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Software Project Management: All you need to know

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Akil Natchimuthu
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Jan 3, 2022
Software Project Management: All you need to know

Project management is a critical part of software development. This article covers all the important aspects of project management for IT professionals, including planning, prioritization, and scheduling. It also looks at other methods of project management that may be appropriate for your organization.

What is software project management?

Software project management is the process of managing a software development project. It includes planning, organizing, executing and controlling the progress of a software development project.

The goal of software project management is to provide guidance and assistance in designing, implementing, managing, and sustaining a successful software project.


What is a project management methodology?

A project management methodology provides guidance and assistance in designing, implementing, managing, and sustaining a successful software development project.

Project management is more important than one might think. All organizations and teams need to incorporate it, but project management methodologies need to be customized in a way that aligns with their unique team types, projects or work initiatives, or even the organization's strategies and objectives.


The project management methodologies list

Many of us are familiar with Scrum but it’s probably just the tip of the iceberg . There are several other project management methodologies out there that have been developed and adopted by various organisations over the years. Our aim is to help you recognise and understand the commonly-used methods, in order for you to make an educated decision about which is best for your company.

Agile methodology

Agile methodology is a software development approach that allows for iterative and incremental improvements in the design, development, and delivery of software.


Benefits of Agile:

• It allows for flexibility in work process, which is beneficial to small businesses.

• It allows the business to deliver what it needs at any given time without incurring any delays.

• It can help make sure your company is always on top of its game by keeping your team constantly engaged and learning new skills as they go along.


Scrum methodology

Scrum is a framework for managing complex projects with multiple teams. The framework helps to create a product increment every two weeks and helps in measuring progress of the project, as well as providing predictability for the customer.

The methodology also ensures that everyone in the team has ownership over the product being developed. It is used by software development teams and organizations around the world.


Benefits of Scrum methodology:

• It's simple to understand and implement.

• The process works well for smaller projects too.

• Provides visibility into what needs to be done next and how long it will take.


Waterfall methodology

A waterfall methodology is a development process that consists of a series of distinct stages with each stage building on the work completed in the previous one. The software development methodology, which uses this approach, was developed by Frederick Brooks in his book "The Mythical Man-Month" and later popularized by the open source community.


  1. The first stage is requirements analysis, where project stakeholders define what they want to build and how it will be used.
  2. Next comes design, which involves detailed planning and preparation for what will eventually become code or other output such as an interface or documentation.
  3. After design is coding: coding takes place during design time and after design time; however, only coding that takes place during design time produces deliverables such as code or documentation.
  4. After coding has been completed, testing begins: testing may happen at any point before production starts but only testing done during the life of the project produces deliverables such as test reports or bug fixes.
  5. Once testing has been completed then production can begin: production does not produce any deliverables because it is already complete.


Benefits of Waterfall methodology:

  • Uses clear structure
  • Determines the end goal early
  • Transfers information well


Kanban methodology

The Kanban system relies on a visual representation of work in progress called the "kanban board" to provide visibility into how much work is waiting to be done, which parts are complete, and what inventory exists.

It was developed as an alternative to traditional production methods like batch-based methods and assembly lines, where managers would plan production based on completed tasks.

The main idea behind Kanban is that it focuses on creating value through process improvement rather than creating products or finished goods with predetermined specifications.


Benefits of Kanban methodology:

• It helps in increasing productivity and reduces waste.

• It provides a flexible process that can be modified as needed.

• It allows for continuous improvement and growth over time.

• It helps maintain quality while reducing costs.


Lean methodology

Lean methodology is a business strategy that uses the principles of lean manufacturing to identify and remove waste from processes. The main goal of lean methodology is to achieve continuous improvement in the value delivered by products or services for customers.

A key component of lean methodology is continuous process improvement, which requires identifying and removing waste from processes. Lean managers should aim to find and fix problems early so they don't lead to costly errors later on.


Benefits of Lean methodology:

• Identifying opportunities for process improvements before they become problems.

• Improving customer satisfaction by eliminating delays, defects, and wasted time/resources during product development or service delivery.

• Reducing costs through efficient use of resources such as space, materials, energy, labor, etc.


