A philosophical discussion has come up in my department that I'd like p.se's opinion on. We're a 6 person development department inside a 60 person IT shop. All other departments are growing FAST, and ours has been the same size (and not fully booked at that size) for a few years.
My manager, and old-school mainframe guy, contends that developers should never ever have ANY client contact. That all interaction with the client should be mitigated by a Project Management layer. He asserts that this allows a coder the focus they need in order to CODE, and protects the business's relationship with the client from the autism-spectrum tendencies of Joe Average Code Monkey. (My words, not his.)
His boss, the owner of the company, told him this morning that every single person in the company needs to think of themselves as an extension of the sales department, and needs to be listening all the time for upsell opportunities. To this end, he thinks clients ought to have more or less full access to developers directly, in part so that devs have the opportunity to hear sales opportunities.
I'm somewhere in the middle, myself. I think it's nice to shield devs from clients to some extent, but in practice that will never be total. And yes, every single job in the company includes sales, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone has the same opportunity for it.
EDIT: We're not an agile shop. Some of us (cough) would like to head that direction, but for now assume this is a traditional fixed-bid-contract shop.
EDIT2: The autism joke wasn't funny. Got it. Entirely possible that autism jokes never are. That said: there are developers who have a capacity to represent themselves and their employers well and developers who don't (currently) have that capacity. My manager has a real concern about how the company would be represented if all developers were structurally empowered to be company representatives.
It's also getting increasingly clear from reading your responses that the real push-and-pull here is between waterfall and agile.