For many of our clients, attempting to develop software in-house was their first course of action.
Financially speaking, in-house development can sometimes make sense. However, most of the time, the bandwidth and true expertise required are better found outside of the office. For businesses that opt to outsource their development projects, there are considerations and preparatory work that must be addressed before starting. These initial tasks, along with the continuous monitoring of the project, require certain management skills and experience to mitigate development hiccups along the way.
For most of our client projects, there are a handful of people involved in the development process on the client-side. Typically, this list includes key stakeholders, such as CEOs and CFOs in mid-sized companies to individuals in upper-level management at Fortune 2000 partners, as well as any technical employees required to assist in the transfer of data and information, login credentials, etc.
Of those involved, there are usually one or two individuals who guide the direction of the software development project. These are the people who have a major impact on how smoothly the development project goes. When your business is determining who these people are, it’s important that they have existing project management skills, a deep understanding of the business operations, and an eagerness to learn about how software development works.
These are some of the most impactful skills your internal project manager(s) should have:
An Understanding of Development Concepts
Complete awareness of software development concepts isn’t critical (or expected) from day one, but a willingness to learn about the Agile Methodology, scrum, testing, security and design is extremely important. 7T takes a unique approach to our clients’ learning experience – through our discovery process, we work to understand the inner workings of their business while educating the employees involved about how the development process will progress, from start to finish.
Individuals who take a proactive approach to learn about software development will undoubtedly have a leg up and help the project move along more smoothly. Businesses can leverage some of the many training resources available, from Lynda.com’s courses on systems thinking and project management, to Scrum.org’s professional certifications. These will prepare employees to work with the external development team more effectively and with more realistic expectations (which reduces scope creep, miscommunications, and other common issues).
An obvious necessity for any project manager is project ownership – a sense of responsibility for the project and eagerness to see it through. Giving a capable person ownership of a project grants them the authority to make (at least some) decisions without the need for continual approval from higher-ups. Unfortunately, there are plenty of employees who show up for work for a paycheck, but take little pride in their job. The project manager of your business’ next major investment in software development should be someone who’s dedicated to their career and anchored in your organization.
For the project manager to succeed in their role, they’ll need to establish clear expectations about their capacity for decision making. They’ll also need to have a reporting process in place so that the rest of the company is aware of how development is progressing. Reporting is particularly important for those in management who are invested in the project. Consistent communication will help the project to move forward smoothly and reduce the pressure of constant requests for status updates. One benefit of the Agile Methodology is the emphasis on open communication with the developers. Additionally, progress updates after a sprint is completed will help project managers feel confident in the ownership of their company’s development project.
Adept Time Management & Delegation Skills
Time management is one of the most essential aspects of software development. In fact, it’s the foundational element of the Agile Methodology, which works on two-week cycles. This software development management process is leveraged by 7T and many other software development firms.
When choosing your key project managers, you should always choose someone who understands their own strengths, weaknesses, and time constraints, and can effectively delegate tasks and oversee outcomes. In many cases, this person is a humble leader who knows they may not be the best at choosing color schemes or communicating how the company utilizes data but can pass those responsibilities on to someone more suitable.
Problem Solving Skills
Software development is all about solving business problems with software. So, an internal project manager who is solutions-oriented is an indispensable asset. For internal project managers who are new to the software development process, it’s not unusual to feel intimidated and a bit overwhelmed. However, when you’re working with an expert development partner like 7T, it’s okay to set those feelings aside and march onward with the end-goal of success in mind.
No matter how complicated a software problem may appear, an expert development team will think critically and systematically until they find a solution. It’s best to have project managers with a similar mindset who can help propose internally-informed ideals to the development team. Additionally, they should provide accurate, transparent information about the business, its operations, data, and potential sticking points the development team may encounter. This ability to collaborate internally and externally will help ensure the project deadlines are met throughout every development sprint.
Awareness of Aesthetics & Usability
Your internal project manager doesn’t need to be the most creative or design-minded person in your organization, but an understanding of your company’s branding and UI/UX concepts is helpful. These pieces represent your company’s personality and app usability. And, if we haven’t harped on it enough in past blogs, creating a user interface and user experience that is easy-to-use and spurs people to take action is the be-all, end-all of your software application. After all, if people don’t use your product, the software development ROI plummets.
Therefore, work to ensure your team is clear on the aesthetic your business needs to achieve and trust one or two individuals to assist the external design team in making the design decisions that are best for your company.
At 7T, we understand how difficult it can be to assemble a team that works together to accomplish unparalleled success for your business. Fortunately, we have that team in place and are thrilled to offer their services to your organization. But, we also know that with the right education, your internal team can learn to guide your software development projects in a way that ensures optimal long-term success.
If you’re ready to embark on a custom software development journey, the team at 7T is ready to help! We can provide your business with more information on what to expect from the software development process and what it will require from your internal team. We can also help your decision-makers understand how software development works, the benefits and challenges, and the cutting-edge technologies like augmented reality, IoT, and data management that will take your project to the next level.