Scrumban methodology

Scrumban is a process of software development that takes advantage of many small, self-contained projects. The projects are designed to be completed in the order they are developed and the project requirements are documented for each project.

The goal of scrumban is to enable a company to deliver better quality software more quickly and cost effectively than other processes. Scrumban has also been shown to reduce project management overhead by up to 50%.


Benefits of Scrumban methodology:

  • Time and resource reduction
  • Quality improvements from smaller scope, higher detail projects
  • Fewer bottlenecks in the development process
  • Minimizing the risk of gaps between releases


eXtreme programming (XP) methodology

This methodology is an approach to software development that emphasizes the following principles:

• Requirements should be specified by the customer and not by the developers.

• The developer must work in close collaboration with the customer.

• The requirements of each project are unique, so there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution.

• Testing must be done early and often (including testing on live data).

• Features should be implemented in stages, not all at once.


Benefits of XP methodology:

  • Early and frequent testing
  • Controlled prioritization of features
  • Minimizing waste in the development cycle by creating short-term, incremental deliverables


Adaptive project framework (APF) methodology

An adaptive project framework (APF) methodology is a method of delivering projects and/or products that are continually updated based on user feedback. The APF framework is an iterative process in which the product or service is continuously modified and improved over time, with each iteration being delivered to the users.

The main goal of an APF methodology is to allow the project to evolve over time into something new while maintaining its integrity. This can be achieved by constantly evaluating user feedback and using it to change the design of the project as well as develop more detailed requirements for future iterations.


Benefits of APF methodology:

  • Reduces risk for customers
  • Adapts to changing requirements
  • Reduces project cost and risks
  • Measures the performance of a product or service against its goal


Critical path methodology

Critical path method is a project management technique that helps in the planning and scheduling of projects. It provides a systematic way to organize tasks, assign resources, and plan their sequencing.

The critical path method can be used for any type of project but it is mostly used for large scale engineering or construction projects.

Benefits of Critical path methodology:

  • Provides reliable estimates and accurate schedules
  • Gives early warnings of project biases
  • Helps in assigning resources to projects with time constraints
  • Ensures project completion


Critical chain project management

Critical chain project management is a methodology that is employed in the construction industry. It uses project scheduling and resource allocation to determine the most cost-effective path of work.


Benefits of critical chain project management:

• It reduces errors, delays, and quality issues.

• It improves productivity by focusing on long-term goals instead of short-term deadlines.

• It ensures that projects are completed on time and within budget.


New product introduction (NPI)

NPI is a strategy in which a company announces the launch of a new product or service and does not provide any information about it until the customer purchases it. This strategy is often used by companies that are trying to avoid being knocked off their competitor's release, especially in high-volume industries like technology.


Benefits of NPI management:

• It maximizes the impact of a release by launching it at the most opportune time.

• Reduces marketing costs and risk of being knocked off course

• It ensures that the first-to-market company is ahead in profits.

• Provides a game changing pressure to competition before launch.


A detailed approach to project management

The task of planning a project requires a high level of skill and knowledge to execute. It is not enough to just have an idea, you need to put together all the necessary steps to implement it.


Project Planning

Planning before acting is crucial to every project - big or small. It doesn't matter if you're responsible for one month's marketing campaign or the entire next decade of your organization’s future direction, having all your plans and actions pre-planned is extremely important to keeping yourself and your team on task.


Without a clearly set out plan, projects can start off with some faulty assumptions which may lead to confusion and distractions that could ultimately derail the project effectively rendering it ineffective. In order to avoid this, before starting a big - or small - project, sit down with your team and go through some clear planning exercises so everyone knows exactly how they need to be acting from start to finish.


Here are some pointers for effective project planning:


Identify the stakeholders of the project

In order to keep your team focused on the project, identify who is impacted and what their needs are in relation to completing the project. This will help you understand how close or far from completion each member of your team really is.


Create timelines for milestones

Not all projects are straight forward, some have more complicated steps with multiple checkpoints along a defined path that must be reached in order for something to happen. When time frames can sometimes vary

drastically, a timeline outlining each milestone of the project can assist with setting expectations and managing time.


