How to check if your software development partner has the right PM competencies?

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If there is one key factor that decides on the success or failure of your software project, it is surely the way it is managed.

The project can have a well- prepared project management plan, appropriate financing, project sponsor, stakeholders support and engaged experienced developers – and still end up with budget and schedule overrun and poor quality of the final product. A good PM is the absolute prerequisite for meeting project goals and it really makes the difference! The bigger the project is, the more crucial project management skills become.

What are the most important PM skills?

It takes much more than just technical know-how to be an effective project manager. It also requires organisational savviness, a can-do attitude and a list of soft skills that often determine if the project runs skills

How to check if your PM has what it takes? Talk and ask questions.

We prepared a list of top 5 project management skills that you want your outsourced PM to possess – and suggestions how to prove if your outsourcing partner really has what it takes.

Before choosing a software development partner, do not hesitate to spend time on negotiations. Expect illustrative examples with real life case studies and always ask for scenarios from past experience. Do not hesitate to contact other clients for references regarding particular examples of project management. And ask, ask and ask!

Top 5 project management skills in IT outsourcing

  1. Clear communication

    A PM spends up to 90 percent of their time communicating. Nothing’s more essential than providing information clearly and accurately. To communicate is one thing, but to communicate effectively, with mutual respect and including sensitiveness of the topic, is another.

    How to check if your PM communicates clearly?

    Ask for communication plans and how they usually maintain contact with the client and project stakeholders. What tools do they use to boost the effectiveness of communication? Is the communication tailored in form to the audience, e.g. technical and non-technical people? What about the follow-ups and clarification of understanding? Do they confirm the accuracy of information sent and received?

  2. Scope, Cost, Time and Quality Management

    A good project manager can not only schedule the project, but also execute and react accordingly. It requires strong organisational skills and making timely decisions based on facts and needs. A PM must have in-depth knowledge of fundamental processes, tools and methodologies of product development in order to deliver good quality results on time, within budget and actually meeting the business’ needs.

    How to check PM’s skills on scope, cost, time and quality management?

    Ask what techniques of scope, time, cost and quality management do they use. Ask about the vision of the project (examples of scope, cost, time and quality management plans). How they would know where the project has been, is and is going to? Find out what tools, methodologies and techniques of product development in general they use. How will the workflow be managed? How will they track scope, time and costs? Is there a QA involved in the project? Can they present any certificates to back up their project management IT competencies?

  3. Risk management

    Software project management is a fast-paced environment that requires the right mix of critical and analytical thinking, a problem-solving attitude and assertiveness. Most importantly, it requires the rigorous methodology in: preparing risk management plan, risk identification, risk analysis, risk response plan and monitoring and controlling the risk responses. A PM you want to work with not only brainstorms potential solutions and is able to trace back to the underlying problem, but also identifies opportunities and takes advantage of them.

    How to check PM’s risk management skills?

    Ask what techniques of issue prevention and resolution they use. How will they know if the project is off schedule? How will they know if unforeseen problems arise? How will they introduce contingency plans to the project? Are they able to evaluate technical risks? Are they authentic and assertive enough to prevent project failure? Do they challenge their partners?

  4. Project Recovery

    Sometimes you will find the project out of track and endangered. A good PM has the ability to stay calm under pressure and, if needed, take the responsibility for failures. They can also eventually turn a poorly performing project back on track and save the day.

    How to check PM’s project recovery skills?

    Ask if they have experienced a project failure before? What happened? Have they ever had a rescue mission? How did they approach the topic? Do they prepare and store historical information and “lessons learned” documentation for all previous projects?

  5. Team management

    Software development is a team effort and there is more in team management than just strategic administration and coordination of a group of individuals. A PM has to have empathy and a sense of humour, creating goodwill within the team and the ‘we are in this together’ atmosphere. Don’t forget that leadership is about motivating and inspiring, rather than imposing.

    How to check if the PM is a team player?

    What is your personal impression of the PM? Are they likeable and would you consider hanging out with them after hours? If not, then possibly you’re not the only one with the same impression.

Project management adds value

PM is integral for the project to succeed as he is solely responsible for managing the project to meet its objectives. Not recognising the added value of a good project manager can literally ruin your project. A PM with the right mix of soft and hard skills not only maximises ROI but also minimizes the chance of failure.

At the end of the day all that matters is if your expectations have been met. And a good PM is crucial for this to happen.