The Importance of Project Management in Software Development
Software is deeply entrenched in our daily lives now. It is incumbent upon software developers to create and deliver top-level products that offer optimal functionality and usability to the end users. They need to do this within short timeframes and the least possible budget. That is where software project management comes in.
What Makes a Good Project Manager in Software Development?
Let’s start with the basics, software development has so many moving parts. There are clients to impress, most of whom come with their unique customization needs. A good project manager for software companies must be knowledgeable not just in project management but also updated on trending topics. The manager needs to know how to organize different departments within the development teams so that they all can pull in the same direction. Secondly, a good project manager must be an effective communicator. And thirdly, the manager has to possess top-notch time management skills.
On top of the basics, a good project manager must have the experience and the capacity to understand contingency planning. The manager should be able to help fix problems if and when they arise. There are various certifications available that project managers can acquire to boost their ability to identify and offer actionable solutions to problems before things get out of hand. PMP certification training is one of them. PMP (Project Management Professional) training exposes project managers to different management methodologies and real-life case scenarios. It introduces participants to software and Agile principles to help them understand the technical language that’s thrown about and discussed during software development. The manager should be a capable translator of software development project requirements.
Importance of Project Management in Software Development
1. Coordinating the many moving parts of software development
Software development projects are not your typical projects. They vary from other types of projects in so many ways, which necessitates a project manager for effective coordination. Among the reasons that make software development unique:
- Software development is logic-based, not physical, which makes these projects more complex than the rest. These projects require a higher degree of communication within each team, between multiple teams, and with other stakeholders.
- Software is intangible, which makes it hard to track the progress of their development projects. It is easy for an amateur project manager to manage a tangible project that can be seen and touched, e.g. the construction of a building. The same cannot be said about software development. A good project manager for software development can assess progress and assure customers that, as much as there is little to show for the progress, everything is running on schedule.
- Managing budgets and costs can be a huge headache when most of the money goes to labor and innovation. Budgeting and managing resources for tangible projects is easy even without a trained project manager because it is easy to account for materials bought.
- Software development is fast-paced. A little delay in project completion can render the end product obsolete. A project manager prevents this from happening by ensuring that every step is done comprehensively, within the set timeframe, and by the right industry standards.
2. Serving as the point of contact between all stakeholders
The stakeholders in software development projects are mostly the investors, developers, and clients. Investors in this case are companies or individuals who fund the development of apps with the hope of selling or monetizing those apps. The clients are mostly business people who need customized/customizable software to help them automate some of their day-to-day operations. The development team is made up of QA experts, frontend & backend developers, content creators, and UI/UX designers. The team may also have financial experts, business analysts, and marketing teams. Without a project manager, interaction and communication between all these players can be difficult and ineffective.
Note that the intangibility nature of software development breeds uncertainty. Clients get anxious when they can’t see or touch the projects to which they commit their money. Also, it is harder to define software requirements compared to hardware projects. Everything here is fluid and dynamic, which can easily precipitate confusion and delays. A project manager comes in to help stakeholders make sense of the whole development process by explaining complex topics in layman’s terms.
3. Creation and execution of management plans
Project managers handle everything regarding scheduling and planning. The manager uses his experience and expertise to determine the best way to proceed for different players within a team, based on previous experiences. The manager is in charge of project deliverable creation, prioritization of project tasks, and resource allocation.
Software development also presents tons of risks, especially financial risks. A project manager thinks a few steps ahead and can therefore offer effective risk mitigation. Their ability to anticipate bottlenecks makes it easy to resolve them before they occur or deploy effective countermeasures once they occur. Most importantly, the manager can improve overall project & team efficiency and consequently counter possible project risks.
Managing a team of creative people and innovators is extremely demanding. Project managers are, primarily, the voice of reason and the face of consistency in the entire development phase. They help investors get the best value for their money through the efficient utilization of resources. They help clients to get a software product that meets their exact specifications. Everyone wins in the end.
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