IT outsourcing: Java, С#/С++, .NET, Python, JavaScript, React, Go

Seldemirov Aleksandr / 28.04.2020

Episode #5. The 'Locomotive' Roles in the IT project. What is a difference between O/PO/PM/TL and why are they all necessary?

Today we will talk about a responsibility assignment matrix. We will also discuss in more details the roles which in the previous article were named as ‘locomotive’, which are pulling the project and entire team to the fulfillment of the goal.  

The Customer Role. 

What are main tasks and responsibilities in this role? Who does play this role in the case (let’s call it “bill of materials”), which we showed as an example, and how does it happen in real life? 

So, the customer is usually a business owner, a general director, or a head of the business department in the big company, who is responsible for the business result:

  • Formulates vision for a product / service;
  • Sets up business goals;
  • Decides the budget;
  • Provides financing;
  • Organizes / coordinates all related processes (sales, marketing, work of internal departments, bookkeeping, etc.)

 The Customer communicates with the Product Owner on a daily basis. He meets with the development team usually once in 2-3 weeks via video conference.

 In the project, which we are talking about, the Customer’s role is played by a General Director of a corporate startup project which is a part of a big construction holding.

 The Product Owner role 

 The Product Owner is a one of the ‘locomotive’ roles. What are responsibilities and tasks of the Product Owner?

 Main tasks the Product Owner does are the following:

  • Developes and deploys a product / service. Ensures achievement of financial targets.
  • Defines MVP functionality, based on the vision, together with the Customer
  • Forms an operating model.
  • Formulates business processes, based on the product vision, together with the Business Analyst.
  • Defines which processes will be automated, and which will remain manual.
  • Makes sure that the product conforms with external legal / regulatory requirements.
  • Gives tasks to the Business Analyst to scrupulously design the processes in the amount required for the development of MVP.
  • Defines the order and the priorities according to which the business processes / tasks will be wrapped up in a program code.

Can roles of the Customer and the Product Owner be assigned to one person? How it was in that particular project which we are talking about?
The smaller the company the higher the probability that different roles will be combined.
Assigning several roles to one person is possible, provided that the Customer is ready to solve all the above mentioned tasks and is able to be involved in the project at least 50% of his time.

 The tasks which appear in the responsibility assignment matrix of these roles.

The Project Manager role

 Goals and Tasks:

  • To ensure the achievement of the project goals within the budget, the time frame and with required functionality;
  • Planning and forecasting of the project time frame and the budget;
  • Regular communicating the Product Owner plans to the team;
  • Together with the Team Lead and the Architect, designs a development tasks structure based on user stories;
  • Makes sure that development tasks have all details;
  • Manages a project tasks fulfillment based on their interdependence and priority;
  • Provides resources to the development team;
  • Manages the project team;
  • The Scrum Master:
    • planning of sprints;
    • conducting daily stand-up meetings;
    • organizing video conferences;
    • conducting scrum retrospective;
    • and ideally, he ensures a comfortable emotional environment for the team to work;

What is an essential difference between a Project Manager and a Team Lead roles?

The Team Lead developer role

His main task is to the organize development process and communicate detailed technical objectives to particular developers.
Unlike to the Project Manager he does not have a task for controlling deadlines. In small teams he is also the CTO — the Chief Technology Officer — or the Technical Director: 

  • He thoroughly thinks out the development management logic (maintains shared access to the code store, version relevance, code change control, and code review);
  • Makes sprints planning;
  • Prepares a resource plan for the development team (i.e. figures out the number and qualifications of developers and other technical roles necessary for the team to solve the generated volume of tasks);
  • Assigns tasks for developers;
  • Together with the Architect consults developers on technical issues;

 Does it happen that one person plays roles of both the Project Manager and the Team Lead?
 Even if it happens it is rather an exception.  It is very difficult for the same person to solve both technical and organizational issues of one project, therefore, it is necessary to divide these roles.

Responsibility assignment matrix of the Product Manager and the Team Lead — download the matrix.

 Conclusion: 

  • We discussed 4 ‘locomotive’ roles, and tasks these roles are to solve;
  • We showed a responsibility assignment matrix which is an essential tool during discussion of any project.

In the next publications we will discuss other project roles.

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