Human Character

People bring many things to a project, but bear in mind that certain traits seem to go along with each role. For example, the business manager, for obvious reasons, usually has the best overview as they are constantly balancing short-term expenditure against future payback. It is vital that this person has complete confidence in the project at all times.

Financial people are normally very focused on their task in hand. During development they double-check every penny as if it was their own money, especially if you suggest that the project requires additional cash. (Once the product gets to market, they will look at the revenue likewise.)

Technocrats tend to be absorbed with producing ideal code. Managers have to temper this laudable aspiration against production schedules. While titles and roles are often combined, the key players are as follows:

♦ Business managers—Instrumental in defining, steering, and signing off a project. They will typically liaise with top management (or clients) on major issues. Money is always a major concern.

♦ Project managers—They are responsible for liaising between other middle managers and the teams doing the work. They must be able to organize and motivate staff as well as work with them and solve problems. They must retain the confidence of their staff and know the way forward at every stage. It is their job to monitor progress and take management initiatives.

♦ Product manager—Although not used as much as might be useful, the product manager bridges both camps combining marketing savvy and good technical knowledge. Such people often help put together the product definitions as well as acting as the product ambassador for it at launch.

♦ Programmers—These may be full-time encoders or specialists brought in part time to develop specific components. Make sure all programmers are capable of doing what they say, and that they understand their role and its level of importance.

♦ Installers—It is extremely desirable for a member of the internal team to build a test rig at an early stage in development. This enables initial builds to be checked quickly under realistic conditions. The installer's inside knowledge of the products' intricacies makes it easier for the other programmers to accept and respond to unexpected problems.

♦ Quality controllers—This isn't the same task as testing the product. The quality controller ensures that the development technique produces stable solutions, reduces bug creation, and tracks down problems, if and when they occur. He or she also develops test plans for the product and runs all alpha and beta tests. The results are then fed back to the project manager for further refinement.

♦ Documentor—Writes the manuals and help systems. The documentor may also coordinate and prepare copy for the Web site, support, training, and so on.

♦ Release Controller—When the product is ready for release this executive takes control to synchronize the rollout. For most projects this is a non-time-consuming task, so it is common for this person to be performing another role the rest of the time, most often that of quality controller.

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