Working as an IT Professional


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Working as an IT Professional

  1. 1.       Working  as  an  IT  Professional             Professional  Accountability     Commitment       Quality         A  Statement  of  Principle           Version  2.0     January  12,  2010                             Cost                 Quality         Schedule Scope                
  2. 2.   Contents        Introduction   .....................................................  1    Characteristics  of  a  Professional  .....................  2    Professional  Models  ........................................  2     CostThe  Role  of  the  Specification  ...........................  4    Commitment  in  Context  ..................................  4    Quality  as  the  Integrating  Concept  ..................  6     QualityResponsibilities  of  the  Client  ...........................  7     Schedule ScopeCommitment  and  Community  .........................  8    Summary  .........................................................  8    References  .......................................................  9   i   Version  2.0    
  3. 3.  Introduction   • How  should  a  professional  interact  with  business   representatives  (as  a  subordinate  or  a  vendor)?  What  are  the  core  responsibilities  of  an  IT  practitioner  tasked  with  producing  a  quality  deliverable  on  time,   • During  a  challenging  project,  what  are  the  limits  of  and  within  budget?  There  have  been  many  examples   the  responsibility  of  the  professional?  throughout  the  IT  industry  where  managers  have   • Who  judges  quality,  and  how?  asked  teams  to  step  up  to  a  major  challenge.  Sometimes  the  problems  were  not  the  team’s  fault.   • How  are  professionals  held  accountable  for  their  Other  times  there  were  insufficient  time  and  resource   work?  to  complete  the  job.  Often,  the  business  organization  could  not  afford  to  miss  an  excellent  opportunity.  In   • What  is  commitment?  such  cases,  management  might  ask  practitioners  to   In  answering  these  questions,  it  will  become  clear  work  longer  hours  than  normal  to  “get  the  job  done.”   that  a  professional  does  not  act  in  a  vacuum,  but  Is  this  appropriate,  and  if  so,  why  does  the   participates  in  a  protocol  between  IT  professionals  practitioner  accept  this  as  a  responsibility?   and  the  other  parts  of  the  business  organization.  Many  developers  have  experienced  two  types  of   When  the  conditions  are  right,  the  professional  will  project  that  require  working  long  hours:     step  up  to  the  challenge  and  achieve  extraordinary   results.  This  is  because  a  professional’s  motivation  • The  death  march  refers  to  a  project  in  which   generally  originates  from  internal  factors,  but   morale  and  quality  are  poor.  The  client  is   leadership  and  a  good  client  relationship  can   dissatisfied  and  the  developers  are  exhausted.   transform  this  basic,  inner  motivation  into  true   inspiration.  • In  an  exceptional  project,  everyone  works  very   hard  to  meet  or  exceed  the  goal.  The  client  is   The  client  organization  has  a  stake  in  engaging  the  IT   delighted,  all  team  members  have  a  sense  of   professional  in  setting  goals  and  timeframes.  Death   accomplishment  and  everyone  feels  good  about   March  projects  rarely  meet  the  target  date  the  way   the  outcome.     the  client  expected,  and  the  collateral  damage  is   often  high.  Given  the  opportunity,  most  business  The  difference  in  how  these  two  situations  are   executives  would  prefer  to  know  the  realistic  perceived  lies  in  the  sense  of  control  and   implementation  date  early  enough  to  make  commitment  that  the  IT  practitioner  experiences.   contingency  plans.  Learning  that  a  team  will  miss  the  However,  the  term  commitment  has  a  special   implementation  date  just  prior  to  the  fact  reduces  an  interpretation  explained  later  in  this  document.     executive’s  options.  Challenging  projects  are  a  fact  of  life  for  the  professional.  In  some  cases,  the  time-­‐to-­‐market   When  do  executives  want  demands  outweigh  the  goal  of  optimizing  quality.  In   to  know  that  the  water  other  cases,  business  managers  or  external  agencies   will  not  fit  in  the  glass?  may  have  made  estimating  errors,  but  could  not  change  the  dates  due  to  dependencies  with  other   • When  we  measure  it  commitments.  So  why  should  the  IT  practitioner  take   • Just  before  it  overflows  responsibility  for  these  problems?   • When  their  feet  are  wet  This  document  discusses  expectations  and    responsibilities,  and  in  doing  so  addresses  the  following  questions:     Figure  1:  The  Executive’s  Preference  • Are  IT  practitioners  in  fact  professionals  –  just  like   The  protocol  proposed  in  this  document  is  that  the   accountants  or  lawyers?   Business  will  engage  the  IT  practitioner  as  a  true   professional.  In  turn,  the  professional  will  • What  expectations  are  reasonably  placed  on  a   demonstrate  commitment  by  consciously  accepting   professional?   accountability  and  do  what  is  necessary  to  deliver   quality  within  an  agreed  time  and  budget.  • How  is  an  IT  professional  expected  to  behave?   1   Version  2.0    
