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I lead software development for a team of of about 20 devs and we're primarily a .net/sql server shop. We've recently created a new role in our organization for a more business like role to assist in prioritization of development and this business liaison has asked me if there are any books or resources he could use to better understand software concepts in a meaningful way.

Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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This is a tough one... I imagine (or hope) that they must have some degree of technical experience, in order to get this role of business/developer liason. So I would ask what level of experience do they already have, and what do they feel are the biggest gaps? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Nov 25 '11 at 15:20
Any answer would probably need to revolve around how your team structures its work and interacts with customers / outside influences. Can you provide a bit more info about that? –  SHug Nov 25 '11 at 16:29

2 Answers 2

To quickly introduce such a liason to the concepts of software development, I'd recommend Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering - small, easy to read book. References provided in each section allow for a deeper topic study if needed. Recommended reading for those interested in getting software right. For a more thorough study, one probably can't go wrong with Code Complete - fundamental and well presented overview of professional software development.

For liason role it would be helpful to also understand concepts of software quality assurance. As far as I can tell, our colleagues at SQA.SE recommend Lessons Learned in Software Testing: "...it covers a wide-enough range of topics that it makes for great conversation around what we do, and the thinking behind why we do it that way..."

  • As a supplementary reading in case if this guy is willing to actively participate in design discussions (I wouldn't bet that this is a good idea though) I would suggest Applying UML and Patterns - an excellent tutorial on object-oriented analysis and design, highly recommended. POS system case study alone makes it worth reading the book. Another thing I like in this book is nicely described and explained walkthrough of a reasonably productive iterative development process. Note title reference to UML and patterns is rather misleading, subtitle is much better fit for contents: "An Introduction to Object-Oriented Analysis and Design and Iterative Development"
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+1 for Facts and Fallacies alone. It's a good read, and very enlightening. Something that should probably be read by any software engineer, software engineering technical manager, or project manager running software-intensive projects. –  Thomas Owens Jan 24 '12 at 21:52
related question (migrated to Workplace.SE): What books should I read to be be able to communicate with programmers? –  gnat Dec 20 '12 at 5:30

Get him to Pragmatic Marketing as fast as you can. The whole point of their curriculum is that you can't be the "business guy" in a software company/organization/group without understanding lots of technical aspects, and that in fact your product and career will be enhanced by learning these things.

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