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Software Development Teams Need Help and SIGs Can Offer It

In my post “Enterprise Organizational Structures Are Not Agile and Don’t Work”, I introduced the use of Centers of Excellence (CoEs) as an alternative to traditional command-and-control org charts in large enterprises. While a good start, CoEs are not enough. Organizations must dig deeper and find ways to nurture and grow highly specialized skills.

The best way to achieve that is for the CoEs to form Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to take knowledge and expertise to the next level. SIGs are part of specific CoEs but have a narrower focus. For example, a Program Management CoE could form the following SIGs:

  • Scrum Approach
  • Kanban and Lean Development
  • Unified Process Project Management

The idea is to target specific areas with in-depth knowledge and guidance. If the CoEs merely echo standard industry jargon and encourage common sense, they will fail. The expertise within the SIGs has to align with the company, its industry, and its target markets.

The bottom line is that the CoEs can form SIGs around whatever they need. For example, a software architecture CoE might form highly-focused SIGs around Android, iOS and Windows Mobile. Each SIG would be intimately familiar with the nuances of the target environment. The CoE would be responsible for capturing and sharing the knowledge within each SIG.

It’s even feasible for SIGs to form sub-SIGs though I’d discourage more than one sublayer simply because the more layers there are, the harder it becomes to share information.

Do more than just talk about communicating and collaborating. Take positive steps to help software project teams do a better job. Identify what knowledge they require and establish SIGs to get it for them.

Here are some lists of special interest groups and user groups that you might find helpful in determining the type of SIGs that will be needed in your company.

Association for Computing Machinery
Key Consulting
Association for Software Testing
University of Pennsylvania
North Carolina State University
Wikipedia List of Users’ Groups
Updated: February 2, 2012 — 10:00 pm
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