How to Manage a Software Development Project: Top 10 Tips to Boost Efficiency
Software development lifecycle takes a lot of energy and effort. A programmer on his own, no matter how talented he is, cannot handle all complicated programming decisions effectively. The secret to being successful in software development project management depends to a large extent on team cooperation.
If we’re talking about a team or a developer, regularly facing different challenges in the process is not something out of the ordinary. However, an efficient team that has good interaction can deal with those challenges faster and be more productive. So the question remains, how do you handle a team in the software industry?
To make the complex process of managing the project more smooth, we have to pay attention to some simple tips, which at the first glance may seem insignificant, but in the long run, can help us make the process of managing software development more efficient if taken into consideration as a whole.
Defining Project Objectives
Before starting the development process, project managers together with clients have to clearly define what they expect from the development, mainly:
- Final result that is specified
- Expected time frame of the project
- Planned budget
- Support of different platforms
- Extra details that are important for the client
One significant detail is to conclude an agreement either in a document or simply in a written form, as it may help both parties to avoid confusion. Often what client says and what he really means may be different, that’s why it is essential to keep a highly detailed, written account of the agreement.
Defining project objectives will give you and your team a clear idea of what is the starting point of the project and in what direction you are going.
Choosing the Right Team Members
To ensure efficient work, it is necessary to choose the right team members. Clear understanding who is responsible for what will greatly improve the cooperation, as well as knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each member will.
Trying hard to gather a team of aces may not prove effective, as nobody is perfect. A powerful team isn’t only about professionalism, it’s also about teamwork. What really matters is how your team will manage to collaborate and complement each other for higher productivity.
Monitoring the project and reporting
While working on a project, make it a regular practice to get project updates from each member of the team about what has already been done and what will be done soon. Also, it is equally important to discuss existing problems or factors, which hinder progress.
Such reporting will provide the managers with information, necessary to see the existing state of affairs. Based on the acquired picture of what is happening in a project, managers can take certain corrective actions, considering the direction some members are taking, or even correcting the direction of the whole team.
Monitoring the process may be accomplished in different ways, for example, it may be a separate chat where each team member sends his report or daily short meetings. The form doesn’t make that much of a difference, but what makes is the amount of time devoted to reporting. Make sure that meetings or reports don’t happen too rarely, but at the same time they shouldn’t take too much of the project time, everything is better in moderation.
One more critical factor that influences project work significantly is outlining project team roles. Every team member has to receive only the tasks relevant to his experience and skills. The right task assignment will allow you to get optimum productivity of every teammate separately and of a team as a whole.
For example, a junior developer cannot carry out the same complex tasks which a senior developer undertakes. Such an experiment will prove if not impossible, then at least ineffective. And vice versa, a senior developer cannot perform minor tasks, while priority tasks are in a waiting queue.
Such an attitude will not stop the software development process, however, it will drastically reduce the productivity level. Avoiding all of the above, you can improve the efficiency of work and control over the project.
What makes a good software team?
The answer is Team Work. Though it may sound strange, however, to manage the project well it is essential to know how to work in a team. Every team member has to have a clear understanding of what his role is and what responsibilities each of them has within the project boundaries.
A well-coordinated team, with a clear understanding of what team members have to do and what direction should be taken to reach a final result, guarantees an increase in project productivity.
What is also important to take into account, is that the whole team is responsible for certain failures or problems, not just one member of the group who encountered those difficulties. We are in one boat, that’s why in case of emergencies team members need to have each other’s backs and offer assistance. And when the difficulties are over the whole team can celebrate little victories along with big ones.
In software development management, automation of the processes plays an essential role and can have a far-reaching impact on the project work, as small things usually have a big effect. And while in this article we are dealing mainly with managing the project, we should consider automation of processes connected to management besides processes connected to the development.
But what are the benefits of automating a process? For example, let’s consider a certain action, which is done by a developer or a few developers very often, maybe even every day. The automation of this action will not show a significant rise in productivity immediately. However, over the longer term of the project, the accumulation of saved time will provide opportunities for developers to use it later for the benefit of a project.