Patience is sometimes necessary for excellent execution. You need to stop and see things develop over time - even if it takes months or years.


Determine the scope

Scope is what you are able to do in your project, be it  scaling new features or managing how changes by customers will impact the product. A clear understanding of what is and isn’t reachable for a unique project can really help make sure expectations are appropriately managed among stakeholders/team members.


Use the right tools

When putting together project plans, be mindful of what tools you will use to organize and record your work. Most developers like using spreadsheets or taking notes in notebooks but these can be inefficient depending on the complexity of a project at hand. For any software development team, bug reporting can be extremely time consuming. Tools like Disbug can improve the overall workflow and also ease the monitoring for the project managers drastically.


Assess project risk

Risk should be taken into consideration when planning out a project, such as identifying how the success of the project is dependent on some external factor that might not exist or occur in the anticipated timeline. The completion of risk assessment will help especially those without experience managing and protecting an investment.


Break down the work into sprints

Just as there is inherently a schedule to building, construction and other industries the same applies when managing a project. Breaking down large scale projects into smaller pieces that can be completed incrementally will help you have an idea of what is achievable within each sprint and more manageable tasks which may seem overwhelming at first if they are all presented in one lump sum.


Set a timeline

A timeline that outlines how long it takes from when project starts until the completion of each milestone will help set expectations for what can be achieved in a finite timeframe. Preparation beforehand is key to managing timelines efficiently and effectively, as you want to avoid having any ideas go by the wayside because they require more work than anticipated or because there was not enough time allotted.


The Project Life Cycle

Project planning is the careful processes and procedures that are involved in any and all kinds of projects, no matter how big or small. While there isn’t one single project that takes place over a constant specific process (i.e. five exact steps), most projects follow a similar life cycle that has five major stages including initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing.


Initiating

An important first step for product managers is to get a basic understanding of the business environment. This includes looking at financial reports, budgets, and other information from previous years that provides insight into how your project will impact the organization financially. It's also vital to identify key stakeholders in each stage of the project and gain an understanding of their needs and how those needs might factor into or influence your project decisions.


Planning

During the more detailed phase of product development (which hopefully happened early on in the process), a flowchart and other such project planning worksheets are utilized to schedule all timelines, resources, costs and budgets necessary to carry out certain project activities and perhaps most importantly: plan out how the project will be carried out while taking appropriate risks into account.


The entire team will then take necessary steps during this stage such as finalizing plans for any remaining features before getting the coveted (and oh-so-awaited) final signoff!


Executing

The most important stage is the one where items finally get to "go live." Team members work together to ensure that project goals are achieved on time according to all possible requirements, potentially including everything from creating all of the materials necessary for your marketing plans right through confirming payments with outside vendors.


Monitoring

This is typically where a project begins to face its final phase of success. This typically encompasses everything from production monitoring, communication with the client and adjusting strategy if necessary in order for goals to be met. One of the things that every step in a project needs to have is an element of tracking progress.


This can actually help minimize risk by catching problems and/or issues early and addressing them quickly. The customer's feedback, however, plays a major role in this phase as well. We suggest using it as a strategic tool to keep your project on the right track.


Closing/Handover

If your team was successful in carrying out each phase of their project properly, this last step will likely be a

cakewalk. The success of the project not only calls for a big celebration but also provides great insight and learning opportunities on what worked well and what didn't in order to inform future execution methods by your team.


The Project Manager

In every project, there are several players working towards achieving the same goal. And in many cases, the best person to manage these people is a Project Manager. The Project Manager takes on the daunting task of steering the ship and sees that it doesn't rock too much while everyone else remains focused on completing their own tasks.


The experience a PM has from handling past projects can help them control the present one better and make educated decisions in the future – for example, by helping them communicate better with team members or customers by now knowing what works and what doesn’t.


Wrapping up

Software project management is the art of bringing a group of people together to complete a software project. It requires patience, perseverance, and an open mind. The success of any software project depends on the ability to communicate and collaborate with others effectively. This blog post provides you with everything you need to know about this topic. We hope that it will help you become a better project manager in your work life!