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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Job Titles in Software Development

What's beyond Software Engineer/ Developer and Senior Software Engineer/ Developer in your organization?

While searching for appropriate designations in a software development organization---not your typical outsourcing man-hour based company---I was wondering what could possibly be a "good title" for a person who looks after development of multiple products. While one can always come up with stuff like "VP Engineering," I was more interested in the lowest place in an org-chart where someone can manage development of multiple products. I, myself, could come up with only "Software Development Manager Product Line A" or "Group Development Manager Product Line B."

A quick search on the Internet led me to a slightly out-dated organizational chart of Microsoft. There are a few interesting things to observe:
  • The titles for managing development of multiple products in a single product line include CTO, Vice President, Director, General Manager and finally PUM (Product Unit Manager). I guess Product Unit Manager fits nicely to what I had in my mind.

  • There are some high profile people who don't fit in the hierarchy and MS calls them "Distinguished Engineer"---interesting! That further strengthens the idea that a strong engineer does not equal a good manager; so you can promote the engineer while somehow not giving him a team.
The second observation led me to the Peter Principle stated by Joel Spolsky: "People tend to be promoted to their level of incompetence." Very true, indeed. The worst you can do to a strong coder is to make him a product manager---this is completely a loss-loss situation: you lose a good coder, and you acquire a bad manager.

On a closing note, my search also led me to cogmap.com, which has a sort-of-wiki of org charts of some famous organizations. There is always some fresh, interesting concept out there! Check this org-chart of Google.