Software Producer: What’s in a name?

September 10, 2014

SEP had an interesting time establishing the title of Software Producer. We wanted it to mean something, like “Software Engineering Professionals” is not just our name; it’s who we are.

Not a Product Manager

When looking into the activities that our Software Producer perform, there is a lot of overlap with a Product Manager. That title is common among the professional community. We even participate in the local Product Management meetup. However, it wasn’t what we were looking for.

Not a product

SEP is more service oriented, as our primary focus is to produce for our clients. Our clients come to us with their product idea, and they typically have their own Product Manager that coordinates with us to get the job done. We wanted to convey that we aren’t trying to replace that role for our client, but rather enhance that relationship for the best outcome.

Not a manager

While a Software Producer has to manage certain client communication, project backlogs, and priority, the term “manager” in our field usually implies personnel or financial management. That was not the focus of our Software Producer, so it didn’t make sense to have it in our title.

Different than an Agile Coach

A Software Producer also has some overlap with an Agile Coach, especially since SEP focuses on (little-a) agile methodologies for development. You could even throw in the term “Product Owner” in this area because many of our clients are looking at Scrum as their implementation of agile practices.

More than Agile

The responsibilities of a Software Producer can be applied to process that are not agile specific. But we at SEP will lean toward agile methodologies, even if our client is waterfall [shudders] or otherwise.

More than a Coach

A Software Producer will be a coach to their team and to their client stakeholders, if the client is receptive to it. However, a Software Producer will go beyond that for conducting discovery sessions, managing the work backlog, and performing acceptance testing.

Software + Producer

After further thought and looking around the professional community, we settled on Software Producer. The title really conveys who we are.

Software Focused

We aren’t producing just anything; we’re making software. The Software Producers at SEP have been in the trenches and know the processes that generate high quality software. Building quality software can not be done using processes for building a bridge or constructing an assembly line (even though, some companies still try to do it that way).

Producer Intent

The intent of the Software Producer is to produce the right product for our clients and their users. Sometimes that means challenging the status-quo on prioritization or schedule. We could always just do what the client says, but it’s our job to speak for the product and its users. We are partners with our client, not merely subordinates.

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.”
Romeo & Juliet; Act 2, Scene 2

We’re still doing the same job as we’ve always done. However, instead of losing a name (as Romeo did for Juliet), we’re gaining a name to better connect with our clients and the community.

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