From the Ask Tom mailbag –
So, yes, we have an individual technical contributor, a system architect role, at S-III, with no reports. Does this then mean the system architect fulfills “production” and that a Stratum IV role would be the supervisor and a Stratum V role would create the system? Or, would you say that the system architect fulfills all three roles? Or something different altogether?
Again, this question reveals a couple of important issues.
- What is production work at S-III?
- What is the role of the manager at S-IV and the manager-once-removed at S-V?
In some business models, especially B2B, the product or service delivered to the customer might easily be a system which requires S-III capability to create.
For example, a customer might require a software system to automate a large work process. This customer might contract with a company to accomplish the following work.
- Needs analysis
- Workflow documentation
- Automation system design
- Software selection and procurement
- Software installation and configuration
- Workflow integration with the software
- Role re-design to include software operation around the work process
- Training of personnel
- Testing of workflow for throughput
- Evaluation of automated workflow related to the initial needs analysis
This is all clearly S-III system work and might easily take 12-24 months to accomplish. Remember, the goal is NOT to install an automated system, but to install an automated system that exceeds throughput of the original work process. The goal is to get the automated system up to a full working capacity.
Indeed, the production work is S-III system work, for the role of a system architect, with no direct reports.
Assuming the system architect has the capability to be effective at this level of work, it is likely that she will create her own progress metrics (making sure production gets done). In addition, she may also document the system for creating the system. So, much of the supervisory and managerial work related to the project might be accomplished by this same system architect.
But, every person performs at a higher level with a manager, so what is the role of the system architect’s manager (at S-IV). The function of a manager is to bring value to the problem solving and decision making of the team member. The system architect can handle the routine decisions and problems, but might require help with the tough problems and decisions.
For example. The system architect might be able to automate this work process, but struggle with how this automated system might integrate with other systems in the customer’s company. It is one thing to automate manufacturing planning and procurement, stock and inventory of raw materials used in a manufacturing process, but how might that integrate with research and development? This is where the system architect’s manager might bring value.
Tomorrow, we will talk about the role of the system architect’s manager-once-removed.