List of Office Developers

One of the first questions on the Buyer’s Guide is How do I find an Excel developer?. I’d like to create a list of Office developers. If you were going to create such a list, what would you include for information and who would you exclude from the list. I’m thinking

Name | Office App | Website | Location | Specialties

but it seems like there should be more. I want visitors to be able to choose one of the consultants, but is that enough information to make a choice? I don’t want to put rates on there, but I’m wondering if there are some other characteristics that would allow the reader to select a few consultants for further consideration.

For exclusion, my first thought is to only include one-man, freelancers. KPMG probably has some Office development consultant, but I don’t want to include them. If the list is too big, it’s usefulness is diminished. Thoughts?

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21 thoughts on “List of Office Developers

  1. When I was freelancing (and if I ever have to go back to it again) I used to post ads on Craigslist to get business. The ads that worked included two sections. The first contained a few paragraphs about what kind of work I was looking for and what I was qualified by experience and training to do (I do business apps, so I talked about my experience with accounting and finance and my MBA). The second part was my resume, essentially. I think I could have sold my services with just the resume, but it didn’t work with just the paragraphs from the first section.

    Since that’s the format that worked, I’d kind of assume that that’s the kind of information people want when they’re looking for a freelancer. Specifically, people want to know what kind of projects you’ve done and what kind of experience you have, so that they can try and guess whether you know what you need to know to help them.

    I guess this is a long winded way of saying that information about the developers past projects and training might be useful.

  2. I agree with Stephanie that some sort of additional background such as past would be helpful, but I also recommend a credentials section, such as MVP, or in my case, CPA.

  3. I would hope that something like expertise or level of expertise would be on there. This would give someone looking thru the list a way to sort thru the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

  4. I was thinking that this list would contain the bait and the consultant’s website would contain the hook. I guess all that past project stuff would live on whatever link the consultant provided. Maybe instead of ‘Specialties’ I should just provide 1000 word space where the consultant could make their best case.

    I definitely like the ‘Professional Designations’ field.

    As for level of expertise, that’s a tough one. Back when PODA was just starting up, I thought we needed a certification. Some blue-ribbon panel would review the consultant’s work and give them the stamp of approval that they could use in marketing. The more I thought about it, though, the more difficult it seemed to pull off. How exactly could I (if I were a panel) rate one consultant against another? References (no one would submit bad ones), Code samples (how would I know they wrote it), online presence…? Then there’s the whole sticky issue of when I reject Joe Dev because I think his code is crap (or I’m in a bad mood, or Joe and I have some personal history). How does that go over? I still like the idea of a Professional Office Developer Certification, I just can’t seem to work out the implementation. The more objective I make it, the easier it is to game the system. The more subjective I make it, the more enemies I have because someone coded

    If bVariable = True Then

    .

    I guess the long and short of that diatribe is that I’ve settled on making it a skill-level agnostic list and let the user of the list determine the qualifications based on all the information provided. But I can still be talked out of it. :)

  5. Hi Dick,

    I agree with the others.

    Your remarks on the difficulty of certification/qualification are (I think) exactly why PODA isn’t really going places yet. Developments are slow. Too slow.

    But maybe we’ll improve in the coming months. If the economic situation proves to affect our business in such a way that we actually get time to do some PODA work…

  6. Surely, one of the big problems is legal ramifications.

    If someone employs someone who has a good rating on any list and it goes sour, will they pursue the list owners.

    Conversely, if someone gets a bad rating, could they pursue the list for damaging their ability to earn.

    I would think that the only thing you can do is to compile a list, bland facts, with a link to their website so as to avoid any such ramifications.

  7. I’m in agreement with Stephanie and David, but I wouldn’t look for certification. Most of the excellent software developers I’ve worked with have NOT had such a certification; instead, I look for good experience and enough samples so that I have a pretty good idea about someone’s qualifications.

    In most fields, there’s an inevitable disconnect between the requirements for certification and a person’s actual abilities. I believe the same is true here.

