Job description: The software implementation analyst ensures that deployments of new applications or upgrades are planned and carried out correctly. They act as a bridge between the software developer and the IT infrastructure team that handles installation and maintenance, says Carlo Carbetta, vice president of operations development at CIO Partners, an executive search firm. They determine whether the applications interoperate with existing systems and plan for customization or integration work. This person may be involved in testing, creating documentation and dealing with end users.
Why you need one: When a company buys packaged software, it has to adapt it to its operations and processes. "If you don't have your own staffer involved in that implementation to make sure that the vendors understand your needs, you run the risk of the implementation moving off your business plan," says Eugene Farago, an account executive with the IT and metals division of Hudson, a recruitment and talent management firm. The software implementation analyst also acts as an agent of change for the company, steering it through an often risky but necessary process, he says. This means addressing user concerns while keeping the implementation on track. Finally, with IT environments becoming more heterogeneous, the need for someone with detailed knowledge of a company's business and technology increases, experts say.
Desired skills: Candidates should have computer, technical, engineering or science degrees,and certifications in areas such as project management and software development lifecycle. Experience with and knowledge of a company's business and technology operations are key. "This is a midcareer-plus position," Carbetta says.
How to find them: Software implementation analysts move around a lot and many do contract work, so they network a lot. Try business-oriented social networking sites like LinkedIn.
What to look for: A potential hire should be meticulous, process oriented, methodic and cool under pressure. They should be able to build relationships across the business and IT.
Elimination round: Ask candidates which software platforms they are most familiar with and their experience deploying them, including the environment size. Good candidates will discuss their interaction with the infrastructure team regarding things such as hardware provisioning and bandwidth requirements.
Salary range: $65,000 to $125,000
Growing your own: Groom internal candidates by rotating them through the business to gain expertise in a variety of areas. "They need to understand the bigger picture. A typical issue with implementation consultants is that they were previously a developer only and they get stuck in the details," Farago says. Putting a prospect on a process-improvement team is also a good idea. This allows you to see how quickly someone is at identifying problems and coming up with solutions, and to determine whether or not they are good facilitators.