IT ProcessBY RabIT software engineering · November 27, 2018

There are a ton of reasons why a project can suffer, including poor planning and execution, or a lack of coordination. You can avoid project failure by deciding to hire a dedicated project manager. He or she will enable you to reap the promised benefits of the project.

Companies invest a considerable amount in projects to upgrade systems, develop new applications, or to roll out strategic initiatives. However, sometimes the development teams dedicated to these projects fail to deliver the desired results. This tends to happen more often in case you are working with an offshore development team.

 

What is the role of a dedicated project manager?

If you have hired an offshore development team, successful collaboration between it and your on-site team is crucial for achieving success in projects. For that, you need proper planning, clearly defined goals, and effective communication. If you also hire a dedicated project manager, they will make sure that all the requirements are met. They have the skill set to plan, organize, execute, and bring the project to a close.

 

dedicated project team

 

Dedicated project managers also play a vital role in improving the performance of the team. They make sure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, and the goals of the project. Not only that, but they also regularly monitor and assess the team’s performance.

There is no one right project management methodology for all cases. There are plenty of options to pick from, and the dedicated project manager selects the approach based on the specific requirements and scope, so that it doesn’t fail to deliver the expected results.

Additionally, as the onus of the project’s success is on the project manager, you are free to focus on other aspects of your business.

 

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Let’s take a look at how a project manager ensures that the projects are completed on time and on budget. They:

  • Create a clear vision.
  • Provide a framework for the project-related tasks.
  • Identify resources needed to achieve project goals.
  • Set milestones, gauges progress, and ensures they are achieved.
  • Coordinate activities between different team members — offshore team and onshore team; and mediate if there is a conflict.
  • Motivate team members.
  • Identify potential risks that are present throughout the project’s lifetime, assess them, and proactively respond.
  • Keep work on the track.

 

What to Look for When You Hire a Dedicated Project Manager

Dedicated project managers must possess the ability to oversee complex processes and break them up into smaller, more easily manageable chunks. For this they have to understand the role and objectives of each work group (designers, developers, quality assurance testers, etc.).

Of course, each task must also be communicated in a clear and precise manner. Expert communication skills are essential for every dedicated project manager. The ability to write concise and easy-to-understand project descriptions is a must-have as well. It is also very beneficial if your project manager speaks multiple languages. because internationally distributed teams are quickly becoming the new norm.

Communication skills are especially crucial if your team is working as a supplier for a group of clients. In this case, the project manager is usually also tasked with communicating with clients directly, presenting the results and handling issues or complaints.

Knowing how to use all of the most popular project management tools shouldn’t be an absolute requirement. These tools (we mention a few of them below) can be picked up relatively quickly for anyone with a basic affinity for using software. However, having some experience with a few of them can help speed up the onboarding process.

 

dedicated project manager cta

 

A Few Project Management Tips

As the business environment is changing fast and there is high uncertainty, companies can no longer take their time to complete a project. Every business has to work with limited resources, and employees often handle more than one responsibility. So, how do you defy the odds and become a successful organization? A competent and resourceful project manager can make a big difference and help manage projects effectively.

Here are some suggestions for selecting tools and methodologies:

 

Project Management Methodology

An adaptive project framework can be the best approach today, as it continuously adapts to the changing circumstances of each project. It allows you to change the project’s scope. Moreover, as the projects progress in iterative stages, the team can evaluate the previous performance at the end of every stage. Based on the evaluation, they can improve their performance.

We recommend using Scrum or Kanban project management methodologies most of the time.

Scrum is a project management framework that breaks up longer development processes into two-week periods (or sprints). After completing each sprint, the progress is demonstrated to the product owner, who can then give feedback and make adjustments to the project if necessary. Close communication and constant inclusion of the Client makes the project much more likely to stay on course and deliver positive results.

Here is how dedicated teams usually visualize development tasks with Scrum:

dedicated project manager scrum board

 

Unlike Scrum, the Kanban approach is not iterative, so it allows the software to be developed in one large development cycle. This cycle has no predefined end point. The software requirements get broken up into smaller work items, which then enter the development process in a prioritized order. A work item is not allowed to move on to the next phase until some capacity opens up ahead. This approach is more useful if fixed time frames aren’t sustainable for the project.

