Project Management In Software & App Development
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Developing high-quality and reliable software is a challenging task that demands a comprehensive and structured approach. It can be hard to pave the right path towards the success of your product when technology is evolving so quickly. In times when the development process is continuously being redefined, both startups and businesses with a long history have to be especially careful when choosing the IT project management services to fit their goals.
In our article, we will tell you everything you need to know about the role of project management in software development, project manager’s responsibilities, how to build and implement a suitable and highly functional process based on Softermii’s best practices for managing offshore resources and more than seven years of experience at the international software development market.
Read on to learn how to manage a development team effectively!
How Project Managers Manage Software & App Development Team
Practice shows that a dedicated team is a particularly successful solution for long-term projects with frequently changing requirements. Mostly because the project is ruled by specially appointed experts. This provides maximum flexibility in the scope of work and tasks, as well as in the changes in costs and resources.
Additionally, our experts have broad experience in managing international projects of different complexity within multiple industries which makes it easier to develop successful solutions.
Here’s a list of standard project manager’s responsibilities and what each of them includes:
One of the most important parts of the project’s discovery phase is an estimation. It is crucial in determining the cost, duration, and necessary efforts for the project. The estimation usually includes time, cost, and team composition.
It’s very important that the project manager correctly estimates these deliverables with the team as all future planning and executions are dependent on these projections.
If you define the scope in the project management right in the beginning, it becomes much easier for the team to manage and make the required changes. Scope management helps in determining and documenting the list of all the project goals, tasks, deliverables, deadlines, and budgets as a part of the planning process.
After the estimation is ready, it is important to communicate it with the team and go over predicted expectations. First, hold a meeting where every team member can discuss their part in the project and ask questions. In addition to communicating expectations, create and share your project scope with the team.
This document is the foothold allowing your software development team to understand tasks, goals, and time frames, providing a clear plan to follow. Go over each point with your team and specify each team member's role in the project.
Project scheduling refers to the roadmap of all planned actions and activities within a specific timeline. Project managers define tasks, milestones, and accountable team members. They manage the manner and execution order of each task defining their priority.
Everything that is used in project development refers to resource management. Usually, it includes a team, tools, and software libraries. It’s very important to estimate and assign sufficient resources needed for the successful project implementation at the very beginning of the development as a shortage of any element can cause falling off the development schedule and increasing cost in the end.
Project Risk Management
Risk management is the identification, analysis, and incorporation of explicit and implicit risks into the project course and development. These include:
- Changes in the team composition due to the departure of an old employee or the new addition to the team
- Change in organizational management
- Change of requirements
- Underestimation of time and resources
- Force Majeure
Maintaining Project Documentation
No project can ever be considered successful without perfectly maintained project documentation. The project manager will have to prepare final documentation of the project for future reference and implementations, detailing features, techniques, and specifications.
These reports will contribute to future project management in software development-related tasks, and help in updates and support if needed.
Software Project Management Processes and Stages
The project manager can’t be considered an optional addition to the development team, as the person in this position is responsible for streamlining the development process with a software development life cycle and project management timeline.
In software development, project managers essentially use the general project management template with software-specific goals that streamline the process.
Software project management stages are usually outlined as follows:
This stage of project management for app development is aimed to form the initial idea into a clear goal with understandable future steps. Usually, it can be done by creating a project charter – a document consisting of important details, including project goals, the expected timeline, human resources, budget, bottlenecks, etc.
Once the charter is ready and the main project objectives are outlined, the next step is to identify key project stakeholders. Even though the preliminary goals are established in the project initiation stage, they shouldn’t include the complex technical details as this is the task for stage two.
This stage is a decisive factor for the project’s roadmap. Depending on the chosen software development methodology and project’s requirements, the development process is broken down into iterations. We usually use an agile software development strategy as it has clear pros:
- No budgetary constraints to introducing new requirements
- Fully engages business stakeholders in the development process
- Lessened documentation requirements save time and money
- Small issues are identified before they become major problems
This stage includes identifying technical requirements, developing detailed project scheduling, creating a clear communication plan, and establishing goals/deliverables. During planning, it’s good to consult other members of the team and use inputs from the business analysts, sales department, and domain experts.
Simply put, the project execution stage is the development phase of the project when all the team members are completing task after task. It’s the project manager’s task to maintain efficient collaboration between stakeholders and others involved in the project.
By establishing an effective workflow, the project manager should ensure that everyone involved in the project is on the same page and the development process runs as smoothly as possible.
