26th September 2017

We’ve restructured our technical chapter. Here’s why.

John Ennew
Technical Director

We realised two job roles were not enough.

At Deeson we’ve been steadily growing the digital part of our agency for the best part of 16 years. We built our first website in 2001 when the web was new and you got to be a senior web developer two weeks out of University. 

Since then the team has grown but our management hierarchy has remained flat.

By the start of 2017 the technical chapter had 14 web developers at different stages in their career but we only recognised 2 job roles: Developer and Solutions Architect.

It was becoming apparent that these two designations weren’t accurately describing the work people were actually doing. Indeed, it surprised new starters when they found out we in fact employed more Solutions Architects than we did Developers.

Clarifying job roles and career progression.

Over the last three months we’ve reviewed the activities of the members of the team and taken the time to properly define the various job roles people actually undertake.

At the same time we reflected on the amount of support people were getting, particularly those in the team starting out down the management path and beginning to lead small teams through the minefields of project delivery.

With a flat structure and an increasingly large team, it was becoming less feasible for a single line manager to provide the necessary support to everyone on the team. It was also a blocker to our growth.

The output of this review has been a restructure of the job roles within the technical chapter. We recognised that the title of Solutions Architect at Deeson largely meant Senior Developer – someone with significant technical experience. But once you became a Solutions Architect, it wasn’t clear where you should be aiming next.

The review produced the following 5 job roles:

  • Developer
  • Senior Developer
  • Lead Developer
  • Development Manager
  • Chapter Lead

This change has provided clarity around the career development path for our developers. It’s easier to see what skills and responsibilities you need to take on in order to move to the next job title.

At the same time, it allows us to define support structures and share out the management tasks and reporting lines.

Recognising team members’ other roles.

In addition, we’ve worked on better defining our internal roles. These are business roles that people take on, allowing them to increase their responsibilities and to develop new skills.

  • Agile coach
  • Recruitment support
  • New business support
  • IT support
  • Open source ambassador
  • Initiative lead

Some of the new job titles require a mastery of a number of these internal roles. For example, the Development Manager will need to provide recruitment and new business support.

During this process, we took a lot of inspiration from the book, The Manager’s Path by Camille Fournier. It contains excellent reflections on the various stages of a developer’s career which closely match the stages we’ve defined here. We highly recommend you read it if you’re thinking of doing something similar. This is now our go-to playbook for defining our career paths.

If you’re interested in specifics, you can read the full details of our defined roles and job titles in our open source handbook. We’re hiring at the moment too!