  4. 4.  Characteristics  of  a  Professional   Most  professionals  receive  a  great  deal  of  satisfaction   from  internal,  personal  motivational  factors  such  as:  • Business  Economics  is  the  primary  motivation   performing  what  they  believe  to  be  a  good  job,  Professionals  exhibit  many  desirable  qualities,  such  as   sharpening  their  skills,  and  applying  their  creativity  to  responsiveness,  passion  and  dedication,  but  these   an  important  project.  Feeling  that  their  contribution  is  characteristics  are  rooted  in  an  underlying   important,  and  matters,  is  especially  significant.  Good  appreciation  of  business  economics.  Professionals  do   leaders  recognize  that  while  they  can  offer  external  not  need  passion  for  the  job,  and  people  without   motivators  such  as  recognition  or  a  merit  raise,  passion  are  not  somehow  less  professional.  While   showing  how  the  project  goals  align  with  the  passion  can  leverage  other  motivations,  it  is  not  a  key   professional’s  goals  and  inner  motivations  can  result  element.     in  an  extraordinary  performance:  it  becomes  truly   inspirational.  (Hertzberg’s  The  Motivation  to  work  Compared  to  professional,  the  term  amateur  is  often   elaborates  on  this  concept.)  used  pejoratively.  However,  the  original  meaning  of  amateur  (amāre:  to  love)  referred  to  someone  who   Before  expanding  on  the  importance  of  the  performed  for  the  love  of  the  activity  rather  than  for   specification  and  its  role  as  the  benchmark  of  quality,  payment.  The  professional  was  someone  who   it  will  be  useful  to  review  the  different  types  of  performed  for  money.  Being  an  amateur  was   professional.  considered  a  desirable  quality  in  college  sports,  but   Professional  Models  not  in  the  workforce.  Do  professionals  need  to  love  their  jobs?  In  fact,  no  -­‐  that  is  a  secondary  motivator   This  section  provides  IT  practitioners  with  a  basis  to  because  it  is  not  driven  by  economics.   shape  their  work  practices  and  determine  how  they   relate  to  the  rest  of  the  organization.  Professionals  Primarily,  economics  motivates  professionals.  They   provide  services  to  clients  while  conforming  to  codes  sell  a  skill  for  a  reward.  This  is  particularly  obvious  in   of  practice  that  protect  the  interests  of  the  public,  the  case  of  those  people  in  a  professional  practice   employers  and  peers.    because  they  bill  the  client  for  every  hour  of  work.  This  distinction  is  important  because  amateurs,  who   However,  they  do  not  all  work  in  the  same  manner,  work  for  the  love  of  the  discipline,  work  until  they  are   and  the  way  some  professional  bodies  operate  is  not  satisfied.  The  professional,  on  the  other  hand,  works   appropriate  to  systems  development.  Comparing  until  the  customer’s  specification  and  their  agreement   physicians,  lawyers,  auditors,  engineers  and  are  satisfied.  Amateurs,  along  with  artists,  are  the   consultants  demonstrates  the  broad  spectrum  of  judges  of  their  quality.  For  the  professional,  the   professional  behavior.  specification  provides  the  benchmark  for  quality.     • The  Physician  When  practitioners  argue  that  they  need  to  work   When  patients  visit  a  doctor,  they  do  not  bring  a  longer  than  planned  on  a  task  because  the  product  is   personal  specification  to  the  consultation.  The  not  up  their  personal  standards  for  quality,  they  are   physician  has  a  model  of  the  parameters  for  a  healthy  not  demonstrating  higher  standards  compared  to   person:  temperature,  blood  pressure,  pulse  rate,  etc.  their  peers:  they  are  applying,  instead,  a  subjective   The  physician  compares  the  patient’s  condition  to  this  and  amateur  standard.   model  of  the  healthy  human  being  and  then  tells  the  • The  motivation  to  exceed   patient  what  to  do.  The  doctor  knows  what  is  best  for   the  patient  and  prescribes  a  treatment.  While  business  economics  and  satisfying  the  client’s  needs  are  the  basic  motivations  that  are  necessary   • The  Attorney  /  Advocate  and  sufficient  for  a  “job  well  done,”  leaders  and   The  attorney  acts  as  a  voice  for  the  client.  The  clients  recognize  that  there  are  other  motivations  that   attorney  knows  the  complex  legal  codes  and  which  truly  engage  a  professional  employee,  that  leverage   strategies  are  relevant  to  the  case.  The  lawyer  listens  the  basic  motivations  such  that  professionals  will   to  the  client’s  story  and  describes  alternative  additionally  devote  their  discretionary  time  and   strategies,  such  as  plead  guilty,  make  a  plea  bargain,  creativity  to  a  project.   or  plead  innocent.  The  attorney  is  generally  not   2   Version  2.0    
