At Near Apogee, all of our development projects account for the use of a project manager. But why is that?
When I, Jo, first entered this space I didn't understand the need for a project manager - isn't managing a project kind of...everyone's responsibility?
I learned that the answer was yes - and no. Project managers are vital to the success of many software development projects. They look after budgets and make sure communication is clear to everyone involved. They deal with setting timelines and making sure they are met, communicating expectations and assigning and managing day to day tasks.
Another wonderful trait of a project manager is realism. Designers, developers, architects, and customers are often idealistic - all in their own ways - and a great project manager will keep expectations realistic. A project manager can look at a project and ask “Is that time estimate accurate?” to a developer. Or “Do you really want that feature? Because it is going to require another microservice.” Or to a software architect, “Is that in line with the budget goal of the customer? I think that is out of scope.”
For instance, we had a financial application project and it was our initial engagement with the project and the customer - and it was replacing a major and critical section of their infrastructure. The development team and the architect kept wanting to keep adding to the scope, because the team kept finding issues that could be improved and automated. Though these items would have improved the application, the project manager kept us marching toward the original goal of the application, thus keeping costs down and the timeline on track. We added those items to the backlog (a list of possible improvements) to be tackled in a purposeful effort later. This kept the project focused and saved the client time and money and is just one example of the benefit of a project manager.
At Near Apogee, we build web and mobile software applications - meaning that, depending on the size of the project, we may have anywhere from two to twelve developers working on different pieces of a single project. Making sure they are clear on their specific tasks and roles and working in harmony with the rest of the project is the vision of our project managers.
In software, we use project managers all the time. If you aren’t in software, what is your opinion of project managers? Do you like them or do you feel that they get in the way?