Project Management and Software Development

If you want to be your own software development boss, you’ll need to know how to manage software development jobs.

Small software development jobs are easily managed, but once you dive into enterprise-level applications, you need more organization and documentation. Although you don’t have to be an expert in the field of project management, you should understand basic concepts to get started.

Clear Documentation for Technical Specifications and Business Rules

You will design a much better product if you understand the business rules clearly. You don’t have to be an expert in your client’s industry, but if you understand the business better, you will produce a better product. To understand the business, it’s best to meet with managers and employees who have been working in the industry for several years.

After you meet with managers and employees, sit down and document the process and technical specifications. Documentation can take months, and you will continue to meet with managers until you complete the documentation process. However, the more detailed the documentation, the less of a chance you have in failing to meet requirements when the product is released.

Development Management

There are several schools of thought when it comes to managing software development projects. The two most popular are the waterfall method and agile. The waterfall method has been around longer than agile. Waterfall management involves gathering specifications, locking down those specifications, performing the development and then releasing the product. Because specifications are locked down, no scope changes occur later in the project. The problem with waterfall methods is that developers can run into severe issues if requirements are not met at the end. If the project runs off-course, developers don’t know until the product is presented at the end of the development cycle. Waterfall methods are known to cause entire projects to get scrapped after months of development.

Agile development is a new project management style where software projects are segmented into “iterations.” After each iteration, the developers get together and discuss goals, accomplishments and new tasks are assigned to each developer. Agile’s advantage is that the project scope is discussed every two weeks, so any changes are discussed and put into new tasks. Developers are less likely to miss the mark when it comes to completing the project, because any new scope changes are incorporated into tasks. The problem with agile development is an issue called “scope creep.” Scope creep occurs when too many changes push the project off-course, and it’s delayed too many months to keep up with changes.

Code Deployment and Change Control

With several developers working on one project, you need a way to track code changes, roll back code changes, deploy code and keep track of developer time. All of these functions are handled by software called change control software. Microsoft TFS is one of the popular change control applications on the market. With TFS, you check out pages to edit, and no other developer can make changes to the file until you check in the new code. If you make a mistake, you can roll back changes. TFS also handles migration to production servers and includes versioning for each update to the software.

TFS integrates with agile or waterfall development management, so developers can keep track of time while still following the project management structure. The finance department can use the time-tracking benefits for end-of-year tax returns.

Understanding project management helps you become a better software developer and project manager when you work with enterprise applications. Typically, an enterprise has a separate project management team to handle these responsibilities. However, if you understand software development management, you can work better in the enterprise and create an application within the organization restrictions.