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Tech Project Management: Simplified Complexity

Project Managers

Tech Project Management
Simplified Complexity

They say great developers make great tech project managers and usually it’s down to the detail-oriented nature of their jobs. And while that’s true, the underlying benefit of this detail lies in simplicity or rather, a lack of complexity.
I’ve learned a good project – like well written code – is low complexity, easily managed, repeatable and delivered on time.
The two roles draw comparison as they have always worked in tandem. However, now that tech permeates every industry, developers and project managers are joined at the hip!
That said, project managers don’t have to know write lines of code, but an understanding of technical processes can enhance project success. It also allows for clear communication to both clients and teams.
Declan Ryan, Managing Director of the Project Foundry has a saying; “keep it simple,” and while that sounds straightforward – it requires an understanding, or appreciation of the subject matter.

“Having a clear understanding of the technical conversations that happen allows the project manager to develop trust and rapport with both the team and client” said Ryan.

In this post, we’ll be exploring how even a fundamental knowledge of code can keep a project on track (and how you can become the perfect medium between developers and clients).

Project Team Selection

If possible, an ideal technology project team should have people with the skills, desire and time to complete the project. This is particularly true of greenfield projects (new, innovative projects), where there is no clear metric for success.
Developers use an array of languages and technologies, some more suited to a project than others, although there’s often flexibility. Through an understanding of these languages and technologies, a project manager can cherry-pick a development team, with skills that suit the project and complement each other.

“In every project there will be a need for people with certain technical / coding skill-sets. It is important when selecting the project team that only those with suitable qualities and skill-sets are added to the team” continued Ryan.

Example: An aspect of your project needs a C developer, while the only person with the time to commit is a Python developer. You’ll learn how these languages compliment each other enabling more creative use of available resources.
As is often the case on software development projects, the scope will evolve or pivot from the original plan. An exceptional project manager will understand how to communicate these changes clearly and in a way that their development team will understand.

Knowledge Transfer

One of the most underrated risks to a project is poor knowledge transfer, and it is also one of the most underrated attributes of a successful project manager.
Knowledge transfer is the ease at which acquired knowledge permeates throughout a business, but this starts with identifying what needs transferring. The use of cross-functional teams will continue to rise as the technology becomes a vital part of every business.

“One of the most sought after attributes of project managers is a strong ‘experienced based’ grounding in the specific industry in which they are required to deliver projects and add value” said the Project Foundry’s Peter Blissett.

This Project Management Institute (PMI) Report outlines poor communication as one of the major reasons for project failure at 33%. With technology projects, the short supply of managers who understand coding specifics can damage project communication — delaying and over-budgeting projects.
The same 2015 PMI Report outlines that the project management industry have invested in a 20% increase in facilitating knowledge transfer.
Managers can spend a lot time of time decoding developer jargon, simplifying developer data and translating it into information for a client. Through an understanding of the software development lifecycle, a top ICT manager can stay on track, keep their team informed of any changes and manage client expectations.

Accurate, Clear Reporting

The most successful way of managing client expectations for project managers is through 100% transparency – warts and all. As mentioned above, project failure often comes down to poor communication – this includes clients and teams.
Whether it’s a weekly report, or an end-project review – a technologically attuned project manager will be able to offer clients both an executive summary and detailed reporting with 100% accuracy.

“Having this insight to coding allows you to highlight and plan for key items to be included in your knowledge transfer process. This can save you and your client huge pain in the future.” continued Ryan.

By offering your client a wide, unfiltered view of your progress, they can have confidence in the project’s execution and the team’s ability to deliver going forward.
While a client always needs to be in the loop, the rise in agile project philosophy has brought on faster delivery, ever-evolving project scope and at times, a lot of murkiness – particularly in bigger organisations.

Agile Projects

Agile projects have iterative (step-by-step) processes that generally have fixed timeframes and ever changing scope. Agile development was introduced to increase speed-to-market and integrate testing, but this can place huge pressure on teams to deliver.
Agile allows project managers to detect bugs and other risks to a software project during the step-by-step releases. Through clear communication, a technically informed manager can flag risks and changes  to stakeholders while minimising productivity damage.

“Having the ability to understand this new Agile World and be the medium between client and developer, to translate between technical and non-technical stakeholders can really differentiate you.” said Ryan.

The need for technical knowledge to forecast project feasibility, mitigate risk, and manage changes in technologies will continue to grow and it’s vital that project managers grow with the demand.
To find out more about maximising your Project Management acumen, download a brochure for Tech Fundamentals for Business Professionals. Talk tech, complete projects.
This post was written with expertise from our friends at The Project Foundry. For efficient, effective project delivery, visit theprojectfoundry.com[CFBPBroDownload]