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03/06/2020

The Project Manager’s Role in Software Product Development

Every software product starts with a vision. That vision can be materialized with the support of a dedicated Project Manager (PM), oriented at making it real. The Project Manager makes sure that a software product is delivered within an agreed timeframe and in a certain budget. But the responsibilities don’t end just there. It is a multifaceted role that impacts the software product development project, the development team, the client and related processes in a number of ways. Read on to understand what a Project Manager can do for your team and your project. 

Project Manager’s role in the project

  • Leader. The Project Manager acts as the leader of the software development project. He supervises the dedicated software teams, including programmers, engineers, testers, product designers and everyone else involved in the project. The PM is the “brain” of the entire operation who is able to answer questions coming internally from the individual team, as well as from the client. He is the one who manages and motivates the entire project team.
  • Coordinator. Keeping track of the project progress and deadlines is necessary to coordinate the teams involved in the entire project. It’s the PM who ensures that every work stage is being done in the right sequence and at the right time.
  • Communicator. Once the Project Manager collects information on the project from the client, he/she communicates their requirements to the entire team. This is crucial to managing the team efficiently and to help avoid false consensus, where everyone thinks they know what the end product is supposed to look like, but, in fact, have a different understanding of it.  The PM works closely with the Product Owner, Tech Lead and the Quality Assurance Lead and other stakeholders to define the scope of the project. It’s the PM’s job to ensure that developers understand what needs to be done in accordance with the criteria specified with the client.
  • Planner. Once the scope has been defined, the Project Manager establishes the plan of action. He/She plans the relevant process for software product development, setting clear goals and timelines. It’s important that these are realistic and aligned with team capabilities - otherwise, the deadlines won’t be met, the team will be demotivated, and the entire company will be strained. 
  • Reporter. The Project Manager also maintains all the relevant documentation for the project, including relevant reports and plans. The PM must also be able to identify potential risks, and once they occur, take all the measures necessary to eliminate them.

Project Manager’s goals in the project

  • Control. The ultimate goal for the Project Manager is to feel that he is in full control of every aspect of the custom software development project. To this end, he/she will be monitoring the progress of the development project and making sure every stage is completed within the set timeframe. He will also be keeping track of changes as they occur and making appropriate adjustments and communicating these changes whenever necessary. 
  • Problem-solving. A Project Manager is also oriented at solving any problems, to ensure the development can work smoothly and efficiently. If it occurs that the team’s capacity needs to be adjusted to meet the project requirements, the PM ensures this issue is addressed accordingly and support is provided quickly.
  • Risk-mitigation. An experienced Project Manager will be able to identify risks and mitigate them before they turn into actual problems. He keeps all stakeholders informed once certain risks have been identified and explains what needs to be done to adjust them.

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Project Manager’s value for the client

  • POC. The project manager acts as the main point of contact for the client. This aspect of the role is tremendously important because if the client wishes to make any adjustments to the custom software development project, the PM needs to understand what needs to be done and communicate it to the entire team as necessary.
  • Listener. The Project Manager takes part in the entire development project, from initial arrangements all the way to final release, offering the client his availability and support. He is keeping communications coherent and answers any questions as necessary (this includes project plans, budgets and cost estimations!).
  • Communicator. To this end, the Project Manager monitors the progress of the project and updates the client on a daily or weekly basis (or another timeframe, as agreed with the client). This aspect of the job is crucial for making the client believe the company they’re dealing with is worth their money and trust.
  • Support. The Project Manager is also responsible for managing post-release support. The client would report on any issues he finds with the final software product and it’s the PM’s responsibility to fix these bugs or make adjustments as necessary.

Related processes where Project Manager helps

  • Trust-building. The role of the Project Manager is instrumental in building trust with the client. A good PM understands he must be available to answer the questions from the client at all times, update him on the progress as appropriate and communicate those updates in a clear and concise way.
  • Relationship-building. While it’s crucial to maintain good relations with the client, it’s equally important to build good relations with every team member of the project. If the PM can’t cooperate with them, they will find it hard to meet the deadlines and ensure quality standards. 
  • Quality Assurance & Testing. While a Project Manager isn’t the one directly working on these processes, he has to supervise them to understand what additional tasks have to be completed or what issues need to be fixed to ensure the final product meets the client’s requirements. A person in this role informs the client about these developments as necessary. 
  • Evaluation. A dedicated Project Manager will also design and implement the relevant evaluation system for every project. This helps them and the entire team to understand what went well and what areas require improvement. In this way, he facilitates the professional growth of the entire team.

No matter the software project type, the Project Manager is responsible for the coordination, implementation, management, control, and realization, aligned with strategy, commitments, and goals of the project. To do that, the PM needs tools to manage every part of the delivery process such as Asana, Trello or JIRA. What is more Project Manager needs a reliable team to delegate some of the responsibilities. The team that works with PM consists of tech and non-tech specialists. Depending on the project, PM may need the support of the Business Analyst, Scrum Muster, Line Manager, Tech Lead, Solution Architect, recruitment team, and many more.

This article opens the series about Project Manager role in software development projects. The series is based on the best project management practices that we apply in every project in CSHARK and the knowledge we share is based on CSHARK Project Managers’ experience. Next guide about PM's role will be published soon. Follow our blog and don't miss out the article! 

cshark_magda-balut
Magdalena Bałut
A Project Manager at CSHARK. Has an enormous passion to deliver tailored solutions to very demanding customers.
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