I expect that anybody who has been involved with software developers, and who is not a developer, has felt like they were in a black box. Terms like one year development plans, Jira Software, regression testing, are intimidating and almost discourage non-developers. Openness to new ways of doing things sometimes highlight a “not invented here” attitude.
But the reality is that non-developers who are talking to clients and potential clients have to be the leaders in understanding and articulating client requirements, understanding current and future trends, and outlining the design requirements to the developers.
It is the Product Manager who is providing long term direction for the development plan, that will be implemented by the Software Team Leader and the development team.
It is the Product Manager and the Software Team Leader who are setting the priorities and, in our situation, agreeing on which developers will be assigned to each project based on skill sets, and experience with similar problems. In our case the development cycle for a specific number of features is two weeks and is referred to as a “sprint”.
It is the Product Manager and his or her designer who draw out what the final software will look like, and its functionality. These individuals plus the Software Team Leader, are outlining what an intuitive software should look like based on their experience with other products, the company’s branding, and understanding the user’s needs as well as anticipating market trends to be ahead of the curve.
Each step of development is confirmed with checking to ensure the new code works, is secure and meshes with existing code. It all comes together when it comes time for a new version release, whereby the new code is pushed into the main software code base. But prior to the release there is extensive checking and quality assurance, involving many different functions including the developers checking each other’s code, and the quality assurance team testing to ensure it works under various scenarios, also in different browsers and systems. Members of management, the sales team, and technical team are testing the code to ensure it meets the previously defined requirements. Each member of the team must sign off that the new code is ready to be pushed into the overall code base and released into production.
A question that naturally comes to mind is where does a use case for a specific feature come from? In our case, the idea or use case can come from a variety of different sources, both internal and external. They may have come from our clients who had asked for a specific feature to make their job easier. Or it may come from our software technical support team, who answers questions posed by the user. Ideas can come from our developers, researchers, survey programmers, and analysts who are working with the software all the time. Their questions, can be in the form of “can you develop the software to do xyz?”
Our team consists of a skilled team of developers, technical support, sales personnel, and users such as managers, survey programmers, and analysts. When it all comes together it is like a choreography for a ballet. Everyone has to work as a team. Nobody is a single star, all the members are stars.
Deterrents to such team work such as outsized ego, lack of attention to details, missing deadlines is not allowed. “Under promise and over delivery” is a fact of life.
Communicating, listening, asking questions highlighting that communication is not one-way, but an open channel where all participants feel comfortable and secure. This provides a sense of strong support to all levels of technical ability and knowledge.
Like a ballet, communicating to your audience is mandatory. Employees, clients, potential clients all must be shown the beauty of the software, its reliability, and intuitive use in meeting their needs.
Watching our team work together to create this synergy provides myself and each member of the team with a great sense of pride.
Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer
Insightrix Research Inc.