New software is being developed virtually all the time in the world. However, this is not a simple topic. Software projects are extremely complex with many moving parts, which makes them very different from traditional projects. Therefore, managing a software development project requires specialist knowledge and skills. Please read our article and find out what to pay attention to in this process.
What is software development project management?
Software development is creating complete software, from an idea to a finished product. Software projects are generally associated with the software development life cycle (SDLC). As a result, project management for software development is all about monitoring and managing a software project to ensure it is completed on time and within budget while meeting user expectations.
The software project manager is responsible for the entire software development process. Managing a software development project is not an easy task. It requires extensive experience and even more excellent interpersonal skills.
How is software development different from other types of projects?
Software development projects differ from other types of projects in many ways. From our over 12 years of experience in this field, the most significant differences are in the following:
Communication is essential in every project; however, when creating software, a high level of communication is a condition that determines the development of the project. It is because software development projects are complex tasks that require a lot of logic and consistency. Without good project communication, the software development team cannot create software that will satisfy your users.
Contrary to traditional projects of creating something material, developing software for non-specialists seems to be something imaginary. A model of a new car or even a mug can always be touched, watched, and assessed without delving into technical issues. Meanwhile, to determine the progress of work in a software development project, you must either be a specialist in this field or have a trusted team that will explain the current level of work advancement and dispel any doubts.
Defining specific program requirements is often much more complex than traditional projects. However, it is impossible to refer to project success without specifying the project features in detail.
The price of software development consists mainly of costs related to the intellectual work of developers. We do not pay for a new engine or tires here, which paradoxically means some people do not understand such work.
Following the trends
We have been observing excellent dynamics of changes in the software development market for many years. New technologies appear regularly, others are modified, and others become obsolete. While in traditional projects, following trends is not a critical factor, in software development projects, it is a factor that determines not only the market success but also the existence of the entire company.
Why should software development teams invest in project management solutions?
As we mentioned before, managing software development projects is quite a difficult task. Many high-class tools on the market can significantly facilitate this process and be a godsend for software project managers and key stakeholders in the project. The complexity of this type of project makes it impossible to manage a such project without the right tools. Below you will find a few, in our opinion, key benefits of using specialized tools:
Planning the various stages of a project is crucial for good management. Specialized platforms allow you to create a plan that everyone will have access to, and add all critical information to it, such as deadlines, budget, software specifications, and customer comments.
All essential information for projects gathered in one place is a great help and saves time and, consequently, money.
High level of communication and teamwork
There is no need to convince anyone that without effective communication and teamwork, it is impossible to achieve success in any project.
Specialized tools offer functions thanks to which team members have a place, for example, to share documents, notes, or comments regarding the project. They do not have to waste time looking for documentation or looking for a person who could know a given issue. A high level of communication automatically translates into better teamwork, ultimately contributing to better software development.
With such complex projects, good organization of information flow is vital. Still, unfortunately, it is an aspect that is often forgotten.
Streamlines resource management
Effective resource management is crucial to avoid exceeding the budget or project deadline with complex projects.
Thanks to specialized tools, you can monitor the project progress on an ongoing basis and react on an ongoing basis if there are any delays or the distribution of work is uneven. In addition, in the event of a problem, you can quickly identify it and propose a solution.
What features should a software project management platform have?
There are many platforms and tools to help you manage your projects. The criteria that should be followed when choosing them are very individual. However, in our opinion, it is worth paying attention to the following issues:
A good platform should have a function that allows you to control the passage of time. It enables both effective resource management and ongoing monitoring of the project execution stage.
Collaboration is crucial to producing high-quality software. Collaboration improves ideas while also assisting in the adherence to project constraints. It is essential for Agile teams, which are designed to be collaborative.
Different platforms have different facilities in this regard. Some allow you to leave only comments, while others will enable you to include complete documentation. Look at a few tools and consider which solution is best for your team.
Manual activities that aren't essential to the project's progress may waste time and distract developers, who must constantly modify what they're doing.
Automating these operations in your processes frees up more time and energy for your developers to devote to creating great software.
Multiple design views
Seeing the project from different perspectives may be beneficial to development teams. For example, you could need to verify your project timeline or Gantt chart to ensure everything is on track. However, perhaps after that, you'll need to switch over to a visualization of your team's current workload to better balance resource allocation.