This is how teams visualize development tasks with the Kanban Method:

dedicated project manager kanban board

 

As you can see, in Kanban, tasks are carried out in a specific order.  New tasks have to be added at the end of the Backlog queue, and they will be executed in order.

This is not possible in Scrum, because once a set of tasks in a sprint gets defined and approved, tasks cannot be added or modified. New tasks must be added to the upcoming sprints instead.

 

Voice Communication Tools

For excellent teamwork, effective communication is essential. With voice communication platforms such as Skype and Google Hangouts, which offer audio and video group calls, remote team members can easily plan, communicate and work as a cohesive group.

 

Chat & Messaging Apps

Slack, Microsoft Teams and Facebook Workplace, the group chat tools, enable distributed dedicated teams to collaborate successfully. WhatsApp, the cross-platform messaging and VoIP service, also lets the team members to plan, organize, and share work updates.

 

Task management

Leveraging task management software such as Asana, JIRA, and Confluence, the startup’s team members can manage, organize, and track the progress of project-related tasks.

 

If you need help deciding which tools to use to track and carry out your project management tasks, have a look at this list of the best software development tools for project management.

hire a project manager cta

If you would like to learn more, read about our approach to dedicated project management here.

 

More useful Agile project management advice and resources:

Overcoming Communication and Cultural Challenges

Overcoming Challenges During the Work Process

Overcoming Challenges with Day-to-Day Operations

Overcoming Challenges from a Lack of Experience

RabIT software engineering

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

IT ProcessBY RabIT software engineering · September 05, 2018

The methodologies used in an Agile development process follow the Agile Manifesto. The Agile Manifesto is a guideline that is based on continuous improvement, the input of the team, flexibility, and the delivery of results with good quality.

Although the principles of Agile are well-defined, companies that have nobody with Agile experience will most likely face many challenges while adopting these methodologies. They should not try to adopt an Agile development process word for word. Instead, they should experiment and create a version that best meets their projects, clients, team members, and organizational structure.

 

Resolving budgeting problems

Unplanned or poorly defined product requirements can easily make a project run out of money and time. This can give rise to conflict between the development team and clients.

Clients say that the development team failed at estimating time and money for tasks. The development team, on the other hand, says that the unplanned tasks were not on the initial list of requirements.

Actually, it’s the mix of both. Clients did not talk about important details while communicating their requirements. If one can’t communicate important details to other people, it makes their jobs more complicated. At the same time, the developers do not have the same level of in-depth knowledge into the client’s industry. That’s why they were not able to estimate these requirements.

Understanding the client’s business is key to collecting requirements effectively. Knowledge of the business of the clients will allow you to form a positive professional relationship with them.

To resolve the budgeting problems, communication between the clients and developers should be improved. Unplanned tasks will not come up if more detailed information is shared.

You should stay away from fixed budget projects. Accept such projects only if the initial requirements are well-defined and documented to the letter by a very experienced expert.

 

Do not allow outside people to estimate project size

Do not allow inexperienced product owners or SCRUM masters to estimate the size of the project. They are inclined to present an unrealistic version to stakeholders to make the estimation more appealing. This creates problems for the team later.

Also, avoid allowing individuals outside the team to estimate for the developers. The members of the development team absolutely have to be included into the estimation process.

 

Use performance metrics to measure your team’s performance

Use performance metrics (Velocity, Estimated Complexity) to monitor the efficiency of your development team throughout the Agile development process.

Velocity, which is a key metric in Scrum, helps to measure the progress of your team. You should pay attention not to inflate tasks only to increase your agile team’s velocity. Organizing every small change into separate tasks will mean that your team completes more tasks, but your team’s velocity metric won’t show real progress.

 

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Make the daily stand up meetings effective

Hold daily stand up meetings with discipline. Do not keep meetings too long. Keep them short and focused. Give one minute to each member of the team to speak. If you want, you can also organize separate stand-ups for SCRUM team leaders. Keep in mind that each meeting is an opportunity to resolve problems, improve focus, set direction, create alignment, and move goals and objectives forward.