  5. 5.  concerned  whether  the  client’s  story  is  true  or  not:   The  Institute  of  Management  Consultants  (IMC)  the  purpose  is  to  be  an  advocate.  The  advocate  will   provides  this  definition  of  a  management  consultant:  tell  the  client  what  is  possible,  and  what  the  various   “A  management  consultant  is  a  professional  who,  for  outcomes  could  be,  but  will  leave  the  decision  over   a  fee,  provides  independent  and  objective  advice  to  which  course  of  action  to  take  to  the  client.  The   management  of  client  organizations  to  define  and  attorney’s  objective  is  to  ensure  the  client  receives   achieve  their  goals  through  improved  utilization  of  due  process,  not  to  ensure  an  agreed  outcome  or   resources.  He  or  she  may  do  this  by  diagnosing  deliverable.     problems  and/or  opportunities,  recommending   solutions,  and  helping  implement  improvement.”  • The  Auditor   This  description  can  easily  extend  to  cover  other  types  Laws  and  regulations  require  a  client  to  engage  an   of  consultants.  Company  employees  with  the  auditor  who  protects  the  interests  of  third  parties   appropriate  expertise  can  function  as  internal  such  as  shareholders  and  the  IRS.  Statements  of   consultants,  as  long  as  they  follow  the  consultative  accounting  principles  defined  by  the  professional   approach.  However,  for  very  practical  reasons,  the  bodies  and  enacted  in  legislation  determine   employer-­‐employee  relationship  can  interfere  with  professional  behavior.  Similar  to  the  advocate,  the   their  objectivity  and  independence.  auditor  does  not  have  a  specification  as  such.  Each  client  receives  the  same  process,  but  also  receives  a   Consultants  vary  greatly  based  on  the  depth  or  standard  deliverable  –  a  statement  regarding  the   generality  of  their  domain  expertise.  For  example,  an  audited  accounts.   IT  consultant  might  focus  on  insurance  underwriting   practices,  whereas  a  strategic  planning  consultant  • The  Engineer   would  need  broad  experience  of  finance,  operations,  The  engineer  listens  to  the  client  and  identifies   human  resources,  marketing  and  sales.  However,  for  requirements.  A  specification  is  built  based  on  the   all  consultants,  the  domain  knowledge  is  only  one  engineer’s  understanding  of  engineering  principles   part  of  their  value  to  an  organization.  It  is  their  and  codes.  The  deliverable  -­‐  a  bridge  or  a  chemical   training  and  experience  in  the  consultative  approach  plant  -­‐  can  be  built  according  to  the  specification.  The   that  guides  them  to:  job  is  complete  when  the  specification  is  met.     • Recognize  problems  and  opportunities;  Unlike  the  physician,  the  engineer  does  not  have  a   • Analyze  opportunities  and  diagnose  problems;  mental  model  of  “what  is  best”  for  the  client.  The  engineer  is  not  a  disinterested  advocate,  promising   • Devise  or  shape  alternative  solutions  based  on  only  to  follow  a  process.  The  engineer’s  view  is  that   best  practices  and  experiences  gained  on  other  the  client  “knows  best”  in  terms  of  the  function  of  the   assignments;  deliverable,  and  to  some  degree,  its  form.  (Note,  this  is  distinct  from  the  consulting  engineer  who  brings   • Advise  the  client  by  providing  a  detached,  “best  practices”  from  many  years  of  experience  with   external  view  of  a  companys  practices  and  other  clients.)  The  engineer  uses  knowledge  of  what  is   techniques;  and  physically  possible  and  codes  of  practice  as  a  frame  of   • Recommend  an  approach  reference  for  the  specification.  The  engineer  will  not  knowingly  build  a  bridge  that  will  fall  down.  The   In  many  respects,  the  consultant  provides  value  by  commitment  is  for  more  than  just  a  process  to  build  a   recognizing  problems  that  others  do  not  see,  and  bridge:  the  commitment  is  the  bridge.   shaping  solutions  based  on  experiences  that  others   do  not  have.  Nevertheless,  the  consultative  approach  • The  Consultant   guides  the  client  towards  making  the  best  possible  Clients  engage  a  consultant  as  an  advisor  to  apply   choices  while  recognizing  the  constraints  on  the  expertise  to  a  problem  and  provide  unbiased   business  and  avoiding  any  prejudices  the  consultant  recommendations.  One  of  the  ways  in  which  they   might  have.  differ  from  engineers  is  that  they  are  not  generally   For  all  types  of  professional,  the  client  is  primarily  accountable  to  construct  the  recommended  solution.   concerned  about  the  outcome  and  the  costs.  The  time   3   Version  2.0    
