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What’s with all the titles? January 27, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Development Process, Resourcing.
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In today’s IT market buzzwords are definitely the sale point.  Microsoft has made an artform out of changing technology names to flashy names.  This also occurs in the market for resources.  You will hear terms like analyst, programmer analyst, senior developer, team lead, architect, etc when it comes to the development realm.  I think that the definition will depend on a company by company basis.  I would like to give a brief idea of what I see as the differences.

Analyst

An analyst’s job is very self explanatory.  They do analysis of business systems.  The main focus is to outline the business need and document the requirements.  In most cases this person is semi-technical but not typically a developer.

Progammer/Developer

This is someone I see as able to write code.  They are given a technical specification for a system and they write the necessary logic to make it work.  They should be able to write the code and troubleshoot it to make it work.  Typically will not create design or architecture models.

Senior Programmer/Developer

Very simply this is an experienced developer.  Typically I would say that somewhere in the 5-7 year range will transition developers into this category.  Some are able to transition before that.  It is primarily based on skillset combined with experience.

Software/System Architect

Architects titles will change but the general concept is that they are able to see things from a high level structure and can think though the best model for system design.  They understand business, software, and systems.  The architect will look at things from a long-term viewpoint to build a system that will adjust to meet needs in the future not just current needs.  The person would be able to do the job of a developer but would add to that the ability to see things from a high level.  This type of person has a mixture of skill and experience.  Experience alone is not enough.  This is not a skill that can necessarily be learned because it is dependent on ability.

Team Lead

This role is usually a senior developer or architect that has some level of management and mentoring responsibilities.  A team lead will NOT always be an architect.  Many times you will find that the person will be a developer and not have the skillset of an architect.

Enterprise Architect

The enterprise architect is a higher level architect.  A software/system architect would tend to focus on systems, the enterprise architect would focus on the entire enterprises architecture.  This would include software, networks, external connections, etc.  They will look at the overall architecture of the entire business system.

Summary

There is definitely a difference in the roles that are played.  Also, there is huge difference between the titles from company to company.  In some places people can move into architecture roles purely through seniority.  If you are trying to hire people don’t just look at titles look at what they have done.  I hope that this brief outline will give you a better idea of what you are looking for.