Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Developer's View of Project Management

I just finished listening to Joel and Jeff's StackOverflow podcast #28- some of which focused on their view on project's a common developer's view that PM's without domain knowledge are no better that note takers and low end coordinators.  They also went into how PMI and like organizations came about (an attempt by project managers to gain more control in order to get better pay)....overall I agree with them.  

A project manager's main contribution to a project is the reduction of project risk.  Risk reduction can be accomplished by:
  • ensuring good communication among all team members (this includes sponsors, 3rd party vendors, etc.)
  • ensuring focus on identified risk areas
  • contribution to project risk scope from prior experience (post mortem #1 value)
  • time and budget monitoring
  • implementing basic project processes, including code management and testing (TDD as much as possible)
  • etc. etc. etc.
Given that, if a PM is assigned to a domain that they have no/little knowledge and/or experience with, they then become nothing more then coordinators and worse case inhibitors of project success and contribute to this overall view of PMs'.  For PMs' to gain a higher standing, WE need to ensure that we are assuming roles that we are capable of and since our skill set is mostly intra/inter personal area (communication), we need ensure that our soft skill levels truly compliment the given team.

UPS used to have all new hires start at the sorting line (from what I understand) and work their way up....I think this is the right model to follow for PMs to follow and one that companies need to understand in order to give prospect PM's the chance to gain and achieve those needed skills.

1 comment:

  1. Meade, Though I'm in concordance with several of your views regarding the domain knowledge, it is quite hard when working on cross functional domains. PMs, as the saying goes, need to be a mile wide and an inch deep. Considering this, the application (domain) knowledge could always be compensated by excellent communication and willingness to learn. Once the PMs broadcast the correct message of "openness", I suppose the entire round-trip would be more effective, where the subordinates assist the PMs in planning by providing the PM with better estimates, thereby also helping reduce the project risk.

    Quite an interesting article.

    - MS