA,USA
Please contact me ganilrecruiter@gmail.com
Very strong lotus notes skills.

· IBM certified advanced application developer - lotus notes domino 8 strongly preferred. Consultant should be able to demonstrate the skills required to effectively build and maintain domino 8 applications with the application of commensurate knowledge and skills in one of three areas: lotus script, javascript, or web services or effectively build and deploy composite applications with notes domino 8Provide program development and maintenance support utilizing lotus notes databases, web based applications, java scripting, etc.
· Experience with oracle 11g/10g, sql, pl/sql and windows environments would be a plus.

13 - I write this post as a business owner whose databases are all Lotus Notes/Domino. Up until August 2014 (so for 13 years) I had employed internal Lotus expertise. When my IT professional decided to move on after 10 years (to take life easier), he assisted in securing an external Lotus provider.

Firstly, this provider was a considerable distance from my offices (Solihull, West Midlands, UK), because we could not locate any local suitable expertise. Next they were unreliable, lacked accountability (seemingly because their services were in demand without any scrutiny elsewhere!) and it is seems were costing me twice as much what a SharePoint & Exchange solution would do.

I am now rid of the worst service provider I have ever experienced in almost 14 years of operating my own businesses, also the shortest business relationship any of my companies have ever had, and am considering having my databases redeveloped on a new platform.

My point is, for the customer it would seem that Lotus Notes is unsustainable unless the cost of change is prohibitive or you are fortunate to stumble across a great resource like I did 10 years ago.

In summarising, for those of you that take an arrogant approach to your clients because it is currently a 'suppliers' market, should think carefully about the future you are creating because the 'buyers' will continue to look elsewhere.

Any suggestions where I can post a suitable warning in respect of the company I had the misfortune to deal with (and who gives you all a bad name)?

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