Posted by: ahmedashfaque | April 22, 2014

Software project management: perspective on people management


In literature and in real life i have come across many project managers who argue that just throw some good people on your project, take care of their needs, make them feel that they are kings and lo and behold, you project will be sprinting like a champion athlete and you will have a dream run with your project. Is it really so?

When we discuss software project management, we know that software project management is all about managing resources, time, budget, vendors, customers and technology. Managing project team is only one part of project management. It is important but other aspects are also equally important. You need to manage your customer, vendors, time, budget and technology as well. Also the most important thing is that the product which you are building meets all the quality parameters.

The bottom line is that you always have to be answerable about your project performance. that means you always have to look at your project metrics and find out how you are performing.

Your project team is pampered or not but if it is delivering; only then you will be considered as successful.

In my view, motivating you project team is the best you can do so that your team delivers on time and within budget. You can motivate your people using performance bonus, better work environment, flexibility in work hours etc.

I have experienced that most people keep postponing their assignments and waste their time on their trivial pursuits and kill time during office hours. This happens when their piece of work is supposed to last for a week or longer. So they will kill the first 3-4 days and work on the last day to finish their assignment. This will result in late delivery and will create problem for you. the best way to deal with such people is to break their assignments into smaller pieces which can be completed within the same day or less. This will prevent them from wasting their time. You also have to check and ensure that their work gets completed in time.

The other problem on people management aspect is that if more than one person is responsible for a work then invariably it will create problem for you. You always make sure that only one person is responsible for a piece of work. So always divide your work among your team members and make sure that somebody is responsible for each piece of work.

A well defined process is always better than a free for all environment. You should never allow your team to circumnavigate well defined procedures. This will result in lot of problems later. for example, if one person has developed a product feature without documentation and it looks good. this person later leaves the project and joins some other company. Later if this feature has integration issues with other features or it is found out later that the feature was not developed as per specifications then working back will become extremely difficult for you. Footprint is always important so that you can trace back.

Dealing with attrition is the most difficult aspect for any software project manager. Your motivational incentives can work here. But you should always be prepared for some attrition. You should always be in touch with Human Capital department to keep a pipeline of potential replacements ready. At the same time make sure that the person who is leaving should give knowledge transfer sessions to the person who will be replacing so that the new person can quickly come on the same page and become productive.

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