What hats to wear?

During all Project Management related conversations, workshops and trainings, a single question is always asked: “How do we organize the team members? What roles do we assign to them?” On the other hand, creating meaningful IT solutions on-time, on-budget and on-specs requires a proven approach. Very few of all project management methodologies deal with project team issues. Mainly because most of these methodologies are cross-industry and cannot address specific issues on IT projects.
Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) is an adaptable framework, indispensable for delivering IT solutions faster, with fewer people, less risk and higher quality. In contrast with a prescriptive methodology, MSF provides a flexible and scalable framework that can be adapted to meet the needs of any project of any size and complexity in order to plan, build, and deploy business-driven technology solutions. Also MSF is one of the oldest Agile methodologies.
MSF is based on 3 disciplines (Project Management, Risk Management, and Readiness Management Disciplines) and 2 models (Process & Team models). MSF is called a framework instead of a methodology. Project Management and Risk Management disciplines are based on PMBOK®. The MSF readiness management discipline was created because the need for team readiness spans the entire project. Assessing and developing necessary team competencies enables organizations to complete projects more efficiently and with higher quality. Evaluating the results of training and monitoring the teams acquired skills, knowledge, and abilities enable the team to attain full realization of readiness investments.
The MSF process model consists of five phases, each culminating in a corresponding major milestone.
The MSF team model organizes small and multidisciplinary teams (feature or function teams), in which the members share responsibilities and balance each others competencies. Feature team is a multidisciplinary sub-team that is created to focus on building specific features or capabilities of a solution.  Function teams are used to fulfill just one role (they are unidisciplinary), and several functional areas within that role. A role cluster, or role, may be one or many people, depending on the complexity of the project as well as the skills required to fulfill the responsibilities of functional areas. MSF helps teams directly address the most common causes of project failures in order to improve success rates, quality, & business impact. 
The MSF Team Model uses 6 roles or “hats” to focus on managing the “people and processes” as well as the technology elements that most projects encounter. The Team model associates the 6 roles with 6 quality goals to ensure accountability and focus. 
  1. PROGRAM MANAGEMENT to deliver the solution within project constraints (talks to Project Sponsor, Technology Architects and Steering Committees)
  2. PRODUCT MANAGEMENT to Satisfy customers (talks to the customer)
  3. DEVELOPMENT to build to specifications (internal role)
  4. TESTING to approve for release only after all quality issues are identified and addressed (internal role)
  5. USER EXPERIENCE to enhance user effectiveness (talks to Users and Help Desk)
  6. RELEASE MANAGEMENT to deploy smoothly and prepare well for ongoing operations (talks to Operations and Support Groups).

So, MSF is a deliberate and disciplined approach to technology projects based on a defined set of principles, models, disciplines, concepts, guidelines, and proven practices.

Theofanis Giotis, MSc, PhD C., PMP, PMI-ACP has been managing projects in EMEA region since 1987. He is a senior Project Manager, Instructor, Consultant, Author and Trainer. He is the CEO of ITEC-CONSULTING since 1988, CEO of 12PM Consulting since 2009 and President of PMI-GREECE since 2005