Forum:Development plan for a bioinformatics database developer/coder
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3 months ago
pixie@bioinfo ★ 1.5k

Hello,

I have to make a development plan for a team member who does all the coding work for us. He uses mostly Django framework. He had built a genotype database for us, does a lot with primer design pipelines, also information management for the lab (like creating a searchable database for a digital representation of our -80 freezer).

I am making a case for his promotion, but my manager has asked for a development plan for him so that we can check some of the boxes. I am at a loss, because we are a small bioinformatics team and not really a full-fledged software development team. We do not have a separate tester/solutions architect/coder, etc. This guy makes biological databases, writes codes really fast and efficient. Only short coming is that he does not like to take breaks while working and dives straight into the coding without a planned discussion/directive from my side.

To all the Bioinformatics PIs here, what kind of parameters would you propose to judge someone in your team ? Some of the things could be documentation, adding comments etc.. Looking for some formal ideas that I could share with my manager and HR. Thanks

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3 months ago
Mensur Dlakic ★ 27k

I am making a case for his promotion, but my manager has asked for a development plan for him so that we can check some of the boxes.

Not sure if you mean a development plan for future promotions, or to retroactively develop a development plan to justify the present promotion. Either way, my advice would be similar. By the way, I am not a bioinformatics PI, so take this with a Salt Lake worth of salt.

What was this individual's background when they joined? Did they learn new skills? Did they struggle or learn at an accelerated pace? Did they show initiative beyond the basic job requirement? Do they show potential for future growth? Is it likely that they would leave if not promoted? On balance, is it more cost-effective to promote them than to hire someone new at slightly lower salary and train them from scratch? All of these are business questions, but here are a few that are related to character and personality. Are they trustworthy? Do they work well as a part of the team? Are they well-liked within the group or could there be dissatisfaction if they are promoted at the expense of someone else? Keep in mind that not promoting well-liked individuals who work hard and are productive also sends the message to other group members.

If this is meant for future promotions it is a matter of converting some of these questions into tangible goals, like this individual is expected to build such and such database, learn to code in R in addition to python, develop a pipeline for scRNA analysis, etc.

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3 months ago
barslmn ★ 2.2k

Letting one person do all your coding in your lab/organization can only work for so long. Both for your organization and for the one doing the coding. He might be young and inspired to do all coding, but it will be technical debt in few years maybe just in few months. For your organization you have to think long term, if any of the tools are mission-critical who will be the taking care of them in his absence?

Genotype databases, lims, primer design pipelines with web user interfaces are a lot of products and one person can't handle all that especially when you're scaling up and there are new feature and product requests. Not the mention all the IT stuff and server keeping, packaging the tools, bugs etc…

Only short coming is that he does not like to take breaks while working and dives straight into the coding without a planned discussion/directive from my side.

He is excited to learn and build stuff, but this is obviously not an effective way to work. I don't know how much of the things he builds are used routinely and were a necessity. But, as a supervisor you should be leading him to build the things that are required for your organization and to spend their time wisely.

Some of the things could be documentation, adding comments etc..

It's the hard part of evaluating intellectual/artistic work. You have to evaluate their performance by setting meaningful goals (as a part of your institutions bigger goals) that all parties agree with your manager.

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I agree with all that you said. Infact one of the reasons for promoting him is to find a junior member with whom he can spar with and share some of the programing load. He only works on projects which are business cases defined by the company. So that is not a problem. He does not do the server management stuff, that's done more at a corporate level.

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