sábado, abril 05, 2008

Como llegue a ser Project Manager

Los roles que cumplí en mi vida profesional fueron primero QC y luego escribí documentación mientras daba soporte a beta partners. Finalmente llegue al ser Project Manager. No fue una transición completamente producida por factores internos de la empresa, sino que un cliente (Jeffrey Vasquez, que luego se convirtió en partner de negocios en USA para la empresa), me propuso para el puesto por haber notado ciertas habilidades y iniciativas durante mi trabajo en el proyecto donde llevé a cabo todas las actividades que mencioné arriba. Además de eso, detectó una falta de ese tipo de rol en la empresa.

Acá les dejo parte del mail donde se comienza a discutir sobre esa falta, discusión que terminó en asignarme a mi como Project Manager:

We seem to be encountering more and more frequent issues with the language gaps and barriers. I would estimate even moreso than our previous interactions, however, mostly I think due to a non-homogeneous project mix we now represent. We should think about short-term and long-term goals with respect to this issue.

Let me give you a brief characterization of my representation of the language issue: when I talk to potential clients I tell them that within certain parameters language will not be an issue. I tell them that telephone calls to Argentina are not the clearest connections and that can be compounded by using speaker phones and conferencing equipment. These factors aggravate what is really a minor issue, creating the appearance of a large language barrier. However, if you can manage your projects via written communication (which you absolutely should anyway, since it's documentation that you're generating), then you won't observe this perceived barrier. It's a big up-sell for me when I talk to people and I say, "hey, look, I'm the U.S. partner and I don't speak Spanish!" That almost immediately closes the discussion on language concerns.

However, there is a language issue. And it's not getting progressively worse.

Leo's suggestion would be that I learn Spanish. I am not opposed to this, however, it pretty much eliminates my tactics when confronting that issue with clients. Alternately, when we land the investor, I could hire someone here to serve as language facilitator, but frankly, I would miss the direct interaction with my teams. The most logical course of action in my mind, and this is predicated on the partners deciding that business with the U.S. is the company goal, that we foster English language resources in Argentina. My proposal would be that much the same as we enjoy Manuel as the business liaison/engagement manager for English-speaking clients (in Argentina as opposed to my role here), we identify a technical liaison/project manager for English-speaking clients there.

This role's primary responsibilities would be: 1) translation of requirements/specifications from English to Spanish, 2) point of contact for directed English-speaking technical communications, 3) point of escalation for communication issues of technical nature (i.e. the go-to person for interpretation of technical English) and 4) translation of design/implementation/deployment/QA documentation from Spanish to English. There would be an ancillary requirement of maintenance of the dual English/Spanish document repositories, which is process we'll have to invent or find out how others are doing it. We add value to this position (i.e. make it billable) by including a project management function associated with it, but it will really probably grow to a practice manager position overseeing other project managers and servicing their escalations.

The skills this role will require are: 1) excellent English/Spanish technical writing, 2) programming background with a comparative languages familiarity, 3) UML, 4) development process, agile and formal (or training I provide), 5) project management, 6) familiarity with our project management toolset and 7) decision-making skills (what to escalate and when). Additionally, excellent spoken English would be a plus, but we're definitely focusing on keeping communication to a written format, so that we don't prop up any more targets at BIT the way we've painted a bullseye on Manuel as the person to call in Argentina. We might also need a message routing system, so that this role is able to parse information more readily and is not confused by servicing several projects at once.

This is my description of the issue and proposal for addressing it. This is a discussion of the issues, so please share this with everyone concerned and let's brainstorm on the issue and on the resolution.

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