How do you feel while starting a new project? Stressed out planning, organizing work, assembling a team? Project management in software engineering is never easy. However, some people feel differently — they know that project management is their cup of tea. The role of Project Manager is pushing for results, withstanding pressure from stakeholders, translating requirements to engineers, and affecting the project’s success by executing their responsibilities.  

What is the role of Project Manager? 

Let’s start with fundamentals. Many universities offer degrees and certificates in project management. In the broadest sense, they all define Project Manager roles and responsibilities much alike. For example, Northeastern University distinguishes five responsibilities shared by Project Managers across industries: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing. The latter responsibilities are named “a five-phase delivery life cycle” of the project in one of the articles published by PMI.  

Michele Sliger, Agile project management and the PMBOK® guide, presents how project management processes can be grouped. 

Role of Project Manager

Agile Fractal  Initiation Planning Executing Monitoring and Controlling Closing 
ProjectBusiness case or feasibility study Project kickoff and visioning meeting  Release roadmap planning Iterative and incremental delivery of working softwareRegular reviews of deliverables, progress, and processProject retrospectives 
ReleaseRoadmap and release definitionRelease planning meeting Iterative and incremental delivery of working softwareRegular reviews of deliverables, progress, and process  Release retrospectives 
IterationIteration planning meeting Iteration planning meeting Work features through to completion (includes testing) Task boards, burndown charts, daily stand-ups, acceptance of completed features Iteration demo, review, and retrospective 
Source: PMI 

By the way, the number, and manner of activities, which a PM is responsible for in traditional and Agile project management may differ. For example, a traditional Project Manager is responsible for completing the work defined in the project scope whereas an Agile PM is also responsible for communicating with non-product teams and managing relations with the client/vendor.  

If looking at particular tasks, Project Managers take part in the following activities usually: identify project stakeholders, set up a project scope, define objectives and steps to attain those, monitor and review the project scope, etc. Although these tasks are typical for any software development project, some may differ from project to project. That’s why it’s critical to define and agree upon the Project Manager’s roles and responsibilities before any new project. 

What developers expect from a PM 

Though a Project Manager has a typical set of skills, one should mind that some skills are particularly important for developers and others are critical for clients.   

Often, PMs and developers don’t get along because both sides can have different expectations. For example, a PM pushes for results delivered on time whereas engineers need more time for the development because of a recent change request. Both a PM and a client should clearly understand what developers expect from a person responsible for management. Here are the most crucial points to keep in mind: 

  1. A PM should make sure that every developer understands the project scope and requirements clearly.  
  2. Developers should be aware of any project changes related to the scope, timeline, team, etc. 
  3. Both developers and a client should regularly see project status reports to understand where they are at the moment. 
  4. Project Managers should be willing to communicate and give feedback to developers if anything is unclear for them or causes discomfort at work.   
  5. Many engineers expect PMs to study or understand their domain to manage client expectations more effectively. 

You see, developers require responsibility, empathy, and regular communication from Project Managers. So do clients.   

Here’s what one of our PMs, Daria Nechyporenko, says about her profession: “Project Manager is a connecting link between the project strategy and the individuals involved. Typically, we spend 70% of the time in communication with teams, clients, stakeholders. A good PM should timely provide a client with the appropriate state on the development progress, its risks and issues, timeline, resolve conflicts and other aspects of the development process.” Read a full interview with Daria. She shares her vision on why IT projects fail, and which rules to follow in order to avoid failures. 

What clients expect from a PM 

A PM helps clients understand project details, explains technical terms if needed, describes how the project goes, and many more. However, many clients imagine the list of Project Manager roles and responsibilities differently. Thus, it’s crucial to learn about customer expectations for the Project Manager, not to fail the further communication. So, for example, here are some things clients expect from Project Managers: 

  1. Project Managers should answer clients’ questions as much as required.  
  2. Customers want to stay informed about project progress so they need regular meetings and reports.  
  3. Project Managers should be a chain between a client and engineers. A PM must translate the client’s vision and expectations to a team.  

And what about you? What do you expect from a PM? We’ll be glad to hear your thoughts!  

What makes a good Project Manager 

What skills or personality traits would you look for when interviewing a potential Project Manager? Would it be excellent communication skills, empathy, or the ability to follow structured processes? If you are to hire a project manager, be sure that you understand what a good PM means for you, your team, project stakeholders. Although your ideal PM’s portrait may look different, we’ve prepared a list of things a good PM should possess and be able to complete.   

According to Deborah Bigelow, PMP, the best Project Managers share some common traits, which are as follows: 

  • Clear vision and the ability to communicate it to others 
  • Discipline and the ability to complete work properly 
  • Excellent communication skills 
  • Passion to work and willingness to meet challenges 
  • Team-building skills 
  • The ability to listen to a team 
  • The ability to create a positive environment

So, as you see, being a good Project Manager is not only about managing a backlog, doing views in Jira, understanding Agile artifacts. It’s all about being a person able to motivate and lead the team. But how would you know if your PM is like that?  

project management

Some companies conduct informal inquiries with key project stakeholders. These can be a list of questions from a Director of Engineering or a Delivery Manager. Based on the answers, they can assess if their PM is good at building healthy relationships and a positive working environment.  