  6. 6.  recorded  for  a  project  is  generally  secondary.  For   professionals,  on  the  other  hand,  often  automate  an  example,  a  patient  is  more  interested  in  a  cure  than  in   existing  process  and  include  conversion  steps  in  the  the  actual  time  the  physician  spends  on  the  case.   project.    Secondly,  many  companies  have  no   experience  of  employing  engineers,  and  are  not  The  Role  of  the  Specification   familiar  with  how  to  manage  this  professional  role.    The  major  distinction  between  these  professional    models  concerns  the  role  of  the  specification  and  its  impact  on  the  relationship  between  the  professional    and  the  client.       CostThe  doctor  has  a  generic  specification  -­‐  a  model  -­‐  for    the  regular  human  being.  The  advocate’s  model  is  the  legal  code  that  defines  a  process  to  which  the  client  is    entitled.  As  such,  the  advocate  does  not  have  a    specification  for  a  deliverable.  The  consultant  uses    domain  knowledge,  and  applies  a  process  –  the   Qualityconsultative  approach  –  to  reach  an  unbiased    recommendation.  However,  the  consultant’s    deliverable  is  based  on  an  assignment  brief,  not  a   Schedule Scopespecification.      The  engineer  has  a  special  relationship  with  the  client    that  is  most  relevant  to  the  role  of  the  IT  developer   Figure  2:  The  Iron  Triangle  and  the  systems  development  process.  IT  professionals  prepare  specifications  and  commit  to   The  well-­‐known  Iron  Triangle  depicts  three  related  develop  a  deliverable  on  the  principle  that  the  client   constraints  of  scope,  schedule,  and  cost.  At  best,  no  knows  best  -­‐  up  to  the  limits  of  codes,  principles  and   more  than  two  of  these  constraints  can  be  varied  the  law.  For  example,  regardless  of  the  client’s   independently:  the  remaining  constraint  becomes  a  requirements,  an  IT  practitioner  will  not  build  a   function  of  the  other  two.  The  engineer  and  the  client  system  that  allows  a  manager  to  embezzle,  just  as  the   can  attempt,  for  example,  to  increase  scope  and  engineer  will  not  build  a  bridge  designed  to  collapse.     reduce  schedule,  but  not  without  increasing  cost.  In   this  example,  cost  cannot  remain  constrained  without  Clients  engage  consultants,  on  the  other  hand,  to   seriously  affecting  quality  -­‐  which  in  objective  terms  address  ill-­‐defined  problems  rather  than  specified   means  not  delivering  on  the  specification.  problems.  While  consultants  may  in  fact  know  what  is  best  for  the  client  (based  on  best  practices),  they   This  is  the  root  of  many  disagreements  between  the  recognize  that  the  client  is  the  decision-­‐maker.     professional  and  the  client  (or  the  manager),  with   some  parties  believing  incorrectly  that  somehow  a  The  consultant  plays  a  role  mainly  in  the  investigative   committed  team  can  overcome  these  constraints.    steps  of  an  IT  project,  especially  during  a  feasibility  study  and  business  process  modeling,  and  may  play  a   However,  engineers  are  not  cheerleaders:  they  do  not  role  in  defining  the  specification.     “give  110%”  (because  they  have  highly  developed   computational  skills).  Instead,  it  is  their  practice  to  However,  these  two  modes  of  working  –  the  engineer   build  a  factor-­‐of-­‐two  safety  margin  into  their  and  the  consultant,  the  builder  and  the  advisor  -­‐   deliverable.  IT  professionals  are  rarely  given  this  should  not  be  confused  or  combined  during  key  steps   latitude.    in  the  systems  development  process.  The  client  has  very  different  expectations  for  these  two  roles.   Commitment  in  Context  One  interesting  distinction  between  IT  practitioners   Commitment  is  a  misunderstood  concept.  Clients  and  and  engineers  is  that  regular  engineers  do  not  often   managers  often  ask  professionals  if  they  are  re-­‐create  something  that  is  pre-­‐existing,  such  as   committed  to  meeting  a  schedule.  Managers  might  replacing  one  dam  with  another  in  the  same  place.  IT   even  ask  if  the  professional  is  committed  110%.   4   Version  2.0    
  7. 7.  However,  it  is  rare  that  the  parties  discuss  what  they   testing.  Information  must  be  shared  as  early  as  mean  when  they  use  the  term.   possible  to  allow  departments,  divisions,  teams   and  individuals  to  see  each  other’s  commitments,  “Being  committed”  cannot  contribute  to  meeting  a   and  to  adjust  to  change  where  necessary.  schedule  if  it  is  used  simply  as  an  affirmation.  The  root  of  commitment  lies  in  the  relationship  between   • Accountability:  The  performer  is  the  one  who  the  engineer,  the  client  and  the  deliverable,  which  is   must  accept  accountability  for  the  deliverable  shown  in  the  delivery  triangle.   based  on  a  complete  understanding  of  the   specification,  the  business  constraints  and  the     technical  frame  of  reference,  according  to  the     principle  of  Visibility.  Clearly  defined   Deliverable   accountability  for  each  participant  within  the   project  shows  who  is  responsible  for  each  risk,     each  deliverable  component,  and  each  decision.   Ac rs ce ve   Agreement pts li Commitment:  This  can  now  be  defined  in  terms  of   De & • Specification   an  informed  consent  based  on  participation  in  the   preparation  and  negotiation  of  estimates  and     schedules.  