Looking at the software development lifecycle in a long-term perspective will leave some time for developers to improve their work, develop some new features, which means in broad terms - to gain additional productivity.
Technical processes that should be automated first are:
- Project execution
- Data backup and connected to it operations
- Document generation
Management processes that should be automated are:
- Planning the tasks and assigning them to team members, adding details to the tasks
- The design process and sharing it with others
- Keeping in touch with members of the team
Code Review and Quality Assurance in Software Development Life Cycle
Quality of the code and mobile app architecture are the most critical things, which can cause the project to get out of hand. I do advise you to concentrate largely on the projection of mobile app architecture and quality of the code, as neglect on their part in the development process may lead developers into a dead end and reduce their productivity almost to zero.
However, such negative consequences may be avoided, if we pay attention to the projecting part of mobile app development. You will not regret the time spent on projecting or reviewing, as it is a great investment in your project. It will save more time for bug fixing, and therefore for the development.
Testing is one of the fundamental things, which allows us to keep the software development project in check. Testing is quite an extensive subject in the IT sphere that is covered by a great number of articles. Here we will talk about testing only in the sense of its significance. Manual as well as automated testing can be used, and each of these ways has its own pros and cons, but in general we need tests for the projects of different difficulty levels in order to optimize the final product’s quality.
The benefits of testing are simple and obvious, but that doesn’t make testing any less valuable. Unexpected or faulty behavior of the project, which wasn’t noticed immediately before, may lead to a range of unforeseen consequences, such as bugs that are hard to find and correct, or even new bugs that appeared because of the existing ones.
Prompt testing of the project helps if not to avoid the negative impact described above, then at least to lower it significantly, which in its turn also helps to keep the project under control.
Documentation is one more important thing, that shouldn’t be left out, however, it often is. Of course, we shouldn't ignore it, as such neglect on our part can have a ripple effect. While it may seem small in the beginning, later it will have a big damaging impact on the whole project.
There are three types of documentation, which are vital for software development project management:
- Startup guide
- Style guide
- API documentation
Startup guide has to contain information about what is needed for project execution:
- List of necessary programs and their versions
- Set of commands and instructions needed for project start
This guide will significantly save time for a new person who comes to the project as well as for a person already working on the project, who has to do an introduction for a new team member.
A style guide for a project team defines the writing style for the contents of their project documents. It will provide your team with more connected and readable information and will help to achieve high-quality and understandable documentation during the project lifecycle. You can use a user manual software to create these user guides.
API documentation is also vital in the software process and project management. In the process of development, a person who actively uses API doesn’t waste his time trying to figure out something he doesn’t understand. The same way a person who developed API doesn’t waste his time on explanations for each of his co-workers. In such a workflow, we can avoid a large number of bugs, which show up because of a wrong understanding of the client-server interface. Everything taken as a whole can buy us a lot of time and simplify our work.
Have you ever planned something and saw it shattered due to some unforeseen circumstances? In the process of work different unexpected situations may also happen and put at risk the success of the whole project. For example, one of the team members may get ill for some period of time, partners, who supply certain services, may change your partnership conditions, or any other situation which is hard to envision from the beginning. So it would be wise to have a reserve of time or money to avoid or at least to reduce the negative impact of unexpected events on your work.
Based on our extensive experience in software development, we can now share some important things to consider while embarking on a project. In this article, we mentioned some tips, which can help us to manage a project successfully and make the development process more efficient. Many things mentioned above may seem basic and obvious, however, keeping all of them in mind and implementing them in your software development project management will bring long-lasting benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the stages of a project?
- Project initiation: identifying who is involved in the project, goals of the project, benefits and potential risks.
- Project planning: clear vision, schedule and deadlines; available resources (including budget); team composition.
- Project execution: assignment of the tasks, organizing workflow; use of resources.
- Project monitoring: overseeing the progress of the execution stage, if everything goes according to the plan.
- Project closure: ensuring all the aspects of the project are completed; assessing the project's success.
What are the best software development project management tools?
- Zoho projects