Software Development Project Management: How To Stay On Track

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Ideas are easy; it’s the execution that’s hard. Whether you plan on building your latest app in-house or hiring an agency to help, it’s essential that someone is thinking about project management right out of the gate. Development projects derail on a regular basis, so here are some tips to make sure it doesn’t happen to yours.

Create a functionalities and requirements documentation

This is something that often gets overlooked, but it’s an essential step if you want to ensure your developers have a clear understanding of how this project aligns with your business needs, and what your expected functionalities and outcomes are. Have a writer or other business professional create a clear, concise functionality and business requirements document that will remove any ambiguities and explain how the end product is expected to function. If you’re using someone outside of your company, ensure they sign an NDA.

Put someone in charge

Whether you hire a project manager or assign a tech or team lead, someone needs to be in charge of this project. All your team members will have their own specialized tasks and projects, but someone needs to be standing back to organize the circus. Workflows, deadlines, changes, design, technology, the list goes on.

Find people who specialize rather than generalize

In some areas, a generalist will do you very well - unfortunately, software development isn’t typically one of those cases. Front-end and back-end development are very different skills, not to mention user experience and design. For the best results, you want a small team of experts who know their niches inside and out.

Select what project development processes will be utilized

Decide beforehand what your processes will be to ensure the method you select aligns with your team and makes sense for your project. Do your research in this area, as there are very distinct processes to model. For example, you’ve likely already heard of the popular Agile and Waterfall methods. The process you follow will drastically affect your overall plan, so make sure you fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of the model you choose.

Get clear on the project scope and commit to it

Scope creep is real and it has successfully derailed and delayed countless development projects. Decide upfront what your overall scope is, and don’t allow your team to deviate. To avoid problems, confusion, and misaligned expectations, ensure everyone is on board with the overall plan.

Schedule and execute periodic reviews

This is going to be a process, and there needs to be checks and balances along the way. If problems are appearing in one area, they will affect others - you need someone (whoever you put in charge) to schedule regular updates to stay on track and catch problems early.

Keep your project management communications in one place

Don’t rely on email strings and sticky notes to keep everyone on the same page. There are countless project management software tools out there, like Slack and Trello, that will have a major positive impact when used properly. When your team isn’t physically located in the same building, these tools become even more crucial and help to create an online workspace. Communication is key for any software development project, so make sure there’s an action plan to facilitate it.

Start any project with those 7 aspects covered, and you should have what you need to stay on track and have a successful project.