How to Ace Software Project Management

May 9, 2023
Table of content

Project management is vital for software engineering, along with business analysis, requirement specification, design, programming, and testing. It has been a source of contention for years. Even now, as project management methods evolve, just nearly half of firms (53 percent) truly understand the critical nature of these processes. Project management is critical to a business's productivity and eventual success, whatever the industry. Firms that use proven project management strategies lose 28 percent less money and complete projects 2.5 times faster. Professionals in project management define a successful project as one that is completed on schedule and under budget and delivers the anticipated advantages.

Phases of Software Project Management

Regardless of its scope, all projects should adhere to a set of controllable and manageable actions. A typical software project management process, according to the Project Management Institute (PMI), consists of the following phases:

  • Initiation,
  • Planning,
  • Execution,
  • Performance/monitoring
  • Close the project.

These phases, which serve as a road map for completing certain tasks, comprise the project management lifecycle. However, this structure is far too broad. Typically, each phase of a project contains several internal stages. They vary considerably based on the scope of work, the team, the industry, and the nature of the project. As developers frequently go through the Software Development Life Cycle, which is inextricably linked to software development and project management (SDLC). In simple terms, software project management specifies the tasks necessary to accomplish a specific development and deployment objective. SDLC projects are executed using techniques.

Whether your team works with Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, or Kanban methodology, these approaches include a software project management framework. And what better method to oversee the progress of a software development team than with project management software? The following are five critical components of software project management that are critical for team management.

1. Define and draw out expectations succinctly

The ability to successfully lead a software development team and create high-quality software requires the ability to identify and map out needs. By clearly defining the scope of development work and the expected deliverables within a specified timeline and centrally storing them within your project management application, you can ensure that developers are all on the same page and know exactly what to work on. Capturing and committing to requirements in writing can also assist in preventing scope creep and the addition of last-minute feature requests to the job.

2. Assign developers to assignments based on their expertise

The to-do lists of your developers can become quite large. Prioritizing their workloads can be difficult when errors are discovered, issues require immediate attention, or new code is required. To keep your team on track, you can use software project management software to assign responsibilities to each team member. This enables you and your teams to understand which tasks are now being worked on or will be coming up next and to pivot and reassign work as necessary in response to urgent demands.

3. Maintain an eye on deadlines

What does it cost your clients or your business when the team cannot complete the project on time? Missed deadlines jeopardize you and your team, and while these dates are estimations rather than firm promises, monitoring them is critical to success. If your team is in the middle of a sprint and is aware that the scope of work will not be completed by the initial deadline, you can communicate this to all important stakeholders in advance. Utilizing project management software to remain on top of deadlines is also advantageous because not all jobs are assigned the same — this allows you to track numerous deadlines concurrently and understand how your due dates compare to one another.

4. Distribute files in a centralized location

Sharing information, collaborating with others, and communicating with your team effectively and swiftly can help you be the greatest manager you can be, rather than firing off email after email or reaching out to transmit crucial information via chat service. Distill messages from senior management or other non-technical teams to get the information that matters to your team. Making material more consumable frees up additional time for your employees to focus on their work.

5. Keep an eye out for real-time updates

Most project management software products have real-time reporting capabilities, such as time-tracking and task completion reports, that allow you to depict your team's output visually. Detailed analytics and insights from your team's projects and tasks can assist you as a manager in identifying resource gaps, managing competing tasks or due dates, and gaining a better understanding of your team's overall bandwidth.

How to manage and lead a remote development team

It's no secret that the IT industry has championed several progressive work-from-home rules over the years. A recent study indicates that computer workers value remote work as a significant bonus, making it critical to understand how to manage remote engineers.

Here are five things you can do to manage and lead your remote development team to success.

1. Assemble a team you can rely on

Your engineers do not want to be micromanaged, which is why it is critical to hire a team of remote devs in the first place. This is especially critical when they work remotely and you lack the ability to monitor their work and interactions in real-time. That is not to say they do not require supervision – you will need to train them and equip them with the tools and information they require to accomplish their job, but then step aside. Believe in your staff, be approachable so they can communicate their issues, and develop a trusting and transparent working relationship. You're more likely to trust your team if you establish processes and clear project guidelines at the start of each project so that everyone understands what to anticipate. A process-oriented approach that incorporates documentation creates the groundwork for a great team. Ascertain that the team knows the business strategy and how each project fits into it to encourage accountability and clarity throughout the process.

2. Take use of time zone overlaps

Working across time zones might make it more difficult for team members to communicate effectively. Consider scheduling recurrent team meetings and urgent meetings during time zones that overlap to maximize attendance. Creating a well-organized schedule set in advance helps improve your team's effectiveness while minimizing the need to contact team members outside their normal working hours.

3. Maximize the value of regular one-on-one meetings and team meetings

Regular 1:1s and team meetings are the simplest methods to ensure that your developers receive all of the information they require from you and have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions. It's critical to find a balance between arranging productive and beneficial meetings and ensuring that your staff has sufficient time to focus on deep work and development activities. Establish a rhythm that works for you and your team, and ensure that agendas are prepared in advance.

4. Adopt tools for collaboration

While communication and cooperation are critical components of software development, they are made significantly more difficult for not co-located teams. There are solutions available for remote team collaboration; therefore, determine your team's specific needs to determine which tools to adopt. How critical are direct messaging and other chat capabilities? Are you in desperate need of a file-sharing system? Are you looking for a tool to assist you in developing a request backlog? Determine the particular requirements for your team to perform their best, most collaborative work, and then identify and use a product or a combination of tools that can assist in streamlining those requirements.

