My role “Solutioning” – What is it? – Ryan McManus

It’s not even a real word…how can it be a real role…and what is it? In this blog I aim to tell you a little about my role, why I chose it and how I have benefited from it.

Why I chose the role and what I looked for

This was going to be my 6th role and my apprenticeship was near completion. I knew I had some gaps in the project lifecycle and therefore I wanted to do something that would help fill these gaps quickly, whilst still presenting me with a challenge. I had been in Test, Defect and Service Management roles but these were at the end of the project lifecycle and I needed something that touched on the technical side that was near the beginning of the lifecycle.

I do have a passion for management and I feel the best way to manage is to understand what you are managing. I knew if I gained skills in different areas it would give me that breadth of knowledge to act as a solid foundation to build my career upon. Additionally by exploring new roles I had the chance to see if I enjoyed any other areas of IBM, that I could then look to pursue in more depth after my apprenticeship.

Background

My account comprises of many “Development Centres”. The purpose of these centres is to generate individual bits of code for certain aspects of the enterprise. I work in one of these Development Centres that specializes in middleware.

The role

There are many projects within my account that want to improve things or change the way things are done, but with so many centres within the enterprise developing individual bits of the code,  it’s not exactly easy for someone to tell what centre their project impacts or how much the project is likely to cost. That’s where I come in.

On project start up there may be some high level requirements and an outline of what the project aims to achieve. There is no need to waste money defining, designing and documenting your whole project in detail, only to be told later on that it’s too expensive or can’t be done in the timescales. My role is to give the project an early sight of impact, cost and timelines related to the Development Centre changes that need to be made. The project can then use this information to apply for budgets, secure resources or deem that the project should be deferred / close the project down.

It starts off with the project submitting their documentation to the Development Centre. My role is to then use this information and based on it assess where the impact lies within in our centres components, to then come up with a solution to meet the needs of the project.

As the project moves closer and closer to their end goal they get more and more specific information about the change they want to make, so the Development Centre may assess this new information, therefore providing the project with a more accurate quote or deem that the information is enough to design/ build off and then move them through to actually making the change within the centre. At this stage I engage lots of different teams within the Development Centre to get specific quotes from each team e.g design, build etc to ensure we are providing an accurate quote that we can then deliver on.

The benefits

It gives me technical understanding – I do not class myself as a “techie” but I now understand how middleware works and the basic principles associated with Design, Build and Test. Also middleware connects a lot of things together, so I understand about the components it connects to, how it connects to them and dependencies that different components have on each other.

I wanted a role that gave me visibility and involvement of a lot of roles…. and boy did it do that! I work with Change Managers, Design, Build, Test, Architects, Environment Services, Security and Project Managers to understand the impact on our Development Centre for the change that is needed. This requires me to understand how and why it impacts the different teams and therefore I gain an overall understanding of what the teams do, along with the principles and processes they follow.

Stakeholder Management–In this role I engage with the client from when the request for an estimate comes in, to when the estimates are delivered back to them. I also have to present to senior members of the Development Centre to ensure the solutions I have come up with are sound and the cost/ estimate documentation is appropriate.

Gained different perspectives – My previous role was within a project, facing into a DC (Development Centre), but now I am in the DC facing out to the project and therefore understanding how both sides operate.

My skills/ knowledge are transferable. Due to the fact that I am learning everything at a high level the skills I have learned and the knowledge gained are transferable to other clients which is just what I need at this stage.

I could tell you a lot more ….but hopefully that has given you an understanding of what my role is and the sort of opportunities available within an IBM Apprenticeship.

Feel free to contact me if you want any more information!

Ryan McManus – RYANMACM@UK.IBM.COM

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