  8. Good point Bob. I hadn’t thought of legal problems. I’m sure that’s manageable, but it’s just another reason to steer clear.

    Agree on the disconnect, Stan. I was hoping to do something “better”. But there’s a reason there’s not already something better – it’s hard. :)

    How about user rankings? It’s a Web 2.0 world. That means I provide the framework and everyone else provides the content, right? What if I provide a ‘just the facts’ list but allow users to rank and leave comments?

  9. >>How about user rankings? It’s a Web 2.0 world. That means I provide the framework and everyone else provides the content, right? What if I provide a ‘just the facts’ list but allow users to rank and leave comments?

    Yeah no one could abuse that!, just look at e-bay :)

    If I was you I wouldn’t bother! If someone cant find an excel Developer then you don’t really want to work with them!

  10. I wonder how you would ensure fairness to the freelancers – if the list was a reasonable length, then the ones at the top would get picked over the ones at the bottom – who is going to read through all say 15 freelancer 1000 word descriptions? Maybe you could randomly sort the list? Or provide a search feature? Starting to sound like Google to me. Could freelancer’s pay to get higher up the list? Could be a source of a bit revenue for you too which I don’t think was direction you were headed. Seems like too contentious an issue to be worth the effort.

  11. I think all the problems with fairness may be why sites like rent a coder exist, where someone puts a request for bids out with a description of the work, then freelancers come in and say whether or not that’s something they do, and how much they’ll do it for.

    Maybe that would be the better way to approach this, where instead of an auction type of site (like rent a coder) you basically have people list out general requirements in what the work involves, and freelancers come in and decide whether or not it’s something they’re suited for, and they deal with contacting the person.

    That kind of changes the dynamic, where with a list freelancers kind of passively get work from this list, where maybe the freelancers should actively look for work…

  12. This is a great idea.

    I do think this “List of Developers” will grow considerably and very quickly. You’ll have the “$50 for any project” guys on the list in no time. I think some strict data input rules and smart filtering mechanisms will help tremendously in pinpointing a developer.

    Having shopped for developers many times for business and personal projects, let me share the one thought I always have:

    Everyone says they can do anything. Maybe they can, but as a buyer, I need pinpoint a specific skill. I always end up wanting to see their top 3 (very specific) skills. You can never tell what exactly they have done. You always get “I do database work”. WTF.

    I would force developers to select their top 3 expertise from a very specific pre-defined list. If you limit them to their top 3, you reduce amount of filtering a customer will have to do. The long list of “generalists” will be shortened to the list of skill-specific developers.

    The more specific the better. examples:
    -Developing SarBox Collection Mechanisms
    -Documention Existing Spreadshet Processes
    -Conversion from Excel to Access
    -Integration with Access Database
    -Automating Reporting from SQL to Excel Dashboard
    -Automation from Excel to PowerPoint
    -Automation of Email Functions

    This not only gives prospective clients a way to filter out specific skills, but also serves as a proxy for past experiences. If someone selects “Automation from Excel to PowerPoint”, chances are they’ve done it before.

    If your list of skills has: VBA, Auditing, Databases, Power Formulas, and Charts – then your site will (eventually) become “$50 for any project” land.

    But Mike, what if a developer is multi-talented and really *can* do everything? Too bad…start your own website and market the S#@! out of your services.

  13. Charlie: I like the way you think. Create a list and charge people to be at the top. Seriously though, I was thinking of a random order. I used to do that with the DDoE authors list back when there was one. Not that anyone got any work form being an author here.

    Jon: So you’re saying I should be a pimp for Excel developers. Yes, I can see it now. I’ll have Mike and Jon and Jan Karel in my stable and I’ll rough up any “johns” that don’t pay promptly. And I get to wear a big feather in my hat.

    That’s definitely something to consider though. It’s a whole different way of looking at it, which can’t be a bad thing. One problem I can think of is independence. If I’m running the list and it seems like I’m getting the primo gigs, that may not be so good. I’ll think on it.

