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In the forth part of our CFUN-04 interview series, Michael Smith interviews Hal Helms, one of Fusebox's creators and coauthor of books on Fusebox and CFCs and trainer extraordinaire. Hal is speaking on "Fusebox and Outsourcing" at CFUN-04.

PS Don't forget there are only 6 days left for the CFUN-04 early bird price deadline of 3/31/04

Michael Smith: Hal, how do Fusebox and Outsourcing relate to each other?

Hal Helms: Well, for several years, outsourcing has been on the horizon for programmers, but, to a large degree, it sort of stayed out there, menacing. That's all changed, now. Most of us now know someone who's been directly affected by outsourcing. And things aren't going to get better any time soon.

MS: My, you're full of good news!

HH: Yeah, I know. But there are strategies for surviving - and even prospering - in this new environment. That's what I'm going to be talking about at CFUN and I'm going to focus on how the Fusebox Lifecycle Process (FLiP) can play a major role in this.

MS: Give us a better idea about how that might work.

HH: While it seems sometimes that everything is getting outsourced, that's not true. What is and will continue to be outsourced are jobs that can be "routinized".

MS: I sure wouldn't have thought of programming jobs as "routinizable", if there's such a word.

HH: Programming has a pretty broad scope of activities included and some of these jobs, especially the job of pure coding, are definitely outsourcing material. But the coding part of a project, as fun as it can be, was never the hard part of the job.

MS: What do you mean?

HH: By way of explaining, let me tell you about a spoof TV ad I saw years ago. It might have been on SNL; I don't remember exactly, but it began as an advertisement for a mail-order school called the "Great Composers School of Musical Composition". The ad explained that if you enrolled, each week you would be sent a new note - notes like B flat and G sharp. All you had to do was arrange them to form a symphony, a concerto, or an opera.

MS: That's "all" you had to do, huh?

HH: What's wrong with that idea, though?

MS: What's wrong is that composing music is about more than arranging notes. Things like structure and patterns are involved.

HH: Couldn't have put it better myself, Michael. Exactly the sort of things that are involved in programming. There are structures and patterns involved in a successful software architecture. And on top of that, there are issues of project management - issues, in fact, that FLiP deals with head on. In fact, "coding" is the least of the issues in a successful software project.

MS: And I'm betting that the stuff you're talking about isn't "routinizable"?

HH: That's exactly right. That work isn't likely to be outsourced and it's a high value item, which is what I mean by saying that some survival strategies can actually let you prosper.

MS: That sounds like a very timely topic. I'll be sure to catch your talk.

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