This article originally appeared on ZDNet’s AnchorDesk.
Developing software products is a tough enough job when you have clear-cut specifications and goals. But if the process of defining the product is unnecessarily complicated, development efforts can get derailed. When a project is lagging behind schedule, how do you know whether it’s the process or the coders who are at fault? Here are a few signs that it's time your product team streamlines its approach:
- The marketing team lacks a technical background. While I don’t think that product managers have to be coding maestros, they need to understand your company’s platform and how you develop software.
- Product managers and developers don’t communicate formally or informally. Formal channels, such as change order forms and bug tracking, may be the official way to communicate about your project, but a quick phone call or hallway conversation can be just as effective in passing on information.
- There's a form for every season. I'm a big believer in documenting your code. But sometimes overkill is worse. Making a copy fix or tweaking a small bug doesn’t require an armload of paperwork.
- Your development team doesn’t want to be bothered with customer service. While inept product managers can slow down development efforts, your developers should have some communication with customer support.
Undecided on pulling the plug?
Here are some articles that can help you decide whether to continue or stop:
- "Decisions, decisions: Make them timely, wisely, and responsibly"
- "How to break the news that a project needs to be killed"
- "The nimble PM's guide to status reports for stakeholders and sponsors"
- "Revive a beached project without losing your cool"
- "An XP hybrid methodology for large-scale projects"
Sometimes the folks who dream up a product don’t fully understand the technical aspects of creating the product. When that happens, the product manager and the development manager may have disagreements over what features can be implemented and in what time frame. To keep those disagreements from delaying the delivery of the product, try streamlining the process by which the product evolves, from concept to code. This could include keeping the feature approval process simple or firmly sticking to a cutoff date for new features to be added to the product specification.