Project management: why do we (developers) dislike it?

By Kennedy Kirui
iHub Consulting
  Published 18 Feb 2016
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When you mention project management to a developer, what comes to their mind? To most, it is the image of someone constantly berating them for missing deadlines. On the other hand, to many project managers handling developers is, to quote a colleague, similar to herding a group of cats. Quite harsh! Unlike building a house or a bridge, developing software is a bit more complicated. What you start out with is hardly similar to the end product. Additionally, and please don’t quote me, the grapevine suggests that the kind of individuals software development attracts probably aren’t the easiest to work with. As a result, there is the need to employ different methods to deliver software projects. We will be running a project management session at the iHub on the 3rd of March 2016 at the iHub. If you are already sold and will be there for the training you can sign up on the Craftsmanship Series page.

Are you still not convinced? Let us look at project management from different perspectives.

The developer's perspective

Developers want to be left alone to code. Doing project updates means less time spent building the product. However, seeing that it is still the client who signs the cheque, you can’t hide and work on things in isolation. It is important to develop a mechanism that ensures developers can provide updates easily. iHub Consulting, having worked with freelancers for the past 2.5 years, has experimented on different techniques to allow developers to do updates painlessly. During the PM training we will look at how as a developer you can use releases and commits to quickly communicate progress when working with a team. We will also explore how tools like Slack can reduce the your communication overheads.

The project manager’s perspective

The tendency among most project managers is to only communicate to developers about timelines. The most common question is why a deadline wasn’t met. Most times this creates friction between the project manager and the development team. It almost feels that the project manager is on the client’s side. Clearly, more project managers need to understand the dev team better. At this point I would love to quote a good article I read on UxPin:

Good project managers are masters of logistics. Great project managers are masters of relationships.

Project managers therefore need to invest more time and energy to learn how each developer in the team works and how they can get them to do their best. During the training, we will explore how project managers can work better with developers.

What if I work alone?

Quite a number of freelancers still work as individuals. Consequently, they never have a designated project manager. The assumption then is that there is no project manager in that particular project. This is a lie. Similar to a startup with one developer that claims there is no sales person. Such a project has a project manager who also happens to be the developer. That individual developer also acts as the project manager. The techniques used might look different but at the end of the day it is the same thing. During the training we will explore techniques lone freelancers can use to manage their products.

The case for SCRUM

Eugene Mutai did a great piece some time back on how it is the age of tools and not superheroes. In the post, he argues that individual brilliance can only take you so far nowadays. To achieve great things you need to work with a team. Working with teams isn’t easy. Fortunately, we now have different tools and techniques that makes this easier. During the project management our focus will be on SCRUM. Scrum is an Agile framework that can help you execute projects better. Jacob Chencha recently published an article outlining 4 easy steps you can use to practice Scrum. During the PM training we will run a scrum workshop. We will cover the following key topics:

  1. Agile Principles and SCRUM
  2. Roles
  3. Activities
  4. Effective use of Kanban board in scrum

We encourage participants to come as teams where possible. However, if you can’t, we'll pair you with a team for the purpose of the exercise. Convinced? You can sign up for this training on the Craftsmanship Series page. It will only cost you KES 1,000. See you then!

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