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How a Good Project Manager Help in Quick Delivery of Software Development Product

Working as a Project Manager and having more than a decade of experience working in the IT industry, I feel that following are the key points that helps in quick delivery of software development product:

 

1. PM identifies the risks at the right moment, risks are defined as something that has not happened yet but is bound to happen if corrective actions are not taken. Identifying risk timely provides PM to make plans for corrective action so that they can either avoid the risk completely or mitigate its effect to some extent. For e.g., if a project has a team of 3 developers and a developer resigns during the middle of the project. This tends to be the biggest risk that can affect the project owing to the size of the team. Now PM’s job should be to proactively work with the HR to find the replacement in time so that the KT of the project can be done in time and there is minimal impact on the project.

 

2. PM is dexterous in issue resolution. Issues are defined as incidents that have occurred and now need to be fixed. Issue could be vivid like related with coding, people, skills etc., and when they crop up an experienced PM has to become active instead of reactive. They need to plan out the QAt management and help the team to resolve the issue first rather than doing fault finding and cornering people. I am not saying that fault finding should be completely omitted, but it’s just that it can come later once the issue is resolved. For e.g. A developer forgets to check in his code in subversion over a period of time and one fine day someone else discovers this shortcoming. Now this is a major issue as this involves the code base on which developer has been working for long and this is not updated/stored safely in SVN. Once this goes to repository that can impact other developers’ work. Now instead of blasting the developer, PM should first make sure that all the code files are checked in successfully in SVN and the dependencies are resolved to make sure application is working. PM should also make sure that the SVN check-in is happening in correct way and to tackle any issue encountered. Reprimanding the developer action will come later when this issue is resolved, then with the developer root cause should be found in which it could be that developer understanding in SVN check in is less and he/she needs guidance. It could also be the case that the developer completely missed it, in this case a process should be brought in place where PM or TL periodically check if check-ins are happening.

 

3. PM does exemplary work and empowers the team. By empowering team he make sure that every team member is committed and motivated for their work, this way they make sure that redundancy in the team is maintained say if in a situation where a team person resigns. For e.g., there are certain tough tasks in a project that only TL is currently doing, PM should make effort to allow junior resources also to learn with TL the difficult tasks as this will enable them to learn things and eventually help them to grow in the company. This also empowers the overall team and makes task delegation easier.

 

4. People Manager – Managing the team well wherein he paves a listening ear to the team and their personal or work related issues if any. Maybe not every time PM can help but it gives a mental satisfaction to the team members that there is someone to listen to their grievances and they can focus on their work.

 

5. PM manages the change requests and enhancements such that they get to run with him. These activities are then planned and scheduled such that they do not affect a planned release. For e.g. in a project running on fixed cost and fixed time, and client is asking for a new or improved functionality. Say this effort is for additional 5 days so this need to be accounted for, client need to be made aware of this, have his approval on this change request and then modify the plan and pricing of the project accordingly.

 

6. Task Management and Assignment – PM manages the project in such a way that the most difficult of tasks in a project are given to more senior resource. If this is given to a lesser experience resource then this will delay not only the timeline of this task but will eventually drag the project. Also if a task requires more research than 1 person then in such cases more resources can be added to work on same task which is further divided in sub-tasks. This is done to keep up with the on time delivery of the project. For e.g. In one of my project in which a team of 3 resources were working, I came across a new feature of integrating a third party device. This task was assigned to the team lead as this was a new thing that we were doing and needed good experienced person to be engaged.

 

7. Short term staffing for specialized jobs – In a project there are sometimes situation where the team hits the wall, this is when there is something related with technology that needs to be done and team has zero experience on this. So in situation like these there need to be specialized people that need to be engaged, a good PM senses this during the course of the project and raises the request timely for a short term staffing of the resource on need basis in the project. It is also important that the knowledge acquired by this short term staffing is then transferred and retained to the original team as well, so that it can be handled in future. In one of the project, there was a requirement to create various environments like Dev, QA and Production in AWS, now since the dev team was not dexterous in installing these instances, I have to engage a senior Architect/DBA for this task on need basis who actually did created these instances with ease for the project.

 

8. Firefighting – There are situations when while developing an issue crops up, this can be known or unknown issue, in such instances the PM has to bring the team in firefighting mode wherein the team works much harder and longer to douse the issue at hand. This task is overseen by the PM himself by working in line with the team so that they are uplifted and motivated in working extra hours in such grim situations. So, PM has to be flexible in getting more out of the time at times while offering them compensatory offs at other times.

 

So, the PM’s role is very critical in getting a project delivered on time. He has to be on his toes and at best of his judgement to not only understand current situation but also to gauge what may happen in near future and be prepared to take decisions based on that to effectively manage the project delivery.

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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly- Project Manager

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