How to attract, retain Java software developers

Paul Gray, Practice Head: Delivery Management Java, DVT

Cape Town, 10 Oct 2016
Paul Gray, practice head: Delivery Management Java at DVT.
Paul Gray, practice head: Delivery Management Java at DVT.

When it comes to enterprise applications, Java is consistently a top choice. Yet finding Java developers can be a massive headache for CIOs, as it is one of the most difficult jobs to fill. So, the question is, how do we attract and hold onto these gems?

In days gone by, programming was viewed as a dark art and, for the most part, developers were put in a corner and expected to 'create' systems and computer programs, a business expense that most companies paid for grudgingly, says Paul Gray, Practice Head: Delivery Management Java at DVT.

Fast forward to the here and now: Java software developers have become so integral that putting them in a corner makes no business sense. These accomplished and smart people have a lot of knowledge, experience and know-how, which, when used to its potential, can be a huge business differentiator. Look at successful companies like Google and LinkedIn, which have become giants in the business world.

Race for talent is on

Organisations that can attract and keep the best talent are the ones that will outperform their competition. This is a well-established fact. Among the larger companies that understand their reliance on technology, an arms race of sorts has ensued. Instead of building ballistic missiles to destroy the world, they are creating attractive technology environments with the express intent of attracting and retaining the best Java developers. It's important to note that these developers are seeking the full package - a company that is staying abreast of technology and also of delivery methodologies and social engineering practices.

Why are there large corporates with deep pockets that are unable to attract and retain good Java development talent? Invariably, you will find that it's due to old technology or out-of-date waterfall development practices which exclude the 'knowledge' of the knowledge worker until it is too late to benefit from their experience.

Java developers want to see their code in action

The companies that offer the best packages and perks are often lacking when it comes to less tangible rewards like job satisfaction. The knowledge worker of today wants to be involved in the process from as early as possible, to be heard and to allow the development to benefit from their hard earned expertise. Environments that promote these attitudes are invariably agile settings, where the very nature of the delivery is centred on people and interactions, and where team members at all levels are given the trust to co-create business applications that deliver value.

Like everyone else, developers want to feel like they're contributing something useful to the world.

Time to change is now

Many large corporates have been putting off transforming themselves from the large, slow waterfall type companies into lean, agile delivery machines. There could be a host of reasons for this inability to embrace change, but as we all know, change is inevitable.

Change either comes from within, as an intelligent response to stimuli, or it is resisted until change is forced. Sadly, many of those big institutions that refused to change at the prompting of the changing technology landscape now find themselves required to change because of market forces. In a market where development skills are scarce, those able to attract Java developers will get them and hold onto them, leaving the businesses under-resourced and unable to respond to a rapidly changing business landscape. As a result, they have only one real option - change or become a footnote in history.

We have seen time and time again that there is no such thing as 'too big to fail'. If businesses are unable to attract and retain the right level of Java developers and other technical resources, they will surely go the way of the dinosaur.

In today's world, technology underpins and supports business, making it imperative that organisations make the changes required to ensure they create an environment that attracts and retains those very rare, very necessary, skills.



DVT, founded in 1999, delivers high quality software solutions and related professional services that deliver business value for clients faster. Its services extend from custom software development to business software solutions consulting, software quality assurance, outsourced automated regression testing, enterprise mobility solutions, business intelligence solutions, agile training and consulting, as well as packaged product-based solutions. DVT has grown to over 500 staff with offices in Johannesburg, Centurion, Cape Town and Durban. The company services more than 100 local and international, medium and large organisations. Visit DVT at

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