What does a Project Manager do?  

DICEUS PMs cover all contract work, payroll operations, team setup, employee retention, motivation programs, travel, and benefits management. This approach to PM’s work guarantees accelerated velocity when establishing dedicated software teams.  

Below is a full list of PM roles and responsibilities at DICEUS. By the way, we always confirm this with clients before the project kick-off. 

So, here are the responsibilities of a Project Manager at DICEUS:  

  1. Determine how stakeholders influence the project. 
  2. Determine team composition and agree on it with a client. 
  3. Plan and create a project communication strategy. 
  4. Manage project execution. 
  5. Regularly check if the team produces the pre-defined deliverables. 
  6. Monitor project progress. 
  7. Initiate necessary actions if something goes wrong. 
  8. Provide regular reports, metrics, documents. 
  9. Track engineers’ performance. 
  10. Manage resource allocation. 
  11. Manage project risks. 
  12. Adopt and apply QA strategy and standards. 

What does this list mean for you?  

Let’s translate how the role and responsibilities of Project Manager influence the client. First off, you know exactly who is in charge of executing coding, testing, deployment, etc. Secondly, you know when you have calls with a team. Thirdly, you get and monitor the project’s work breakdown comparing it with the actual progress.  

Having a Project Manager for your team means you are always sure about whom to contact in case of any issues. You don’t waste time controlling developers, measuring performance and velocity, and monitoring quality. For all this, you’ve got a trusted person who owns all project artifacts — a dedicated Project Manager.   

Think twice: If you are not going to hire a PM 

Customers play one of the most important roles in the project: they influence the scope, monitor the progress, ask for changes, and check the results. And very often, customers think they may do without a Project Manager. “What do Project Managers do what I couldn’t?” —  an average client would ask.  

Of course, it’s up to you whether to hire a Project Manager or not. However, you should be aware of the following challenges that may arise: 

Challenge 1 — Lack of managerial support to engineers 

Take a deep breath as now you should devote your time to studying some technical terms, understanding CI/CD, or even learning specific slang inherent to developers. The latter will need clear guidance on project tasks, milestones, objectives, etc.  

Challenge 2 — Project scope creep 

When a project grows, it’s becoming a nightmare known as a “scope creep”. Are you ready to control your own change requests and protect the scope boundaries? To keep project requirements, clear and consistent, you will have to review those regularly.  

Challenge 3 — Choosing the wrong technology 

If you have a solution/software architect who can guide you on selecting a technology stack, it’s nice. However, you can face a pressing need to decide on technology on your own. Choosing the wrong technology may cost you a fortune.  

The list of challenges is endless. Above are the most critical only. Hiring developers without a Project Manager won’t save you money. Indeed, you may make a lot of mistakes by leading the project yourself. Besides, project management will require much of your time that could be spent more effectively.   

Any recommendations to hire a good PM? 

If your project success depends on a PM, what things would you pay attention to most when choosing a person to manage engineers? We’ve got some recommendations here: 

  1. It would be nice for all members of the team to have prior experience relevant to the type of project they will be involved in. 
  2. A project manager should have prior leadership experience to manage a team, especially if it’s composed of more than two members.  
  3. A lead member must have a good knowledge of teammates’ jobs and responsibilities. He/she should understand the essential technical terms. 
  4. Project managers should be able to compose project documentation like reports, charts, metrics, on a regular basis.  

So, what’s better — a self-organizing team or a team managed by a professional PM? It’s up to you what option to choose. Here at DICEUS, we always recommend hiring a Project Manager to avoid chaos and get things done.

FAQ

What is project management in software development?

You can easily find a lot of answers to the question “What is project management in software engineering?” over the internet. They are quite similar to each other. According to PMI, it’s all about using a specific set of tools, knowledge, and techniques to control the execution of IT projects. The main goal of all these activities is to gain successful results and value via the development of a technology-powered software product. The process involves a lot of specialists, including PMs, software engineers and architects, quality assurance engineers, designers, analysts, and many more. Sometimes, teams require the involvement of industry experts who know a lot about the specifics of a given niche. For example, when DICEUS develops any project related to banking, the team can consult with various fintech or banking experts.

What is the role of Software Project Manager?

Let’s talk about the role of a Project Manager in software development. This is one of the critical roles in the IT industry as he or she orchestrates the entire process from the beginning to the end. A PM takes an active part in negotiating the project with all stakeholders, communicating the requirements to all team members, organizing and monitoring the process. Depending on the project management methodology, the level of responsibilities may differ. In some cases, a PM is responsible for billing, reporting, and resolving conflicts.