In the era of a continuous rise of digital and technological transformation, Software Factories face volatile and fast-paced competition. There’s a need for constant improvement and innovation, reaching development lifecycles that must meet the highest standards in the briefest of times.
Although Software factories seem to be a product of the new millennium they have been around since the 1960s, since the birth of software engineering, and are not immune to the basic challenges any industry faces. As such, they fall prey to the usual business needs and difficulties: Financial management, monitoring metrics, quality assurance, recruiting talent, employee burnout, customer services, project scope, time management, evaluating data, and maximizing profits. People, processes, and technology, in its basic components. From startups to Microsoft: efficient project progress requires an effective project management tool.
Although businesses across industries share certain aspects and needs, developing software is an extremely intricate process, that requires several steps, and can become convoluted if they are not carefully planned, organized and executed.
Expanding a Software Factory requires a holistic approach that must take into account the internal software development processes while aiming for the long haul of business growth. Procedural specifications are at the core of software development. Analyzing these internal work processes, and implementing efficient project management is the key to higher quality deliverables, better customer service, effective resource management, and better pricing. In this day and age, for this to happen, one must use a good Project Management tool.
Project Management Methodologies for Software Development
Software Factories remain true to their name; they are a streamlined industrial-style operation that delivers a high-quality product. Businesses such as these need all of their parts working in perfect harmony for the company to succeed. The shape their work methodology will take depends on the company’s resources, their mission, and their leadership style.
A popular management direction for this line of work is the Agile methodology, development done in iterative phases, or cycles, of planning, executing and evaluating the outcome. The evolution comes in the form of collaboration and self-organization between team members, customers, and stakeholders. The focus is set on each deliverable part of the software as a unit, approaching the software, as whole, in parts. This would be an Agile Software Development.
Agile development is inspired by the Agile Manifesto, advocating for the importance of people and their interactions over tools and processes. This style of workflow lessens costs and reduces the need for reworks, as the team can adjust their work according to the customer’s feedback. Saving time, avoiding the need for extra hours, and talent stress or burnout.
Communication is the key for a successful Agile workflow, collaboration with the client and in between teams paves the way for a better relationship with customers. The incremental approach in iterations and viewing changes as a part of the plan, using with a flexible roadmap, means the project manager must have an incredibly good grip on the tasks at hand. It means they must employ an agile project management style as well.
In order to avoid risks, unnecessary expenses, and business interruptions the Project Manager must use a tool that’s up to the task. Time tracking, scheduling, effective communication, short status reports, task assignment, and visual components such as Kanban boards of even Gantt charts, are required. And all of these functions must be flexible, allowing changes while the project is underway. It’s a lot to ask out of a management tool, there aren’t many project management software in the market that can perform this functions as an all-in-one.
Another popular route has been the Competence Management Frameworks, focusing on developing business competencies at a company in-depth structure. Listing the skills, knowledge and expertise required to perform a job effectively, creating a model that describes performance excellence within an organization. Software Factories need to curate their business needs and competencies, deal with different project requirements, manage their human resources, project teams, and dependencies, assure their services are timely and of the upmost quality, and be on top of their risk management.
Another popular route has been the Competence Management Frameworks, focusing on developing business competencies at a company in-depth structure. Listing the skills, knowledge and expertise required to perform a job effectively, creating a model that describes performance excellence within an organization. Software Factories need to curate their business needs and competencies, deal with different project requirements, manage their human resources, project teams, and dependencies, assure their services are timely and of the upmost quality, and be on top of their risk management. And everything is done at the lowest possible cost.
These type of companies are usually large operations that invest heavily in the development of their Project Management capabilities. To implement this vision they require clear Business Competence Performance Metrics, which are translated as key performance indexes for the continuous improvement process of the organization. The development of such a plan involves human capital training and a clear growth plan.
For this work frame to be possible Project Managers must track several projects at the same time, as well as being on top of the office, resource, financial and software management. Metrics are at the center of this model, so keeping a close watch on business information is a necessity. Project management software advocated to these enterprises has to count with user-friendly reporting functionality, human resource metrics, transparent communication and financial records.
