Importance of a Project Manager & Communication in Software Development

by Maria Birger

Sometimes communication throughout a software development project can feel like translating a foreign language. As an idea is funneled from a client, to the development team, and into code, sometimes the meaning and priorities behind the technology become distorted.

As this game of broken telephone between clients and programmers is drawn out, precious time is wasted, and project budgets get pushed to the limits.

When it comes to development programmers will work hard to meet the expectations of clients, while clients do their best to define goals and features. However, misunderstandings between these two parties are not uncommon.

This is where a project manager (PM) comes in as the bridge between developer performance and client expectations. Never underestimate the importance of a project manager’s role in software development. A PM is vital for many reasons but none so important as communication, the translator between client and programmer. 

Let’s delve a little deeper into this subject:

Why communication is important in software development?

Communication is the key part of any professional project that involves multiple parties, and it is similarly important in the software development industry.

There are some stereotypes about a programmer’s communication ability. In short, most developers aren’t famous for their communication skills. Whether this rings true for your team or not it does not take away the importance of the role of communicating in a software development project.

There are a lot of moving parts in software development that need to be discussed before, throughout, and in the concluding stages of a project. Whether you are developing with your own in-house team or outsourcing, here are some components to keep in mind.

It is important to set expectations about development cost, project scope, time lines, and many other project specific details. A client may have many ideas and expectations going into a project, and communicating the feasibility of these things is vital to avoid disappointment, missing deadlines, and misdistributing a project budget.

Strong communication in software development bridges the expectations of a client and a programmer’s performance. Similarly, if anything unexpected happens, or circumstances within a project change it is important to express this so that all involved parties can accommodate these changes accordingly.

As it stands this is easier said than done and may require third party mediation.

This is where the project manager comes in.

What is the role of a project manager in software development?

Above, we hint that there is a need for a bridge between client expectations and developer performance. A project manager’s role in a software development project is to become the human embodiment of that bridge.

Software programmers and their clients may not always see eye to eye on certain aspects of the development process. More accurately, if expectations aren’t properly established, and if the right questions are not asked to guide the process, then this may lead to conflict between both parties, leading to resentment and lost trust.

 

A custom software development project without a project manager is an unruly chaotic conglomeration of the client’s expectations, which may not always be feasible or realistic, and the programmer’s interpretation of the client’s expectations, which may not be accurate to the client’s needs. Collectively this lapse in a clear vision and lack of guidance leads to frustrations on both ends, confusion, and worse yet missed deadlines and inflated costs. 

The project manager’s role is not an easy one. This person is fully responsible for understanding the client’s needs, communicating these clearly to the programmers, and then in turn presenting a realistic plan to the client. From there the PM’s responsibility is to create the tentative blueprint of the development timeline, manage the project scope, and also the allotted budget. 

The success of a custom software development project lies in establishing an experienced and organized project manager.

Eight proven ways to improve communication in software development

Communication is just another skill that is meant to be built on and improved. There are certain things that should be kept in mind that will improve a team’s overall communication ability and general performance.

Transparency & honesty: It is important that everyone involved in a development project showcase clarity and integrity. Clients should do their best to express their expectations, budget, and timeframe, and in return the development team should communicate how much of this they can realistically deliver.
Accountability: When developing software it is important to create a schedule and stick to it. With expectations clearly established the development team should do their best to honor the agreement, and similarly give proper warning if something is not going as planned.
Regular feedback: It is the development team’s duty to ask questions to clarify details. A project manager should ask powerful questions and practice active listening, to better understand the client’s goals and priorities. Meanwhile, a client should not be afraid to speak about any concerns they may have with the way development is progressing.
Understanding the business and priorities: Once these two principles are clearly defined the main role of the software should be easier to understand.
Demonstrating progress: Software development is a dynamic process and it is important to showcase the progress across all stages. This way clients can check in on development as it unfolds.
Speak in simple language: The development team should put in an effort to use simple digestible language when explaining the process. This way clients with less IT experience will be able to make informed decisions.
Have a plan: Have an idea of where the project is going to go step by step. This will help a team stay on track and focused on priorities.
Connecting the teams to achieve the main goal: Last but not least, make sure the client team and the development team feel like one cohesive unit as opposed to two separate groups. This will enable smooth operations throughout the project’s lifespan and ease communication efforts.

Communication is not always an easy task in software development, but a project manager who knows what they are doing will be able to wield the above strategies to enable smooth operations and transitions.

What Tizbi can offer your company

Tizbi is your trusted partner in software development with over 25 years of experience in creating diverse technologies for your specific business needs. With over 400 completed projects, our development teams have serviced diverse industries including manufacturing, healthcare, retail, e-commerce, education, logistics, real estate, food, entertainment, and more.

This long term and diverse experience has allowed us to thoroughly understand the development process. It’s not enough to have talented programmers. A great development team needs to invest thorough attention to their client, and ensure communication is seamless. 

We offer varying forms of assistance including a crew of gifted software developers and project managers who know the best ways to aid you and your team.

Our project managers will straighten up any communication gaps between clients and developers. Whether it’s about clarifying project scope or setting expectations on delivery, a PM from Tizbi will be your team's greatest asset. Contact us to learn more about your options.

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