We are transitioning and evolving our ecosystem, infrastructure, process, and leadership of the ALM Rangers program as part of our continuous quest for reflection, improvement, and adaption. In conjunction with peer mentorship programs and associated discussions we concurred that is time to create a new series of posts to document the program management (PM) persona within the context of the Visual Studio ALM Rangers. The series begins with four posts focused on Persona, Energi[s|z]e, Enable, and Advocate.

Post revised on: 2014-08-22  

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We focus today’s post on Persona, which breaks down into our structure, mission, infrastructure, and PM key factors. The intent is to set the context and scene for the next three posts and, hopefully, energetic discussions.

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our mission

The Visual Studio ALM Rangers provide professional guidance, practical experience, and gap-filling solutions to the ALM community.
See aka.ms/vsarmission for more details.

! The core responsibility of ALM Ranger Program Managers (PMs) is to coordinate, nurture, and deliver solutions that align with our mission, meet the acceptance criteria of the product owner of the solution, and meet the appropriate minimum quality bar.

If the proposed solution does not meet all of these checkpoints, it is back to the drawing board, and the project flight does not obtain permission for take-off.

our ecosystem (structure)

To understand the ALM Rangers PM persona, we also have to understand the structure of the ALM Ranger ecosystem.

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As shown in the image above, there are 2-3 full-time PMs, creating a permanent foundation and presence for the ALM Rangers. They coordinate, nurture, and deliver 2-5 concurrent project flights, with approximately 200 part-time, distributed, and virtual volunteers contributing their passion, subject-matter expertise, and real-world experience from ALM MVP and ALM Community, Services, User Experience, and Development Engineering. In addition, they work with product owners, program managers, and stakeholders who are typically from development engineering.

! Building bridges between these different worlds, aligning expectations, leveraging and enabling resources and being a 24x365 mentor is another core responsibility of Program Managers.

our infrastructure

ALM Rangers dogfooding journal of the Team Foundation Service gives an insight into our world of dog-fooding. Visual Studio Online and Yammer are two core infrastructures that enable ALM Rangers to collaborate across solutions that are in the idea, development, maintenance, or retired phases.

! Owning, supporting and innovating the infrastructure to enable Rangers is another core responsibility of the Program Manager. Respect for people and their time, enabling them to create magic and knowing that the PMs will worry about the rest is key.

pm != pm

PM in our context is a Program Manager, with key factors (responsibilities) which we will discuss shortly.

There are other definitions for PM, none of which are applicable here …
PM = Project Manager
PM = Product Manager
PM = Pizza Meal
PM = Past Midday
PM = Portable Magnet
… any, thanks to the joys of TLAs, (two/three lettered acronyms) many, many more.

bridging the ecosystem, creating “one”

As evident in the ALM Ranger ecosystem, we have a diverse set of skills, dreams, cultures, traditions, and abilities. The ALM Rangers also have to build solid bridges to collaborate with a diverse set of stakeholders and teams required to pursue the goal of integrated solutions and working as “one.

While the new process of triaging project ideas and aligning strategies appears naturally to connect teams and stakeholders, we are investigating peer mentorship as another effective strategy to bridge the ecosystems. This will be discussed in our next post.

pm key factors

In summary, the Program Manager is a very interesting career, limited only by the PM’s imagination, passion, and energy. Again, we have seen many instances of the PM key factors emerging:

  • Building bridges between the customers/community/partners and the product group, ensuring that the development teams understand the customer requirements (the “ask”) and in turn that the customers understand the features and constraints of the resulting solution.
  • Motivational, mentoring, and guiding leadership.
  • Responsibility and passion for “shipping” solutions that create raving users.
  • Orchestration of skills, personalities, and (hidden) agendas, ensuring there is value for everyone.
  • Leveraging not managing resources, and taking care of any impediments for the team.
  • Enabling the B-X-T perspective (Business Value, Good EXperience and that the solution is Technically OK).
  • Enabling Integrated Solutions.

! As a PM I have pasted the following picture on my bathroom mirror to remind me of my core responsibilities every morning and evening …
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At this point, we have skimmed the persona of the Program Manager (PM), within the context of the ALM Rangers. In the next post we will investigate how the PM energizes the team, ensures the team ships, and that we shower a team with Kudos when its solution has a positive impact in the ALM Community.

pm responsibility map

The following table summarises all of the PM responsibilities, the scale indicating how much effort is invested per responsibility within the context of ALM Rangers and the blog post of this series where it is covered.

PM Responsibilities

Ranger Scale (S,M,L,XL)

Covered in blog

Adapt

M

 

B-X-T

L

PM.1

Collaboration “build bridges”

L

PM.1

Customer focus

M

 

Drive for results “Ship”

XL

 

End-to-end Innovation

L

 

Energise

L

PM.2

Influence for impact

M

 

Integrated Solutions

M

PM.1

Judgment “Candid Feedback”

M

 

Leadership

XL

PM.2

Mentor

L

PM.2

Motivate

XL

 

Orchestrate

L

PM.1

Planning, organising, and executing

XL

 

Remove impediments

M

PM.2

Technical excellence

L

 

… call to action!

? Thoughts? Candid feedback?
! We need your feedback and questions to fuel these discussions and help us improve our mentoring program.

special thanks

Special thanks to Anisha Pindoria and Rui Melo, who help me improve these posts as part of our peer mentorship, and Bill Heys, who turns my gibberish into human readable content.

reference info