Wednesday, December 17, 2008


In Indian IT industry, many times a software professional runs into a situation when he/she has to take some crucial decisions after having moderate experience in IT. Well, I'm not an exception to this. I always used to be in dilemma -

  • Shall I go for Service oriented or product based organization? And what is hybrid model?
  • Shall I go for technical track or management track? And what is techno manager track?

And the mistake I was doing while trying to find the answers I was correlating these two questions together. Now, what I feel is there is no one to one mapping between these terms. However, if you are part of either side of the coin, you may not have experienced this. I tried to write down some of my observations. I've seen few people who are firm enough on either side. To be more precise, most of them tend to be on management track in solution (service) oriented industries and the people who belong to product world prefer to be on technical side. Well, the reasons are very obvious. Generally, in the service oriented organizations it is essential to maintain a mass of people. Reason being, when you prepare a proposal for client, it certainly adds a value into your presentation and you never know when you will feel the need of resources in the future aspects. It shows your capability to deliver on time if given a chance. As a result, you end up carrying mass of people which requires another group of people who can manage, guide and motivate that mass. i.e. you require managers and leaders. Hence, there are often many more opportunities in the service world to move up in the ladder on management track. In the product development world, you can survive with handful of people. Reason being, you have to market your products rather than your organization. The quality and usability of product gains a value in the market. Unlike service providers, you prefer to maintain precise number of resources that are required during development and maintenance. As a result, you require the people who are more fascinated by technology. This does not imply that one gets more technically challenging tasks in product than service. Now a days, customers are so much demanding that only providing the service that were required is not enough to sustain a long term relationship. INNOVATION is a key required everywhere. To develop any software it is essential to put yourselves in customer's shoe then demand yourselves and then start development. I would like to write thoughts of one of our clients. A question was thrown at him during QA session of Town Hall. "Do you think our relationship invaluable and will sustain over a long period of time?" I was very impressed with his answer. "If I ask you for a cigarette lighter and you if you could give it to me, I would be satisfied. But next time I may not come to you. Instead, when I asked you for lighter you should come up with the ideas that will help me quitting my smoking habits." The time has come when Indian IT industry has to move one step ahead. Working at the door steps and providing them what they ask for is not enough. There is a need to enter into the house and feel it like your own and work with them to make it a better home to stay. Of course, this process is not that easy as we think. You should be competent enough to deliver what they want in the given timeframe with a good quality and moreover you have to have a time to think beyond requirements and deliver beyond expectations. On the other hand, if you are carrying out with a comfortable relationship with your client, it will not be a surprise if that relationship ends. Need not to mention, the same principle if applicable for product development world too. There is a trend once the product goes into market and people start using it, you start getting customized enhancements. We go on adding plug-in or patches to particular customers to make the required feature available. The challenge comes in when you need to find out a pattern in the features that you are adding up individually. There has to be some time when you slowly embed that extra feature into your base product. This will help providing better features to the existing customers (may be you are adding extra cost value) and attract new ones. As far as I know, this trend is already been followed up.

Techno manager track meant for the people who are flexible enough to move back forth between technical and management side. I think we should be more emphasizing on this aspect. Having more techno managers in your organization is same as having all-rounder in your cricket team who can mould themselves in whatever role you ask them to play. Generally, people who are master of multitasking find themselves in this track. Per my observation, a person who was good in technical stuffs and now has acquired a position of "Guru" in specialized area starts moving up above coding level, lands himself somewhere between designer and architecture level. And while doing this, he looks after his team members very well. He is master of estimation as he has come up from ground level and now has wide vision. He exactly knows what management / client wants and he also knows what problems his team members would face during development. Don't you think techno manager perfectly bridges the gap between technical and managerial ends?

Finally, few lines about hybrid model. If you would have noticed, the way techno manager guy starts from technical side then slowly acquires proficiency in managerial skills similarly hybrid model has its roots in product development. One fine day you find your product is so popular that people starts asking for extra services from you. There comes a need of having team into your organization that will serve the need of people. That's how you end up creating hybrid model.

Do you have a feeling of déjà vu?
Let me know your views,



100RAB said...

Hi Amol

Actually it's not a deja vu for me because I am not into some illusion that I have experienced this feeling before, I have actually experienced it before in the very first year of my career.

And I'll really appreciate your thought if you can share what could be the right time to switch from technical to managerial job and what that decision will be based on?

Amol said...

Hi 100RAB,

Glad to see your comment.

I believe there is no pre-defined time when you should move from technical to managerial track. It is a matter of personal choice. If you think you are fascinated by technical stuffs then you would never think of this trasition. Otherwise, you would keep looking out for oppotunities to get into managerial stuffs.

Unfortunately, I do not see IT in India is upto the level where core techie people can surivive doing technical job through out their career. But in US, I've seen some developers who code even at the age of 40. Also, there are few managers who are very young.

No one can advise you which track you should pick up. This is something you have to figure out with self analysis.