The Role of Project Management in a Development Team

Posted / 28 October, 2016

Author / Enginess

project management

Within a web development team, roles and responsibilities are pretty clearly defined. And the project manager is obviously in charge of managing the project. But what does that mean?

Within a web development team roles and responsibilities are pretty clearly defined: the graphic designer makes the site beautiful, the UX designer makes sure it works, the front-end developer programs the front-end and a back-end developer handles the back-end.

The project manager ("PM") is obviously in charge of managing the project, but what does that mean?

What a project manager does

The PM is the captain of the development team: they keep communication flowing and ensure the team sticks to their plan, and brings them back on course when they stray.

Day-to-day, PMs can be responsible for:

  • Prioritizing project demands and tasks.
  • Tracking hours spent against the budget available, ensuring the project is completed with the allocated resources (and facilitating approvals for more if it can’t)
  • Managing client expectations.
  • Allocating resources and deciding where time is spent by the team.
  • Recognizing and troubleshooting issues.
That’s only a slice of what project management does on a given day, but the biggest value a good project manager brings is not in completing any specific task but through reducing the time the team spends on non-project related tasks.

This simple goal is essential for a few reasons.

First, it keeps the project moving forward and helps avoid slippage. As we already noted, digital development teams are very specialized and their skill sets rarely include administration and account management. If a developer is spending five hours each week on admin tasks, such as updating other team members on progress, checking budgetary requirements, and touching base with the client, that’s five hours they’re not programming.

Second, generally speaking, designers and developers are focused on creating. It’s always easier to come up with good ideas to deliver a killer project when you love your job and the work you are doing, and there’s nothing that’s going to crush job morale faster than designers or developers spending two hours each week on invoicing. A happy team is a productive team, and project management is essential to keeping the team happy.

Third, it’s cost effective. A designer or a developer’s time is valuable, and if you can reduce their administration workload and allocate their time more efficiently with a great project manager or project management software, clients will be billed less and have their project delivered quicker.  

Bird’s eye view

project management

The secondary role of project management in web development is to provide a bird’s eye view of the project, although this function is often supplemented with project management software. Basecamp, Jira, ActiveCollab, Trello,  Asana – they all focus heavily on providing an overall picture of the project; where you are, where you need to be, and what still needs to be done.

As part of the overall view that a project manager provides, it's also their responsibility to recognize and mitigate challenges the team might face. If tasks aren't being completed on time, or are behind schedule, the PM has to realize how that's going to impact the project and take steps to fix it.

It isn't the developer's responsibility to understand how they are affecting the project; that's the PM's job. The role of troubleshooter dovetails nicely into the last job of project management for web projects – the point of contact.  

The spoke of a wheel

Project management should be the bridge between all the various moving parts, like the spoke of a wheel.

When either the development team or client has a problem, it is the project manager who should get the call. For the team to stay on track, it’s much easier if questions and requests go straight to a project manager to triage, rather than to a developer.

Alternatively, if it’s software like Asana you're using, it’s easier to keep track of everything if it all runs through a central point, rather than across hundreds of emails between clients and the various members of the development team.

Project management software can help prevent things slipping through the cracks and potentially delaying the project, much like a person would.  

Conclusion

Project management is critical to a project’s success. It’s what keeps the specialists on task and track; it keeps everyone informed; it manages workload, spots, and solves problems before they become problems.

At the end of the day, project management can be summed up simply as doing whatever it takes to keep the project straight-forward and stress-free for the client and the development team.

Whether you’re relying on software to keep everyone on track, or you have a dedicated PM to push the whole thing over the line, project management is essential to a successful delivery.

Plan your project right - a step-by-step guide to ensure a successful digital project launch. Read now.
Guide: Achieving Success On Your CMS Project

Topics

See all ≫ ≪ Hide all

Subscribe to Enginess Digital Insights


Share the insights /