As a Product Manager in the Argentina Software Development Center (ASDC) for three years now, I get to live, work, be part of and influence the full process of creating high-quality end-to-end software (E2E SW). At ASDC we embrace the opportunity to create new, innovative SW products. We are excited and passionate about what we do, which is why I want to share with you why I, and many others at our site, believe this is a fascinating opportunity. (Check it out for yourself on the Intel Video Center.)
What is so motivating about building E2E SW? We get to be part of the full process of the SW evolution. We start by feeding the genesis of crazy ideas born in brainstorm sessions, whiteboards, on a piece of paper or through a bunch of slides (and yes… most of our innovative ideas sound crazy in the beginning). These ideas come together, evolve, gain traction, and ultimately turn into bits, launching with a commercial name and influencing and benefiting the outside world.
Many concept-carving and brainstorming sessions happen during lunch breaks when brains take a break from e-mails and IMs and you get to talk, share and discuss with colleagues. It is not unusual for me to come back to my cube with lots of notes, doodles, and diagrams (sometimes on the back of a napkin); the outcome of reviewing printed slides with my manager, they materialize as valuable feedback for a proposal.
Creating E2E SW products involves many professionals, perspectives, stakeholders and stages along the life cycle. When a new idea is born it has to be sold, gain traction and develop credibility. Task forces with different perspectives are lined-up: technical, business, and finance managers explore and sketch concepts for a presentation and then the selling tour starts.
Selling the idea to upper management is not trivial duty. There are many aspects evaluated when carving a concept: corporate strategic alignment, value proposition, technical and market feasibility, go-to-market aspects, business models, ecosystem, partners and competitors and so on. This is a crucial stage in the SW product evolution, and many times the outcome is a “no-go” decision. Not all bright ideas are successful. No matter how cool the ideas look, it has to fit many perspectives. It is always wiser to realize that earlier in the process and let go.
When the concept/idea proposal is successfully carved and sold, building a proof-of-concept comes next. This stage tests out the technology, considers usages aspects, and explores the consumer experience, look and feel. It also provides a key selling resource as sales and business teams can start showcasing how this SW product will materialize, resulting in many technical recommendations.
With a point of contact in place and buy-in from stakeholders, the initiative gets funded and then we have a new project in ASDC! Right after this milestone, the project needs an identity: a codename. Picking an internal name for the new project is not trivial stuff either; it becomes the identity for team members so it has to be meaningful and sound just right. Project code names at Intel are historically named after towns, rivers or mountains around Intel facilities. We find possible code names include words that would show our pride of SW made in Argentina, such as Pampas, Tango, or Mate. We narrow down our options and they are voted on by the team. Once we have a code name we are ready to go!
It takes a whole team of professionals to build E2E software and it involves much more than just coding! A project team is formally constituted and SW development starts at full steam. Participants with different roles, responsibilities and perspectives get on board. Product and project managers, architects, technical leaders, software engineers, process and quality experts, and testers, among others, get involved.
Building E2E Software requires a variety of skills set and backgrounds. We also engage with significant numbers of internal and external stakeholders and users who have to be well managed along the SW production process, fulfilling their needs and managing their expectations. One of the things I really enjoy is that our projects usually bring many stakeholders on board from all over the world. I usually host conference calls with people from the US, Europe and Asia. We call these cross-functional teams in which everyone brings their diverse backgrounds, expertise and culture to the table.. Here’s an analogy to illustrate my point: building E2E is a like a full orchestra playing a harmonious symphony with each musician playing different parts at the right time.
Again, I consider myself fortunate for being part of the ASDC. We have the unique opportunity to create, sell, influence strategy, evolve, develop and deliver our own SW products. From the crazy idea through rolling out bits and solutions to the market, it is like playing the full symphony and for that we are always in search of the most talented musicians.