This organization will be responsible for coordinating marketing between product groups and with our international subsidiaries. They will have responsibility for market intelligence and analysis. Most important, they will have responsibility for correctly positioning Autodesk as a broad-based software company through advertising, public relations, development of collateral, trade shows and other promotional events. They will be responsible for coordinating consistency and worldwide standardization of corporate style and packaging.
This would be a service center of programmers who work on different projects at different times for different product lines. In our current organization, there are times when Dev Test and Build groups act in this capacity, building components for products whose programming staffs are overcommitted and have some tasks which can be done with relatively little spin-up by an extra person.
This service center would also serve a load-balancing function during a product's long-term life-cycle. Because individual products are managed by their own profitability, and funded by their own revenue streams, it is possible to imagine ``quiet times'' in the development of a product. For example, when a product is released, it may make sense to shift expenditures from development to marketing and shrink the development team during this period. Rather than lay off people who have just achieved a great success, or attempt to hastily find new homes for them, these people can join the developer services center and explore projects with a variety of product lines.
This service center would not be expected to be 100% committed to product lines all the time. As a result, Developer Services could, in its spare time, undertake short projects that might become new products. There seems to be a boundless supply of ideas at Autodesk for objects that could go on bonus disks, or into the Science Series, or into new market areas. Developer Services could develop into a place where these ideas get explored.
Developer Services would be expected to have most of its people employed with the product lines most of the time.
Where should Developer Services report? There are at least three interesting possibilities: 1) the VP of Technology; 2) the same organization as training and support, since short projects are also undertaken by training and support when time permits; or 3) Advanced Technology, which should, in principle, be where the largest number of radically new ideas crops up. This proposal puts Developer Services into the Advanced Technology organization, for the potential synergy with radical ideas worthy of exploration.
There are some challenging questions regarding the operation of Developer Services. For example, once an exploratory project has gotten under way, if a product line needs the services of a person working on the exploration, who gets priority? Clearly, at some point in its evolution, an exploratory project becomes important enough to be worth completing, at least in comparison with some lower priority projects in the product lines. One of the first tasks of the FM for Developer Services will be to come up with a set of guidelines for making this tradeoff
Editor: John Walker