When you think of your prospective custom software development solution, who do you consider to be the most important people attached to the project? Developers are an obvious choice, and don’t discount the role you and your team play — it’s vital. But in addition, there is one essential role still missing from our list — the software project manager.
Your project manager — sometimes referred to as a development manager — is a vital component of your custom software development project. More than a go-between, a good software project manager should be the quarterback of your solution, acting on the wishes of the coach (you) and executing project goals flawlessly through the development team on the field.
You can rest easy knowing you have a good project manager if they display the following qualities:
1. Developer Experience
Your software project manager won’t be doing the actual development, so do they really need development experience? Absolutely! Development experience takes your project manager from a go-between to a veteran who truly understands the entire path. A project manager with development experience knows how to optimize your development process and can contribute design suggestions while providing a more accurate view of the projected timelines and costs.
2. Communication Skills
While yours is naturally a business relationship, you should be able to form a bond with your project manager. Your project manager should be your champion on the project and can carry your wishes directly to the design team to see them executed. If you don’t feel you can communicate effectively with your project manager, your project becomes infinitely more difficult to complete.
3. Budget Management
Your software development project has a budget and it’s your project manager’s job to see that it is adhered to. A good project manager should consistently keep you informed of how the budget is progressing as the project is being developed. And, if your project manager has developer experience as mentioned above, they will be able to optimize the development process to utilize your budget in the most efficient way possible. If the budget needs to change for any reason, you should be the first to know and you should hear it from them.
4. Project Scoping
Your project manager should be able to lay out an accurate scope for you that provides detailed timelines as well as visibility to your budget impact. This is essential, and your project manager should consistently work to adhere to this timeline. Some delays are inevitable in any project, and when they arise, your software project manager should be able to keep you informed of the delay — and its cause — as well as update your timeline and scope so you understand how your project is affected.
5. Process Management
Different software development companies use different methodologies governing the process to complete your project and communicate with you. For example, many companies employ an agile methodology, meaning they will work with you to develop your project through several iterations. Whether the firm you work with employs an agile methodology or some other type of strategy — like waterfall — your project manager will be responsible for seeing that everyone stays on target and the project follows the methodology’s exact specifications. The path is already laid out and you should feel confident in your software project manager to help you travel it together.
Finding the right solution for you
When searching for a custom software development firm, you’ll consider many factors including price, methodology and experience, but don’t discount the importance of the firm’s project managers. Ask how the managers will fit into your project and support your goals and expect specific responses to your questions. The answers you find could very well determine whether the firm is the right fit for you or if you’re better off looking at other options.