Project Managers may not contribute to lines of code being written or software being tested, but they are critical to a software project’s success, no matter the size.
Below are five main reasons you should strongly consider having a project manager for your software project.
1. Orchestrates The Project
Like a General Contractor for building a house, a project manager orchestrates the right resources at the right time and is the go-between for the client and the delivery team.
Because a project manager doesn’t work in the project, they can run above it and watch all the pieces as they come together. This allows them to track a project against its planned schedule and anticipate issues before they become problems.
2. Keeps The Delivery Team Focused And Motivated
A software delivery team picks up speed and gains momentum as the project gets underway. A project manager’s job is to keep the team’s momentum, also known as velocity, going. If the team as a whole loses momentum, it will take some time to gain it back, which is why it is best to proactively protect the team’s momentum from the start.
As obstacles are encountered, a project manager will take on finding a solution so that the team can stay focused and keep their velocity up. He or she may do research on his or her own, ask an outside team member for assistance, or escalate the issue to their management team.
Whatever the chosen course of action, the benefit of a project manager is recognizing issues, taking them away from the team’s concerns, and allowing everyone to keep moving full speed ahead.
3. Keeps You Updated and Focused
A project manager’s job is to keep you, the project owner, informed each step along the way. A good project manager will work to earn your trust by being open, honest and transparent about the project and by communicating with you on a frequent basis.
Their job is also to answer your questions, report on the project progress and budget frequently so that you don’t have to wonder. When you trust that your project is in good hands, it means you can also stay focused on your day to day business.
4. Anticipates Issues And Course Corrects
Like a ship at sea, projects can be pushed off course for unanticipated reasons. Maybe a feature is taking longer to develop than planned, or a 3rd party isn’t as responsive to questions as the team needs.
A good project manager knows the types of situations where a project can get off track and is ready for them. They might leave a bit of room in the project plan for the tasks that have a probable risk, or maybe they run through a detailed set of questions to gauge the next steps.
The value of a good project manager is that they captain the “project ship” and keep it on course, no matter the conditions.
5. Is Ultimately Accountable
Software projects succeed because someone is ultimately leading the project, being held personally accountable, and making sure tasks are done by the right people at the right time.
Without that accountability, project momentum can drop, resources can work inefficiently stepping on each other’s toes, and issues can crop up and derail the project.
As the software owner, if you are in this situation, you may have to spend more and more of your time managing the project so that you can stay informed and make sure it is going as planned.
Although it is possible to be a successful software owner and project manager, just as you can be the General Contractor for building your house, taking on this role yourself can be a stressful situation and put pressure on the rest of your obligations, or put your project at risk.