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Anatomy of a Software Development Role: Development Manager

  • August 25, 2005
  • By Rob Bogue
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Where's the position heading anyway?

Even the staunchest of organizations are beginning to realize that IT is necessary to function and it is software which allows them to leap frog their competition in terms of features and efficiency. Growth for development managers is steady but not at a breakneck pace.

Development managers are being asked to become more a part of the business management to better understand the business drivers that the organization is facing. This brings with it the opportunity to better learn the organization and the industry. This leads to other opportunities outside the software development world.

As technologies become more advanced and the options become greater it will be necessary for the executive management to have a liaison between the business and the technology to help them understand what is possible. The software development manager role is often the key person to fill that role since they have the broadest understanding of how the organizations' systems work.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The development manager role has a great deal of perks but still a few downsides. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly:

  • Good: Develop People - The development manager, more than anyone else, has the ability to help Shepard people through their careers. This can be an immensely rewarding experience.
  • Good: Hiring Authority - Often the ultimate decision of who to add to the development teams resides with the development manager. It means that more than any other role the development manager can shape the dynamics of the team.
  • Good: Company Impact - Done right the development manager role can have a huge positive impact on the organization's growth.
  • Bad: Reports - The development manager is often saddled with creating and presenting reports of various types on the development process. The project manager may help but the development manager often gets stuck presenting the reports to executives.
  • Bad: Responsibility - The development manager is often the key person responsible for a project's success or failure. If a project fails, it can potentially cause the termination of the development manager's job.
  • Ugly: Letting People Go - No one likes to admit that they made a mistake, but ultimately someone's got to rectify it. The development manager often gets the unenviable task of eliminating people from the team when they don't achieve the team's standards.


Development managers come in all shapes and sizes. Each background brings a unique flair to the role. However, learning how to communicate and evangelize to the team, to management, and to the rest of the organization can help you find your way to the development manager role.

About the Author

Robert Bogue, MCSE (NT4/W2K), MCSA:Security, A+, Network+, Server+, I-Net+, IT Project+, E-Biz+, CDIA+ has contributed to more than 100 book projects and numerous other publishing projects. Robert works with Crowe Chizek in Indianapolis as a strategic consultant. He was recently honored to become a Microsoft MVP for Microsoft Commerce Server and before that Microsoft Windows Servers-Networking. Robert blogs at http://www.thorprojects.com/blog You can reach Robert at Rob.Bogue@thorprojects.com.

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