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Whether you are a startup on the rise or a well-established tech corporation, all agree that software development projects need a level of expertise in order to be implemented and monitored effectively. It is an imperative step in the success of any software development endeavor; without proper project management, there are higher chances of failure. On this page, we will lead you through all the necessary information on project management in the IT industry.
Introduction to Software Project Management
The concept of project management was first coined in the 20th century when Henry Gantt invented the Gantt chart – a somewhat project charter developed to illustrate a project schedule as bar charts. Since then, the adoption of project management practices has spanned organizations from across industries, typically information technology (IT).
What Is Project Management for Software Development?
If you prefer terming it software engineering project management, then so be it. As its namesake, project management refers to all the activities involved in the software development process to make certain that it is conducted well toward success, encompassing project planning, scheduling, executing, monitoring, and finally delivering software projects. The mainspring for a project management process is to control the budget, time, and human resources in an optimal manner so that the software development teams can set to work with little or no hassle throughout the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC).
Who Is Involved in Software Project Management?
It goes without saying that the primary role in managing a project and its outcomes is played by a software project manager (PM). Like a conductor in an orchestra, project managers steer the projects in the right direction, and they are accountable for the project performance and progress at each and every phase of the development cycle. However, it does not mean other individuals, teams, and departments within the organization have nothing to do with this duty. Otherwise, they are the ones who contribute to the overall result of a project as much as a project manager does. An effective project management endeavor is documented when all are on the same page, work toward common goals, and maintain effective collaboration. Therefore, project managers alone have no way to drive a project to the finish line. They need effective cooperation and contribution of the following:
Project Manager (PM)
As mentioned earlier, the PM is responsible for leading and organizing the project activities. The PM also monitors progress, identifies and resolves any issues or risks that impede the course of the project, organizes regular meetings with stakeholders to ensure all requirements are met, keeps team morale high, and makes sure each team member is doing their job properly.
Project development teams are the group of people who do the actual work of developing software products. They include software developers, quality analysts, UI/UX designers, and testers. Software teams should possess the technical know-how to build software as well as be familiar with the project objectives and how they fit into the bigger picture. By doing well in their jobs, these teams make it much easier for project monitoring and overall management.
Stakeholders, in general, are the individuals who have a much or less impact on the project outcomes. They should be essentially included in the loop throughout the whole project and mainly play an integral role in UAT (User Acceptance Testing) phases. They should be updated on progress and any changes that occur during development, so they can adjust their approach accordingly and provide valuable feedback at each phase of the project. This allows stakeholders to have input into the product and make sure it meets customer satisfaction and software-related objectives when deployed.
The Phases of Project Management
Oftentimes, the project management activities taking place in an SDLC are mainly categorized into the following phrases:
The Initiating Phase
Also known as project estimation, this is the kickoff phase in which the project scope, duration, and efforts are defined before moving to the planning part. During this process, the stakeholders’ expectations, strategies, and goals must be identified. This is also where project cost estimation and resource allocation are conducted. At the end of this phase, project managers should have specified all estimations required for the project.
The Planning Phase
The second phase will lay out the software development process in detailed clarity, so it will entail different levels of project planning, including:
- Scheduling Project Timeline: At this point, project managers are the ones who set the timeline and milestones for project progress.
- Resource Management: Based on the predetermined estimations of time, cost, and efforts, project managers will also be in charge of allocating resources – both human and non-human – to the software development team’s disposal.
- Staffing: When the team size and requirements are well documented, project managers will proceed to team assembly – finding, hiring, and onboarding the right talent for the project. The development teams can either be in-house or outsourced, depending on the budget and the project goals.
- Task Management: At this stage, tasks are identified and assigned to each project team member as well as tracked throughout the lifecycle.
- Risk Management: This is an essential part of project management, as it helps identify and mitigate any potential risks that may occur at any stage in the SDLC. Knowing what to expect from the project development process will help software project managers anticipate and plan for contingencies.
The Developing Phase
This is the project execution stage, to be exact. It is divided into two sub-stages: Implementation and development. During the implementation stage, software developers will start coding, using available technologies and tools to bring their vision to life, while in the development stage, they will ensure that the developed code is functioning properly and meets quality standards.
The Testing Phase
At this point, quality assurance engineers will start testing the developed code to ensure that it meets the expected performance and quality standards. This is an integral part of project management, as it ensures that the software product can be released with confidence.
The Deploying Phase
Once the code is tested, and all bugs are fixed, it’s time to deploy the software to production. This stage of project management involves taking necessary steps to move the application into a live environment, which may include setting up hosting plans or configuring databases.
The Closing Phase
The final phase in the software development lifecycle is closing the project. This includes documenting the entire process from start to finish and gathering feedback from stakeholders to evaluate the success of the project. After this is done, all involved parties will receive acknowledgment for their efforts. Support and maintenance will also be put in place to ensure the successful operation of the software.
The Importance of Project Management in Software Development Life Cycle
It is easy to say project management is necessary, important, or indispensable, but in which way?
Alignment of Goals
Throughout the entire SDLC, project management plays a crucial role in each stage and keeps everything from spinning out of control. Although the steering committee - a group of stakeholders who govern a project - must have well-defined strategic goals and expectations initially, project management solutions must be present in place to ensure that the whole project and its results must not deviate from the original objectives. How? Project management brings in the direction of keeping the SDLC running on the right track and toward success as it is supposed to reach. Without proper project management solutions, any software project can become unorganized and prone to mistakes.
