Nzangi Muimi

The Most Important Skill I Learned from Coding and Quantity Surveying

Problem-solving! Yes, you guessed right. It’s one of the most important skills I have picked from these two diverse practices.

To put you in the right context for this discussion, it is important to mention that I studied Quantity Surveying at the university and have been practising it since graduation.

Also, I started learning coding sometime back because of my interest in information technology and the intersection of that with what we do in the construction industry.

In the course of my coding learning journey, I have had access to awesome resources such as The Odin Project, CodingNomads, freeCodeCamp and a bunch of very insightful YouTube channels and blogs.

I have completed a few projects so far. If you like you can check them on my GitHub profile.

Along the way as I worked on the simple projects and explored the curriculum, I began to notice some trends that were similar to the work processes of a QS. I explore those discoveries in the following section.

Similarities between Quantity Surveying and Coding

First, the very nature of coding and quantity surveying work is project-based.

In quantity surveying, I work as part of a project delivery team, advising them on cost and contractual matters of the project.

While learning to code, I built independent projects. Each project is unique and different from the other.

When you become a developer, you will be working as part of a project team to build and deploy projects for clients.

Second, the work of a quantity surveyor is primarily rooted in the skills and competencies to measure and describe construction works from drawings. This process is called quantity take-off. It starts with synthesizing and understanding the project and the scope of work and breaking it down into simple forms in something called a take-off list.

Similarly, coding (and programming) starts with first getting a good understanding of the project, and then breaking down the problem to be solved into smaller bits. This micro-level approach resonates with the quantity surveying approach of having work sections and breaking down take-off work into a simple take-off list.

In all these domains however different they may be, what the QS and the programmer are trained to do is to employ a structured problem-solving approach in their work.

This problem-solving is the most valuable skill if so to say. Let’s see why.

Problem-Solving: The Most Important Skill

Problem-solving is the process of identifying a problem, getting a good understanding of it, analysing the best possible solutions, and deciding on the best course of action.

What is more important than that?

If you look at all the services and products being sold in the world, they are answers to people’s pain points. Someone saw a problem and a gap in the market, they analysed it and decided that the best course of action is building a certain product or offering a certain service.

That’s what we all do every day, in our places of work while serving clients. It is what entrepreneurs use to build profitable businesses.

It is the same process I rely on to analyse the market and build digital products to add to my passive income portfolio.

Here’s how it works:

The Problem-Solving Process

The following are the most important things to do in the process of solving a problem:

1. Research and Understand the Problem

This step involves finding relevant information about the problem to understand it. It is important to have a good understanding of the problem before you can move to the next stage of looking for possible solutions.

A good understanding of the problem means you can explain the problem to another person in plain language, in a way that makes it easy for them to grasp the basics.

2. Analyse the Problem

This step helps you to look at the potential solutions to the problem. What is the actual root cause of the problem and what steps can be taken to deal with these causes?

A thorough analysis will also help to understand the problem better.

3.  Break it Down into Simple Parts and Decide the Way Forward

As you look for the solution to the problem, it is recommended not to approach it as a whole. It will be very tedious trying to solve it this way.

Instead, break down the problem into simpler parts that form the whole. Solve each part and by the time you are done, you will have solved the whole problem.

It is the same idea of breaking a building into specific elements and developing a take-off list for each (breaking the problem down to finer simpler details to make it easy to find a perfect solution).

Wrapping Up

We have seen the similarities in the work processes used in quantity surveying and coding. The basics of these processes tie down to a systematic process of understanding and breaking down problems to find solutions to them.

Problem-solving is a very valuable skill. In as much as the other things I have picked from coding and quantity surveying are equally important, problem-solving comes as number one. It is where everything starts.

If you look at the world, we are applying this skill in almost all fields of practice. I, therefore, think that it is important for us to learn programming and coding and to use their principles of problem-solving to improve other aspects of our lives. Thank you for reading up to this point. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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