 

Develop your own solutions

View the Agile Manifesto only as a set of guiding principles to enhance your software development processes. There is no need to implement them in exactly the same way. Use these guidelines to develop your own solutions.

You will need to do a lot of experimentation. You should assign the person who has the most experience working with your clients, development team, and methodologies the task to create the first version of your new Agile methodology. This, together with every later iteration, should be customized to meet the requirements of your clients and company.

For example, decide the number of meetings according to how efficiently the development team interacts. If the meetings do not result in the exchange of important information, reduce the number of meetings. Use email and Slack instead. You should customize every individual work element of your new Agile methodology in the same way.

With all said, you can still follow Agile methodologies word for word. Odds are, you will be much better off if you find a solution that fits you and your clients best.

 

More helpful resources about the Agile development process:

Overcoming Communication and Cultural Challenges

Overcoming Challenges During the Work Process

Overcoming Challenges with Day-to-Day Operations

RabIT software engineering

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

IT ProcessBY RabIT software engineering · August 28, 2018

The development team is the heart of any Agile software development process. It takes the idea of the product owner and converts it into a product that creates value and meets a pressing need. The development team is involved in the process of developing the software product and ensuring its quality.

Often, they face issues and challenges with Agile methodology such as planning and executing tasks and flow of information and overcoming those issues can yield big results.

 

Too many meetings wreck productivity

Agile should not involve too many meetings. Fewer meetings allow your developers to concentrate on doing the actual work. Meetings should be designed carefully to increase the productivity of developers, not the opposite.

An unplanned meeting can become confusing and messy and can hamper the development work. The efficiency of the sprint can be greatly affected by having too many meetings.

Developers are often inclined to spend time during meetings talking about work instead of actually writing code. You should decrease the length and number of meetings and allow an open flow of information outside of these meetings.

Go for Ad-hoc communication as it is more effective than organizing 4-hour meetings to discuss the finished work. Flexibility and robustness are the benefits of this system.

 

Complex software development tasks should be broken into smaller doable tasks

Unplanned issues and tasks can be easily handled if the complex issues are broken down into doable small tasks. During sprint planning, assign work to your employees that they can complete in one day.

Include your quality assurance team into the sprint planning process. If you can calculate the time spent on QA testing and fixing new issues, you will able to meet important deadlines. Meeting deadlines every time is a foundation of a successful business.

You can use Estimated Complexity as an indicator to know the approximate time you need to finish a particular task. One Estimated Complexity equals 4 work hours.

Also, include the approximate work hours for quality assurance testing and resolving potential problems that come up. This will definitely increase your software development efficiency.

 

Poor flow of information decreases organizational productivity

Share information with others in enough detail. Avoid giving out brief instructions. Be aware of the fact that not everyone will understand instructions that are not well defined.

Remember to send out even the easiest tasks with as much detail as possible. This will help your developers to complete the task correctly. Formulate the instructions in such a way that an outsider who knows nothing about the project would understand them. However, you should check for understanding even after giving detailed instructions.

 

The following example will help you understand the concept.

INCORRECT – Insert the charts that we talked about into the middle of the analytics dashboard.

CORRECT – Insert Chart A, Chart B, and Chart C into the analytics dashboard as specified in Task[89], directly after the visitor analytics table.

 

To implement features of a product correctly during software development, make specifications as clear as possible. Features will not be correctly implemented in case of unclear specifications. The faulty features may even make it to release without a second round of review.

 

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Encourage employees to seek help when they need it

Encourage your development team to ask for help from your company’s senior technical leaders or trusted outside consultants if needed. Some developers discuss their work problems only with other members inside their own team. If they didn’t get the solutions, they try to resolve the issue themselves. In doing so, they may miss their deadline and fail to complete their task on time.

You should reward those who seek advice from technical leaders and the senior people. Make your developers understand that taking help of others is not a sign of incompetence or weakness. The development team should trust their senior experts. Everyone should work together to reach the same goal.

 

More helpful resources about challenges with Agile methodology:

Overcoming Communication and Cultural Challenges

Overcoming Challenges During the Work Process

Overcoming Challenges From Lack of Experience

 

Thanks for devoting your time to reading this article. If you have any unanswered questions regarding challenges with Agile methodology and software development projects, feel free to ask them during a free consultation.

