The shape of a IT professional

I’m sure you have read that IT professional are defined by letters. Some examples:

“I” shaped professional – Has a specific skill 

“T” shaped professional – Excels in a specific skill but can collaborate in others 

“M” shaped professional – Has deep knowledge of some skills but can collaborate in several others 

So, what’s better? Are you the “right” shape? And what letter soup should you use in your team?

As I navigate through projects and product development and having the responsibility of assembling a team tailored for each project, I’ve dealt with this multiple times. A typical “rom scratch” software product needs these profiles:

  • Software architect
  • FrontEnd Developer
  • Backend Developer
  • Virtualization / container Specialist
  • DevOps
  • Indexed search specialist
  • UI Designer
  • User Experience specialist
  • Scrum Master
  • Consultant for the business area the product refers to
  • Analyst / Product Owner
  • Etc..

As it is clear, a lot of different profiles are required and this is not including sales and management. As it is fairly obvious most startups or even mature companies don’t have the resources to build such a team. And of course it’s debatable that all these are needed and they are not all needed all the time at the same time, etc. 

It is also true that the kid that build a popular app in his bedroom by the age of 14 usually does not have access to this and he succeeds.

The reality is that having distinct people for each profile or aggregating multiple profiles in a single people, all profiles/skills are used in software development. What shape should you take. What is the best one?

At this point in my experience as manager I’m gravitating more towards having a M shaped Architect (Senior) and T shaped developers. This configuration has been the most productive and has produced the fastest development times. Personally I tend to like the T shape as having knowledge of adjacent technologies/areas has proven very useful and sometimes a critical factor.

What’s your take on this?

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