Resource Index > Fast Tracks for Your Project Role > Technical or Cross-functional Team Member


You're on project teams and you have lots to do. The success of the project depends on how you contribute. And you have important things to say about how the project should be run, what work should get done, and what your role should be.

Here are resources to help you get your project job done, help you contribute to the max to the success of the team?. And resources to help you have your say!


In the detailed paragraphs below, we provide a little rationale for why we think the listed content is important to your role. In the Quick Reference section following, we simply list the various project tasks you're involved in, and related resources for fast access when you need them.

Having influence from the start. Your role is critical from the start of a project. Important decisions get made way up front and you need to be involved. Here are several short articles that sum up how that should look. They were written by an engineer turned line manager turned project manager, giving a front line perspective on how technical and cross-functional team members have a really critical contribution to make: Getting Started, Maximizing your Project Influence, and Is the Project Starting Without You? And see also our presentation on Selling the Boss. It takes you through a step-by-step approach to getting your boss' perspective on the situation, then positioning your ideas in a way that will best help them see the merits of your approach.

Testing management roles are not to be taken lightly and not for the faint of heart! Nor are these roles "end of the project only" roles as so many times they are relegated to be. Our new QA Manager and Beta Test Program Manager job descriptions show the true breadth of these roles done right.

Setting the goals of the project. It's important for you to understand and buy into the goals of the project. Your technical or cross-functional work will be driven by what the team decides regarding features are needed, what the cost constraints are, and when it all has to be done. Our Project Scope Definition: Vision Document can be used by any team large or small to help clarify those critical goals together. If your team doesn't use a document like this, we suggest you take the lead and bring it into the mix! Or just start by trying to fill it out yourself - are the goals of the project clear to you? If not, we'll bet the rest of the team is not sure either. You can make an incredible contribution by helping the team get the Vision for the project straight. See our paper Powerful Project Visions template for a detailed write-up on how to use the Vision document effectively.

Specifying Requirements Details, details, details. From requirements for the product to the details of the interfaces to what each software module has to do, you and the technical team members are in the thick of the action, and our templates help you organize the nitty-gritty. See our annotated outlines for a Product Requirements Specification, an Interface Protocol Document, and a Software Requirements Specification.

Making project and design tradeoffs. They always want all possible features at lowest possible budget and cost, ASAP. Well, the team is going to have to make some tradeoffs, and you can help. Check out our Project Tradeoff table, which you can use to document design alternatives you see that will influence cost and schedule. See also our Preliminary Design Review Checklist, and our Preliminary Design Review Agenda If you're a technical developer, in this review you should not just show the team your technical design, but also the cost, scope and schedule implications for the alternatives you're considering. If you're a cross-functional team member- for instance, from customer support or manufacturing, this review is where you comment on whether the design concepts are manufacturable, serviceable, etc. Very important to whether the outcome of the project will both please customers AND make money for the company! Whatever your role, your participation in this review can help the team make tradeoffs MUCH faster to get to a reasonable plan for the project!

Scheduling and Estimating. Ah, schedules. Are you getting to provide yours, or is the project manager making up the schedule without you? Read our Burning Questions on Scheduling and Estimating for answers to questions such as How do I create work breakdown structures? What estimating techniques and tools are available? How can I create schedules that don't slip? See our template called Pete's Estimating Laws for estimating wisdom from a front line software development team member and project manager. See our Scheduling and Estimating know-how index for pointers to a number of different resources.

Meetings. Are the team and technical meetings you run (or attend) going the way you want, or are they dysfunctional, unproductive, and downright painful? See our Meeting IQ Test for how to gauge the state of your meetings. See our template on Preventing & Solving Meeting Disruptions for ideas on how to handle the human factors in meetings. Use our Team Meeting Agenda template to help your team plan and run better meetings.

Design Reviews. For guidelines for running effective cross-functional design reviews at different stages of the project, see our templates: Preliminary Design Review checklist, Detailed Design Review checklist, Critical Design Review checklist, and Final Design Review checklist. Our Review Meeting Planning Worksheet will help you plan reviews methodically, and be sure you've completed all the prep work required.

Technical people vs. managers: If your projects experience this common problem-- the project managers speak a different and foreign language from the technical team members - check out our paper on Getting Relevant to Get Results. It was written by an engineer-turned-project manager, discussing from both sides of the fence how to make that "management stuff" relevant to the team members, for a happier time all around.

Careers. Thinking about taking on new responsibilities? Or finding yourself having to by virtue of the projects you're being asked to manage? Read our article New Work, New Roles, New Challenges, New Opportunities for thoughts on how to approach new requirements in the most constructive way. See our Career Management paper- it discusses how to view managing your career like developing your personal business.

Quick Reference

Here's a quick-reference to the above resources for your participation on projects:
Having influence from the startArticles: Getting Started, Maximizing your Project Influence, and Is the Project Starting without You?
Helping set reasonable project goalsTemplate: Project Vision
Paper: Powerful Project Visions
Making project and design tradeoffsTemplate: Tradeoff table
Creating realistic project schedulesKnow-how: Scheduling and Estimating resources
FastTrack answers: Scheduling and Estimating
Running and participating in meetingsTemplate: Meeting IQ test
Template: Preventing & Solving Meeting Disruptions
Template: Team meeting agenda
FastTrack answer: How to deal with emotional design reviews
Running and participating in design reviewsTemplate: Preliminary Design Review agenda
Template: Preliminary Design Review checklist
Template: Detailed Design Review checklist
Template: Critical Design Review checklist
Template: Final Design Review checklist
Guideline: Review Meeting Planning Worksheet
Dealing with conflicts between technical and project management perspectivesPaper: Getting Relevant to Get Results: Making Project Management Relevant to Technical Teams
Developing your careerArticle: New Work, New Roles...
Paper: Career Management as Personal Marketing and Business Development

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