Role of a Project Manager in a Software Development Team

25 June 2021

The project manager (PM) is an ever-present figure in any software development. But, what exactly do they do?

Are you thinking about hiring a project manager (PM) for your mobile app development team? You may want to know that it’s not as straightforward a process as you imagine.

Remember the project manager is front and center of the app development process. They oversee pretty much every step of the app development process, from negotiation to discovery through deployment, release, and post-release support. It means that hiring the wrong project manager is a sure route to failure.

This post should help you understand the project manager’s roles and responsibilities at every step of mobile application development.

Setting Direction for the Project  

The Project Manager is tasked with setting the ball rolling by determining direction before actual development begins. Specifically, the PM major responsibilities are the following;

  • Defining goals and objectives: The PM first learns about your goals, objectives, and expectations. For instance, if you’d like to have the app ready within the next three months, the PM would consider the time constraint when estimating the time required to develop the application.
  • Creating project SDLC: The PM will determine the best software development life cycle (SDLC) to use for your project. The SDLC usually comes with a budget estimate and timelines required to complete the project.
  • Identifying key project constraints: The project manager is also responsible for identifying potential constraints such as schedule, budget, and scope. Planning with possible constraints in mind helps the team manage deviations during the development process.
  • Forming the project team: The PM will compose an extended team to deliver the app on time and within budget. While composing the team, the PM must consider whether to use dedicated full-timers, part-timers, or distributed teams.

Role in Project Discovery

Once the app development process starts, the project manager gets down to planning, decomposing tasks, and creating sprints. Essentially, the PM creates an integrated document that gives a clear vision of how to see through the development in the best way. Project discovery typically involves the following;

  • A project charter: The project charter contains critical information about the project, including a description of the project, stakeholders, budget, and constraints. The project charter remains the same throughout the development process.
  • A requirements management plan: The requirements management plan outlines all project requirements. More importantly, it details how the requirements will be collected, prioritized, managed, and documented.
  • A work breakdown structure: The work breakdown structure splits the entire project into small, clear scopes of work and lists the team members responsible for each scope of work. It also includes timelines.

Other key documents created during discovery where the project manager is head include a schedule, a budget, a project performance chart, and an earned value management document.

Roles During Development

The project management also plays an active role during actual project management. A PM needs to do the following;

  • Monitor and control the process to ensure that the team sticks to the project management plan as defined in the discovery phase.
  • Closely manage the process to prevent scope creep. Scope creep refers to the tendency for software development teams to deviate beyond the project boundaries.
  • Identify challenges and help the team find solutions. A good PM knows how to tweak the project to make room for changes.
  • Duly inform the team of any changes and change requests to ensure that the product meets all customer and stakeholder needs.
  • Provide the team with evaluation reports, defect reports, and project status reports at regular intervals and on-demand to ensure smooth flow of the development process.
  • Ensure smooth communication among the team members by addressing cultural barriers to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Foster a positive relationship between the team members by scheduling and overseeing client and team meetings and identifying team-building activities.

Essentially, the project manager serves as the link between the client and the development team, tasked with ensuring the client needs are promptly communicated and project team challenges, such as budget constraints, addressed. Additionally, the PM serves as the head of the development team, responsible for ensuring the project goes on as planned.

Role in Product Testing and Release

After development, a mobile application project manager is also responsible for release management. Three things are important here.

  • Quality checks: Quality output is critical for the success of the app. To this end, the project manager, as the development team leader, is tasked with ensuring the final product runs without trouble and as initially envisaged. The PM must also verify the product is user-friendly.  
  • Testing: The project manager is also tasked with ensuring the final product is free of bugs. As such, the PM leads the team in selecting the best testing tools and approach and even selects the testing team.
  • Actual release: Finally, the PM ensures frictionless product release by ensuring the client has stable product backups, a final project report, and environmental specifications. The client must also receive a list of implemented features. Project managers also prepare a list of ideas for app support and recommendations improvement tips for future app versions. 

Post-Release Support

The project manager’s job isn’t done even after the app’s release. They are also responsible for ensuring the app works correctly post-release. If there’s a problem, the client can call the PM to discuss the issue and find out how to resolve the problem.

What’s more, project managers can tap into their knowledge to help the client increase app users/subscribers and boost marketability and profitability.

Summary

You can tell from the above outline the mobile application development project manager has a critical role in planning, creating, and delivering the project. They ensure proper budgeting, play a central role in staffing, ensure team coordination, mitigate risk, and oversight testing and release – all in line with the client’s needs and within budget.

As such, you must never have developers as project managers. Developers can’t code and manage the team at the same time. It’s best to hire a PM separately. Want to learn more? The NIX Solutions team is always willing to help.