Not so Different Worlds: Construction and Software

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Most of us here at FieldLens have worked on a jobsite before. Some of us have hung sheetrock for a summer, others have supervised millions of dollars in construction projects. We even have a few founders of GC companies on our team. I am one of the few here who had little exposure to construction prior to joining FieldLens. Since then I have learned to appreciate an industry that I and so many others take for granted every single day of our lives. Along the way, I have also realized that there are many similarities between building software and building structures for a living.

We are builders very much like you are. It wasn’t apparent to me at first, and I can’t blame anyone for not recognizing it. The environments we work in are entirely different, as are our tools, our processes, and ultimately our output. On the surface, construction and software development are worlds apart. But if you look beyond that, into the details of our day to day and the core of our work, the similarities are surprising.

We build things. Things that take hard work, planning, focus, teamwork, precision, and long, tiring hours to get right. Things that will belong to users and owners who will expect our creations to just work. Things that, although used every single day by countless amounts of people, few people give much thought to. Even fewer of those care about the amount of hard work and problem-solving they took to build. And yet, those of us involved in their construction feel an immense amount of personal satisfaction from having been part of it. And that’s just the beginning of how similar we are.

Buildings are constructed from structures made of concrete. Applications and programs are constructed from structures made of files. You use drawings for referencing plan details. We use product and feature specifications in exactly the same way. Challenges and limitations arise, so specifications need to be revised and reissued, just like drawings. Upon completion of a feature, our specification represents how it works, along with any changes that were made from the initial plan, just like as-built drawings. Supers and project managers walk the site pointing out loose or broken tiles, or walls that need a new coat of paint. I, and the other product managers at FieldLens, test our features before they go out with the same attention to detail.

Owners on jobsites can show up to do a walkthrough of the work in progress. Here at Fieldlens, our CEO Doug randomly shows up at my desk and asks for a version of the latest we have been working on. It’s both a blessing and a curse, right? One day the progress on a new section of your project is looking great, and other days you wouldn’t even want rats to see it. Regardless, when it comes to signing off, you only hand over work that you stand by, because that’s why you do what you do.

At the end of the day, those on the receiving end of what we build may take our work entirely for granted and may never even care, but yet we find a great sense of personal satisfaction from our work.

Let’s build better, together.

Alvaro Soltero is Assistant Product Manager at FieldLens.

Liked this post? Check out: From Construction to Tech: Q&A with Gabe Ortega.

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