Software development companies use so called project managers to improve communication with their clients and understand them better. The clients often appreciate what their project managers do for them. And even though it seems that the project owners should be happy to have a project manager, some of them are not certain they need one and they frequently ask us, "What for and when is a project manager needed?"
There are two main reasons why project owners think they can go without a project manager: a) they think that a fully capable engineer does not need a manager or b) they think they can carry these responsibilities themselves.
The first point is absolutely incorrect while the second point is incorrect only in perhaps 99% of occurrences. To see that, let us talk about the role of a project manager.
Role and responsibilities of a project manager
I could say a lot about what a good project manager is supposed to do. But since I have to provide my clients with a concise and convincing answer to this question, I have narrowed down the list of responsibilities to one simple point. Here it is.
A project manager should help both the project owner and the development camp to stay within a given budget or time range.
How cool does it sound? It sounds pretty cool, doesn't it?
A special work nature
Now let us return to what has been said about going without a project manager and think if one of the two options mentioned could work out.
I strongly believe that there is no software developer who would control the customer's expenses. The reason is simple - the nature of developer's work is different.
One of our amazing clients, Matthew Stibbe from Atriculate Marketing once said, 'Developers like to develop'. This is very true. If you give them an assignment, first thing they do is they look for a technical solution. This is what they are paid for, so they rarely think of how the new assignment affects the general plan and the timeline.
Even less likely they make a next step and propose an updated plan that addresses new requirements but still fits the schedule.
About doing it yourself
What about monitoring the schedule personally?
Actually, this is a great idea. I totally welcome it. But in reality, project owners do this even more rarely than their software developers would.
I know that project owners prefer to focus on business goals. This is exactly what is recommended by the agile approach. But it returns us to our initial point: project owners who develop their projects with the help of a software development company will appreciate having a specially trained person who would keep an eye on the schedule.
To sum it up
Let us return to the main statement of this article and repeat it. The project manager's responsibility is to help the project owner and the development camp to stay within a given budget or time range.
This is a very important role. If you have a project you would like to outsource to a software development company, make sure that your development camp has a person responsible for the timeline.