Do you dream of founding the next top tech startup? Or do you want to digitise your existing work processes and save on operational costs while boosting productivity? No matter which one is true, business endeavors call for proper project management and often, there is not a single path to success but it is a mixture of the right approaches, the right people and the right time.
Working in a bespoke software development company that implements Scrum as a project management framework, I notice that clearly defined processes, roles and responsibilities contribute to creating a high-value software product. However, some managers still have a hard time with things like delegating tasks or monitoring progress. Here are six useful tips for end-to-end project management:
It all Starts with a Clear Goal
You have a project vision for the next big digital product, and all that’s left is to find the right software developers to code it? Wrong. Before your project manager (PM) can start tracking work in progress (WIP) limits, you need to deconstruct your idea and identify some key aspects. Experts from ProjectPractical have come up with 12 invaluable steps you need to take to initiate your next project.
The first three steps consist of creating a charter to serve as your project’s mission statement, declaring the project scope, direction, stakeholders and business requirements. Also, remember to create a plan on the future project-related responsibilities keeping in mind any contractors, vendors and service-level agreements (SLA). After this is done, it’s time to divide work into small manageable action steps that navigate you throughout the entire project lifecycle.
Run Your Cost Estimations
There are more important things in life than money, but the financial aspect is certainly one of the most important ones when it comes to your next software project. This article from Boston’s Northeastern University covers the four essential project cost estimation techniques your team can employ. Whether you run the calculations despite you only have rough data or wait until you have the final number is your choice but consider the following approaches.
The first suggestion is to perform an analogous estimating based on previous experience with a similar project, depending on the available historical data and PM’s expertise. The second option is called parametric estimating, and it’s more accurate than the analogous using statistical data alongside historical data. Then, you have the bottom-up estimating, breaking down a large project into smaller components, providing a more granular project outlook. Finally, you can go with the three-point estimating, creating: an optimistic, a pessimistic and a most likely scenario.
The Value of Good Communication
To many experienced business owners, communication lays the foundation of project management. In the context of custom software development, each decision regarding project scope, budget, time-to-market or technical vendors relies heavily on the communication skills of both team leaders and software developers. That’s why it is advisable to look at what previous clients have to say about them. Read testimonials from ex-partners and clients before scheduling an initial meeting and see if the information rounds up into a good first impression.
Of course, choosing the right custom software development company to partner with might seem hard at first, but if you consider the essential aspects, you’ll be able to make the right choice. Ask about the communication style within the company: is there a strict hierarchy, or is the structure rather flat? Are there established project management methodologies the developers follow to deliver high-quality software products, and if yes, which? Last but not least, are the team members knowledgeable, approachable and open-minded?
Team Collaboration Tools
In our 21st century society, most innovative companies have already started to digitalise their internal operations because they know this helps optimise workflow, increase productivity and achieve KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). When you embark on a journey called project management, and you decide to use outsourced services, it is vital to know which software tools the developers will be using and what project metrics you can track.
Luckily, there are tons of collaboration tools out there, but some of them stand out from the crowd and have gained traction and respect over the years. Such project management software tools are Jira and Asana, which are perfect for organising remote or distributed teams. Both solutions are suitable for Agile software development and Scrum teams. Tracking workload and key metrics such as team velocity, capacity and distribution contributes to efficient incremental delivery and also prevents team’s overload and burnout.
Imagine the following scenario for a second: you’re part of a project with a clearly defined scope and KPIs, but all of a sudden, you notice that some of your team members fail to meet certain deadlines and deliver on the previously agreed commitments. While there might be numerous reasons for this, ranging from personal issues to lack of project-related motivation, the root cause might sometimes lie a bit deeper and has something to do with a person’s core values and principles.
For this reason, you should grasp the core values and principles of the people you’re working with. It might be understandable if a person working remotely for over a year feels overwhelmed at times or if someone still hesitates to come to the office. However, if these negative experiences reflect in their work, this can jeopardise the entire project. Thus, get to know the dev team’s values and company culture, and you’ll be able to see the bigger picture.
Continuous Improvement Mindset
Our natural human inclination is to set even bigger goals and aim higher after achieving a certain milestone. Independent on the next business objective you have in your schedule, your number one priority should be to consistently improve your products and services. Why? Because let’s face it – customer demands are constantly changing and businesses need to constantly re-adapt their success strategies.
However, if you still can’t wrap your mind around the idea of continuous improvement, there is hope. You can train your personal mindset like a muscle: the more you practice being open to accepting the inevitable growing pains, the more likely you are to adopt it as a habit of yours. The same is also valid for your employees – find ways to regularly stimulate their growth mindset, e.g., by purchasing online courses, inviting external lectors or financing official technical certifications.