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What is your title?

One of the things that fascinate me a lot is the large number of titles we have come to associate with SAP projects. When I started as a programmer in ABAP in the nineties, I don’t recall having an SAP Architect in the team. By the time I became a manager a few years ago, I felt my team wouldn’t be complete without a solution architect, a BI Architect and countless other architects for Portal, XI and everything else. 


And then I got involved with a CRM development project with SAP themselves a few years ago. There, I met a bunch of extremely smart people with the title “Development Architects”. However, I figured out that they all don’t do the same type of work. The guy I worked the closest with, and arguably the smartest SAP guy I have spoken to yet in my life, was very non technical. He was a development architect and several years ago, it seems he wrote a hundred lines of code and that was it. But this guy designed a very complex module from scratch. There were other development architects there, with whom I had lengthy and often fierce arguments and debates on technical topics. They all worked in tandem to design and develop an excellent product. But the point is – despite having the same title, they had very different roles.


Another group of people – guys who lead technical teams, call themselves as architects. Does that change anything? There is a reason I ask that – an average team lead is a guy who has just about had enough of technical work, and wants to slowly move on to management. There are of course a few who are very tech savvy and hate management, but in general most of the leads I have met in my career, fit better to the former category. The former group loves the title “lead” and the latter group love the title “Architect”. Both end up doing similar things in day to day life though  🙂 And for the last few years, most of my clients have enterprise architects. As far as I know, they are all ex-programmers too.


Thankfully, more discipline is coming into place in terms of defining the mandate of an architect. But the self styled titles are not going away anywhere in a hurry. Last christmas, I ran into a guy who used to work for me in India. He just got a new job, and was pretty psyched that his employer gave him the title “Architect” that he demanded, although they did not meet his salary requirement. I always knew that HR people are smart 🙂


Next in line : the techno-functional consultant ! I remember asking my first manager what on earth is a techno-functional consultant and his reply was “oh that is just a technical consultant with a terrible complex that techies are somehow inferior to functional consultants. There were/are lots of functional guys who ridicule programmers. Smart techies give as good as they get, and others get depressed and change titles”.  I keep getting asked by several people who say they are techno-functional on what would they have to do to be called a BPX. I really hope this is not because they have an inferiority complex, but for more worthwhile reasons.


And my favorite – the “Global” in the title. It cracks me up when I meet “Global head of blah blah” or “Global lead of Order to Cash”, when they don’t have any one with a geographic focus reporting into him or her. In fact, some of them are one man armies or only have an implementation that spans one country – like “Global change management lead” in a project spanning all of UK. No doubt there are genuine “Global” titles, but some of it just points to some one who needed his ego stroked, and yet again a smart HR brain behind the curtains !


I guess it is time I go bug my manager for a fancy title !

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  • The feat (play on Shakespeare's phrase) being to helicopter in to resolve a problem, define, model, configure, test, document, and produce business process improvements/results.  Forget the word lead.  Many would settle for "she/he who gets it done" quickly and cost effectively. Now that's a definition of BPX some might subscribe to or aspire to. (said she, who invented for herself the title of BPX Community Evangelist)
  • I enjoyed the observations about titles that can be vague and unclear. However, it can be a little off-putting to read statements such as ..."an average team lead is a guy who..." and "guys who lead technical teams"..., since I am not one - guy, that is. In these examples, substituting the words "person" and "people" would have worked,and no one would be excluded. I'd like to think that in the 21st century it would not occur to any of us to write something like "an average team lead is an (American/Asian/insert ethnic or racial stereotype here)", so I would like to propose that more inclusiveness in gender language would be appropriate, too. From time to time I see discussions about increasing participation of women here on SCN, and at Las Vegas TechEd 08 Jimmy Wales spoke of inclusiveness as a specific goal in his organization, which impressed me greatly. Inclusive language helps make those of us who are not of the majority in whatever regard feel a little more welcome at the table.


    • Let me assure you that I have no gender/racial or any other bias . I am just not that formal a person to keep writing him/her in every sentence, and just meant to use "guy" as a catchall for guys and gals 🙂

      This is no excuse for a post in a public forum like SCN, so I apologize unconditionally if I hurt you or any of the other women readers. All I can say is that the next time I rant/blog I will make an effort to conciously use inclusive language

  • I guess the way I understand is that the title happens to be when the client wants it to be if the basic requirements are met. - Talking from an SI perspective...!!!