Staffing Advice- Choosing People for an IT Project.

One of the most confusing aspects of hiring an external company to work on an Information Technology (IT) project is understanding what role each person involved should play. Based on our own experience, and with input from colleagues in the industry, we have prepared the following explanations of the roles of different IT professionals.

Development Staff


The programmer is responsible for coding and testing computer programs under the direction of the system analyst and the project manager. The programmer is expected to be able to recognize where responsibility lies for making design change decisions, and is expected to involve the appropriate personnel.

Programmer Analyst (Software Engineer)

In addition to the programmers responsibilities, the Programmer/Analyst is expected to be able to perform a significant portion of the analyst's job. They are expected to be able to resolve integration issues at the module level, and deal with some overall design issues.

System Analyst

The system analyst is expected to create a coding plan from work flow diagrams, Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) and functional specifications are created by the system analyst. They are expected to be able to create Graphical User Interface (GUI) standards appropriate for the level of expertise of the expected users.

Project Manager

The Project Manager organizes the project designed by the system architect and works with the customer. The PM also appoints team members to carry out the various job functions and organizes the logistics of getting the project completed. The Project Manager is concerned with the business issues of the project, and implementing the project on schedule and for the budget promised.

Systems Architect

The system Architect is responsible for determining the scope, and designing the "look and feel" of the project. They may be the only initial contact with the customer if the requirements are clear, or they may work with a consultant once the needs analysis is complete.

Database Specialists


The Database Architect designs the data structures and data flow from the documentation produced by the system architect and system analysts. They will make design decisions such as the particular style of a database, whether the database is to be distributed on a network of computers etc.. and they may specify the power of the hardware platform required to support particular functionality. Their decisions may cause rethinking or even complete redesign of the project. They will likely specify a choice of design methodology and CASE tools for the project.


The database administrator maintains the system created by the database architect. They are required to add new fields, and new procedures, as well as to create or maintain stored procedures and enforce referential integrity.

Platform Specialists

A platform specialist is able to show you the best way to implement a database architecture on a give hardware and software combination. There are varying degrees of specialization, and it is not unusual for someone to be a specialist on Oracle on the UNIX platform, or Sybase on Windows NT.

Client/Server Specialist (Platform Specialist)

A system is said to be a client server system when the processing of the database is distributed between the central computer (Say a UNIX system) and a client system (Say a PC running a program in Delphi) on a users desk. Since the implementation of client server is key to good performance, a platform specialist may describe themselves as a Client/Server specialist. They will deal with such issues as to which data access drivers to use on the PC, where queries are to take place (server or locally) and how the architecture chosen can be best implemented on the hardware and network system chosen. They may be able to assist you with decisions like - which TCP/IP driver should I choose, would the NetBEUI protocol be better, should I implement the data transfer using named pipes.


A consultant is the person you turn to when you need a problem solved and don't have the required expertise within your organization. What you have to determine is what type of expertise you need to employ. A consultant is often employed to perform a "needs analysis".


An expert consultant tells you what you need to repair, improve, cut, or replace. They tell you what you need to do to improve your current situation. The expert consultant is called upon to do the "needs analysis".


A resource consultant finds what you need to run or improve your business. In conjunction with an expert consultant, they help you find what the expert has determined you need. In the case of a mining company, you would call a professional exploration geologist a resource consultant. In the case of a computer or business project, a resource consultant will help you find the best software & hardware to accomplish a task, or they may find you ready to use software (canned software) to accomplish a business goal. A resource consultant will is often given the mandate of making the choice of systems to purchase.


A process consultant tells you how to repair or replace your procedures so that your organization will function more efficiently or at an improved standard. For example an ISO 9000 expert could be viewed as a process consultant since they assist you in documenting and improving your current procedures and standards.

Finance & Economics

Financial experts may be called in to help you improve profitability or prepare for expansion or downsizing. They may also be involved in the refinancing of a business, or the start-up of a new division, or the sale of turnkey factory start-ups because of the expert knowledge of financial instruments that is required.

Economic experts will help you make decisions about the feasibility of an expansion or downsizing. They may help you answer questions about whether a market will accept a price increase or decrease, or whether the general economy of a country will support a new product or service.


Management experts help you find better ways to run your company. Their job is to help you set team objectives, determine communications lines and recommend structural changes that will make your workforce more effective.

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