Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Becoming a development manager

I wanted to document how I moved into management, for my own benefit and hopefully others'.

Becoming a development manager

In a growing company the development manager typically moves from being a programmer into management. My transformation went hand in hand in having the lead in creating a structure in the development department. In order of appearance:

  1. programming (adding to existing code/architecture)
  2. architect-ing (re-tinking the architecture)
  3. product packaging (Wix-ing, release notes, guides)
  4. setting up rules/guidelines regarding code and documentation (developer's guide)
  5. selecting and setting up the development environment: version control (SVN), build systems (CC), documentation systems (Confluence), issue management (Jira), test systems (NUnit).
  6. formalizing and detailing a development process (Scruminze, even ISO 9001)
  7. hiring (setting up the hiring and on-boarding processes)
  8. vacation planning, annual employee interviews
  9. budgeting

.... these tasks overlap in time and gradually go into 'maintenance mode'.

Being a development manager

After setting up the structure the next challenge is to maintain a functional system, this means:

  • evaluating the current split into teams
  • evaluating if there are skills missing
  • evaluating if work should be done internally or externally
  • evaluating the processes
  • evaluating employee happiness and motivation

The next stage in development for the development manager is moving from ad hoc fixing the existing structure to create a meta-process for this. The driving and constraining forces for adjusting/transforming the structures are (in no particular order):
  • internal organizational changes
  • changes in best practices
  • changes in technology
  • availability of skills
  • employee motivation

What a development manager is not

I belief that job descriptions should be as complete as possible and this sometimes means that they need to state what is not included. Of course this responsibility then need to lie elsewhere or the organizational chart is incomplete.

For me the development manager has the main responsibility of doing development right. It is not doing the right development. These are two huge tasks in their own rights. One lies with the development manager the other with the product manager.

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