Why Successful Software Comes From Great Management

Relation between Effective management & Successful Software Development

How project management influences custom software development

Why good project management is essential for effectively managing offshore software development projects

Here we have discussed the reasons a pragmatic approach towards project management is an essential component of delivering software development projects successfully

Takeaway 1:

Code is the source of a project’s success, but effective management is the defining feature.

Takeaway 2:

The quality of your relationship with management will dictate the ultimate value of a software development project.

Takeaway 3:

Companies like HST have the experience and pedigree required to manage offshore software development projects.

Custom software development is the more challenging route for both customer and vendor technical team, but the rewards to the business will outperform an off-the-shelf solution. That is, of course, assuming that the project management team delivers.

When things go wrong, code is rarely the culprit. Rather, it is the symptom of human error. There are multiple stakeholders to bring onboard, and potentially a range of technical teams to manage across several locations. That’s why the most valuable asset a vendor can bring to the project is a strong, expert management team.

Why Is Good Management Essential to deliver Software Projects?

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Hiring the very best software developers is of paramount importance. Steve Jobs once said, “the difference between superb programmers and average ones is 25:1”.

However, they can’t do it alone. A superb management team can make or break a project, and that’s too big a task to leave to anyone unqualified.

HST not only has experienced developers but also the managers required to execute offshore software development projects. Our managers oversee the project from start to finish, and provide one point of communication for everyone to check in. They have a birds-eye view and have the knowledge to be able to forecast issues, and plan accordingly. They keep everyone working together smoothly, so the project can progress.

Different roles: project manager, people manager, and software architect

Ultimate responsibility lies with the Project Manager, who makes sure that the project meets key deliverables, such as adhering to budget and timescale. Good managers never settle. They are constantly exploring new techniques, staying on top of industry developments, and exploiting any opportunity to gain a competitive edge. They need to have an acute understanding of strategies to improve best practices, productivity and process, methodology and quality control, to name a few.

People management skills are vital too. People managers have to hire, motivate and mentor a diverse team that may include front- and back-end developers and programmers, QA engineers, system admins, and more. A good people manager will ensure that each team member fulfils their responsibilities, regardless of the individual skillset.

At HST, the senior technical lead is the software architect, whose role is to set up the project in three key areas:

  • Software Dev methodology – whether Waterfall, Agile, Scrum etc.
  • Tech stack – the choice of coding tools or languages
  • Coding and testing standards – from API design guidelines to unit testing

These challenges require a technical lead, ideally with significant industry experience in the areas for which the product is being developed.

As managers are tasked with the overall project, they don’t necessarily need to know how to code. However, technical skills may be an indicator of how well they can recognise if something is taking too long, or not being created to requirements. This means hiring managers from programming backgrounds is the ideal solution.

What Can I Expect From Offshore Project Management?

A successful client/vendor relationship is built on trust, communication, and a single vision. Some clients prefer a hands-off approach, and this is fine is if you’re happy for your software development outsourcers to take the lead. However, if you want control over the project, you need to be willing to communicate openly. Done right, the client/vendor relationship can be an immersive, collaborative one.

Everyone involved needs to understand (and review regularly) the following:

  • Project deliverables
  • Project goals and benefits
  • Quality standards & Metrics
  • Risks and issues
  • Budget, time and resources required
  • Definition of completeness

Continuous communication between management and developers is vital to make sure everyone is aligned with KPIs, and liaisons should be regular and swift if there’s any diversion from the intended objective. If there is a bug, for example, a good manager must alert the client to the nature of the bug, its severity, and the estimated time to resolution.

Inevitably, costs do stray from the original budget, but quick action will stop a glitch becoming a crisis. Size and reputation are no guarantee of success. Some of the most notable software project losses have involved globally recognised names, including:

  • Allstate Insurance Co. – lost $130 million on an automation system
  • Hershey Foods – lost $151 million on ERP system
  • Ford Motor Co. – lost $400 million on purchasing system

Clients are best served when presented with a variety of engagement models to manage costs, such as:

  • Fixed price, deadlines, project requirements – good for a single development project
  • Dedicated offshore resources– skilled developers offshore, without the need to hire, manage etc. Good for projects that are constantly evolving.
  • Pay as you go– billed on time and materials. Good for projects with a one-off requirement.

If you’re planning a custom software development project, bear in mind that the actual coding phase is only a single piece of the greater puzzle. Using offshore developer resources is commonplace, but that doesn’t mean all vendors are experienced in managing offshore teams. Choose wisely.

How HST Provides Great Management for Offshore Software Projects

Our extensive experience of software development projects confirms that the most effective combination is to bring project managers, people managers and software architects into each project to ensure that delivery is aligned with the initial budget, brief and timescale. The crucial distinction is that we keep management functions onshore in Ireland, rather than also assigning these roles offshore. For the client, this allows for a closer working relationship with the management team, and one that is more in tune with the culture and expectations of the EU.