Development Dynamics: June 2020

Steve Wyman, Director of Software, Homebuilder

Focus on Product Management

What do you think a Software Engineering team looks like? Some might imagine large strip-lighted rooms with groups of people huddled around flipcharts and whiteboards, drawing, re-drawing and refining technical specifications, models and flowcharts. Others may envisage darkened rooms with tech wizards’ fingers dancing over keyboards bringing those specifications to life, or painstakingly inspecting vast quantities of computer code searching for that one elusive instruction that is causing a system to malfunction. 

While there is some reality in these scenarios, there is much more to our software engineering efforts. For example, before we can specify, build or test anything, we need to decide what problems to solve. In the Homebuilder Solutions (HBS) software engineering team, this is the responsibility of our Product Managers.

Product Managers (PMs) are our internal representatives of the homebuilder clients we serve. They understand the current needs of the market, and strive to see its future. They know the strengths and weaknesses of our current solutions, and they plan and prioritize the problems we will solve to maximize the value we deliver. They gather information from our colleagues in Professional Services, Customer Support and Client Engagement, and sometimes directly from the homebuilder. The PMs refine and organize the information and present it to our Developers and Quality Analysts, then all three disciplines collaborate to design and build solutions to meet the client’s needs. Product Management is a crucial component in our software development organization in all phases of the engineering process.

Last month we referenced the importance of communication in the software development process, and our PMs are communication masters. In addition to gathering information from all sources, they consult with each other leveraging internal knowledge, share the results of their work with Developers and Quality Analysts, collaborate with these teams on prototypes and throughout the development process, and provide feedback to the builders when needed. They are truly the catalysts for bringing your ideas and desires to fruition in our software. Among our PMs are specialists in many core homebuilding concepts including Accounting, Sales, Estimating, Purchasing, Scheduling and many more, and also specialists with one or more of our software products. Collectively they have over 130 years of experience in software related fields, over 90 years of homebuilding experience and over 90 years of experience in their current areas of specialization. This rich combination of skills and experience allows us to support and learn from each other, and also to leverage the right people for any given challenge.  

The HBS team is fortunate to have Dan Brooks leading our Product Management group. Dan has many years of technical leadership experience in a variety of roles and industries including construction and finance. Dan is a PMP, a Certified ScrumMaster, a skilled leader of people and a passionate advocate for quality in every product we build and every process we use. Dan’s skills and experience benefit not only the PMs under his direct supervision, but our whole software engineering team as we transform the processes and practices we use to build and deliver software to our clients. Out of the office, Dan is equally at home on skis or in hiking boots in the Rocky Mountains or behind the wheel of a high-performance sports car.

When you communicate with our PMs, you contribute directly to our Software Engineering team’s understanding of your needs, your desires and your wildest dreams. That aids our future software solution planning, provides a greater understanding of your specific needs, and helps us to be the technology partner we strive to be. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you.