RabIT software engineering

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

IT ProcessBY RabIT software engineering · July 25, 2018

There are a number of benefits of Agile software development methodologies for project management. Development teams can react to changes in requirements and market conditions, communicate directly and closely, and deliver a superior product within budgetary limitations using an Agile methodology. Agile teams work extremely well and react excellently to the unavoidable changes that come with the projects.

However, businesses and organizations encounter many challenges when trying to adopt Agile software development methodologies.

We’ve already written about ways to overcome challenges regarding communication and organizational culture in an earlier article.

 

Management and development teams should work jointly in Agile software development

Top management support is necessary for agile software development methodologies to succeed. Individuals at the top level of management can be hesitant to embrace Agile models. Management might ask the development teams that effectively use Scrum methodologies to deliver conventional measures of work progress.

It is important to note that converting results on the daily, mid-sprint, sprint end and project levels into conventional waterfall-type progress measures takes a lot of time and effort.

 

Conventional methodologies concentrate on longer-term results. Translating daily work progress to fit these methodologies is not easy. Management and the development team must work closely to understand the new way of measuring work progress.

 

Make your sprint a success

In product development, the team has to complete a set of specific tasks and make the work ready for review during a sprint.

The sprint starts with a planning meeting during which the development team and the owner of the product decide what work will be performed. Sprint duration is agreed upon at the start of the project, and is usually set between 1 – 4 weeks (with 2-week sprints being the most common).

After a sprint starts, the owner of the product should allow the development team to do their job. During the sprint, the development team holds daily stand-up meetings to discuss what they did since the previous stand-up meeting, what they are working on currently, what is their next planned task, and if there are any blocking issues. Solutions to the challenges are also discussed.

 

The project owner (often called chickens in Scrum circles) can attend the stand-up meetings; however, he or she should not participate unless it is to answer queries. During a sprint, the owner of the project can put forward his or her requests for changes. The power to stop or interrupt the sprint lies in the hands of the project manager or scrum master. At the sprint end, the development team presents the finished work to the project owner.

 

How to conduct an effective daily stand-up session?

Restrict your daily stand-up session to no longer than 15 minutes. Hold the stand-up meetings with the same individuals at the same time each day. Discipline is needed in Agile projects. Don’t let team members miss daily stand-ups, and try to engage everyone during the meeting.

Conduct the meeting at the beginning of the day and near your team’s workspace. The meeting should be attended by the team members responsible for executing tasks.

 

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  • Interesting case studies and news about IT innovation
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Focus on training when adopting Agile

Companies do not concentrate much on initial training when adopting Agile methodologies. It goes without saying that the members of the development team should be trained properly. Organizations and companies also need to give training to their management personnel and clients who are new to Agile development methods.

You should treat Agile methodologies as a framework for doing work. For every new project, the work processes should be started from scratch. Build your work processes from the ground up with respect to project and client requirements. They should involve developers, clients, and management right from the beginning.

 

Make your development team more engaged

Sometimes, the development team shows no interest in adopting a new methodology. They often feel frustrated by having to deliver reports on a regular basis and show their incomplete work to the higher management.

We successfully deal with this challenge by making it mandatory for developers to regularly commit their code during the work process.

It means that the development team has to commit work (even work which is not fully done) at least once a day. You can also apply feature branching workflow in your team. Feature branching enables developers to work on their own feature and stay isolated from changes occurring elsewhere.

It is important for a development team to keep track of its activities. Our developers are also required to administer their daily progress in an issue tracker. You will probably have to develop your own policy for this over time. As always, find the best way that works for you and your projects.

 

Make your clients’ needs your top priority

It may happen that the clients themselves are not interested in committing to Agile software development methodologies. So businesses and organizations should try to assess the needs of their clients regarding product release, reporting, and sprint planning.

Clients should also make an effort to understand a company’s work processes thoroughly. Do your best to explain the processes to your clients with in detail. However, you should be aware of the fact that you might never gain full commitment from the client side.

 

More helpful resources about the Agile development process:

Overcoming Communication and Cultural Challenges

Overcoming Challenges with Day-to-Day Operations

Overcoming Challenges From Lack of Experience

 

If you need help optimizing your methodologies, or have other development-related questions, feel free to reach out to us at info@rabit.hu, or sign up for a free consultation.