Professionals  are  committed  when   Performer Accountability Acceptor   they  accept  accountability  for  the  deliverable.   One  cannot  give  accountability  to  a  professional.     A  manager  cannot  promise  commitment  on   Figure  3:  The  Delivery  Triangle   behalf  of  another  person  –  only  a  person  who  The  deliverable  is  the  concrete  product  resulting  from   recognizes  accountability  can  accept  it.  the  requirements.  The  performer  agrees  to  create  the   • Peer  Review:  Visibility  into  plans,  commitments,  deliverable.  The  acceptor  agrees  to  provide   status,  and  achievements  of  peer  organizations  requirements  and  then  accept  the  deliverable  based   and  participants  can  provide  encouragement  on  it  meeting  those  requirements.  This  cycle  repeats.   (peer  pressure)  to  fulfill  commitments.  Group  In  an  early  phase  of  the  project,  the  performer  takes   dynamics  and  team  cohesion  play  an  important  user  requirements  and  creates  a  specification  as  a   part  in  making  peer  review  effective.  deliverable.  In  subsequent  phases,  performers  use  the  specification  to  create  a  system  as  a  deliverable.   Once  committed,  the  professional  is  responsible  and   accountable  for  timely,  on-­‐budget  delivery.  This  might  According  to  this  concept,  the  professional  (the   require  working  longer  and  harder  than  originally  performer)  is  accountable  to  the  client  (the  acceptor)   estimated  to  meet  the  committed  date  with  a  quality  for  the  delivery.     deliverable.  This  commitment  does  not  occur  at  the  What  does  this  accountability  mean?  It  must  be   end  of  the  schedule  when  a  project  is  in  trouble.  informed  accountability,  based  on  as  complete  an   Every  day,  the  professional  reviews  progress  and  does  understanding  of  the  specification  as  is  reasonable.   not  quit  after  a  specific  number  of  hours,  but  works  The  requirements  must  be  complete  and  visible  to  all   until  the  day’s  commitments  are  met.  This  principle  is  concerned.  Progress  throughout  the  project  must  also   part  of  being  a  professional  and  helps  to  define  the  be  visible  to  all  concerned  –  this  is  one  purpose  of  the   limits  of  the  professional’s  responsibility.  The  team  peer  review.  In  other  words,  a  commitment  to  deliver   can  expect  professionals  to  work  as  hard  as  necessary  without  this  understanding  is  empty.   to  meet  their  commitments,  but  only  to  the  extent  of   those  commitments.  Teams  cannot  assign  work  to  an  To  elaborate,  the  key  factors  are:   uncommitted  person  and  expect  good  results.  • Visibility:  Information  about  the  requirements,   This  last  point  brings  the  discussion  back  to  a   the  deliverable,  and  the  project  status  must  be   comment  made  in  the  Introduction  comparing  the   openly  discussed  in  order  that  the  right  decisions   death  march  and  the  truly  exceptional  project.  Both   are  made.  Production  of  the  deliverable  must  be   require  extraordinary  effort  by  practitioners,  but  the   transparent  by  being  open  to  peer  review  and   outcomes  (and  memories)  are  very  different.  It  was   5   Version  2.0    
  8. 8.  stated  that  a  significant  distinction  between  these   Quality  as  the  Integrating  Concept  two  types  of  project  was  based  in  the  professional’s  perception  of  commitment  and  sense  of  control  –  or   This  document  argues  that  a  certain  type  of  Locus  of  Control.   professional,  the  engineer,  is  the  proper  model  for   the  IT  professional.  Further,  professionals  are  Locus  of  Control  is  a  concept  proposed  by   distinguished  from  amateurs  because  amateurs  work  psychologists  such  as  J  Rotter  and  P  Zimbardo  to   for  the  love  of  the  task,  defining  quality  according  to  describe  peoples’  perception  about  the  underlying   their  own,  often  high  but  nonetheless  subjective,  causes  of  events  in  their  lives.  Individuals  with  an   standards.  internal  locus  of  control  believe  that  outcomes  result  mainly  from  their  own  actions.  People  with  an   The  Iron  Triangle  depicts  quality  at  its  center  because  external  locus  of  control  believe  events  in  their  lives   for  a  given  degree  of  quality,  the  relationship  are  contingent  on  fate  or  the  actions  of  other,  more   between  cost,  schedule  and  scope  is  constrained.  powerful  people  (i.e.,  outside  their  personal  control).   Therefore,  professionals  need  a  measure  or  They  are  not  convinced  that  their  contribution  will   benchmark  for  quality  that  is  not  subjective  and  is  not  affect  the  outcome  of  a  project.   “artistic.”  The  specification  provides  an  objective  basis   for  assessment.  In  professional  terms:  This  is  an  important  concept  for  professionals  and  their  relationship  to  the  client  for  two  reasons:   Quality  is  Conformance  to  the  Specification   This  is  not  a  recent  idea.  