The Lack of Project Management in Software Development

I’ve been working for software companies for over 20 years. Project Management has been an established professional field for much longer than that. I earned my PMP certification in 2013. I work in the User Assistance part of software development. There continues to be a lack of real project management inside software development factories, and I wonder why.

Many companies sell project management services to their customers, or they include it in the package price of the software sold. Project management certainly gives clients a degree of certainty that projects will be run on time, within budget, to the expected degree of quality. If that doesn’t happen, clients know they have the ear of the Project Manager to get things corrected.

But internally inside the software factories, how many development teams actually use real trained, professional Project Managers? I believe that very few actually do. I need to do research to support what my experience tells me. Usually, the Dev managers, Product Definition, Product Managers, or some other member of the Dev team assumes this role, typically with no special project management training. This type of project management typically leads to project mismanagement, projects that exceed scope, run late, run over budget, and sometimes even have to get pulled from the software at the last minute.

If companies spent more money on hiring professional Project Managers to manage their internal processes, they would reap the benefits again and again. Why do companies fail to do this? I will examine that question more in a later blog.

The Importance of User Experience Tests

Welcome! This is my first post as I relaunch my website, I plan to blog regularly about voice acting, audiobooks, technical writing, and project management. I will include additional intermittent blog posts on other subjects.

Today’s post is about the importance of User Experience (UE) testing to just about every product you put your hands on. The goal of every company is to gain loyal customers by providing you what you want and need at a fair price, and then stand behind that product till you are satisfied. They want repeat customers. However, it never fails to amaze me how many boxes I open and within two minutes I’m asking myself, what do I do now? Am I dumb, or did they not test this scenario? Sadly, I think that UE testing was either poorly done, or not done at all.

Two examples come to mind. I open the box containing a glucometer to measure blood sugar levels. New to this experience, I eagerly awaited some hand holding. But at a key point, with the pricker device that you use to draw blood, the instructions failed to describe in enough detail how to load the needle, leaving me wondering what to do. I also asked, does this have a top or a bottom? Is it important which way this goes in? No help from the descriptions. Inserting the test strip into the measuring device, like an iPod, left me wondering, does it matter if my fingerprint get on this little channel into which my blood gets drawn? Again there was a lack of information in the guide they provided. Was I the only person who ever asked these questions, I thought?

Example two was a new floor lamp. I looked at the Ikea-like instructions and said, ok, this is not hard. But when I got to the critical part of screwing the head with the light into the metal pole, I wondered, is this head supposed to be able to swivel, or do I need to twist this around till tight? If I twist it too much, is the wire inside going to get damaged? Again I thought, well shoot, did other people try putting this together to come up with these questions? Why is this information not covered somewhere in the included docs?

This list goes on and on, in every aspect of every product you consume every day. How about all those apps you download onto your phones? When was the last time the flimsy documentation answered all your questions? Or via any web site selling products? My recommendation to everyone is to always try to get as many people as possible to test your stuff for quality before you release it to the public, because you know darn well that your bugs WILL be found, and your consumers are not very forgiving of errors that bother them and impact their ability to get their jobs done.

UE is important! Spend the time and your customers and Sales/Marketing staff will all be happier.