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What Does a Technical Lead Do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A technical lead supervises a team as it develops a new software product. These computer engineers may manage multiple projects at once in some cases, and can work with teams of varying sizes. On an especially large project, there may be a senior technical lead who acts as the head supervisor, assisted by junior staff members. People usually need degrees and experience to work in this field.

When a software company starts to plan for a new project or release, the technical lead is involved in this process. A series of meetings may be necessary to discuss the goals, assemble a team, and create a timeline. Once the project is approved, the technical lead starts supervising the staff. This individual may create the underlying architecture, and assigns tasks to different members of the team to make sure the project goes smoothly. As a supervisor, it may be necessary to periodically check up on workers, inspect their products, and offer direction to keep them on track.

Newer employees may benefit from mentoring as they work on aspects of the project and develop skills. Part of the technical lead's job is to make sure employees receive adequate guidance as they work, which can involve offering instruction, referring them to texts, and teaming them with experienced programmers. To keep the group cohesive and functional, technical leads may organize social activities, team-building exercises, and other events. These tasks may involve coordination with human resources and other departments.

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As the work progresses, technical leads perform testing. This can be extensive, and may involve outside software testers as it nears completion and the lead wants to make sure the product is as ready for release as it can be. Testing can include examining the code, attempting to trick or break the software in some way, and asking groups to use the software in a normal way to look for glitches and usability problems. Results of the software evaluation may be made available to other employees at the company so they can gauge progress and confirm that the team is attentively addressing any issues that arise in development.

Requirements to take on technical lead positions can vary. Some software companies require a degree and a certain amount of experience, and may prefer to recruit from within because their personnel are familiar with internal policies and working styles. Job listings typically provide information about requirements, which may include knowledge of specific programming languages and experience in leading positions on large projects.

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