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This article was contributed by author Grace Murphy.
Project management can mean vastly different things depending on the industry. Here are the five most effective tips to streamline it in the tech sector.
Defining the Goal is Critical and Precedes Planning
The term ‘goal’ refers to the intent behind the project in question. For example, if a software development team is developing software for a delivery company embedded deeply into the local construction supply chain, they must know what the purpose of the software is, in no unclear terms. They should be aware of exactly what the client needs and expects, so that their efforts are not wasted on irrelevant features.
Defining the Fixed and the Variable Parameters Throughout Multiple Planning Stages
There should be a major planning stage before the project begins, but that cannot be the only planning stage in the development of an entire product. Adaptive, frequent planning and re-planning is in fact a core facet of agile project management, but we will get to that later on.
As far as the parameters in any of the planning stages are concerned, the project manager must assign and announce them clearly to each and every one of his/her team members. A few of the most common parameters in tech or almost any field of work are:
- Short-term goals
- Long-term goals
- Final goals
- Individual task assignments with associated deadlines
- Changes made in the above or any other project parameters in between steps
Adopt an Iterative Approach Towards Product Development
An iterative approach can also be called incremental development of a product, be it a customized software solution or a dedicated piece of hardware. Instead of releasing only the final and finished product directly to the client/customers, the company will first release a usable version/variant of the product while it is still in development. After getting due feedback from the client/customers regarding the early version’s pros and cons at that time, they will make adequate adjustments to it, and release another variant in development later on.
This will continue as many times as is feasible/needed for the project. By the time their final deadline arrives, the team is expected to provide the best possible product that closely matches almost all, if not all, expectations. How close the final variant is to perfection is often indicative of how well the team was able to adopt agile project management.
This is just a small introduction to one of the critical facets of agility, but in order to incorporate agile into your system, check this comprehensive guide to agile project management. It goes into very specific details regarding the integration process.
Managing communication is not as easy as simply keeping the two-way communication channels open at all times, although that is certainly part of it. There must be an approachable line of easy communication between all employees and management professionals connected to the project, which might sometimes include multiple teams and their respective leaders as well.
Management of the communication line, however, is more related to how you deal with all the suggestions that are being communicated. There are definitely pros to keeping open channels of communication, but when multiple individuals are allowed to share opinions, it can get confusing, contradicting and even conflicting at times. You do not want a bottleneck because you have too many ideas, so you’ll need to adopt another facet of agile project management to deal with it. Make swift and conclusive decisions as a project manager, but do at least listen to the relevant opinions first.
Keep Everything Transparent
One of the core facets of any lean or agile management technique is transparency. Use your agile project management software to visualize the progress of each step individually, and as a whole. Add transparency by letting everyone connected to the project have (at least) viewing access to the project’s visualization. In addition to identifying bottlenecks and keeping collaboration efforts seamless, it also has another psychological advantage which keeps the project flowing quicker than it would otherwise.
We, as human beings, tend to put in that extra effort when we know that someone is watching. As a result, no one wants to open the system and find out that they are slowing down the project by being inattentive while everyone else is aware of it in real time! This also allows project managers to identify and applaud talented hard workers, which is essential for morale boosting and also for future team selections.