Project management is a set of philosophies, tools, and techniques employed by a project manager whose primary responsibility is to ensure that projects get completed on time, on or under budget, and to facilitate the needs of the team they are managing.
The duties of a project manager can range greatly but typically involve keeping members of their assigned team on track and helping them address any issues that arise. A project manager might obtain access to tools for the team, conduct check-ins and meetings to make sure everyone is on track with their portion of the project, generate reports for management or stakeholders, and provide resources towards the end goal: project completion.
What is Project Management Software
Project management software is an umbrella term that covers a wide array of software and tools. For our purposes, we will be discussing the tools a software project manager uses or provides for his team, versus a more generalized definition.
Software project management tools can include many different pieces of software features that cover a lot of different areas, depending upon the development project. Some of these include:
Features of Project Management Software for Developers:
Task Management: At their core, task management features for developers are self-explanatory – they allow a programmer or tech member to enter in the tasks they are responsible for, in the midst of handling, any red flags or pain-points, or anything that is holding them up from finishing their tasks. These tasks can then be tracked by the project manager, who can act upon actionable items if need be. For instance, if a programmer is waiting on a designer and that is causing a bottleneck or slowing progress, the project manager could go to the designer and try to resolve the issue before things come to a grinding halt.
File Sharing: File sharing, as you might imagine, is an important feature of project management tools. Developers, software engineers, graphic designers, GUI designers, web developers, and everyone in-between need to be able to share files and access them. Frequently file versioning (keeping copies of files as they change over time), limited access to who can share or view files, and file repository features (such as storage, cloud storage, and so forth) all fall under this feature category.
Schedule Manager: Another common feature of project management software is a schedule management tool that lets you schedule things like routine maintenance, meetings, employee schedules, and a slew of other time-sensitive tasks or routines that need to be followed.
Invoicing, Bookkeeping, Payments:
A project manager will need a place to create vendor invoices, make payments to vendors, keep track of costs and inventories, accounts payable and receivable, and other bookkeeping and invoicing tasks. This is especially true if a project manager uses freelance developer teams, remote software developers, third-party vendors, and so on.
Reporting: Reporting is a pretty broad term when it comes to the roles of a project manager. In general, developer project leads will need to create reports for all manner of projects, utilize real-time analytics, export data, provide business intelligence and insights, create charts and workflows, and conduct trend analysis and trend forecasting. All of this should be achievable in a good piece of software management.
Bug and Error Tracking: Of particular importance to a project manager in the developer field is the ability of your team to track bugs and errors in code. This is crucial to project success, completing projects on time, processing deliverables, and staying within budget.
Other features of project management software for developers can include team collaboration, user interface, calendar and calendar sharing, user permissions and access control, the ability to schedule tasks, time and expense tracking, custom reports, project templates, flowcharting, and the ability to allocate resources.
Benefits of Project Management Software for Developers
Managing a team of developers, programmers, software engineers, and designers can be a difficult task for even the most experienced project manager. That being said, the primary role of project management applications is to make that task as simple as possible. The basis of that starts off with project planning. As they say, if you do not know where you are going, how will you ever get there?
The best project management apps offer the benefit of allowing you to plan your project from start to finish. This includes creating actionable items, planning resource allocation, and so forth. One great benefit of this type of app is that you can automate many tasks. Using the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI), most modern project management can predict project completion dates, costs, and the like, while also predicting where you might encounter issues in scheduling and hitting key milestones.
Another benefit has to do with resource management. Without resources being managed properly, your project will miss all of its marks. Most developer projects are resource-intensive, and project managers frequently find themselves overwhelmed with resource requests and allocating those needed resources adequately. Having a big picture of all of the moving parts from a resources perspective helps this situation greatly.
Of course, resources aren’t just limited to tools or budgets. Developers and programmers are resources also. Being able to properly manage those resources and monitor workloads to adjust when someone is underperforming or maybe experiencing burnout and needing help are key to your success and the success of your whole software development team.
Probably the second most important benefit of project management software in a developer environment has to do with team collaboration. Developers and software teams can consist of huge numbers of people all working in different departments – sometimes continents apart. Having the ability to cross-reference tasks, discuss timelines, work together on bugs, and see (or report) areas of difficulty or that need help is invaluable. Give your employees a clear idea of goals, tasks, and priorities, so you know the entire project team is on the same page.
Examples of Project Management Software for Developers
We will be following up this article with an in-depth look at some of the best project management software for developers in another article. We will cover well-known tools, such as Jira, Trello, Basecamp, Wrike, and Microsoft Project.