Benefits Of Project Management Software For Software Factory
Taking into account what we discussed earlier, Software development projects require reliable project governance to be an effective process. Project management software must offer several functions and tools to be a good fit to meet the high standards the industry sets: Finishing deliverables and software products on time, manage the human and budgetary resources, maintaining stakeholder’s interest and quality values, communicating with clients and between team members.
There are extraordinary benefits when the right software solution is found. In Software Factories there’s another side of processes that is truly vital to take into consideration. For any factory, this means evaluating the workflow, whether they use an Agile, Scrum, or Waterfall methodology, and analyzing the data gathered to improve work capacity and revenue.
Access to clear operations procedures and data is a powerful tool when pricing services, debating fees with clients, and project planning. High-level reports can be an ally when dealing with lowballing customers, internal transformations, and deciding which services are more profitable for the company. Tools that gather data about how long tasks take to be accomplished, delivery times, and scope of work can help estimate how much services actually cost. These solutions are a must for C-Levels and stakeholders, for financial decision making, and for charging the correct value to each project plan.
With the right information, a Software Factory can see the real value of their work, which customers use which services, and go into meeting with transparent and clear ideas.
Project Management Challenges within Software Development Industry
The Software Development Industry encounters specific difficulties in its line of work. Constant technological advances mean developers are in a constant state of flux and must evolving their state of the art product design.
Globalization causes extremely high competition, and varying work legislation is translated into low fees in some countries, that can’t be matched in other areas. The existence of a multitude of services and products available renders the integration and interface issues into a complex matter. At the same time, not everyone has the same level of software understanding which means multiple user level requirements. As well as an increase of in house development in grand scale companies.
While there are general project management implementation skill sets, it may be necessary in this industry to seek project managers who are highly experienced implementing specific systems and processes in software development. Another hurdle is the replacement of older legacy systems and large ERP systems with Saas enterprises. From small operations to global businesses, companies chose to use their features and capabilities without investing large amounts of valuable capital. Businesses subscribe to this model because it allows to dedicate large amounts of capital towards other projects.
Software Factories are extremely complex and managing them requires expertise in areas of software development, software testing and quality assurance, implementation, user security, internal controls, customer relationship management, change management, business processes and many other areas. On top of the regular skillset an effective project manager must develop.
How to choose a Project Management Software for Software Development Teams
The market has several well-tested, feature-rich, and affordable project management software to choose from. The trick nowadays is to know which one is the best fit for your company. For this to be a successful project one must take into consideration: 1) Company size and amount of employees. 2) Pricing. 3) Must have features.
Let’s focus on the most important aspect of the search for a good fit: Functionalities. While size and pricing are important factors, the core value of a Project Management solution is that it aids the Managers in augmenting the team member’s potential, and overall quality standards. They should be part of the conversation when looking for new features.
Some tools count with task management, team time tracking, standardized workflows or processes, Gantt charts and templates. Others are web-based, scalable to any possible amount of users, count with clear and transparent team communication and documents collaboration and user permission customization. Some even permit their users to access budgeting capabilities, nourished by centralized data storage and document management, while also featuring key app integration.
Generally, in the market, it’s unlikely to find all the necessary functionalities in only one solution. Which can be an enormous waste of time, due to the training required, and a huge investment of money on licenses. Not mentioning the customer support delays for each tool as a separate. The good news is that there is an all-in-one Project Management solution available in the market: COR.
COR is an AI-powered software tool that empowers professional service businesses. The solution drives the automation of tasks, time tracking, financial reporting, among others. It helps businesses increase the real value of their work with its price estimation and projection capabilities. It also features an extremely clear and transparent way of communication, eradicating the need to get lost in pointless e-mails, saving precious working hours with a centralized system. It allows for seamless integration with the main apps and platforms. COR is in the business of helping professional service companies achieve their true potential.