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The Complete Software Project Manager: Mastering Technology from Planning to Launch and Beyond

ISBN: 978-1-119-21990-3
256 pages
January 2016
The Complete Software Project Manager: Mastering Technology from Planning to Launch and Beyond (1119219906) cover image

Description

Your answer to the software project management gap

The Complete Software Project Manager: From Planning to Launch and Beyond addresses an interesting problem experienced by today's project managers: they are often leading software projects, but have no background in technology. To close this gap in experience and help you improve your software project management skills, this essential text covers key topics, including: how to understand software development and why it is so difficult, how to plan a project, choose technology platforms, and develop project specifications, how to staff a project, how to develop a budget, test software development progress, and troubleshoot problems, and what to do when it all goes wrong. Real-life examples, hints, and management tools help you apply these new ideas, and lists of red flags, danger signals, and things to avoid at all costs assist in keeping your project on track.

Companies have, due to the nature of the competitive environment, been somewhat forced to adopt new technologies. Oftentimes, the professionals leading the development of these technologies do not have any experience in the tech field—and this can cause problems. To improve efficiency and effectiveness, this groundbreaking book offers guidance to professionals who need a crash course in software project management.

  • Review the basics of software project management, and dig into the more complicated topics that guide you in developing an effective management approach
  • Avoid common pitfalls by perusing red flags, danger signals, and things to avoid at all costs
  • Leverage practical roadmaps, charts, and step-by-step processes
  • Explore real-world examples to see effective software project management in action

The Complete Software Project Manager: From Planning to Launch and Beyond is a fundamental resource for professionals who are leading software projects but do not have a background in technology.

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Table of Contents

FOREWORD xvii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xix

ABOUT THE AUTHOR xxi

INTRODUCTION xxiii

CHAPTER 1 Software Development Explained: Creativity Meets Complexity 1

A Definition of Software Development 1

Why Is Software Development So Difficult? Hint: It’s Not Like Building a House 1

The Simple, the Complicated, and the Complex 2

Metaphor #1: Piles of Snow 3

Metaphor #2: The Ikea Desk 4

Metaphor #3: Heart Surgery 5

Using the Three Metaphors in Project Management 6

CHAPTER 2 Agile, Waterfall, and the Key to Modern Project Management 7

Agile and Waterfall 7

Waterfall 7

Waterfall’s Problems 8

The Requirements Requirement 9

Inflexibility 9

Loss of Opportunity and Time to Market 9

Customer Dissatisfaction 10

Agile 10

Lack of Up-Front Planning 12

Lack of Up-Front Costs 12

Stakeholder Involvement 13

Extensive Training 13

Where Agile Works Best 14

The Need for Up-Front Requirements in Many Projects 14

The Real World 15

Agile Enough 15

The Software Development Life Cycle 15

CHAPTER 3 Project Approaches; Off-the-Shelf and Custom Development; One Comprehensive Tool and Specialized Tools; Phased Launches and Pilots 17

The Custom vs. Off-the-Shelf Approach 18

History 18

The Benefit of Off-the-Shelf 19

Off-the-Shelf Examples 19

Thinking You’re Editing When You’re Actually Creating 20

Common Challenges with Off-the-Shelf Software 20

Business Compromise 21

Discovering You Made the Wrong Choice with Packaged Software 21

Breaking the Upgrade Path 21

Locked into a Partnership and the Product Roadmap 22

Expense of Off-the-Shelf 22

Where Packaged Software Works Well 23

Frameworks and the Blurring Worlds of Custom and Packaged Software 23

Integrations vs. One Tool for the Job 24

To Phase or Not to Phase 25

Bigger Is Not Always Better 26

The Pilot Approach 26

Why Not Pilot? 27

CHAPTER 4 Teams and Team Roles and Responsibilities Defined 29

Teams and the Roles on Teams 29

Project Leadership 30

The Key Business Stakeholder 31

The Project Sponsor 31

The Program Manager 32

Project Manager 32

Multiple Project Managers 33

Confusion About the Project Manager Role; It’s More Limited than You Think 34

Project Team 34

The Business Analyst 35

User Experience 35

Designer 35

The Programmers 35

Architect 36

Systems Administrator 36

Team Member Choice and Blending Roles 37

Getting All the Roles Covered 37

Real-World Examples for Role-Blending 38

Project Sponsor as Program Manager 38

Program Manager as Business Analyst 39

Front-End Programmer as User Experience 39

Design, UX, and Business Analysis 40

Back-End Programmer as Architect 40

SysAdmin as Architect 40

Professionals and Personalities 40

Programmers 40

Project Managers 41

Business Analysts and User Experience People 42

Architects and Systems Administrators 42

Insource or Outsource: Whether to Staff Roles with Internal People or Get Outside Help 43