Compatibility of business solutions
Integrating project management software into other business solutions you already use, such as communication tools, file-sharing applications, calendar programs, or anything else, further simplifies your process. Therefore, ensure that your chosen platform will work with your other systems.
11 Tips for software project management
You already know that managing software development projects is a big challenge. You also understand that there are tools that facilitate this process very effectively. We have compiled a list of 11 practical tips to help you successfully manage your software project. Equipped with this knowledge, you can handle any project.
Planning is everything
Planning is an essential component of project management. A solid plan has distinct goals for your project and suggestions for reaching them. You must first comprehend the project scope to develop a fantastic work plan.
It would be best if you made careful preparations for your project trip. Make a plan with essential milestones and timeliness targets so your team can produce great software.
Define the scope of project
Defining the project's scope is a step that cannot be omitted. A defined project scope translates into specific tasks and goals that developers will face. It ensures that all key stakeholders know the final product and how it will be built.
Prepare a financial budget that includes all of your present and future expenses. It's a good idea to leave space in your budget for unforeseen issues that may arise as the project progresses.
In addition, do not forget about ongoing budget monitoring. If there is a problem, try to solve it as quickly as possible because even a small problem becomes a big problem after a while, which impacts the budget.
Identify the risks
Risks are potential threats to the progress of the software development process. They are very different: from relatively trivial to real ones that threaten the implementation of the project.
It's critical to detect threats early on so that they may be avoided. Early identification and mitigation of risks can save a lot of time in the future.
The project manager is also responsible for risk analysis and management. You must devise methods to prevent these dangers from affecting the success of your software development project. A competent manager can assess risks, rank them, and solve them on time.
Build the right Team
Ideally, you would select development team members and ensure that their talents and experience suit your needs. By evaluating their professional and personal characteristics, determine which developers best suit the project's requirements and goals. Team members who can focus on their strengths will complete work more quickly, ensuring that the project stays on track.
Set individual and team goals
The objectives of the development team are directly linked to the project's corporate goals. These will range from short-term targets, such as achieving a sprint goal, to long-term objectives, such as completing a software module. The goals must be communicated to all project participants and monitored on an ongoing basis. In addition, the project manager must set individual goals for each developer. Of course, these goals must align with the entire team's goals.
The KPIs are metrics that define the success of a software project. KPIs will vary depending on the project, but they always assist the development team in determining how well an application must perform to satisfy these criteria.
Managers frequently make the error of micromanaging their staff. Micromanagement may negatively impact overall team morale and, as a result, reduce productivity rather than increase it. Allow your developers to work at their speed as long as deadlines are met, and the results are satisfactory.
It would help if you allowed your team to make their own decisions. Encourage them to think outside the box about coding because only then will innovative ideas emerge.
Use project management tools
Technology is changing at a rapid rate. There are several technological options for improving the software development process. Project management software may help you manage your team more efficiently and effectively to achieve optimum results.
Test as often as possible
The success of a project relies heavily on the tests that are conducted. Users will never accept slow, buggy, insecure, or difficult-to-use software.
It's critical to test software at every stage of development. The people who evaluate them should differ from those who built them. Testing should concentrate on the application's stability, security, speed, and compliance with the project's criteria. Any malfunctions or issues must be fixed immediately.
Regularly track the progress of project
You must have full knowledge of what is happening with the project and at what stage it is. Only then will you be able to catch problems or even uneven development and implement a solution. The sooner this happens, the better. Don't wait for a small problem to become massive because then you may be unable to solve it.
In addition, ongoing monitoring of the project has a perfect effect on the morale of the entire team, which has a sense of responsibility for the project.
Proper software project management is critical to project success and end-user satisfaction. It is not an easy task. Requires knowledge, commitment, and the ability to solve problems quickly. It is not a job for someone poor at change. In the project management process, it is vital to plan the entire process step by step, with the smallest details, at the very beginning. But even more important is the ability to adapt a project to changing realities because, just as in life and software development projects, you cannot predict everything 100%. At mDevelopers, we have been managing software development projects for over 12 years; if you need support on this topic, just contact us.
About the author
Milo Miszewski - Chief Executive Officer
Milo founded mDevelopers in 2010, bringing his over 10 years of sales management, B2B solutions, and business relations. Milo acts as the general director, as well as a mentor and advisor. In everyday work besides managing the company, he supports the sales department in networking and building relationships.