In  25BC,  Vitruvius  wrote  in  • Competent  individuals  with  a  high  internal  locus   “The  Ten  Books  on  Architecture”  of  three  principles   of  control  tend  to  handle  stressful  projects  better.   for  designing  a  building:   That  is,  stress  does  not  have  such  a  negative  effect   upon  their  performance.  They  are  likely  to  make   • Strength,  Utility,  and  Beauty   more  of  an  effort  and  persist  longer  at  a  task.   By  utility,  Vitruvius  meant  that  a  building  must  serve  a  • Professionals  with  a  high  internal  locus  of  control   purpose  or  function  according  to  a  specification,  and   feel  empowered  to  take  responsibility  and  make  a   it  must  be  “well  adjusted  to  its  site.”  By  strength,  the   commitment.     architect  meant  that  the  building  must  be  fit  for  the   purpose  for  which  it  was  constructed,  and  not  have  Several  factors  discussed  so  far  contribute  to   defects  causing  it  to  collapse.  Finally,  by  beauty,  this  supporting  an  individual’s  perception  of  control:   architect  was  referring  to  the  appearance  and  use  of  • Participating  in  the  estimation  process;     the  building,  which  is  pleasing  to  the  eye  and  which   appeals  to  the  senses  according  to  principles  of  • Being  able  to  accept  accountability  (rather  than   symmetry.   complying  with  demands);   How  does  this  apply  to  IT  professionals?    • Having  visibility  into  project  progress  and  the   commitments  of  others;  and   The  translation  is  clear.  IT  deliverables  must  satisfy   the  functional  requirement  (provide  utility);  they  • Participating  in  a  peer-­‐review  process.   must  be  shown  to  be  fit  for  the  purpose  for  which  An  internal  locus  of  control,  supported  by   they  were  designed,  perform  under  load  and  in  professional  competence,  ultimately  validates  and   conjunction  with  other  systems  (strength);  and  they  strengthens  the  professional’s  commitment.   must  be  user-­‐friendly  (beauty)  and  consistent  with   architectural  principles.  All  team  members,  including  those  with  less  experience,  should  have  input  into  estimates.  Team   The  specification  describes  these  elements  and  leaders  and  managers  “negotiate”  the  estimates  by   expectations,  and  a  team  achieves  quality  through  bringing  their  own  experience  to  the  discussion.   conformance  to  the  specification.  The  professional  is  Nevertheless,  each  project  participant  must  be   accountable  to  the  acceptor  to  deliver  quality  in  these  committed  in  the  sense  of  accepting  accountability  to   terms.    deliver  a  clearly  identified  piece  of  the  deliverable  on   However,  clients  should  recognize  that  there  is  a  legal  time.   distinction  between  a  professional  and  an  expert:   6   Version  2.0    
  9. 9.  courts  hold  experts  to  a  much  higher  standard.   should  have  understood  some  esoteric  implication  of  Professionals  are  allowed  to  make  mistakes  –  and  will   a  requirement,  if  it  is  not  stated  in  the  requirements.    do  so  –  but  the  delivery  process  should  catch  and  fix   The  client  can  avoid  this  problem  by:  these  errors.  Resolving  these  types  of  problems  is  a  natural  part  of  the  development  process,  and  should   • Engaging  a  subject  matter  expert  in  the  role  of  a  not  become  a  source  of  conflict.   consultant  during  analysis;  and  Responsibilities  of  the  Client   • Following  the  consultant’s  advice  when  finalizing   requirements.  Within  this  model  of  professionalism,  the  client  has  clear  responsibilities  as  the  project  sponsor  or   In  this  case,  the  consultant  would  be  responsible  for  champion,  and  as  the  budget  authority.  Usually,  a   errors  and  omissions.  However,  the  client  must  be  client  appoints  delegates  for  day-­‐to-­‐day  project   made  aware  of  the  distinction  between  these  very  activities.  The  professional  must  understand  the  limits   different  roles  that  any  specific  IT  professional  can  fill  of  the  delegate’s  authority  and  remain  focused  on   –  the  engineer  and  the  consultant  -­‐  and  the  two  satisfying  the  client’s  requirements  rather  than   should  not  be  confused.  Otherwise,  a  key  element  of  diverting  resources  to  the  delegate’s  other  projects.   scope  control  will  be  lost.  The  client  or  the  client-­‐delegates  must:   When  the  requirements  are  silent  on  a  topic,  either  • Be  available  and  actively  engaged  in  the  definition   party’s  interpretation  could  be  correct.  Clients  can   of  the  requirements  and,  sometimes,  in  the   validly  question  why  requirements  are  deficient  if   creation  of  the  specification;   they  engaged  an  IT  professional  in  the  role  of  a   consultant.  In  such  cases,  the  client  can  expect  the  • Understand  the  limitations  of  accuracy  of  most   consultant  to  modify  the  requirements,  but  there  may   estimates,  particularly  when  problems  are  ill-­‐ be  a  consequential  change  in  the  estimates.  However,   defined  or  requirements  and  technologies  are   clients  have  the  ultimate  responsibility  for  oversights   novel;   in  requirements,  given  that  they  are  ultimately  • Be  capable  of  defining  tests,  based  on  the   responsibility  for  their  line  of  business.     