It is hard to manage projects connected with software development. There are so many things to plan, control and manage so a manager can easily get lost in all the processes. Fortunately, the market offers a great variety of project management tools. Unfortunately, there are too many of them. Searching for one or two for your plans can cause inconvenience and can significantly waste your time.
Why is it time-consuming? There are plenty of tools that are more or less efficient or, for example, more or less hyped. With that in mind, a manager should definitely know about project management software features that every tool should possess for efficient software development.
Why is it important to choose the right software?
When a manager adheres to the Agile methodology, he or she should prepare a sound project plan. It includes many points. But, in any case, a manager needs to define the project plan's purpose, its stakeholders, determine the project's goals, define the project's scope, team members roles and responsibilities and, of course, schedule everything in an effective project management tool.
Apart from basic obligatory functions (like tasks assignment, progress tracking, etc.), there are some other features without which your software development project will fail. Let’s figure out what features effective software should possess if it is needed for development.
1. Risk Management
One can hardly find a project where no risks occur. Unforeseen situations happen all the time, during all stages of development and, of course, they have different impacts on plans. Usually, unforeseen developments have a negative influence. But sometimes it happens in an opposite, positive, way. Anyway, unforeseen situations and risks impact a task's duration, its progress, deadlines, budget, participants, etc.
If you are engaged in a long-term and complicated project, this function is a must. That’s why, to avoid unforeseen expenditures, project’s taking too long, and the deterioration of performance quality, any manager should calculate all risks in advance. A great plus is when a tool can do it for you.
2. Resource Management
Resource management is an integral part of software development projects. What are resources? They can be something material (like equipment), labor forces (your team) and expenditures (each resource’s cost). Therefore, it’s very convenient and useful when a project management tool offers resource management function. It is of the highest value for those who want to not only assign tasks but calculate expenditures.
A manager, having set a resource’s cost, will be aware of the whole project cost, whether this resource works too much or, vice versa, underperforms. As a result, all the processes and tasks in software development are managed more effectively.
3. Dependencies, Milestones, and Critical Path
Have you ever been engaged in a development project with absolutely separated tasks? I am 100% sure, you never have. Task #1 may be connected to task #10, etc. There are many options, as tasks can’t exist separately from each other. That’s why a great tool for all the development stages should offer task dependency functions. The great majority of tools allows you to do this in a few clicks with drag-and-drop functionality.
Milestones are used for marking important or otherwise specific points in a project along a timeline. If a milestone is approached, therefore, a project just passed an important event and is moving in the right direction.
During software development, milestones can be presented in a variety of options. It can be the completion of a new feature's development, the first great external review from experts, the one-thousandth registered user, etc.
Example: MS Project.
4. Team Collaboration
You know how important it is to collaborate and communicate with your team inside one tool without switching between different screens and software. Well-timed, smooth communication during development is a must. This is where great ideas to make your product better are born.
What do project management tools offer? First of all, they off communication abilities like commenting on tasks or attaching files – no one wants to lose important information in external tools.
There are some other great collaboration features. The export function helps to keepy your chart on hand. The sharing function is needed for anyone involved in a project to get instant access with rights to view and edit. Some services have a great function like the history of changes. If you made some mistakes in your development plan, it is easy to undo those steps and restore the previous version.
5. Baseline and Estimates
A baseline shows how everything a manager planned compares to a real-time state of things with estimation and analysis of deviations.
Some tools do have such a feature. But it is not calculated automatically. So a manager has to do all operation manually. Be aware and choose tools for your dev projects that offer automatic baseline options.
Example: MS Project.