What the Forking Here* is a Squad Manager?


I’ve learned a lot in my first year working for Notbinary — the nuts and bolts of it is pretty well covered in this post from Sean Tubbs about making the switch to consultancy life. A big lesson however is that some of the key positions in the ‘squads’ we provide are a little different from when you are on the other side of the table. In particular the ‘Delivery Manager’ role has a different shape to it from this perspective. To such an extent that as we are now fully in to hiring mode at Notbinary I have been looking for a new job title that is recognisable but clearly its own thing.

Enter the ‘Squad Manager’

Created just to upset data vis snobs 😉

The Squad Manager does undertake the role of ‘Delivery Manager’ on the ground with our squads. That is the role that would map best to the DDaT framework and would likely be how we would describe the role to clients. They need to have a deep understanding of agile ways of working as well as things like ‘Lean Start-up’ approaches and given our main market they totally need to understand the Service Standard. They take care of the squad and make sure it has what it needs to succeed — they are also responsible for keeping everybody up to speed with progress (clients and colleagues).

They might have gained all that understanding as a Delivery Manager, Agile Coach, Product Owner or a myriad of other opportunities. We are open to people from different ‘professions’ — a holistic attitude towards modern agile rather than a dogmatic single framework approach, a passion for building great teams and an understanding of what it takes to make these ways of working actually work in big bureaucracies is the most important thing.

They will need to do other things though — they will be the representative of the company to the client and as such there is inevitably an element of Account Management in the role and while we would never expect our delivery people to do ‘sales’ on the ground there is a requirement for a certain amount of commercial acumen.

There is often a client coaching element in the role. Product Owners might be relatively new to working in this way or simply new to their roles. Our ‘Squad Managers’ should be experienced and a little battle-hardened(!) and willing to add value to the projects by providing whatever support they can — even if it is just access to a wider network and relevant introductions.

They will also inevitably be the local admin manager as well — ensuring timesheets are filled in, fielding questions about processes, making sure absences are recorded and a myriad other small tasks that contribute to day to day work life.

Finally (well apart from everything I have forgotten) they are guardians of the space — successful squads have a home to call their own and our Squad Managers need to do all they can to ensure that and to then protect it. Not always easy when you on a client site!

These roles are vital to the model we are implementing (a future post will explain the important of the Squad Manager/Principal Engineer double act we see as the core of all our teams.)

We are on the brink of actively recruiting a number of ‘Squad Managers’ — we are just completing the salary bench marking before we make that public and are currently just sorting out our benefits package going forward but if you want a sneak peak of the job description it is here on our Github and you can AMA at matt@notbinary.co.uk.


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