A new project is developing slowly, without any deliverable to pass along to the customer. The team needs a clearer strategy for production. This is where the project manager comes in; a project manager who understands their options when it comes to DevOps and different development methods is a critical tool in multiplying a project’s successes.
DevOps is a powerful framework for a productive team, allowing many different roles to collaborate toward a target. Adopting DevOps practices can drastically improve efficiency and output quality.
However, to achieve these benefits, the team needs a clear goal, a strategy for achieving it, and a high level of coordination throughout the process. That’s where an effective project manager becomes critical; a project manager with a clear understanding of best practices in a DevOps environment is an absolute requirement for difficult projects.
Adjusting to the Needs of a Project: Waterfall vs Agile Methodology
In traditional projects, different steps needed to be completed sequentially, with one completely finished before the next started. All requirements would have to be known from the start, then the project would move from design to prototyping to testing to an operational final product.
This resembled a straight flow through the development process, cascading progress from one step to the next. This process of one-directional flow came to be known as the waterfall method.
While the waterfall method is easy to understand and implement, it also comes with some large downsides. For one, it takes a long time to get from the initial requirements to a working product, without much produced in between. More critically, it requires that every design requirement is known at the start of the project; because each step assumes that the step before has been entirely completed, a later-stage change to the requirements can cause a lot of work to need to be redone.
To address the downsides of the waterfall method, a new software development method has become more popular in recent years. Instead of segmenting the project into individual stages that must be completed one at a time, this new method constantly adjusts to changing requirements or progress, earning it the name of agile methodology.
The agile method involves quickly creating a first prototype based on initial requirements. Then, constant improvements and adjustments are made to that product, creating an ongoing series of working products, each better than the last.
This method overcomes a lot of the shortcomings of the waterfall method. It allows changes to the requirements at any time and constantly has working versions produced from very early on in development.
However, because the agile method has so many moving pieces, it requires a sharp project manager to keep track.
The Key to DevOps Project Management
One secret to project management that is often taken for granted: face-to-face interaction. Not only is direct, synchronous conversation the most efficient way to share information, it’s also key to building connections with teammates. Successful project managers should favor in-person interaction or video calls where possible.
Another overlooked key is measuring team success by deliverables. It’s easy for a novice project manager to get lost in internal measures of success. While it can be a great morale boost to celebrate internal achievements, a strong project manager needs to keep functioning product stages as the only real measurement of a team’s progress and adjust their feedback accordingly.
At the end of the day, the most important work of a project manager is to give developers and builders the space to succeed. Help layout the plans, build an environment for success, and facilitate communication— but beyond that, it’s best to step back and let the teamwork. Once a project manager points a developer in the right direction and gives them the tools they need, it’s space that allows them to get to work on innovating.
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