One of things that I was unprepared for starting at Microsoft leaving college was the size and scale of this company. Previous jobs and projects I’ve worked on all had the distinct advantage of being small, with all of the key players and stakeholders usually sitting on the same floor of a building. That luxury no longer exists, and has been replaced by the challenge of working with people that I have never met face-to-face.
I can’t think of a better example of this than the MSDN Forums project I've been working on. I don’t think I could write down all of the names of every person involved in some way on the project.
Those are just the English forums. Of course, Microsoft developers are around the globe, speaking several different languages. Bring in the Microsoft subsidiaries—in
The challenge in this isn’t just coordinating meetings and getting on the same page. Email can go a long way to informing a large group of stakeholders on the project of status, or asking for information. It’s in trying to actually find out who these people are…an address book and directory can’t really tell you who the expert on topic X is at the company. How can I find out who I’m supposed to be talking to?
Of course, I'm not really complaining. This is what's exciting about working for a company like Microsoft. There’s a huge advantage in working with so many people. One hundred people’s opinions together are quite a bit more valuable than my singular ideas. Working with people from around the world poses a time-zone and language challenge—but it also adds an exciting flavor of diversity to the project. Who knew that a half-year out of college I would get to email with people in
The best way currently to find who the best contact is in a group—let’s take the MSDN Forums primary contact for an example—is to ask a more experienced coworker. It’s in this manner that
Better intranet search isn’t the solution here, because the information really isn’t written down anywhere. In fact, I don’t know the best solution. From my limited experience, any mechanism for organizing a list of projects can’t rely on people to keep it updated. The snapshot of projects you take today isn’t the same as the one for next week. And people will not come back to update the fact that Kannan now works on Project X and Roberta has moved over to Project Y.
This is obviously a bigger problem than a new college grad in the company can solve (single-handedly J ), but I’m curious…does anyone else have any ideas on how to build a better way to find appropriate contacts in a huge org?