Stepping Up to the Plate My Life 23 FEB 2010

So I’ve stepped up to the plate. I’ve thought about it and applied. Now I just sit back and wait.

Let’s go back to the beginning shall we. Touchwork is a great place to work because quite frankly, it has got a great future in store for it thanks to what is a very marketable (both locally and globally) product line in my opinion. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any problems to be had.

We’re growing as a company and on the development front it is causing quite a lot of headaches, largely due to the lack of any proper sort of project management implementation. From a single man team it has now grown to three full time developers plus one blue sky developer with the hunt currently on to add more junior developers to the team.

Now this lack of project management and increasing sales featuring bespoke software solutions rapidly increased the tension between developers and marketing, resulting in the end in some heated discussions and an agreed move towards some sort of proper management framework during the course of last year. And slowly but surely that move has tried to manifest itself through the adoption of various software tools and management practices but in the end it became apparent that in order to grow properly, a good project manager would now be a necessity and not just a luxury to have.

So the recruitment drive began and a couple of weeks ago it was announced that a project manager had been found and would be starting shortly with us. Although not necessarily technically skilled, the man did apparently have a lot of experience in project management and as such our directors were happy with their hiring and set about moving the development team downstairs into a new office space and purchasing the equipment needed for the man’s addition to the team.

However, the man never arrived on the day he was supposed to start, calling in instead and informing us that he had in fact taken up a different job. Obviously he had just been hedging his bets and at the end of the day, we ended up being the big losers. (Though in hindsight it is just as well he ended up not joining us – there is no way I would want to work under a man with ethics like that!).

The problem of course is that this means the void of the position still exists and unless it is filled sooner than later, the development team is going to continue to struggle in their current manner, without any sort of plan or direction to work towards.

So here’s the kicker: I’ve gone and applied for the position.

When I first heard that Touchwork was looking to fill the Project Manager position, Chantelle asked me why I wasn’t going to apply. The reasons were twofold at that point. Firstly, this was a senior management position meaning that they were in fact looking for a senior person with years of experience in the industry. Secondly, I am a developer at heart and all I want to do is continue to sit behind my keyboard and crank out good, working code. I don’t want to be taken away from that and simply push papers and report to seniors all day long.

But after this guy ditched us and I listened to my junior complain about the project he has been handed which seems to be being developed in circles because no one can say exactly what it actually needs to do, never mind the ongoing complaints from my other colleague with regards to his projects that simply don’t seem to have sort of release plan to them whatsoever, I came to the realization that Touchwork desperately needs this senior role filled and to be quite frank, I could probably do it better than anyone we bring in to try and do the the job for us.

I have the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge and because of my current working relationships with both the development team and sales and marketing guys, I can slot into that interface role quite easily. I have the necessary technical skills to handle any project management software suite correctly plus I have the necessary skills to handle things like database design and high level project overviews pretty easily. And as a bonus, I can translate these high level things into usable development specs, diagrams, etc. as well as provide the necessary technical assistance should any of my developers get stuck on solving a particular problem.

But more importantly I finally realized that this is a HUGE opportunity for me. Chantelle’s work at the guest house doesn’t come with any sort of security considering the fact that the guest house has and still is on the market, just waiting for some buyer to come snap it up when she’s not looking. And with us looking to start a family very shortly, I need to make sure that I’m in the best position to take care of things should it go a little pear-shaped in our lives. So in other words, basically what I am saying is that it has become imperative that I future-proof myself and pad out my CV with a look towards an uncertain future.

It’s an opportunity in acquiring practical experience in a new role that lies above what I am currently doing and is the stepping stone that will propel me into management, the exact place I need to look towards as I steadily grow older and gain more responsibilities in my life.

So with all that in my head, I typed up a full application, selling myself and giving all the reasons why I would make a good candidate for this senior position as well as the implications putting me into it will have on the current development team, and I’m pleased to say, the three directors have received my application, discussed it and have asked that I submit an implementation proposal to further outline how I would go about crafting this particular position and placing it within the company.

In other words, the first hurdle has been cleared and now I’m just holding my thumbs, hoping that I hear those magical words, “congratulations Craig, you have been promoted to…” coming sooner than later this week! :)

About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.