Managing the software development process can seem daunting, especially if you have little technical software development experience. However, you don’t need technical software development experience to successfully manage a software development project.
Many software development teams are managed by project managers that don’t possess software development skills. So how does a software project manager effectively lead a software development team without these technical skills?
This post will examine the critical project management strategies that are effective in a software development project. We will also list the top project management software and tools that are effective with software development teams.
Key Project Management Strategies for Software Development Projects
Software project management is critical to the overall success of a software development project.
Software development teams don’t require a technically advanced software project manager, but a software development team does need someone with solid project management skills.
If you want to improve your project management skills and set your software development team up for success, there are some software project management strategies you can use, including the following:
- Stick to a software development methodology
- Reduce non-technical tasks
- Clearly communicate requirements
- Don’t solve problems with more people
- View metrics in the right light
- Encourage feedback
Stick to a Software Development Methodology
Effective software development project management requires a straightforward methodology to guide the software development process. There are several different methodology approaches a software development project can use.
Often these development methodologies contrast when it comes to core values. It is up to the project manager to choose the most appropriate and effective methodology for their team and software project.
For example, the waterfall approach follows a sequential approach to project progress, whereas the Agile approach emphasizes short sprints to keep outcomes aligned with shifting customer needs and expectations.
While Agile, and the Agile variations, are popular choices in modern software development project management, this approach might not be the best choice for your software project and development team.
It is essential to carefully consider the different development methodologies, choose one, and stick to it. It will be confusing for your project team to switch methodologies partway through a software project, especially when they can vary from one another so drastically.
Reduce Non-Technical Tasks
There are any number of non-technical tasks that are involved in a software development project. If and when possible, reduce the amount of non-technical tasks development team members have to do by handling them yourself.
Development teams will appreciate having more time to focus on the software project and will be more productive as a result. Task delegation is an integral part of software development project management.
Sometimes a project manager needs to handle more rote, administrative tasks so their software teams can do what they do best. However, this doesn’t mean software teams can spend all their time writing code.
Team members must still communicate actively and participate in business initiatives and processes. Additionally, a project manager can never reduce non-technical tasks to zero.
The trick is to find a good balance and reduce non-technical tasks for software teams when appropriate.
Clearly Communicate Requirements
Software project management requires clear communication from the top down. Unfortunately, in many instances, project requirements are either too vague or too intricate and detailed.
The best software project management approach is to try and find a middle ground between these two extremes. This responsibility falls on project managers.
The difference between good software development project management and bad software development project management is the effectiveness of communication. All team members must be on the same page for a software project to be successful.
From a software project management perspective, one of the most effective things project managers can do is refine the project requirements before they ever reach the development team.
Don’t Solve Problems With More People
A typical software project management mistake is to throw more people at problems when roadblocks are hit. While this might be a practical project management approach in other fields, it is ineffective in software development.
Not only will team members be tasked with bringing other team members up to speed with the problem, but side-by-side problem-solving is not always productive, especially in software development.
One of the most effective software project management approaches to problem-solving is the assembly line approach, where every team member focuses on a specific aspect of the problem.
Another common project management approach is to hire or engage an independent consultant to handle one specialized task that your team has problems with or doesn’t have expertise on.
View Metrics in the Right Light
It is common to measure the project progress with metrics. Metrics help keep everyone on the same page and aid in project planning and forecasting. However, project managers should refrain from judging team members solely on metrics.
Metrics can be helpful, especially when highlighting areas that could be improved. Just remember there is no perfect software project management solution that will give you a complete overview of a team member’s performance in numbers.
There are valuable aspects of an employee that even the best software development management tools fail to measure. However, relying too heavily on metrics can alienate your team and encourage them to focus solely on metrics at the expense of true project success.
Metrics should be used to inform and educate a manager on their team dynamics, but they should never replace traditional managerial insight and observation.
One of the most vital project management practices is to encourage feedback from members of the team. Software developers have valuable insight into a project that non-technical stakeholders might not.
Finding a way to gather and report feedback from software teams is important. After all, the developers working on a software project are the experts. Often, feedback can produce valuable insights that can improve a software project.
The Top Project Management Tools
Choosing the right project management software is important in setting a project up for success. On the other hand, the wrong project management software can slow a team down and sow confusion among team members.
There are several great project management tools available to use. In addition, many of these project management software solutions offer similar features and services.
Take a closer look at the following project management tools to determine which one best suits the needs of your team. When it comes to software development, the top project management software solutions are:
Software development management does not have to be overly complicated. If you prioritize your team and take the time to plan an effective strategy, project management should not be difficult, even if you don’t possess technical development skills.
If you want to learn more about project management related to software development, reach out to an experienced development partner like Koombea.