Managing software development teams is an increasingly complicated job. Managers need to understand site dependencies, coordinate remote workers and juggle internal or client demands that may make projects much harder to manage.
Good management practices are necessary if you want to become the best web development manager possible, and help your team to develop apps and sites that meet project requirements.
These tips and strategies can help any web dev manager become a better leader and project manager.
1. Avoid Email for Day-to-Day Project Communication
Don’t use email if you can help it — successful managers often use alternatives to email, often project management tools like Trello and Basecamp, to keep project communication organized. These tools help managers and team members keep data in one place. There, it can be easily accessed by everyone working on a project, as well as other project stakeholders.
Emails, by contrast, silo off important discussions and are less effective at showing how progress is being made on a particular project. New team members added to an email chain may also miss out on valuable information they may need to do their job.
While emails will still be necessary for some regular communication, they shouldn’t always be the go-to for recording project-relevant information or coordinating work.
2. Know How to Best Use Project Management Tech
It’s also important that you use best practices when working with project management tools.
As a team manager, what you’re really managing more than anything else is communication between your webdev team and project managers. Your job is to make sure that they work together to produce a site or web app that meets client needs and is finished on deadline.
Good practices include using your tech to set due dates for tasks, breaking down large tasks into more manageable subtasks and creating milestones that organize groups of tasks. Taking full advantage of the features your project management tool offers — like “Hill Charts” in Basecamp or card covers in Trello — will also help you get the most out of the software you use
3. Set a Defined Project Scope
As manager, you’re likely to be somewhat responsible for determining the scope of projects that your team works on.
Project scope is one of the most important early considerations that your team will have to decide on. A too-vague project scope can make early work on a project difficult — and can lead to scope creep, in which your team adds more and more work to the project.
Keeping employees on track and clearly defining a project scope will help keep your team’s plans realistic and ensure that a project is finished on time.
Defining project scope also presents an opportunity to clearly establish project responsibilities and organize team communication.
4. Communicate Early and Often
Regular communication is key for effective project management. By keeping your team in the loop about major developments, you can help ensure that everyone knows where the project is headed and how work is currently being prioritized.
Depending on the particular project and the scope of your responsibilities, this may mean passing on feedback from clients, helping multiple teams coordinate work or keeping employees informed about requests from internal stakeholders.
A combination of communication channels will probably be necessary. In addition to your project management software, many businesses also use an instant messaging service — like Slack — and video conferencing tools to host virtual meetings.
5. Reduce (or Eliminate) Workplace Distractions
Even minor workplace distractions can wreak havoc on your team and their productivity.
Research shows that these distractions, over a long enough period of time, can reduce employee morale, harm productivity and reduce job satisfaction.
Knowing how to identify and fix common workplace distractions can help you provide the best possible working environment for your team.
For example, noise in open offices tends to drift far away from its point of origin — reducing speech privacy and creating a much noisier workplace. Simple adjustments to office acoustics can help to reduce this problem.
You can also be on the lookout for issues with office lighting, temperature and humidity.
6. Limit Meetings
Some meetings will be necessary. If you need your team to discuss the project with internal stakeholders, or if a conversation needs to happen about certain project requirements or team approach, a meeting may be the best possible option.
However, almost everyone has been in a meeting that could have been an email. Meetings aren’t free — they take significant amounts of time and coordination between different parties.
When scheduling a meeting you should remember what you’re trading off to make that meeting happen — including the hour or two (or more) of lost productivity, as well as the decline in productivity that comes with a substantial distraction like a meeting.
Before you decide on a meeting, see if an email, announcement or update to your project management tool can accomplish what you’re after. If so, you could save yourself and your team a decent bit of time.
7. Know When to Let Your Team Work
Once you’ve gathered all necessary requirements for a project and have defined your project scope, it’s sometimes best to let your team just write code. You’ll still need to take care of admin work and help coordinate labor between projects and team members, but you may also have to use a lighter touch from time to time.
Interruptions and micro-management of simple tasks can significantly drag out the length of a project, or distract your team. Knowing when to let go and turn your attention to administrative tasks is a great way to optimize productivity.
Best Practices for Managing Web Development
Good management of a web development team will require the right tools and frequent communication. Project management software can help you organize tasks and define major milestones, helping you to estimate the work a project will take and keep a job within scope.
Effective communication will help reduce confusion — and potentially cut down on unnecessary meetings.