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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ship It! - 3.2 A Tech Leads

Your Tech Lead both oversees and carries the technical responsibility for your software project. Having a Tech Lead frees up your manager to handle bureaucratic matters while delegating the technical aspects to someone who’s better equipped. A tech lead does the following:
  • Make sure your team’s work priorities are in line with customer needs
  • Ensure that your team’s work is properly represented to management
  • Insulate your team from non-technical upper management
  • Relay technical issues to nontechnical stakeholders
  • Present nontechnical concerns to the development team
Tech Lead's Responsibilities include:
  • Set direction for team members
  • Orchestrate your project’s feature list
  • Prioritize your project’s features
  • Insulate your team from external distractions
Priorities Defined:
  • P1 - Required. These are the features that you absolutely cannot ship without.
  • P2 - Very Important. You could ship the product without completing these items, but you probably won’t.
  • P3 - Nice to Have. Given time, you will complete them, but these items never delay a ship date.
  • P4 - Polish. These items add a finished feel to your product.
  • P5 - Fluff. If you have time to add “fluff” features, then you are ahead of schedule and under budget.
Tip 15: Let a tech lead

If you aspire to be a Tech Lead, you need to prove you’re ready to handle the additional responsibility. Look over the job requirements, and strive to live up to them. Voluntarily perform as many of the tech lead duties as you can. Don’t wait for the job to fall into your lap; demonstrate that you are trying to earn the position and can handle it well.  Use The List  for your personal work but also keep one for your team. Monitor work in progress while keeping an eye on upcoming projects.  Evaluate your team’s process. Locating the weak spots and finding practices or concepts to address problems will give you a new perspective. Don’t give up if you aren’t promoted to tech lead right away. Continue learning and growing for the next assignment. Not everyone has the temperament for a tech lead role, but working toward it gives you a broader picture of the entire project, which makes you a more productive team member. You become a better developer by thinking about and considering how you’d be a tech lead.

If you’ve just become a tech lead, create a rough road map. Chart where the team currently stands and the direction you want them to go. What problems will you address? What work will you encourage? Make a list of all known problems. Then survey the team to see if they know about additional problems. When you think you’ve arrived at a real list, decide which items you can address and which you can’t. Daily meetings are a great way to keep track of your team’s work without smothering them.

You're Doing It Right If...
  • Do you know what every member of your team is working on?
  • Can you generate a project status summary in less than five minutes?
  • What are the next five to ten features for your product?
  • Can you readily list the highest-priority defects for your product?
  • What was the most recent problem you cleared up for a team member?
  • Would a team member come to you if they needed an important issue resolved?

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