Derik Whittaker



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The bliss of 'On Site' Business Experts....

I currently work for a company that is a very process and documentation light.  They believe very strongly that big process and heavy documents will only slow down a project (actually one of the reasons I joined the company).  However, as the new guy assigned to lead a very high profile project this can be a little intimidating. 

Lucky for me we have multiple 'Functional Architechs' that sit in our department.  A 'Functional Architech' at our company is basically a business expert that has an extraordinary amount of business knowledge (in my case, has worked at the company for 10+ years) and most importantly the ability to speak on the behalf of the business.  Now for all of you out there that work in a true XP shop this concept may be nothing new to you, but for me (an Agilist that has never really worked in an Agile shop) this is a great new experience.

Now what makes having these 'Functional Architechs' on site and within reach so great.  Well, its simple, instant feedback or answers to my many, many questions (remember, I am the new guy leading the project). Other companies that I worked for did not have such a thing, if the development team had a question that the B.A.'s could not answer (which was often) we would have to schedule a meeting with the various stakeholders and spend way too much time to get a simple answer.  In many cases because we could not get all the needed stakeholders together in a short notice we would sometimes have to wait a week or more in order to get answers.  Now, with having direct access to our business experts all day, every day I can get instant feedback or answers.

Who knew getting instant feedback for simple or complicated answers would make my job so much better...  If only ALL companies would do this, maybe more projects would be completed on time and have the correct business rules implemented.


Posted 11-08-2006 7:25 PM by Derik Whittaker
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Ben Griswold wrote re: The bliss of 'On Site' Business Experts....
on 11-09-2006 12:17 PM

Thanks of the post.  I really enjoyed it.  I think that a lot of shops employ the concept of function architect, but it rarely by choice.  It is the individual with the most domain knowledge who gets bombarded with so many questions that they have no time to do anything else.  They become full-time question-answerers out of necessity and, as you noted, thank goodness they are around.  I'm not sure if you have the same concern, but since all the answers are in the heads of few, what do you do to plan for when they are no longer around?

Derik Whittaker wrote re: The bliss of 'On Site' Business Experts....
on 11-17-2006 7:25 PM


The company i work for actually has quite a few of these people so if one or two leave I don't see it as a bad thing.  Also, even if they did leave there are plenty of people willing to come into corporate from the stores (I work for a major high end housewares retailer) and take their positions.

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