Software development is becoming more indispensable in the world and the opportunities associated with it are boundless. Most of the companies in the field need a project manager to make sure that what is delivered meets client requirements, is delivered on time and that the client is satisfied with project’s quality.
With the rapid technological advancements, what has previously applied to one project can no longer apply to the next one. Therefore there is an increased risk factor that a project manager can handle using techniques, tools, methods, models and guidelines in order to mitigate external and internal risk factors.
Functions of a project manager
A project manager must set clear goals for his team and pave the way towards their achievement by providing direction. He must build a homogenous team comprised of people with different skills and explain to each one what is the assigned role and the related tasks, also helping when blockages come along.
Interlink between clients, the team and his superiors
The project manager is the interlink between the clients, the team and his superiors, assuring the communication flow between all parties involved. He works together with software developers, designers and business analysts, monitoring each step of the project and making sure deadlines are diligently met.
He must provide help whenever the team needs it and form a cohesive team by establishing a climate of collaboration and trust.
Duties of a project manager
Project planning. Involves the use of schedules like Gantt charts to plan and monitor software development project progress. First, the project scope is determined, then the appropriate methods completing the project are identified. The inner linkages between activities are determined using a network diagram (representation of nodes/activities and connections between them). Once a list of activities, duration and deliverables are completed, the CPM (critical path method) can be applied. CPM calculates the longest path of planned activities and the earliest and latest that each activity can start and finish, without having an impact on project’s duration.
Scope management. Starts with a clear definition of what are the requirements. A failure in the completion of this task can result in more work, deadline overdue, cost escalation or even failure. Requirements must be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, reliable, time-bound). After the requirements are identified, clearly stating what will and what will not be done, they will be translated into activities.
Gantt chart. Is a horizontal bar chart where bars represent activities (on the Ox axis) and time scheduled for the software development project (on the Oy axis).
Project estimation. Depending on the software size, can be done using line of codes or function points. In terms of effort, it can be estimated taking into account the need of personnel and man-hour needed to complete the software development project. The project manager must correctly estimate the time and cost of all resources involved (software, hardware, licenses, support etc), but also allocate budget for unexpected situations.
Project scheduling. Represents planning activities by using a time frame. The project is broken into jobs allocated to team members, each job containing several tasks that must be clearly described.
Project risk management. There are certain risks that might threaten the completion of the software development project, therefore they must be foreseen and provided with a back-up plan. There are several types of risks: business impact risks (costs associated with late delivery, systems with which the product must be connected, sophistication of end users), customer related risks (client willingness to participate in reviews, customer’s understanding of software engineering process), development environment risks (are the software tools integrated with one another?, are team members trained in using each tool?), technical issue risks (are software tools used in the testing process?, are quality metrics collected for all software projects?), etc.
Project execution and monitoring.
This phase includes reporting the status of activities: pending, work in progress, finished and that of milestones.
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