Project management


Project management

Project management is key to ensuring a product is completed on time and within budget. In terms of software development, project management refers to the planning, scheduling and organisation of a software development project.

There are a number of risks and challenges involved in developing a piece of software – changes in technology, scope creep, staff turnover, bugs and errors in code, etc. One of the purposes of project management is to account for these and mitigate them, and ultimately ensure that the project succeeds.

Project management also ensures that the stakeholders know the plan, the budget, and the timeframe for the project. This helps prevent the project from exceeding its budget or deadline.

What are the steps involved in project management?

There are a few different methodologies for managing projects, with the two most popular being the Agile and Waterfall approaches.

Terminologies vary between methodologies, but these six steps are the most common designations for the major phases in software development:

Initiation/planning – This is where the project goals and scope are defined.
Requirements – Once the goals have been clearly defined, the next step is determining what is needed to reach those goals. Requirements include team members, budget, time, skills and equipment.
Design – Here, the design document is drafted. This is a detailed plan for developing the piece of software. This document should outline the finished product’s functionality as well as the plans to build it, including the timeline and goals. The design document helps identify any potential roadblocks or hurdles before development starts, and can save time and money.
Build – During this phase, the piece of software is developed, turning the design into code. This is the longest phase of the project, and the process will differ based on the methodology being used. Agile uses an iterative approach, where a minimum viable product is created and tested before more functionality is added and tested in later iterations. In the Waterfall methodology, the entire piece of software is created before testing starts.
Testing – At this point, testing may involve quality assurance if the Agile methodology was used, as the bulk of testing will have taken place during the build phase. If the Waterfall methodology was used, then this phase will involve more comprehensive testing.
Implementation – Once the software has passed testing, the project is complete and the product can be published or deployed. Maintenance may be needed in the form of patches and updates.

Project management roles

There are a number of important roles within any project team. In large organisations, these may be split into junior and senior roles, and in smaller organisations there may be one person performing more than one role.

Project manager – The project manager’s main responsibilities are to identify the problem that the project is aiming to solve and develop the project plan. They define the project’s scope, oversee its progress, and monitor performance. Once the project has been completed, the project manager will compare the results to the initial objectives in order to determine how successful the project ultimately was.
Team lead – This person works as an intermediary between the project manager and the team creating the product. The team lead provides structure for the team and has the final say when there are disagreements within the team.
Project scheduler – The project scheduler is responsible for ensuring the development is completed on time. They create the schedule, including target deadlines for specific parts of the project.
Resource manager – Resource managers ensure that people and time allocated for the project are used efficiently and effectively. This includes assigning people to roles for which they are best suited and identifying skill gaps that can be filled with training.
Project coordinator – Usually a junior role within the project management team, the project coordinator generally works on the budgeting aspects of the project, such as tracking funding and spending.
Steering committee – The steering committee is a group of high-level stakeholders that is responsible for overseeing the project. They provide guidance, resolve issues brought to them by the project manager, and decide on whether or not changes should be made to the project’s scope, if changes are requested.

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