How Project Management Tools Leave Developers in the Dust

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·Jan 17, 2023·

4 min read

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Are Project Management Tools Holding You Back?"

As a software developer, it's essential to continuously improve practices and deliver high-quality software as efficiently as possible. But what happens when the tool that's supposed to help you manage your projects is actually holding you back? Unfortunately, this is a common problem that many developers face. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at the reasons why your project management tool may be failing you and what you can do to fix it.

"The Plan-First Problem"

Project management tools are designed to help with the planning phase of a project. But what happens when the planning phase ends and the development phase begins? Unfortunately, many project management tools are not set up for this reality. They're built for the 20% of people who spend most of their time in the planning phase, not the 80% of people who spend most of their time in the development phase.

As a developer, you're likely spending most of your time in the development phase, working with tools like Git and Slack to manage your code. But your project management tool is still focused on the planning phase, which means it's not providing the support you need during this crucial stage. This is a problem because it can lead to a disconnect between the planning and development phases, making it harder for you to track progress and make data-driven decisions.

"Many Execs Get Product Strategy, But Not Product Development"

It's not just the tools that are the problem, it's also the way business leaders think. They understand ideas, strategy, and prioritization. But they don't understand software development as well. They don't know the terms and they don't understand the process. This can be a problem because it can hold them back from engaging in intelligent conversations with engineering leaders and teams.

When it comes to the dev team, many business leaders just want to know "are we on track to deliver feature XYZ by the deadline?" But as a developer, you know that there's a lot more to it than that. The development process is complex and there are many factors that can impact progress. Without a deeper understanding of the process, business leaders can't fully engage with the dev team and make informed decisions.

"The Synchronous Communication Trap"

Project management tools should encourage asynchronous communication, but in reality, they often do the opposite. Executives and PMs need information about product delivery timelines and they need it now. So, they ask the PM and the PM sends an urgent Slack message or worse, calls you into a meeting. These interruptions are costly. They take you out of your flow and it takes a while to get back in.

This is a problem because it perpetuates synchronous communication, rather than asynchronous. This can lead to a lot of unnecessary interruptions and can make it harder for you to focus on your work. And even if the project board is up to date, it's still missing context. Executives and PMs want to know more than just the delivery timeline, they want to know the bug fix status, the new feature status, the risk status, etc. But most project management tools don't provide this level of detail.

"The Real-Time Solution"

So, what's the solution? Real-time updates. Engineers should be able to update tickets in real-time, so the project board is always up-to-date. And it should provide context. Executives and PMs should be able to see what's going on at a glance. Which features are getting attention and which aren't? What's the bug fix status? What risks could stop us from hitting our deadline? And what % of the team is working on what?

By using a tool that provides real-time updates and context, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there is a clear understanding of the development process. This can improve communication and collaboration, and make it easier for everyone to make data-driven decisions.

One way to achieve this is by using a tool like a digital Kanban board. This type of tool allows you to easily track the progress of your tasks and provide real-time updates. It also provides context by giving you a visual representation of the work that's being done and the status of different tasks. And because it's digital, it's easy to share with other stakeholders and teams.

Another solution is using a DevOps tool that provides real-time data and analytics on the development process. This type of tool can help teams to track key metrics like deployment frequency, change failure rate, and mean time to recovery (MTTR). By regularly monitoring these metrics, teams can identify areas for improvement and optimize their processes and tooling.

"Take Control of Your Development"

In conclusion, if you're feeling like your project management tool is holding you back, it's time to take control of your development process. Don't let tools that are designed for the planning phase dictate how you manage your projects. Look for tools that are designed for the development phase, provide real-time updates, and give you the context you need to make informed decisions. By working smarter, not harder, you can deliver high-quality software efficiently and improve your overall performance.

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