Project management is a vital part of any software development project. Developers and programmers work alongside project managers to manage timelines, tasks, budgets, and resources while keeping projects on time and within budget. As essential as project management is to development teams, it does come with its own set of challenges, advantages, and disadvantages in a development environment. In this tutorial, we examine the advantages and disadvantages of project management for developers.
What are the Advantages of Project Management for Developers?
We will begin by examining the advantages of project management for programmers, which include the following:
- Goals and objects that are more clearly defined
- Improved communication and collaboration amongst developers and stakeholders
- Better time management
- More effective allocation of resources and better resource management
- Quality control as a feature versus an afterthought
Goals and Objectives are Better Defined
One big advantage of project management for developers is that the process tends to make goals and project objectives more clear. This is because project managers collaborate with developers and stakeholders to create a project roadmap, which defines the project’s objectives, scope, and timeline, as well as lays the foundation for what resources will be needed and who the team will consist of.
These clearly defined goals and objectives help the development team understand what is expected of them, their role, and how the work they do fits within the overall project. Clearly set goals and objectives help developers and stakeholders keep focus and stay motivated, as they know what needs to be accomplished and the steps to get there.
Communication and Collaboration
Communication and collaboration are probably the most important element in terms of assuring the success of any software development project. The project management process, regardless of methodology, helps improve communication and collaboration between developers, stakeholders, and project managers, who act as intermediaries between programmers and clients. This helps ensure all parties are on the same page and understand the project goals in the same manner.
Further, project managers make sure, through the communication of their needs, that developers are allocated the resources they require to complete their work. Project managers also promote collaboration amongst team members, so that everyone is working together towards a common goal – the finished software product.
Speaking of communication and collaboration, we have a list of the Top Collaboration Tools for Developers to help you increase your team’s communication.
With the right project management processes and tools, developers are able to better manage their time and tasks. Project managers create timelines and schedules breaking down the elements of the project into tasks and subtasks that are more manageable, making it easier for programmers to prioritize and organize their work. This organization helps developers stick to deadlines and focus on delivering high-quality work on time. Another benefit of effective time management is that it helps reduce stress and burnout among programmers and stakeholders, as they are better able to work more efficiently and feel less burdened.
Better Resource Allocation
Managing and allocating resources can be a difficult task for most project managers. Fortunately, project management helps in the resource allocation process, as most project management tools have the ability to track and monitor resources needed and used, as well as figure out which resources are needed for each team member and department. In general, at the start of a project, project managers work with developers and other key stakeholders to identify what resources will be needed to complete a project. These resources can include:
- Hardware, including onsite and offsite servers
- Software, which can include project management software, collaboration tools, developer tools, and development environments
- Personnel and tech support
- Training, books, and education
Additionally, a good project manager will make certain that resources are utilized effectively and seek to actively reduce waste and maximize efficiency across the team. These steps keep the project within budget and makes sure that resources are available if and when they are needed.
Quality Control as a built-in Feature
Another advantage of project management has to do with quality control. While quality control is pretty standard in a software development environment and is part of the software development lifecycle (SDLC), one of the key roles of a project manager is to add an extra layer to the quality control process. A good project manager of a software development team will establish quality standards and review processes that developers can follow throughout the life of the project.
Further, project managers also conduct regular reviews and tests (or have people test) to ensure that the project is meeting set standards as new modules or features are added. These efforts and additional layer of quality control help ensure the project meets quality standards, and reduce the risk of defects, issues, or bugs in the final product.
Disadvantages of Project Management for Developers
Even though project management is quite useful to a software development team, like anything, it does have its disadvantages, which can include:
- Added costs and investment
- Lack of flexibility
- Requires more management
- Can lead to micromanagement
- Can lead to conflicts with software development methodologies
Additional Costs and Investment
Perhaps the primary disadvantage to project management for developers is that it comes with an additional cost and investment. For instance, the hiring of a project manager adds to the project budget, which can be a difficult ask for smaller software development teams and startup companies. Project management software and tools are another expense, many of which work on a subscription basis and may require investment in terms of personnel training and management. At the end of the day, however, project management is considered to pay for itself if implemented properly, as the reduction of costs from gain efficiency, risk mitigation, waste reduction, and product outcome usually outweighs any costs of implementation.
Lack of Flexibility
Project management can sometimes be rigid, leading to the inflexibility of developers and programmers and their processes. Project managers need to create strict timelines and schedules that developers must stick to in order to be effective at their jobs, which can cause difficulties when issues arise. In turn, this often leads to frustration among programmers and stakeholders who may feel unable to properly adapt to changes. Strict timelines might also lead to a focus on task completion versus the exploration of alternative solutions that could be more beneficial in the long term.
Requires More Management
Without a doubt, project management will require more administrative work – if not assigned to a project manager, whose sole job is to manage the development project, this can lead to time taken away from actual development work. Developers are often required to attend meetings, provide frequent status updates, give feedback, and produce additional documentation, all of which detracts from their coding time. The additional administrative burden can especially become challenging for developers who normally focus primarily on programming and development work.
Risk of Micromanagement
As you may imagine, implementing project management into your software development team can easily lead to micromanagement. Project managers are responsible for overseeing the project, and the temptation to become too involved in the minutia of development work can lead to micromanagement and the overstepping of boundaries. This, in turn, can frustrate developers who will feel they are being constantly monitored and creativity stifled. Further, micromanagement can lead to a lack of trust between the project manager, developers, remote programmers, and stakeholder, impacting the success of the project and straining relationships for future projects.
Conflict with Software Development Methodologies
If project managers employ a project management methodology that does not align with previous or current software development methodologies, conflicts can quickly arise. For example, Agile and Learn software development focus on adaptability and agility versus strict timelines and schedules, which can be at odds with project management principles of opposing methodologies. To avoid this, it is best to ensure that the project management methodology and software development methodologies align, which is fairly simple, as the two often go hand in hand. However, you would never want to mix, for instance, Waterfall software development with Agile project management.
Final Thoughts on the Advantages of Project Management for Developers
In this tutorial we discussed both the advantages and disadvantages of implementing project management in a software development environment. We learned that project management provides developers with clear project goals and objectives, improves communication and collaboration, and ensures resources are allocated properly, all while keeping an eye on quality control, budget, and timelines.
We also learned that project management comes with disadvantages in a software development environment, including additional costs and investment, less flexibility, additional administrative work, the threat of devolving into micromanagement, and the possible conflict between project management and software development methodologies. To avoid these issues, developers, stakeholders, and project managers must work together and find a balance between the benefits and disadvantages of project management. Doing so will help ensure the success of the project and help keep the working environment positive and productive for the development team and other members.