The Myth that Insourcing Programming Is Better 43

Inexperience with Projects 44

How Knowledge Goes Stale 44

Outsourced Teams 44

When to Use Internal or External Teams 45

Roles Easiest to Outsource 46

Roles “in the Middle” 46

Roles that Are Usually Internal 47

Vendors and Hiring External Resources 47

Some Tech-Types to Avoid: Dot Communists and Shamans 47

The Shamans 48

Boundaries, Responsibilities, and Driving in Your Lane 49

Techies Who Don’t Drive in Their Lane 50

Business Stakeholders Who Shirk Responsibilities 50

Business Stakeholders, Step Up! 51

Have a Trusted Technology Partner 52

How Best (and Worst) to Work with Your Technology Partner 52

Too Many Cooks 53

CHAPTER 5 Project Research and Technology Choice; Conflicts at the Start of Projects; Four Additional Project Delays; Initial Pitfalls 55

Choice of Technology, a Definition 56

The Project’s Research Phase 56

Current State 56

Integrations and Current State 57

Data and Current State 57

Business Needs 58

Possible Technology Solutions 58

Demos 59

Comparison Grids 59

Talk to Other People, a Journalistic Exercise 60

How Do You Know When Your Research Is Done? 61

Research Reality Check 62

You Can’t Run the Control 62

Religious Wars 63

Passion over Reason 64

Business Stakeholders and Controlling Ego 64

How to Stop a Technology Religious War 65

Not So Easy 65

Preventing a Technology Religious War 65

Being Right 66

Stopping a War in Its Tracks 66

Détente and Finally Ending a Technology Religious War 67

Clarity 67

The Role of the CIO 68

Two Most Important Factors in Core Technology Decisions 69

Budget Constraints 69

The Team 69

Choosing Technology and What NOT to Consider: The Future 70

Other Conflicts that Delay the Start of Projects 71

Business Strategy and Organizational Authority 71

Design 73

Blue Sky 73

Overanalysis 74

The Project Charter, a Key Document 74

CHAPTER 6 Final Discovery; Project Definition, Scope, and Documentation 77

Budgeting and Ongoing Discovery; Discovery Work Is Real Work 78

Budgeting Final Discovery 78

What Discovery Costs 79

What Comes Out of Final Discovery: A Plan 79

Getting to a Plan 80

The Murk 80

Getting Out of the Murk 81

The Plan for the Plan—Company A 82

Hosting 82

Content Entry 82

Search 82

Content Pages and Features 83

Integrations 83

Back-end System 83

Data Migration 84

How Anyone Can Make a Plan for the Plan 84

Different Approaches to Elicit the Plan for the Plan 85

Exception to the Murk 86

Breakout Sessions 87

The Weeds Are Where the Flowers Grow 87

Not All Questions Will Be Answered 88

Agile, Waterfall, and Project Documentation 89

The Scope Document 90

Project Summary 90

Project Deliverables 90

Out of Scope 90

Constraints 91

Assumptions 91

Risks 91

Timeline 92

Budget, Scope, Timelining, and Horse-Trading 93

Metrics 93

What About “the List”? 94

Defining and Visualizing and Project Scope 94

What Usually Happens 95

The Chicken and the Egg 95

Common Questions 97

Where Does Design Fit In? 97

Working with Marketing Stakeholders 98

How You Know You’re On the Wrong Track 98

A Word About Ongoing Discovery 99

CHAPTER 7 Budgeting: The Budgeting Methods; Comparative, Bottom-Up, Top-Down, and Blends; Accurate Estimating 101

An Unpleasant Picture 102

What Goes on Behind the Scenes; a Scene 102

Budgeting Type 1: Comparative Budgeting 103

Gotchas with Comparative Budgeting 104

Budgeting Type 2: Bottom-Up Budgeting 104

The Rub in Bottom-Up Budgeting 105

Budgeting Type 3: Top-Down and Blends 105

Why RFPs Don’t Work 106

Accurate Estimating and Comparison Budgeting 107

Effective Estimating in Top-Down and Bottom-Up Budgeting 108

Establish a Base Budget for Programming, Ongoing Discovery, Unit Testing, Debugging, and Project Management 108

Percentages of Each 108

Programming Hours—Raw and Final 109

The Math Part 109

Additional Items to Consider 111

Budgeting and Conflicts 112

CHAPTER 8 Project Risks: The Five Most Common Project Hazards and What to Do About Them; Budgeting and Risk 115

Five Always-Risky Activities 116

Integration 116

Data Migration 117

Customization 118

Unproven Technology/Unproven Team 119

Too-Large Project 119

Want Versus Need 119

Want Versus Need: Programmers 120

Want Versus Need: Business Stakeholders 120

Optimism Is Not Your Friend in Software Development 120

Beware the Panacea Claim 121

Facing Risks 121

A Few Words About Fault 121

Identifying Risks Up Front 122

Embrace the Snow 122

Talking to Your Boss 123

Hidden Infections 124

Bad Technology Team; Wrong Technology Choice 124

Too Many Opinions and Lack of Leadership 124

The Contingency Factor 125

The Cost of Consequences 125

Contingency Percentage Factors 126

In the Real World 126

The Good News 127

A Common Question 127

Long-Term Working Relationships and Contingency 127

CHAPTER 9 Communication; Project Communication Strategy; from Project Kickoff to Daily Meetings 129