requirements  and  specification,  which  can   The  client-­‐professional  relationship  works  best  when   validate  and  verify  the  proper  functioning  of  the   both  parties  view  it  as  a  customer-­‐vendor   deliverable;  and     arrangement,  rather  than  as  an  employer-­‐employee   arrangement  because  the  latter  relationship  has  an  • Accept  the  deliverable  once  it  satisfies  the  test   unbalanced  authority  structure.  Similarly,  the   criteria  and,  therefore,  conforms  to  the   professional  should  not  exploit  technical  knowledge   specification.   to  influence  the  client  unfairly.  Clients  should  realize  that  the  transformation  of  user   Clients  and  IT  professionals  should  work  as  partners;  requirements  into  a  working  system  is  similar  to  a   approaching  errors,  omissions  and  change  orders  translation  from  English  to  French:  users  and   from  a  balanced  perspective  and  not  using  deadlines  technicians  each  have  their  own  business  languages   or  other  constraints  to  force  one  party  or  the  other  to  and  cultural  contexts.  Therefore,  it  is  not  unusual  for   absorb  the  impact  of  discoveries  and  change.  something  to  “get  lost  in  translation.”     The  client  should  be  a  champion  for  the  project  and  Earlier  it  was  stated  that  the  engineer,  and  therefore   regularly  communicate  its  importance  to  the  team.  the  IT  development  professional,  does  not  claim  to   This  helps  professionals  to  build  the  linkage  between  know  what  is  best  for  the  client  –  it  is  the  client’s   the  project  goals  and  their  own  internally  driven  responsibility  to  provide  requirements  and  ensure   motivations.  that  they  have  been  captured  correctly  (through  acceptance  and  sign-­‐off).  As  a  result,  when  addressing   Often,  there  is  a  gap  between  theory  and  practice,  misunderstandings,  the  client  cannot  expect  that  the   and  some  users  may  not  share  these  principles,  nor  IT  developer  “Should  have  known  what  I  wanted,”  or   be  ready  to  adopt  the  role  as  client.  However,  the  IT  “Should  know  how  we  do  business  in  the  field,”  or   professional  can  lead  by  example  and  clearly   demonstrate  the  benefits  of  this  approach  over  time.   7   Version  2.0    
  10. 10.  Commitment  and  Community   This  mechanism  helps  to  engage  and  monitor   commitment.  Team  members  are  more  than  an  Looking  at  the  implications  of  commitment  within  the   aggregate  of  individuals;  they  are  part  of  a  group  with  organizational  context,  Rosabeth  Moss  Kanter  (A   responsibilities  for  the  success  of  that  group.  previous  editor  of  the  Harvard  Business  Review)   Professionals  recognize  that,  for  the  group’s  benefit,  provided  several  insights  in  “Commitment  and   they  may  need  to  extend  their  original  commitments  Community”  (Kanter  1972)  in  which  she  studied  the   as  conditions  change.  However,  any  increase  in  foundations  and  characteristics  of  commitment  in   commitment  should  be  accepted  according  to  the  utopian  communal  orders.  Kanter  determined  that:   principles  outlined  in  this  document.    • A  committed  person  is  invested,  loyal,  and   Summary   involved,  and  feels  that  the  team  is  an  extension   of  the  person.   • Engineering  provides  the  best  professional  role   models  for  the  IT  practitioner  during  a  • Investment  by  an  individual  occurs  when  the   development  project.   person  gains  a  stake  in  the  organization.   • Consultants  are  good  role  models  for  subject  • The  group  must  provide  guidance  in  the  form  of   matter  experts  during  business  process  modeling,   specific  behavioral  norms  and  detailed   feasibility  studies  and  other  activities  where  the   instructions.   client  wants  unbiased  advice.  • Regarding  group  pressure  and  social  control,   • Professionals  should  clearly  define  whether  they   groups  can  replace  the  repressive,  distant  control   are  acting  in  the  role  of  the  engineer  or  the   of  impersonal  institutions  with  the  pressure  of  an   consultant.   intimate,  face-­‐to-­‐face  group  of  peers  (peer   pressure).   • The  specification  is  a  distinguishing  factor  in  the   relationship  between  the  professional  (the  • Peer  pressure  can  be  a  very  strong  force  in   performer)  and  the  client  (the  acceptor).   influencing  members  to  meet  commitments.   • The  Scope  in  the  Iron  Triangle  (of  Resources  –  • Openness,  or  visibility  into  performance  and   Schedule  –  Scope),  becomes  the  Specification  in   commitments,  is  a  strong  sanctioning  motivation   the  Delivery  Triangle  (of  Performer  –  Deliverable  –   to  conform.   Acceptor).  • Regular  contact  between  group  members   • The  Delivery  Triangle  explains  the  accountability   increases  commitment.   of  the  performer,  to  the  acceptor,  to  create  the  • Successful  organizations  employed  mutual   deliverable.   