5. Provide and solicit feedback on a regular basis

Provide instant feedback to your team members at the end of the development life cycle to understand what went well and where they can improve in the next cycle. Iterative software development requires input to be incorporated and shared as part of continuing developments. You should not be content with simply providing feedback to your staff. Spend some time gathering and collecting feedback from them to ensure a continuous successful connection.

Agile project management LOVES software development.

Agile project management principles are frequently used to govern software development projects. This makes a lot of sense, given that software developers pioneered agile. Agile is a set of ideas that serve as the foundation for several popular software project management approaches, including scrum and kanban. It serves as the conceptual foundation for the majority of contemporary project management techniques. According to the Agile Alliance, the agile methodology is comprised of the following principles:

  1. Satisfy the customer by delivering valuable software on a timely and consistent basis.
  2. Accept change and use it to the client's advantage
  3. Deliver functional software frequently and within a short timeframe
  4. Individuals on the business and development sides of the team should collaborate closely daily.
  5. Members of the team should be completely supported and trusted to perform their duties.
  6. One-on-one interactions are the most effective method of conveying knowledge.
  7. The best indicator of progress is functional software.
  8. The rate at which work is completed, progress is made, and software is used should be sustainable.
  9. Consistent emphasis should be placed on technical excellence and effective design.
  10. Teams should be allowed to self-organize.
  11. Regular chances for self-reflection and self-organization should be provided to the team.

Due to the fact that adhering to these principles is typically a prudent choice for software development teams, we propose that you incorporate all 11 into your software project management process. Agile project management was cobbled together over the course of the twentieth century by software engineers. Today, it is used to deliver projects by various teams, including government organizations, creative firms, web developers, and software engineers. We have no doubt that software developers will continue to use the project management principles they invented to produce useful things in the future for a long time.

Six Tips for Managing Software Development Projects

1. Define the scope of the project

The process of generating a project scope statement defines the project's business requirements and identifies its boundaries and constraints. This ensures that all key stakeholders understand what the project will accomplish and how it will be accomplished. For the development team, this minimizes the risk of "scope creep," or the inclusion of desired features — and associated effort — above and beyond the scope definition.

2. Establish timelines and milestones

While the key milestone is the date by which the software project must be completed, there are numerous deadlines between the start and end dates. The software project manager's role is to develop a software project management strategy, including deadlines and milestones while paying close attention to which components of the software rely on others to function. Concentrate on four critical development lifecycle phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution, and Closure. It's especially beneficial to indicate which deadline corresponds to which sprint, as this will aid in resource allocation for each sprint. Additionally, project managers can identify potential roadblocks or bottlenecks, such as a feature that would be particularly difficult to implement or one that will require the user experience team to complete the design.

3. Define individual and team objectives

The software development team's objectives are inextricably linked to the broader project's timelines, milestones, and commercial objectives. These will include short-term objectives, like sprint output, and long-term objectives, such as completing a software module. Communicate these objectives clearly and prominently to remind the team (and any new recruits that join throughout the project's development) of the overarching purpose. Additionally, a software project manager should establish separate objectives for each developer. It's critical to strike a balance between the project's commercial objectives and personal development objectives, such as acquiring a new skill or taking on leadership responsibilities on the development team. Establish recurrent one-on-one sessions to analyze and change these goals as appropriate.

4. Establish the tone immediately

Establishing the proper tone for a software development project requires communicating to the team that you will provide confidence, support, and transparency—in exchange for the team providing software code that meets both project needs and quality standards. When you provide this encouragement and support within the first few days of the software development life cycle, you set the tone for collaboration and high-quality work throughout the project's lifespan.

5. Communicate frequently and early

The development team should be communicated through formal meetings and more informal check-ins. Scheduled meetings enable information sharing in an organized manner, particularly from stakeholders with whom the project manager interacts on behalf of the development team. Meanwhile, informal interactions enable a project manager to ask questions proactively, listen to team members, and establish rapport. Assuring the development team that management or other stakeholders will be contacted when difficulties arise. Frequent communication demonstrates to developers that they are valued members of the wider project team. Thanks to the project manager, they may be working individually, but they are not operating in isolation. Consider the analogy of directing a play: Everyone has the same cues and lines when everyone reads from the same script. There are considerably fewer questions about what needs to happen for the play to run successfully.

6. Infuse meetings with significance

Daily meetings, often called "stand-up meetings," are necessary for the software development process. These meetings enable the team to discuss the previous day's work, the current day's tasks, and progress toward requirements, milestones, and key performance indicators (KPIs).Meetings must be brief and fruitful. The longer the meeting, the less time is available for the software development team to perform their tasks. Create an agenda for each meeting, distribute it in advance to all attendees, and adhere to the agenda as closely as possible. Determine a time that is convenient for everyone. If your team operates optimally in the afternoon, arrange meetings in the morning to avoid disrupting their flow. If your team spans various time zones, try switching the meeting time to avoid one group of developers feeling forgotten.

Final Words

There are, of course, additional possibilities, but the ones stated above are among the most prominent and are generally recognized by both large and small software development organizations.

Get free Consultation!

Book your free 40-minute
consultation with us.

Do you have a product idea that needs validation?
Let's have a call and discuss your product.