Do organizations and companies really need project managers to accomplish projects?
Imagine: the leadership board passes the task to the development team and they get to work right away. And there is no particular person who monitors plans, schedules, deadlines… Thanks to the dedication and responsibility of developers, testers, and designers, everything works out.
That would be great, right?
The truth is, even if you put together a team of the best specialists with a deep sense of responsibility and accountability, your project will not succeed without project management. Why? Because a project is much more than just assigning and checking tasks. Teams face a range of communication issues, dependencies, deadlines that are missed, unclear task descriptions, as well as questions about goals. Ultimately, if they have to manage all of it themselves, they will not have time to code, test, or design.
Let a professional project manager take care of it. Their task will be to optimize the work of your teams and boost their productivity, while also making sure that the project moves in the right direction.
Project Management: How Does It Work?
You probably want to develop a software solution to accomplish specific objectives (or results). These results can include anything from developing a website from scratch to adding a feature or updating a legacy system. Whatever you need from the development team, the ultimate aim of each project is value creation: for clients (you), users, or other stakeholders.
Project management makes use of specific knowledge, techniques, tools, and skills to deliver the very value we discussed earlier. It is the responsibility of project managers to optimize the time, quality, and cost of the project.
- Time: making sure the project will be delivered without delays.
- Quality: monitoring if team members perform tasks according to requirements; checking if tasks correspond to the greater project objectives.
- Cost: ensuring there are no hidden costs and redundant financial wasting.
The components of project management are:
- Identifying project requirements;
- Estimating timescales and budgets;
- Creating a plan for project management;
- Inspiring and motivating the development team;
- Risk, issue, and change management;
- Keeping track of progress;
- Keeping stakeholders and the project team in the touch;
- Managing dependencies between tasks, members’ schedules.
Project Management Tips: 7 Ways to Improve Your Workflow
#2.1. Implement WBS
In project management, a work breakdown structure (WBS) allows you to easily complete a multi-step, complex project. The WBS simplifies the process of decomposing large and general objectives into smaller, manageable tasks. As a result, a project can be completed more quickly and efficiently.
A WBS is intended to streamline a large project. As the work is broken down into smaller pieces, it can be done by multiple team members at once.
Work breakdown systems can be created as spreadsheets, flowcharts, lists, or Gantt charts. Also, there are specific tools that can be used for the same purpose (e.g. Trello, Wrike, Asana).
Dividing a project into small tasks requires a clear vision of the end result and gathering requirements from all stakeholders. After you have broken down each task, be sure to add enough detail. Don’t forget the rule: the WBS must represent 100 percent of the necessary work.
WBS has a number of benefits to your project:
- Determining task dependencies
- Establishing a schedule for the project
- Deciding when the project will be completed
- Preparing a work statement
- Assigning duties
- Keeping track of the progress
- Determining the project’s risks
#2.2. Adopt the right methodology
For projects to succeed, it is important to find, select and employ the right methodology. The majority of companies use agile and waterfall methodologies.
Waterfall methodology is a more traditional way of handling projects. It shows project activities in a linear sequence. The milestones of each phase depend on the deliverables of the previous one and represent specific tasks. The waterfall is appropriate for small non-flexible projects where requirements do not change much from early stages to completion.
Even though Agile is not a new development methodology, it is definitely more modern than Waterfall. An agile project is broken up into iterations – small chunks of work that are devoted to small increments of time. Methods like this are great for identifying and managing dynamic requirements. The approach works best when self-organizing and cross-functional teams work collaboratively to bring about solutions.
#2.3. Get the right team together
No matter how great your processes are set and how well your project management work, if you hire the wrong people, this won’t work well. You need to make sure to hire people who
- Suit relevant team roles that you need for your type of project;
- Have enough skills and knowledge to fulfill their responsibilities;
- Have soft skills;
- Share your values;
- Work well together in a team.
Read more about how to compose a successful development team in our previous articles: How to build a successful development team: Part 1 and Part 2.
#2.4. Make regular use of PM tools
The main purpose of project management tools is to organize the team. In addition, they aid PMs by helping them assign, manage, and monitor tasks in a more accurate and timely manner. Thus, the more fitting the tool is to your project, the easier it will be for the PM to do their job. And it is important. Project managers could focus on developing a better management strategy or communicating with stakeholders instead of manually monitoring tasks.
Source: The State of Project Management Annual Report, Wellingtone
There are different types of PM tools:
- Planning or scheduling: to set deadlines, assign tasks, and monitor progress, etc.
- Collaboration: to communicate in groups, work in groups or in pairs, share the screen, etc.
- Documentation: to store files, structure, and edit them.
- Evaluation: to make reports and statistically track the growth and productivity
To find out more about interesting tools, read our previous articles: Tools That Help to Enhance the Communication or Your Remote Team and Project Management Tools: Discipline Your Startup!
#2.5. Clarify requirements
Product development is impossible without requirements. When you don’t know what you want, what should you build?
Product development is possible but not worthwhile with vague requirements. Having a vague concept of what you want can lead to developing a product that doesn’t resemble what you’re aiming for.
So, we are left with CLEAR requirements, and this is the best thing you can do for your project.
Firstly, specifying requirements from stakeholders is not the job of a project manager. Business analysts usually handle it. In the event that this team role is not present, PM can assume this responsibility.
Clear requirements have the following benefits:
- Place stakeholders and the team on the same page;
- Increase understanding of what needs to be done;
- Help to build the right WBS;
- Contribute to your team’s productivity.
#2.6. Don’t micromanage
Micromanagement kills the productivity of any team. It might seem like a good option: if you carefully watch every step and choice your coworkers make, then perhaps you will notice if something goes wrong and prevent it more easily.
However, what really happens is that you stifle your team’s motivation, deprive them of their professional agency, and limit their creative development.
#2.7. Ensure regular communication with stakeholders
The client is one of the most important sources of information for the development team. Nobody can read the minds of others, unfortunately (or fortunately). Therefore, developers will not be able to figure out what clients want unless the PM develops a common ground of communication.
Firstly, it is important to let the clients know what input they are expected to provide. What is the frequency of meetings? How will communication occur (face-to-face meetings, emails, phone calls)? What is the expected duration of the meetings? How will the meetings be structured?
Additionally, PMs should regularly refine the requirements and inform their clients about the work done, so they can get feedback. It helps to stay on track and not to lose vision of the end result.
Having a project manager on the team is crucial to the team’s productivity and efficiency, allowing the client to get his product as quickly and efficiently as possible. We understand, however, how difficult it may be for you to find one, especially in the heating IT market as it is right now. Therefore, we can onboard PMs from our side as part of our development teams. Interested? Then please contact us!