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The magical answer for software development project management

Lately I’ve been negotiating with a lot of different clients about many different projects. Having a quick look at the projects, it’s incredible how people wrongly seek for one single project management methodology to rule them all. Beside that, when clients look for “agile methodologies”, what the biggest part of them want to say is: “let’s use Scrum for everything”. Then after my opinion was asked by a friend who was meant to establish a PMO, I had the ideia of this article.

Different clients have different needs

In my scenario, as a consulting company, it’s very clear to notice that different clients will have different needs. It’s common to be asked about software development methodologies. The main thing is that, even inside the same company, which is not a consulting as instance, there will be different ways to manage projects. There is not a single pattern. It depends on people. It depends straight on the teams maturity to act, and I will show few examples based on the info graphic below:

The traditional / waterfall / CMMI approach:

Yet the most common on big organizations. It gives executive information to managers and a lot of very concrete information about the project. It focuses a lot on process and files to keep track of everything that is happening on the project. Dependency mapping, communication mapping, scope controlling, and many others will be done by the manager. This will cost a lot of money.

The Scrum approach:

More flexibility, less process, but still some issues. Scrum will allow the project to be more dynamic due to less focus on processes and files. What Scrum says is “keep sending work and we will keep delivering it”. It has many good things: less time spent on bureaucracy, “customer first” mindset, etc. But it shows few problems: it’s hard to work with deadlines and dependencies, and dailies can easily lose the value.

The XP practices:

Flexible, focus on finding value fast, feedback at every corner. XP focuses on finding value as fast as possible with the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) mindset. It also helps to improve the team practices constantly due to it’s cycles of constant feedback. XP needs a very disciplined team to run with, otherwise they can easily loose the focus due to the lack of practices to controlling.

The DevOps approach:

Self-service, no bottlenecks and automation. DevOps has been the most-said IT word for the last year at least, but very few people can actually practice it. It focuses on bringing everybody that matters to the project to work together, and that includes business people, UX people, DEV and OPS people, and everything else that matters. They must have autonomy to take decisions. Nobody can be a bottleneck. The developers must have the self-service mindset, otherwise they will depend on others to finish their jobs. DevOps also bring some challenges, as the DEVs not enjoying to do OPS tasks, and OPS guys not enjoying to code.

Different mindsets for project management

All of the models above were explored with the benefits and the problems they bring. Each of them can be useful if applied in the right context. So, no one of them is the magical answer to whatever are the problems you may be facing in your project(s). The perfect scenario is to mix things up, EXPERIMENT, until you find the best model for you and your team. But how to do that? If your moment is not allowing you to find that now, you probably are overwhelmed by the operation and are forgetting to think on your real goals. Try to look things from above. Your main goals, on software development, are shown above, and there’s where your effort must be focused:

  • Deliver value constantly — changing the application background color from blue to red may be nice. But does it really adds value to the business? Will it make the difference to the project or to the final user? Focus on what really matters and not only on creating more code.
  • Customer first — the reason for every software project to exist is the end user. Always aim to please that team. If their opinion is not green about what you are delivering, they won’t use it. And your project will be useless. Is your end-user happy? Do they feel like the software has good user experience? Do they find value on using your tool?
  • Experimentation — the fastest way to improve things, even when you don’t know what to improve. Experimenting after a good retrospective is something to do very often.
  • Focus on people — the key to reach all the dots above. If people are happy and find value on your organization, trust you and like their environment and routines, they will be very likely to do and test everything the team may bring up.

Then manage your own way

So the answer for you to apply the best development practices to your projects is your mindset. Once your mindset is aligned with the goals you must reach, forgetting all process addictions, then your right process will be created naturally by the team.



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Guilherme Sesterheim

Guilherme Sesterheim

Sharing experiences on IT subjects. Working for AWS. DevOps, Kubernetes, Microservices, Terraform, Ansible, and Java