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Tasks

These are the tasks and due dates for The First Time Manager. Each is of equal weight in determining your grade, with 10% for class participation.  On the team assignments, each member of the team will receive the same score. We will form teams in class in advance of each team assignment.

In scoring the written assignments, 90% will be allocated to the content, and 10% to the quality of the writing (grammar, spelling, etc.). Late assignments may be penalized, but short extensions may be given with 48 hours advance notice.

Task 1 - Individual interview with software development manager (Due: November 12)

The goal of this task is to understand the process by which your interview subject adjusted to his/her first or most recent management role. Your subject can be anyone who is currently responsible for building and delivering software, either as a standalone product/service or embedded into a system. It could be a family member, a friend, a previous supervisor, or anyone else that you find through personal networking, as long as you focus on that person's professional role.  It's best to do the interview in person at the subject's workplace.  If that's not possible, next best is to meet in person away from the subject's workplace.

Here are a few possible questions that can get you started:

• What is your role/title?
• How long have you worked for your current company?
• How long have you held this specific job?
• Is this your first management position?
• Did you change companies for this position, or were you promoted within your current company? In the second case, did you seek a management position?
• What were the most difficult things about adjusting to your current role? (These could be technical, managerial, financial, or personal issues.)
• What do you like most about your current management role?
• How many people do you manage?
• Do you have any specific management techniques that you find useful?
• How would you describe your management style?

You can add your own questions to this list. You could ask about the nature of the project(s) being managed, how the company is managed, how much the manager works with other groups in the company, the software development process used by the team, whether the project is centralized or distributed, whether there have been problems with employee turnover or performance, and so on. The interview will probably take about 30 minutes.

Deliverable: You should submit an edited transcript of your interview, where you can leave out parts that are not related to the management task. If your subject will let you record the interview, that will make it easier to transcribe. You could also do "pair" interviewing with a classmate, where one of you conducts an interview and the other takes detailed notes, switching roles for a second interview. The final transcript will probably be 3-5 pages.

Grading: 80% interview content, particularly topic coverage; 20% organization and grammar of interview transcript.

Task 2 - Team plan for collaborative software development and deployment environment (Due: November 19)

You and your team should propose a productive environment for designing, developing, and deploying your application(s). You can select appropriate tools covering various development, testing, and deployment tasks.  Don't forget about including a team communication tool and tools for monitoring your running applications. You should assume that the application(s) you are creating will be critical to the success of your business, so you want to have internal expertise with the various tools and/or commercial support. (Note that there is commercial support available for many open source projects.)  You also want to make sure that your selected tools work effectively together.  It's not necessary to download or install any software, and it's not necessary to contact vendors for pricing.

Your evaluation criteria could include fitness of purpose for your application type, compatibility with other tools, support for your chosen development process, and coverage of the necessary development and deployment tasks, as well as installability, usability, and cost.

Task 3 - Individual interview with product manager (Due: November 30)

The goal of this task is to understand the process by which your interview subject works with the development organization to set the product roadmap, define development schedules, and more. Your subject can be anyone who is currently serving as a product manager for a software product or a system with a significant software component. It could be a family member, a friend, a previous supervisor, or anyone else that you find through personal networking, as long as you focus on that person's professional role.  It's best to do the interview in person at the subject's workplace.  If that's not possible, next best is to meet in person away from the subject's workplace.

Here are a few possible questions that can get you started:

• What is your role/title?
• How long have you worked for your current company?
• How long have you held this specific job?
• What was your educational background and career path before this position? Do you have previous background as a developer?
• Did you change companies for this position, or were you promoted within your current company?
• What were the most difficult things about adjusting to your current role? (These could be technical, managerial, financial, or personal issues.)
• What do you like most about your role?
• How do you work with the development organization? Is there a single point of contact, or do you work with different groups?
• How do you work with sales and with others in the marketing organization

You can add your own questions to this list. You could ask about the nature of the project(s) being managed, how the company is managed, how much the manager works with other groups in the company, whether the project is centralized or distributed, and so on. The interview will probably take about 30 minutes.

Deliverable: You should submit an edited transcript of your interview, where you can leave out parts that are not related to the product management task. If your subject will let you record the interview, that will make it easier to transcribe. You could also do "pair" interviewing with a classmate, where one of you conducts an interview and the other takes detailed notes, switching roles for a second interview. The final transcript will probably be 3-5 pages.

Grading: 80% interview content, particularly topic coverage; 20% organization and grammar of interview transcript.

Task 4 - Team plan for continuous project review and retrospective (Due: December 3)

You and your team should propose a process for reviewing the status of your project and conducting a post-project review (retrospective). For the project status, you might consider the following aspects:

• work completed vs. original schedule, including changes in expected completion date

• status updates from individuals on the team

• identification of remaining project risks, such as schedule, features, performance, people

• necessary rework due to requirements changes and/or errors, poor performance, etc.

You can assume that you are using an agile process throughout your development effort.

For the retrospective, think about what you might be able to do on the next project to improve the quality and predictability of your project. You can find a lot of suggestions for conducting a retrospective on the Web.

Task 5 - Individual written proposal for addressing a management problem (Due: December 8)