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Software Development Manager. Now what?

By DaleJ ·
I work in the computer department of a large property management company and have recently been appointed Software Development Manager. This is my first taste of management responsibility. Having been a programmer for several years I thought this was the next logical step in my career, however I have run into a small problem.

I do not know what a software development manager is responsible for. I have asked my boss what he expects from me and he said, "look after the programmers (there are 4) and make sure the software works." I asked him to be more specific but that was all I could get.

My interpretation is: take care of this problem for me so I don't have to.

I think this gives me a lot of freedom to define the position, however I am not sure what to define.

What do I need to do to be successful? How do I structure the staff? In generic terms what is a software development manager responsible for?

Is there such a thing as a blueprint for software development management?

Is there a "Software Development Management for Dummies" book?

Any feedback would be appreciated.

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You are in charge!

by timwalsh In reply to Software Development Mana ...

No, but there is a "Managing for Dummies" book.

You need to key in more on the Manager aspect of your new job title, and less on the Software Development aspect. First, and foremost (based on your employers minimal guidance), you are now a manager (with a programming background), and not a programmer (who happens to be in charge).

You are now responsible to your employer for EVERYTHING that goes on in your department. You are responsible for the care and feeding of your programmers. You are responsible for their career development. You are responsible for helping them solve personal problems that may interfere with their work. You are responsible for quality control of the products they develop. You are responsible for chastising them (or god forbid, firing them) when they do bad things and rewarding them suitably when they do good things. You are their interface with upper management. You are responsible for evaluating them and telling them how they might improve theirperformance. You make sure they remain properly motivated when times get tough. You make sure they take the time off coming to them so they don?t burn out. You fight for the raises and bonuses that probably only you know they deserve. You make sure they are properly bathed and suitably dressed (I've known some programmers that are "out there?) when they must interface with a client. You make sure they complete projects on time (your duty to your employer), and you make sure that your employer doesn't demand impossible timelines on difficult projects (your duty to your programmers). If this job sounds like a combination mother/drill sergeant/guidance counselor, welcome to the world of management. You just need to apply the proper management skills with a software development slant.

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You are in charge ! (Part 2)

by timwalsh In reply to You are in charge!

Other skills you will probably need/use:
Project definition and management
Budget development - both for the operation of your department and for determining costs for projects
Programming - above and beyond the quality control you will be responsible for, it is inevitable that you will need to roll up your sleeves and pitch in to complete a critical project on time.

As far as structuring or restructuring your staff: the mark of a good leader is that when he comes into a new situation, instead of making changes for the sake of change, he will take a week or two and just observe how things operate. He is then in a good position to determine what things REALLY need to be changed for the sake of efficiency, and what things are best left alone.

I think you will find that your new management job will be sometimes frustrating, usually challenging, but almost always rewarding.

Good luck.

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by DaleJ In reply to You are in charge ! (Part ...

That sounds like some good advice. You have given me something to think about. Thank-you

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by ghstinshll In reply to Software Development Mana ...

Tim, what a job of laying it out on the table for Dale... (-:{

I have nothing more to add, besides confirm that the role will be more managing people rather than development. You may want to assign yourself some sections of code as well in project management, so that you keep up on those skills. Not that you'll need to, but to keep you rounded off on the dept, it might be a good idea. As for ideas to look for managing skills, look up books on managing, I think there's a black belt cert out for management or something like that. Project Management Professional is a good course to attend on project management. A former co-worker at Xerox Connect can help. He's an instructor for these courses, but instead of name-dropping, look up the Chicago branch of Xerox Connect and ask about Project Management classes that have been taught by the former "Quad Cities" office.

The gentleman who taught those course was wonderful in teaching the rock-solid fundamentals of project management in 3-5 days...

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