Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The Accidental Expert

So about a month ago I got sucked into this project. They needed help and the only way we were going to come close to the deadline was if I jumped in and helped get the actual implementation working. My role up that point was simply advisory -- assist in design and architecture. The reality is that I never claimed to be the subject matter expert, and I saw my role as rather temporary, to lend a hand to a project in jeopardy.

Well the project is pretty much on track now (after three 65+ hour weeks), and they are in bug fix mode. The project is in test, and the original developers have a list of outstanding issues to fix, but they are essentially edge cases and there is little left of significant risk. That said, I figured I would be moving on to something else now -- get back to the mainline development I was doing before I got pulled away.

I was informed today that this is going to be my project through the end of the year. Now that the core functionality is in place, I have been asked to start the second phase of feature development to make the product have everything necessary to sell to a wide audience. This means mapping out the new functionality and expanding the framework to do more that the bare minimum required to say the product works. It means extending the product from proof-of-concept to production.

My initial reaction was surprise. I really hadn't considered staying on this project for longer than would be necessary to get it to a stable point. While I have been driving the project for the last month, making design decisions and defining the development work items for the other developers, I had not really taken the time to learn about SQL Server. I spents days in front of MSDN and TechNet solving problems and answering questions about a product I never really took the time to understand.

Surely there must be someone more qualified than me to do this? I just came on to help out in a crunch.

Unfortunately the answer is 'no'. I inadvertently became the resident expert on all things SQL Server.

I'm not against the idea in principle. It is good business for me to embrace the project and see it through to General Availability. But if I'm going to make this my full time responsibility, then I guess I should learn something about SQL Server.

So I bought a book tonight.

The upside is that having read about 100 pages of the book tonight, I now have a MUCH better idea of what we have been trying to accomplish from a user standpoint. I can see the pitfalls the product is trying to address. And I can see potential things we can do to make the whole process better. Up to this point, I had been tunnel-visioned on getting the product stabilized, not giving much attention to the high level goals.

It could be interesting - I can make this thing kick ass.

In other news, I bought a couch on Saturday. It will be delivered this upcoming Saturday. And I took advantage of work closing early on Friday to get my New York driver's license.