A Project Manager’s Toolbox

A Project Manager's Toolbox

An invaluable person in every IT team is the project manager. The project manager is the person who will define the scope of a project, collect the requirements, bring the team together and make sure that everything runs smoothly till the end of the project. However the most challenging task an IT project manager will have to undertake, especially when the project is software based, is the selection of the methodology that best fits both the project and the client and eventually this is what will define whether the project will be successful or not. A project with a well-documented idea, specific requirements and established functionality will probably need a rigid methodology like the waterfall approach. On the other hand we would suggest the agile methodology to clients that are not entirely sure of what will the functionality be or UI/UX look like.
There are many project management philosophies and methodologies available to IT teams and Project managers to implement. Each one with its own characteristics, advantages and disadvantages.
Why is choosing a project management methodology so challenging? Partly, because the human factor is always unpredictable and maintaining an equilibrium between the client’s needs and the developers’ workload is very important - yes, contrarily to what most people think developers are in fact human; and, partly because when software is involved things can get very bad really fast and this can have irreversible consequences. Furthermore, before choosing the methodology, the project manager needs to take into account the Lifecycle of the product, the Market Sector of the industry, the Product itself, the Size of the project, the Technology and the Situation that lead to this project. All these factors make the methodology selection an extremely hard task. However experienced project managers have their own toolbox, a set of methodologies and frameworks that help them manage the various projects they are responsible for.
These tools can overlap in some processes but in most cases vary in every possible way, from the stages of the project to the way the components are implemented. However, we at Publisto identify the following stages/phases that fit most projects:
Concept/Idea: When we designed our own products like StoryChaser or QTales our team of PMs, Developers and Designers took long brainstorming sessions with a single purpose – to develop a protocol with defined target markets, product concepts and attributes. When clients bring an idea to us our goal is to research and consult on what the protocol should be.
Engagement: Each project is unique and needs to be approached as such because of the different client requirements and demands in the engagement phase. Accordingly, our project managers and business developers meet with the client and discuss the various possibilities and begin to extend the communication process between the teams. During this highly important phase responsibilities and team roles are set.
Analysis/Feasibility: The analysis phase is when our Project Managers along with the developers analyze and evaluate the requirements set by the client and their expertise on the matter to assess the feasibility of the project in terms of time, cost and quality.
Strategy Planning: During the strategy planning the project manager selects the appropriate methodology the project team is going to follow. Milestones and deliverables are set, roles are defined and the project is ready to begin.
Design/Development: Whether you use waterfall or Agile, Scrum or Kanban during the development phase software engineers transform requirements into pieces of code and eventually releases of the product and the deliverables. The project manager is responsible for filtering the changing requirements and assuring that the team is being productive.
Deployment/Testing: This phase indicates the formal testing of the solution. Testing can be done either incrementally or at the end of a development phase if following a waterfall approach. After the project has been built, tested, and proven to work as designed and specified, the project is ready for installation or rollout.
Quality Assurance: During the quality assurance phase, the solution is validated and tested against the initial specifications of the project.
At Publisto we have been doing a lot of Agency work during the last few years with bigger or smaller clients, with either complex or more simple projects or products. Each time a client comes through our office door an experienced Project Manager is there to meet him/her and follow the aforementioned process in order to transform his/her idea into a successful project.

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