    Reading Mike’s comment, I think an alternative to a “just-the-facts” list is to go to the other extreme. What if I had a “DDoE recommends” list? That brings up all the problems we’ve already discussed. However, if I take it to the extreme, maybe it will work. My list starts with just me – I’m great and I already know it. I can think of a handful of people I could add to this list because I’m familiar enough with their work to recommend them. And, in fact, I have recommended them to potential clients when the project wasn’t in my wheelhouse. To get on this list would be hard. You can’t just be good, you have to convince me you’re good and I reject 95% of the requests because they’re not good, or there’s just not enough evidence they’re good. Less hurt feelings, just like my feelings don’t get hurt when I don’t win the Nobel prize every year.

    I’m just spitballing here, so don’t take anything I say too seriously. That kind of a list would have far less mass appeal. The choice would seem limited. Less people on the list means less press about it. If the list doesn’t become the de-facto list of Excel developers, then I’m better off just “starting my own site and marketing the s– out it”. Why would I want to present five of my competitors to the 10% extra eyeballs as well as the eyeballs I would have got anyway.

    I appreciate everyone’s comments and I enjoy this discussion. I think I’ll start a list in the next couple of weeks. I’m not sure which list it will be, but I’ll let it stew in my brain for a few days and I think the answer will be clear. In the mean time, keep your comments coming.

  14. There are 70+ Excel MVP’s – So would you include all of them in the Excel Category… If not how would you exclude some of them…

  15. So Dick, do you really want to get into this mess? Maybe you do, but I’d never attempt this. A FAQ for people who are looking, sure. Your time would be better spent on a fantasy football league.

  16. I like the idea, but hope it won’t turn out to be “No Excel Developer Left Behind.”

    I was too busy/lazy/Maker’s Mark-ed to read all the comments, but those that did not get overlooked in my scroll, impelled me to print the list for later reading.

    I am offering this: It would be very intriguing to learn of the breadth and depth of the ways Excel-based programs have been developed and used (Specialties?). Such a display may even engender some pity on Microsoft not to be so cavalier on destroying the livelihoods of such committed Excel-ers by their uninformed, over-geeked decisions about forward and backward compatibility, deprecation of code, and ignorance of the developer’s plight, which turns to user’s disgust.

    For instance, I’ve used Excel to develop programs and tools for the ubiquitous (if you can believe it!) field of Pharmacokinetics and Drug Metabolism. Now, if that was seen in a list along with many more as esoteric and intriguing titles, I am sure it would be cause for much exploration about just what Excel means and can do for developers and the world alike! Anyone doing string theory in Excel?

    Google “Pharmacokinetics Software in Excel”, if you wanna see for yourself.

    Best,

    David,
    SummitPK

  17. Excel is a beast and it is to my knowledge the best program to learn engineering and science on. Hi, I am George Lungu analog and systems designerat and I have an Excel engineering blog . You can check for yourself since everything is freely downloadable on the blog. If you need a certified MS guru, look somewhere else but if you need the the creation of dynamic models and charts in Excel, beyond anything an Excel guru can create or if Matlab is too expensive or too slow for your application visit my blog and contact me. Cheers, George Lungu

  18. The editor removes the URL’s and doesn’t even leave a blank or let you edit, this is what I wanted to day:

    Excel is a beast and it is to my knowledge the best program to learn engineering and science on. Hi, I am George Lungu analog and systems designer and I have an Excel engineering blog . You can check for yourself since everything is freely downloadable on the blog. If you need a certified MS guru, look somewhere else but if you need the the creation of dynamic models and charts in Excel, beyond anything an Excel guru can create or if Matlab is too expensive or too slow for your application visit my blog and contact me. Cheers, George Lungu

  19. Will this list still be going ahead? Been having a look around for it but can’t seem to locate it. I think it’s a really good idea though.

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