How to manage your software development project without a project manager!

When resources are limited you might face the challenge of building and developing a new software without having a full-time project manager.

The tasks of project management in software development aren’t easy. But here’s the good news:

In this article, I’m going to show you how to successfully manage your software project without having the skills and resources of a project manager.

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How should that even work?

You might wonder how project management in software development should and could even be set up and work without the skills and resources of a project manager.

To be honest with you. I had similar concerns.

Concerns which I overcame by the experiences I’ve made over the last few years. Of course, it’s not easy.

It requires high involvement, passion and a cultural drive of every team member involved.

From waterfall to agile.

If you’re working in software development, I guess you’re familiar with the old concept of the waterfall technique and I don’t want to get into too much detail here.

We surveyed nearly 1.000 developers and designers and asked them about their collaboration in software development. What we discovered was that Waterfall is still used by many of them.

With agile and scrum listed as the top software development methodologies, we can see where the trend of software development is heading.

The developers-can’t-manage-myth

There are a lot of prejudices out there about developers and their project management skills.
Some of them go as follows:

Technical workers are creative, productive, downright wonderful resources, but they need direction.

It might be true to some extent. However, we at Usersnap believe that a technical team of developers and designers is able to coordinate all those resources and tasks. And simply make sure that work is done in the proper sequence with a minimum of time and money wasted.

Yes, we truly believe that.

Define your project requirements

As a team of developers and/or designers, we need to define our project requirements in the first place. By making use of the concept of requirements engineering, we’re able to formulate, document and maintain our software requirements.

Basically, requirements engineering helps us to define the project scope and enables us to plan and outline the software development project ahead of us.

Be agile in your project management

When having no (or few) project management resources in your company for managing your software development team and projects, the agile software development technique will become your preferred way to go.


Because agile requires a continuous collaboration between all people involved in a project. Planning, managing and monitoring your project becomes a task which needs to be performed by everybody involved.

project management software development

Set up your project communication

Getting started with your project requires to install and ensure a communication workflow throughout your entire software development process.

Everyone involved must be prepared to send and receive messages and must understand how his/her communication affects the whole project.

Even small teams must answer the following questions:

  • Who needs what kind of information?
  • When is the information needed?
  • How will the information be given to him/her?
  • By whom will the information be given?

People will communicate in project the way it’s most comfortable for them. Nevertheless the aspects above need to be answered.

Avoiding the big threat of scope creep

In order to deliver a quality software product, we need to consider several factors, both internal and external, which may impact our software development scope.

project management scope software

These factors, influencing our project scope, can be found in budget limitations, quality constraints, and deadlines for delivering the product itself.

According to this study report, scope creep is the biggest challenge software development companies are faced with.

survey developer collaboration software

So how do we avoid scope creep?

Every software development project will face a change in scope. Some of those changes are smaller, and some of those project changes will affect the budgets, deadlines, product features or other project deliverables.

With no project manager in place, managing your project scope needs to be overtaken by one of your team members.

Tips on how to avoid scope creep:

  • Clear definition and understanding of overall project goal
  • Ensure clear project communication
  • Keep clients and stakeholders close

Ensure continuous feedback

Avoiding scope creep also requires software development teams to put continuous feedback at the core of their efforts and doings.

Being agile also means offering various touch points for continuous feedback.

Though it’s nothing new, feedback is key.

Continuously asking for feedback throughout the entire project requires a feedback culture where people are pushed to evaluate what they are doing on a daily basis.

Wrapping it up.

Managing your software development project, without a dedicated project management person isn’t easy. I don’t want to downplay it.

However, it isn’t impossible. Especially small startups or software teams need to wear various hats at the beginning. Having an agile software development workflow and creating a culture where people manage themselves helps a lot. Further on, the concept of requirements engineering ensures to have a clear project scope and outline of your software product.

Agile testing, continuous feedback and clear project communication do the rest.

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