Seamless & Consistent Communication
Project management representatives play the role of a common voice in communication among the stakeholders, the project team, and any external parties involved in the development process. By providing a consistent channel for communication, all parties can stay on the same page and get updates without any trouble or delay. This helps to keep distractions away from the actual working process of software development.
A software project management solution comes into play for this core reason. Quality Control (QC) is also one of its main responsibilities; that is, making sure all deliverables meet the desired quality standards. QC measures are put in place for continuous monitoring of the product being developed as it goes through each phase, from conception to deployment. That includes testing for bugs, ensuring the product meets customer specifications and verifying that there are no security issues or vulnerabilities. By having these processes in place, it becomes easier to ensure that the product is released in its best form. In addition, project management solutions help ensure on-time task completion.
By breaking down tasks into smaller bundles and scheduling them according to priority, project management helps to reduce the number of unexpected surprises during a company’s workflow. It also provides an advance warning if an action is going wrong, allowing teams to course correct earlier in the process so as to reduce their overall costs, deadlines, and stress levels. This means that any potential risks are identified more quickly, thereby reducing the need for additional resources or emergency actions once potential issues have been identified. Ultimately, this makes the entire process smoother, more efficient, and less prone to costly mistakes or delays.
Best Practices for Efficient Software Development Project Management
Software project management must be approached technically with a proper strategy which takes time and effort to plan and execute correctly. These are some elements that the steering committee must be mindful of:
Setting Realistic Goals
Defining and clarifying the scope as well as objectives well beforehand is a must already. But the goal should be determined in a way that is achievable, measurable, and realistic. Break down your project into smaller goals and objectives that are achievable within reasonable timescales. This will help to ensure the project progresses as planned and no milestone is left behind.
Get the Right Project Team
The next big thing that has a great impact on your project’s outcomes is a software development team. More often than not, a solid team of experienced professionals with the right set of skills and attitudes is what makes or breaks a project. Therefore, you will have to handpick each and every team member starting with the leading roles (E.g., project managers, team leaders, etc.) to make certain that they have the skills and experience aligning with your project requirements. Having a strong team in place will help to partially ensure that the project will be finished well. These days, it is more favorable than before to have a solid project team working for your project as you can either hire an in-house team or consider contracting out with an intermediary for a dedicated one faster and more efficiently. Or, you can augment IT staff to strengthen your existing team at your disposal.
Establish Communication Protocols
Mutual communication and understanding is the key that can make or break the success of teamwork, especially when it comes to managing software development projects. The lack of communication can create a disconnect between the different parties involved and make the whole process tedious. Therefore, it is obvious that you must set up clear and smooth communication channels. At this point, communication tools can be a big aid. This serves your project in multiple ways, from improved coordination between all the team members to reducing the risk and cost of projects caused by miscommunication or lack thereof, especially if you are keeping track of multiple projects at a time.
Measure Progress & Track Results
Software project management is all about tracking and measuring progress. As the project progresses, you must use the right critical success factors (CSFs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure your team’s performance and also track the results of various tasks/milestones. This will help you figure out any loopholes or weak points in your process. By seeing how well everyone is performing, you can identify any areas that require additional work and optimize time management. This helps keep your team on track and will ensure the completion of all tasks in a timely manner.
Employ Project Management Tools
Currently, there is a multitude of project management tools and platforms available at your disposal, so why don’t you leverage one or some for your business? These productive tools have their own set of features that can be tailored to help organize and automate processes, streamline activities, and monitor performance over time. In other words, using the right project management platform or tool enables you to manage projects efficiently and effectively in a way that was previously not possible. Such solutions help ensure on-time task completion and reduce the chances of failure.
Ultimately, software project management is much more than just planning and imposing deadlines. It takes dedication, consistency, enthusiasm, hard work, and also a good dose of patience to bring every project to fruition successfully.
Outsourcing for Better Software Project Development & Management? Why Not?
In today’s IT industry, managing software development projects is not necessarily on your own. Many companies, both small and large, now outsource their software project development to external service providers. This is principally due to software outsourcing services enabling businesses of all sizes to gain access to the resources they need without bearing too much of a financial burden. More than that, outsourcing service providers are capable of setting up full-fledged autonomous development teams that come with their own set of experts – developers, project managers, and other necessary personnel, and, more importantly, they can hit the ground running. These teams are often better equipped than in-house teams to take on the challenges associated with software development projects.
All in all, outsourcing solutions can help you effectively manage your software projects while keeping costs low. Thanks to the flexible pricing models which enable service users to pay only for the services they need and use.
Besides these, there is an array of other advantages to outsourcing software project management, making it an actually smart and viable option. That said, whenever outsourcing, make sure to pick a credible vendor that is competent and well-reputed and whose services cater to your specific needs. This way, you can rest assured that your project will be well-managed and completed on time and within budget.
Why Orient Software? We meet all the fundamental factors to make a credible yet capable IT partner for professional project management as well as other outsourcing services. We have been in the IT industry for over a decade and serving hundreds of clients who are tech startups, companies, and enterprises from all around the world, so we are confident to offer you what you need and fulfill what you lack for a successful project. At Orient, we utilize the Agile methodology promoting seamless collaboration, transparency, and responsiveness. With our Agile teams of highly-skilled, certified, and experienced professionals, we ensure the quality and maintainability of your projects while reducing costs. What you need to do next is to consult us for further discussion. Contact us today!
Topics: Project Management
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