criticism  and  feedback,  and  had  frequent   • Through  an  understanding  of  the  requirements  in   meetings  to  share  information.   the  specification,  and  through  participation  in  • Group  pressure  plays  a  large  role  in  the  life  of  the   setting  the  three  constraints  of  the  Iron  Triangle,   community,  and  in  some  communities  was  the   the  performer  becomes  accountable.  Only  by   primary  form  of  social  control.  Members  reported   accepting  accountability  does  the  performer   great  unease  at  “letting  down  the  group.”   become  truly  committed.  • Those  communities  that  worked  best  managed  to   • Accountability  and  commitment  require  visibility   generate  commitment  and  loyalty  in  their   and  peer  review.   members,  immersing  them  in  a  strong  group  that   • The  limits  of  a  professional’s  responsibility  are   often  asked  them  to  make  sacrifices.   defined  within  the  specification  to  the  extent  that  These  points  support  the  view  that  the  role  of  the   the  professional  has  accepted  accountability  and  peer  review  in  IT  delivery  is  crucial.  Within  a  team  of   is  committed.  professionals,  the  openness  and  visibility  associated   • Professionals  define  quality  as  conformance  to  with  peer  review  leads  to  peer-­‐pressure  to  conform  to   the  specification.  Its  characteristics  include  the  organization’s  standards  and  to  support  the  team.   8   Version  2.0    
  11. 11.   functionality,  fitness  for  purpose,  and  user-­‐ “110%”.  However,  this  will  inevitably  undermine   friendliness.     the  commitment  of  the  most  productive   employees.  • Peer  review  and  visibility  are  essential  for   ensuring  quality.   These  conditions  can  make  it  harder  for  the  IT   practitioner  to  perform  according  to  the  model  • The  client  (the  acceptor)  judges  quality  against   outlined  in  this  document.  Arguably,  both  parties  in   the  specification.   the  Delivery  Triangle  need  to  agree  to  the  same  • Professionals  are  not  necessarily  experts  –  they   protocol  for  the  process  to  function  smoothly.   make  mistakes.  Clients  recognize  that  there  is  a   However,  it  is  the  responsibility  of  professionals  to   process  to  manage  errors.   lead  by  example  and  take  the  first  step.  In  doing  so,   they  can  define  themselves  by  shaping  their  own  • A  balanced  power  structure  between  client  and   principles  and  practices.     professional  fosters  project  success.    In  conclusion,  the  committed  professional    understands  the  relationship  with  the  client,  accepts    accountability  for  the  deliverable,  accepts  peer  review    as  a  normal  part  of  the  process  and  works  towards  a    team  goal  of  delivering  the  scope  with  quality  within  a    schedule  and  budget.  In  collaborating  with  the  client    to  set  the  parameters  of  the  Iron  Triangle,  the    professional  becomes  accountable  and  committed    according  to  the  Delivery  Triangle.  Commitment  does    not  end  after  a  specific  number  of  hours  –  it  continues    until  the  day’s  tasks  are  complete.  Combining  this    type  of  commitment  with  inspirational  leadership  will    result  in  the  fully  motivated  engagement  of  the    professional  -­‐  and  startling  achievements.      Note  that  the  principles  presented  in  this  paper  are    not  dependent  upon  a  specific  delivery  methodology.    While  the  granularity  of  deliverables  is  finer  and  the  interactions  between  clients  and  other  project  team   References  members  are  more  continuous  and  iterative  in  Agile   Herzberg,  F.,  Mausner,  B.,  &  Snyderman,  B.  B.  (1959).  “The  environments  than  in,  say,  waterfall  projects,  the   Motivation  to  Work”    overarching  professional  relationship  remains  the  same.   IMC  (Institute  of  Management  Consultants)  website,   referenced  December  2009  at:  There  are  practical  challenges  with  this  paper’s  proposition:     Kanter  R.  M.  (1972),  “Commitment  and  Community,”   Harvard  University  Press.    • In  some  cases,  users  might  not  accept  the  role   Maslow,  A.  H.  (1970).  “Motivation  and  Personality”   and  responsibilities  of  being  the  client.     Roth,  L.  M.,  (1993),  “Understanding  Architecture,”  • When  IT  professionals  are  employees  of  the   HarperCollins.   client’s  organization,  it  can  interfere  with  their   Rotter,  J.B.  (1954).  “Social  learning  and  clinical  psychology”   objectivity  and  independence.  It  can  also  result  in   New  York:  Prentice-­‐Hall.   an  unbalanced  authority  structure  because,  unlike   a  vendor,  internal  teams  do  not  have  a  contract.     USAID  (1998):  Charles  C.,  McNulty  S.,  &  Pennell  J.   “Partnering  For  Results:  A  Users  Guide  to  Intersectoral  • Short-­‐term  thinking  can  lead  managers  to  believe,   Partnering,”  US  Agency  for  International  Development.   mistakenly,  that  they  can  get  extra  productivity   Vitruvius,  (1960),  “The  Ten  Books  on  Architecture,”  Dover   simply  by  demanding  more  –  by  asking  for   Publishing.  (Written  in  25BC)   9   Version  2.0