What is the role of a technical lead?

The technical lead or a software architect of an IT company is responsible for development projects and it is his main duty to implement current and modern solutions for successful completion of projects and fulfilling the changing requirements of customers. As he is a technical lead, he leads his development team, and hence plays a very crucial role in the success of a project.

A technical lead is also a team leader, senior developer, architect and engineering manager all rolled into one. He must have a technical vision that would lead the team to success. The paragraphs below would try to explain it a bit further, and through that you will understand the role of a technical lead better

Not fully a team leader, but something more

A tech lead cannot be called a team leader because he is more than that. The team leader may not have a very strong technical background, but a tech lead should be very strong technically. A team leader would be more focused on keeping track of his team members and make sure they are completing their projects on time.

An Engineering Manager? Definitely more than that

It is true that an Engineering Manager will have the role of a Tech Lead, but that doesn’t clearly define his role there. Generally, an Engineering Manager must

  • Maintain a healthy and productive working environment
  • Plan the budget and execute it
  • Act as a representative of the team to the management and board level

An Engineering Manager will also be called a Chief Information Officer or Chief Technical Officer. Though a Tech Leader’s responsibilities combine all that of the Engineering Manager, he must do something more than that – he must:

  • Be with the developers through the entire stretch of the project
  • Must focus on leading his team towards its common goal
  • Settles technical disputes
  • Thinks of long-term consequences and benefits while taking technical decisions

Acts as a good Architect as well, but that’s not enough, of course

A good architect is a good tech lead, or rather, a tech lead must have all the good qualifications of a good architect and then some more. He must be constantly aware of what his team is achieving and make sure all the decisions made contribute to the final decision. He must work with the team to ensure they have a clear outlook of the architecture and thus aid in uniqueness and productivity. As a tech lead might have been an architect himself, he must always keep himself updated on the latest trends in codes, because only then will he be able to solve any hitches that come along.

As a tech lead, you will have the major responsibility of implementing complex solutions and work closely with project managers and solution architects to look after the technical aspects of a project, including complex development projects. He must also be able to develop IT solutions for addressing customer requirements. This role is much different from that of a developer because the tech leader would have to handle both the technical and non-technical aspects of a project.

What the Tech Lead should be doing – roles and responsibilities

Learn to focus on more than one problem

When you were a developer or an architect, you had to focus only one aspect of the project. All you need to do was concentrate on what you are developing, face the hindrances that come in the way and celebrate when your tested solutions are a success. But when you are a tech lead, you must learn to delegate your tasks and focus on other responsibilities as well.

Help the developer fit their task into the bigger picture

The developer would focus on his task, but fails to understand how his task would come into the main picture. The tech lead must provide assistance to the developer and provide him with a visual representation of the bigger picture so he will know where his project would fit in the broader spectrum. You must keep a white board in your office so you can display this visual representation to everyone in the team. It would solve problems of scalability, usability and so on.

Must be good at coding as well

A good tech lead must spend some time coding as well. If he develops codes, he would be updated on the latest coding techniques and would be able to help his team should they run into a hitch. He would also be able to come up with current solutions for coding problems. Once you spend time with the code, you are inculcating trust with the rest of the developers; so write and review the code with them and provide feedback.

Must be a person with a unique blend of project management and leadership skills

A tech leader is a lot of things – a team leader, a developer, an architect and Engineering manager and he must write code at least 30% of his time. He must, therefore learn to utilize his time in a fashion that will help the rest of the team realize a common technical vision.

Spending time with each member of the team

The success of the project will happen only when you sit down with each of the team members and understand what their strengths and weaknesses are. This would give them the opportunity to grow and develop together, which is good for the project.

Interesting links about the topic:
Tips for Being an Effective Tech Lead
Responsibilities of a Technical Team Leader

Pictures: Flickr.com/ Cardus/ David Amsler/ Marc/ Michael Cardus

The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

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