Use an Experienced Core Team
Part 7 in our series is perhaps one of the most important: Use an Experienced Core Team. “We have a bunch of smart people and they can figure this portal thing out” is a sure way to put your project in jeopardy. I cannot stress enough how important having the right team in place is to accelerating your delivery. The first question you might have is what roles does a core team consist of? There are quite a few roles and they can vary from customer to customer but here are some of the common ones:
- Portal Architect
- Portal Development
- Infrastructure and Administration
- Release Management
- Business Analysts
- Project Management
Your leads in each of these areas need to be proficient in the technology and the processes within your organization. If not, you will wind up burning cycles just trying how to figure out how to do basic activities and will wind up making decisions that will take you some non productive paths. I am not going to go through each role but will focus on a couple of key ones.
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This is by far the most important technical role in a portal project. A strong senior portal architect understands all capabilities of portal and has lead portal projects from inception to production in the past. They also have the ability to participate in a hands on capacity as well if needed which may include writing code, doing performance tuning, implementing a web content management solution, installation and configuration, etc. They need to understand all the capabilities that portal offers and when they should be used. Portal is a large toolbox. You don’t need to understand how to use each tool in the box but you need to know what tools are in there and when to use them. I’ve seen too many customers who went down the path of writing custom solutions when portal provided very similar capabilities out of the box. Other skills the architect will have will be to be able to accurately size work efforts, ability to work with the business, and general strong leadership skills.
A strong technical project manager is critical. A good PM will be able to manage the many dependencies an moderately complex portal project will certainly have. This includes being at least technical enough to understand terminology and to be able to easily communicate with developers and other technical team members. They need to be very forward looking to make sure dependencies are lined up and completed in advance so a development team isn’t sitting idle waiting on infrastructure, security, requirements, software etc. A strong PM will also be able to fill a BA role when needed or if portions of the project are slow. The PM is typically the overall delivery lead in the trenches on portal projects.
A strong lead business analyst is very important to set the direction for the implemented solution which can bring the most business value. IT driven business requirements seldom deliver what business wants so an analyst who has a strong working relationship with the business but also understands what portal can deliver will be the best fit.
Many different roles and responsibilities are required for a large portal project. Putting together an experienced and solid core team will undoubtedly increase your chances of success and and speed to market. While an argument can be made that this is true of any project, it applies exponentially to portal due to all the integrations, dependencies, and product capabilities.