What am I doing now anyway?

Another Tech.Ed has come and gone, and I'm currently relaxing in the Qantas Club lounge at Auckland airport waiting for my flight home. As always, I had a great time attending both the Aussie and Kiwi events, and it was fun meeting so many new people as well as catching up with a multitude of people from my past lives. One particularly common question was around exactly what I've been doing since leaving p&p and returning to this part of the world where the fauna is deadly and the Vegemite plentiful. This isn't really too surprising, since I haven't posted much more than a vague description of my new role - so while I don't want to turn this post into marketing fluff, I thought some of you may be interested in a better description of my new team and role.

I'm working in a group called the Solutions Development Centre (SDC) out of Microsoft's Sydney office, which is one of just a few such groups around the world. We are a part of Microsoft Services, but operate very differently from the core consulting business. While most consultants go out to customer sites and do everything from odd jobs to long-term engagements, the SDC is an engineering facility and team based in Microsoft's offices that specialises in end-to-end delivery of high risk software development projects for customers. Past projects have typically been around a year in duration, and have involved customers who were looking to Microsoft and our partners to play a larger role than is possible in typical consulting engagements and to carry more of the risk.

Even though SDC projects are developed primarily at Microsoft, the business model and development approach is not one of out-sourcing. Each project team is typically staffed by Microsoft, our partners, and customer representatives in approximately equal ratios. The customer will generally be responsible for requirements and product management, and sometimes provides some of the developers. Our partners provide most of the developers and testers, which leaves Microsoft to focus primarily on project management and solution architecture. As you probably guessed, my job is to provide direction around the solution architecture, but as with any good team I get a lot of help from other people, and I get to stick my nose into many other areas as well!

So why did I leave sunny Redmond for a job like this? I described my personal reasons for leaving a while ago, but this particular team and role was extremely appealing as it let me stay technical, work on real projects, work with great people, and critically allowed me to have more control over the project outcome than is usually possible as a consultant. While I'm still getting used to the new role, so far I'm enjoying it immensely. Having a team made up of different people from different companies and backgrounds makes for an extremely fun and rewarding work environment, and everyone in the extended team is top-notch at what they do.

And while I promised to stay away from the marketing fluff, I can't help but end with a bit of a plug. If you're in Australia (not necessarily Sydney) and think the SDC might be a great way to deliver one of your upcoming projects, or if you work for a partner company and want to get involved in some way-cool projects, please feel free to contact me through the blog contact form. And if you're not in this part of the world or you're not interested, don't worry - after this post we will return to your regularly scheduled programming.

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