It is also important that the project manager sets up both Critical Success Factors (CSF) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to ensure that no one deviates from the original course of the project and the project objectives and deliverables are fulfilled.
Also, the manager has to track and record the effort/cost during the development process to confirm that budget and time are met with long-term sustainability in mind.
The final stage of the project development process is evaluation. At this stage, a project manager reviews the whole project from the beginning to the end, completes a detailed report that covers after facets, finalizes all the necessary paperwork and documentation, and securely stores the project for future reference.
From our experience, we suggest holding a review meeting when the project is completed. It helps to contemplate a team's comprehensive successes and failures before, during, and after development.
Why Project Manager Is Important For Managing Offshore Teams
The project manager is one of the most important people on the project, even though sometimes it may not be so obvious as the project manager’s responsibilities go way beyond simply creating tasks and checking in with team members. They are in charge of the project success, adherence to the deadlines, communication between the team and the client, and crisis management.
A skilled PM not only answers the question of how to manage developers but also how to make a project successful.
It is statistically proved that a mature project management process makes an organization far more likely to deliver on time and under budget. 11.4% of all resources are wasted due to the lack of project management processes. Surveys suggest that organizations who fail to properly integrate project management into their strategies will see their outright project failure rate increase by a factor of 2/3.
From our experience, project managers know all the possible pitfalls, allocate resources accordingly, and make a substitution without any idle effort as they know the capabilities of each development team member. Thus, delegating management and app development tasks to a project manager is more resultful as a PM doesn’t need time to adjust and understand the context of project development.
However, it doesn’t mean that a client loses control of the process. On the contrary, a PM works closely with a client taking over the operational tasks, which allows a client to focus on the strategic aspects.
Our project managers build a seamless process of client-team communication, giving the clients instant updates on the project development and letting the client keep track.
How To Set Up Communication Frameworks With Help Of Project Managers
Effective communication is one of the most important parts of a successful project. It bridges gaps between the client and the organization, among the team members as well as other stakeholders in the project.
A PMI survey found that 30% of respondents called “poor communication” the primary reason for the scope gap and project failure. Thus, it’s very important to plan communication for every project you launch.
A project communication plan is an agreement between executors and stakeholders that outlines what, when, and how the information will be shared and what are the key intervals. This written guide should include information on status updates, task-related questions, and meeting details. The goal is to define and streamline team and client communications as much as possible.
The signal that your communication plan’s failing if the excessive discussion around the project occurs, or if the scope of each interaction isn’t defined. The communication plan of the project management for app development includes the following:
- A contact sheet with project roles and relevant contact information that highlights project phase owners
- List of discussion topics throughout the project, like meeting updates and content outlines.
- Include 5 W of communication for each communication type – who, what, where, when, why.
- Create a meeting schedule for regular discussions and progress reviews
- Appoint status update types, their place, and the responsible team member
- Assign reviewers to required tasks
The benefits of a good project communication plan include staying in line with budget, timeline, and scope expectations. It also saves the effort of having to answer individual “what’s the status” emails. When there is a plan to ensure that all stakeholders are kept appropriately informed, your project team can respond to change, ensure good client management, and maintain a high standard of communication.
How Softermii Ensures Visibility
A secret to productive, well-organized, and efficient project management lies in the field of skilled professionals. Remote team management can be truly challenging, but the benefits it brings for your business can certainly make it worth the resources and efforts you put in first.
From our experience, we can say that highly-experienced professionals with hands-on experience in multiple industries, well-established workflow, transparent communication, and mutual feedback exchange are the keys to effective distributed teams and project management for app development.
Besides, if you still have any questions or are looking to switch to an extended team model, take a look over our development services, as we can set up a dedicated team for your needs. Feel free to contact us to ask any questions on project management outsourcing and managing offshore teams!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to do without a project manager in the development process?
It is possible, but it has a lot of drawbacks. Firstly, it disrupts communication with the team, and secondly, it complicates the processes. Ultimately, the time and effort spent on software development can be many times higher than if you simply hire a project manager to join your dev team.
Who draws up the project plan for developing the application?
Definitely a project manager. It is he who makes the project plan for app development, but you can make adjustments to it, so clear synchronization between you, the project manager, and the development team is necessary.
How much does it cost to hire a project manager for software development?
Hourly rates for project managers vary widely. Optimally, we would recommend considering candidates costing at least $25 per hour. Otherwise, you risk falling for not the most experienced manager, which will result in a bunch of problems. You can contact our team for more detailed and substantive advice.
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