As the National Basketball Association (NBA) pre-season sets to open, I am excited about the thought of cheering the new franchise team in my hometown, the Brooklyn Nets. The Brooklyn Nets have energized the borough and locals. I have the Brooklyn Nets tee-shirt, mug and bumper sticker. I am not sure if I want a Deron Williams’ or Joe Johnson’s jersey. They are, of course, the team stars. However, without Coach Avery Johnson, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace and other bench players, the Brooklyn Nets can forget about making it to the play-offs, never mind the Finals. Teamwork is vital.

My new obsession leads me to wonder about what “the Finals” are for system design and development. To many in the tech field, “the Finals” are a fully developed system that users can actually use to complete necessary functions related to their work. To make it to “the Finals,” a system design and development team needs a core group of professionals that work together. The core team consists of developers (star centers and forwards), project manager (coach), subject matter experts (3-point shooter) and requirements analyst (point guard). There are other essential members of a system project like a project sponsor (general manager) but the core team is the heartbeat of the project.

On a core team, the guy or gal that takes the ball to the basket is the developer. The developer bears the load of bringing the system to life. However, the developer needs well-defined requirements (i.e., good plays and passes) to develop the system. A core team member that helps define the requirements and often gets overlooked is the Subject Matter Expert (SME). The SME on a system project is vital because they understand content and functionality required in a system. A good SME also understands the policy, regulations and user scenarios that drive design. If a system project lacks a dedicated SME in the early phases of design, key functionality and content can be overlooked. The results are missed timelines and blown development budgets. No matter how capable the developers, project manager and requirements analysts are, without a strong SME, the core team will run plays (design and develop a system) that do not result in the big win, “the Finals”.

In the coming weeks, I hope to share my views on other members of the “Core team.”