PM Tool Needs for Software Development Firms

Software development is complex technically and also in terms of the processes for managing effectively.  This function has seen an evolution of project management practices originating from waterfall to more agile practices, with infinite hybrid combinations in between.  This article looks at the unique PM tool needs for supporting software development teams and companies – as contrasted with the PM tool needs in other industries such as digital marketing and creative, professional service, and building and construction. This is the fourth part of a series of four articles on “PM Software by Industry”, where we explore the variation in needs and implementations of project management software solutions based on industry.  This article, Part 4 in the series, on the “Software Development” industry, dives into the process needs and supporting software for better enabling those that develop software applications.  Part 1, looks at the “Digital Marketing and Creative” industry and the specific operational needs of firms engaged in digital marketing and creative work, and how specific software features support those needs.  Part 2, looking at the “Professional Services” industry, looks at the specific operational needs of professional services firms and how targeted software applications are delivering against these needs.  Part 3, focuses on the “Building and Construction” industry, providing a survey of the software feature needs of this large and unique market segment and the types of software products that support.

The following are eight key needs that software development teams need in the PM tools they use for managing their projects: 

  1. Track requirements, specifications, standards, and other documentation 
  2. Configuration manage the software code as well as documentation 
  3. Track status of development tasks 
  4. Track status of issues 
  5. Track testing results and fixes 
  6. Document and mitigate risks 
  7. Manage schedule – regardless of how agile the project is 
  8. Collaborate across dispersed teams – instant messaging, meeting records… 

What is most notable is this ‘friction’ on software development projects between a waterfall and an agile approach.  Teams need to be able to customize their own hybrid approach, where they combine techniques from the following lists: 

Waterfall techniques Agile Techniques 
Detailed requirements up front No change to requirements permitted Detailed, fixed schedule up front Heavy documentation Fixed performance contracts Staged development Sequence of pre-defined phases  Each phase completes before the next Earned value management Scrum Kanban Lean Product Development Extreme Programming (XP) Feature Driven Development (FDD) Crystal Paired programming Sprints, iterations, Demos, user feedback Team empowerment 

There are many PM tools out there that focus on specific flavors of the above.  Each situation is unique enough that the group – whether a team, or a company-wide effort – needs to choose a system that will support its own unique approach. 

Can you see the unique factors for managing software development projects that point specific types of PM tools?

This Post is Part of the Series: PM Software by Industry

This series of four articles looks at the many variations and implementations of PM tools based on industry.

  1. PM Tool Needs for Digital Marketing and Creative Firms
  2. PM Tool Needs for Professional Services Firms
  3. PM Tool Needs for Building and Construction Firms
  4. PM Tool Needs for Software Development Firms