A project manager has a lot of relations with different people around. Stakeholders, managers, subcontractors, analysts, designers, quality engineers and a heck lot of other people. Oh, and don’t forget about developers. Actually relation between PM and developers usually is pretty special.
Developers often treat PM as The Source of All Evil. And to some point they’re right. It’s a project manager who brings more work. It’s a project manager who bugs everyone asking when they’re going to be done. It’s a project manager who brings all the bad news from customer. “We’ll do that other way since, well, the guy from marketing has changed his mind. And yes, I know we’re going to throw out a month of work. We’ll need to add these new features too. You know, client pays, client expects. Oh, and one more thing – UI design which was accepted two months ago is no good anymore, so we’re going to redo the whole thing. And we’re already late so we need to push little harder guys. C’mon, you’re great… Don’t look at me that way – I’m not trying to make your life miserable it’s just how this business looks like.” I think you get the point.
That’s the part of project management job and neither PM nor developers can change it. OK, now we know what PMs do to add more work for development team. But what should they do to make developers’ work a bit easier? Basically just one thing:
Get all the crap out of developers’ way.
Let them do what they do best – code. OK, they will redo several things as a customer makes their mind, but that’s still coding – something they should love to do. After all they’re redoing their code all the way without any external incentive and they’re all hot about that; they call it refactoring or something. There is however a list of things which can be, and should be, taken out of developers’ way.
Start with all the office politics. Filter it all out. Take all the hits on your chest. Bureaucracy is next on the list. Yes, we so often need to produce darn lot of paper. Do what you can to let your programmers forget about bureaucracy, which probably means you’re about to fill the papers. Be as technical as you can. If you don’t have other choice but to go bother developers asking them for things you don’t understand at least try to learn it so you don’t have to come back each time someone asks you similar question. Find people who will help them to set up what they need e.g. testing environment. Don’t overload them with stack of status reports which tell you what they’re doing every single minute. This time less is more.
Basically, be a helping hand for developers. Yes, not the other way around. They’re builders. The best you, as a project manager, can do is helping them in building great products. If they end up helping you in project management something is wrong.