As a software developer, I tend to look at the world through an engineer’s eyes. It always grabs my attention whenever I notice situations where bad tools and bad processes are producing poor results and extra work for good people because all too often a few tweaks could produce outsized improvements. In many cases though, the change never comes, either because the people in a position to improve the situation don’t see the benefit to themselves or don’t know where to begin, and it’s on those projects where I’ve often felt most proud of my work. As a programmer, I live for solving thorny problems, but as a human being, the best is when I’m able to apply what I know to make improvements in real people’s lives and jobs.
I first began looking at the government contracting domain about a year ago while searching for general information on IT-related tenders. All of my past experience with RFPs has been in the private sector, so this was new territory, but I was immediately impressed with the down-to-business tone I found in online discussions and the willingness of industry veterans to work together and help newbies. You just don’t see that in the corporate setting. But as I started looking at some of the websites and applications, I found many of the same problems I’ve come to know and loathe from enterprise software – slow response times from the server, poor search implementation, outdated technologies and practices, and a lack of understanding of the jobs that users needed done.