Project Kickoff 130

Project Kickoff Cast 130

Project Leadership 130

Company Leadership 131

Who Gives the Kickoff? 131

Kickoff Presentation 131

High-Level Project Definition 132

Business Case and Metrics 132

Project Approach 133

Team Members and Roles 133

Project Scope 134

Out-of-Scope 134

Timeline 134

Budget 135

Risks, Cautions, and Disclaimers 136

Monthly Steering Committee 137

Monthly Steering Committee Attendees 137

Monthly Steering Committee Agenda 137

Weekly Project Management Meeting 139

Weekly Project Management Attendees 139

Weekly Project Management Agenda 139

Daily Standup Meeting 140

Well-Run Meetings 140

Insist on Attention 140

Timeliness 140

Getting “into the Weeds” 141

Needs to Be Kicked Upstairs 141

Poor Quality Sound—Speakerphones and Cell Phones 142

Too Much Talk 142

Agenda and Notes 143

CHAPTER 10 The Project Execution Phase: Diagnosing Project Health; Scope Compromises 145

What Should Be Going on Behind the Scenes 145

The Best Thing You Can Ever Hear: “Wait. What Was It Supposed to Do?” 146

Neutral Corners 147

What If Things Aren’t Quiet? 147

Making Decisions 148

How to Listen to the Programmers 149

The Programmer’s Prejudice 149

SneakerNet and the Fred Operating System 150

SneakerNet Integrations 150

The Fred Operating System 151

The Hidden Benefits 151

Demos and Iterative Deliverables 151

Why Iterative Deliverables Are Important 151

Why Iterative Deliverables Are Hard 152

What You Can Do to Achieve Iterative Deliverables Even if It’s Hard 153

Demos 154

Scope Creep 154

Dealing with Scope Creep; Early Is Better 155

Scope Creep and Budgeting 155

Scope Creep and Governance 155

Types of Scope Creep 156

Scope Creep and the Team 157

CHAPTER 11 First Deliverables: Testing, QA, and Project Health Continued 159

The Project’s First Third 159

The Second Third 159

A First Real Look at the Software 160

The Trough of FUD 161

Distinguishing a Good Mess from a Bad Mess 163

An Important Checkpoint 163

Getting to Stability 164

First Testing and the Happy Path 164

Quality Assurance 165

Bug Reporting 165

Regression Testing 166

Bugs: Too Many, Too Few 166

Testing: The Right Amount for the Job 166

Too Much Testing? 167

Bug Cleanup Period 167

Timeline So Far 168

CHAPTER 12 Problems: Identifying and Troubleshooting the Three Most Serious Project Problems; Criteria for Cancellation 169

A Rule About Problems 169

Additional Resources 170

Fault—A Review 172

Common Late-Stage Problems 172

Business User Revolt: “We Talked About It in a Meeting Once” 172

Managing Business User Revolt 173

What If No or Little Documentation Exists? 174

Risk Chickens Come Home to Roost 175

Managing the Risk Chickens 176

When Programmers Ask for More Time 178

Lurking Infections 178

Bad Technology Team 179

How to Manage a Bad Technology Team 179

Wrong Technology Choice 180

Managing a Wrong Technology Choice 180

The Sunk-Cost Bias 181

Lack of Leadership 181

Managing Lack of Leadership 181

CHAPTER 13 Launch and Post-Launch: UAT, Security Testing, Performance Testing, Go Live, Rollback Criteria, and Support Mode 183

User Acceptance Testing: What It Is and When It Happens 183

Controlling UAT and “We Talked About It in a Meeting Once,” Part Deux 185

Classifying UAT Feedback 185

Bugs 186

Not Working as Expected—The Trickiest Category 186

Request for Improvement 187

Feature Request 188

Conflict Resolution and Final Launch List 188

Load Testing 189

Performance Testing 189

Security Testing 189

Sign-Off 194

Questions to Ask Regarding Launch Readiness 195

Not Knowing Is Not Acceptable 195

Criteria for Rollback 196

Singing the Post-Launch Blues 196

Was It All a Big Mistake? 198

Metrics 198

Ongoing Development 198

Surviving the Next One 199

APPENDIX 201

GLOSSARY 215

INDEX 223

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Author Information

ANNA P. MURRAY, a nationally recognized technology consultant, speaker, and blogger, is president of emedia, a provider of software development, high-level technology consulting, and project and program management. She is a double winner of the Stevie Award for Women in Business, a recipient of a Mobile Marketing Association award for mobile app development, and Folio's Top Women in Media award.

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