RabIT software engineering

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

IT ProcessBY RabIT software engineering · July 12, 2018

Thousands of companies and organizations are using Agile software development methodologies worldwide. These include Microsoft, Rockstar, Siemens, CNBC, and Google. Projects that successfully employ Agile methodologies build best quality software and deliver sooner. Increased flexibility, seamless collaborations, and improved communications lead to satisfaction among stakeholders and teams.

Agile software development methodologies can be beneficial for organizations for a number of reasons, such as faster product-to-market delivery, consumer satisfaction, building the right product, and transparency.

 

Who can benefit from Agile Software Development?

  1. Companies looking to prioritize the bigger, complicated project into doable tasks with faster results and improved communication.
  2. Companies working with external agencies and looking to collaborate smoothly to meet goals and deadlines.
  3. Organizations working with clients who want to give feedback as the project progresses.

 

However, projects that adopt Agile methodologies are not without their own set of difficulties and challenges. Projects that adopt a conventional methodology, on the other hand, experience different kinds of problems.

 

Communication between the development team and product owner

Throughout the development life cycle, there should be regular and open communication between the development team and product owner. The problem arises when there is too much communication overhead. Spending most of your time communicating with the team members instead of getting quality work done is not a great idea. Communication is indispensable to development, but the communication overhead increases as the team size increases.

To make the communication more efficient and reduce communication overhead, we recommend to hire a person who represents the client internally, who can be an internal Product Owner, Project Manager or Coordinator. We use this method ourselves, and it works wonders with client satisfaction and resolving complaints. The project coordinator speaks both the client’s and the developers’ language, looks after the administration and communicates with both the development team and the product owner.

 

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  • Actionable insights about software development topics
  • Interesting case studies and news about IT innovation
  • No marketing spam

You can unsubscribe at any time

 

Communication between the quality assurance team and development team

Close interaction between the development and QA teams should be encouraged as it helps to resolve misunderstandings and develop clarity. Both the teams are dependent on each other. There should be coordination, consultation, and cooperation between the developers and testers.

With all this in mind, we rather like to let the two teams interpret software requirements separately.

To make the development process more efficient and build error-free software, we intentionally keep QA testing separate from development during the initial development phase. This way our QA testers are given freedom to interpret software needs on their own. This will help the organization to discover errors and variations and to know whether the development team interpreted the needs accurately or not.

The development team usually interprets the software needs in a different way. Of course, the two teams work closely together later to resolve these errors and bugs.

 

Organizational culture and change

The company culture finds it hard to adapt to a new methodology. Adding the daily standup meetings (the progress of the sprint is evaluated during these meetings) and dividing the work process into sprints alone will not boost the efficiency of the QA team and the development team. Deeper organizational changes are required.

The conventional hierarchical structure should be ditched and there should be a free flow of communication between team members. The organization should use sprints to provide working features regularly, not just to pump out half-done software elements as fast as possible.

The right software product can only be built when the developing team works closely with the early users and client.

 

Mindset

It is worth noting that every company cannot benefit from Agile methodologies. Agile software development demands more energy and time from individuals because clients, end users and the development team must communicate with each other continuously.

A product needs a long-term vision and companies need to communicate it actively. It is absolutely vital that all parties share and understand the same product vision.

Businesses and organizations should optimize the work processes according to their employees and clients instead of forcing themselves into standard agile development methodologies.

Organizations dedicated to Agile software development should constantly work to improve efficiency and optimize their work processes. We ourselves are always looking for a better way of doing things. Aim to optimize your work processes for each individual client.

Instead of delivering requirements word for word, do your best to truly understand what they want to achieve with the final product, and actively contribute to reaching their initial vision.

 

More helpful resources about the Agile development process:

Overcoming Challenges During the Work Process

Overcoming Challenges with Day-to-Day Operations

Overcoming Challenges From Lack of Experience

 

If you need help optimizing your methodologies, or have other development-related questions, feel free to reach out to us at info@rabit.hu, or sign up for a free consultation.

RabIT software engineering

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.