Which Management Approach Should I Adopt for a Successful IT Project?
The success of an IT project is still the goal that every team strives for so they can meet their client’s needs. This is especially true in a competitive market that is constantly changing.
As a result, the importance of your team adhering to the Scrum values (Focus, Openness, Respect, Courage, Commitment) becomes crucial.
Your chosen management method can have a real impact and help achieve this goal. Although the choice of management style is important, it is not the only factor that influences a project’s success: other aspects associated with the project, product, market, and corporate culture also play a role. The list goes on and on…
There are two management styles most commonly used in business:
- management driven solely by budget, on the one hand, and deadlines, on the other
- management driven solely by risks and quality
Each method has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look at both to help you choose.
Budget- and Deadline-Driven Management
The framework is the advantage of a management style driven purely by budget and deadlines. This is established before the project starts: at this point, decision-makers have already gathered sufficient information about the company, the market, and customers’ needs.
This preliminary study allows them to plan the whole set-up, including the budget to allocate and marketing or other implementation deadlines. This is how a new project/product is born.
Results are then monitored. For example, steering committees (STEERCOs) or executive committees (EXCOs) are often involved to ensure that the established framework and project growth are complied with.
An Example of Agile Transformation Within Budget- and Deadline-Driven Management
Let’s look at an example of Agile transformation within a company with budget- and deadline-driven management to demonstrate this.
- Decision-makers (CEOs, for example) often make decisions after studying the benefits of an Agile transformation.
- The transformation is implemented using an Agile framework by executives. For example, via:
- a series of sprints and deliveries
- burndown charts
- Product/Project Managers, in turn, ensure that the implementation team follows a set of procedures, such as
- planning poker sessions
- daily meetings
- Architects recommend solutions to deploy
- Developers agree to stick to the estimates supplied
The use of agility at all levels is therefore monitored regularly to ensure the target is met while adhering to the planned deadlines and costs.
Disadvantages of Budget- and Deadline-Driven Management
Budget and deadlines are two fixed, and even stringent, criteria in this form of management. So, what are their disadvantages?
There are a few things to keep in mind. The first is the impact on quality, which is clear. To stay within budget and meet deadlines, the development team is sometimes forced to act “quick-and-dirty” and take technical shortcuts that reduce the value delivered to the customer. And there is always a price to pay for that…
Adapting to and being open to changes in a competitive market becomes slow, cumbersome, and costly. Bugs, customer dissatisfaction, and the cost of compensating for them can put a strain on the project’s allocated budget and preliminary estimates.
All of this can affect the team’s psychological well-being. If budget constraints and estimates remain unfeasible, the implementation team may lose or fail to sustain the high level of motivation they had at the start of the project.
« Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results »
Quality and Risk-Driven Management
Unlike budget- and deadline-driven management, this second management style focuses on quality and the risks at the end of the project.
These two criteria are the result of a self-organized team that prioritizes both technical proficiency and simplicity in the quantity of work to be done. A team that meets and discusses how it can improve while also attempting to change its behavior.
Can a Development Team Stop the Implementation?
There is usually a valid reason if a development team recommends halting implementation. It may be a risk jeopardizing the project.
Toyota’s “Stop the line” concept is the perfect example of this approach. In the latter, any worker can stop the production line if there is a problem until the root cause is solved. While it might seem counterintuitive, this approach has increased Toyota’s productivity.
“Knowing how to say no,” for example, then becomes a highly desirable skill. And that’s not all! The team also needs to demonstrate a number of values:
- Transparency: nothing should be hidden. On the contrary, the project/product needs visibility.
- Courage: this is what Kent Beck defined as “effective action in the face of fear” (Extreme Programming Explained). It is essential to highlight problems and risks.
- Respect, with the aim of better communication.
- Adaptation via feedback for the team’s continual improvement.
This list is not exhaustive. Other soft skills, such as non-violent communication, assertiveness, or self-confidence, are becoming increasingly necessary within the team and its members.
Disadvantages of Risk and Quality-Driven Management
Despite its numerous benefits, this form of management pays less attention to two important aspects for a development project’s success:
- The company’s vision: the general theme pursued by the decision-makers. This vision helps define company’s goals, objectives, and how to achieve them.
- Market conditions: having all this information (from competitors, market conditions, etc.) allows you to see the bigger picture in terms of future choices and decisions to obtain the desired impact on the project and the company’s vision.
But that’s not all: the heavy involvement of this type of management means that budget and deadlines become, quite logically, variables and not fixed constraints.
This is difficult when decision-makers embark on a vision in which the budget or marketing commitments and deadlines are crucial. These factors can have a big impact on the company’s turnover. Being unable to deliver value on time can be a significant loss.
Deadline/Budget Management v. Quality/Risk Management: Which One Should I Choose?
Each of these management styles has its pros and cons. Choosing one over the other can mean denying yourself every opportunity of success. You would know how to get the most out of each management type in an ideal world.
On the one hand, purely cost- and deadline-driven management supports the company’s vision and required targets by allocating a budget for implementation and setting a deadline. On the other hand, purely risk and quality-driven management generates recommendations and a warning system to solve problems and avoid jeopardizing the project.
Ultimately, it is all about balancing these three variables: budget, deadline, and risks and quality.
This means that middle managers (project managers, product owners, Scrum masters, etc.) support the team’s day-to-day work while ensuring project/product metrics are transparent. This will give decision-makers a clearer overview of the implementations in progress and enable them to act accordingly with regard to the budget, deadline, and scope of the product to be delivered to the client.
Other actions are also needed, such as defining an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), the standard of technical excellence for the project’s long-term viability, knowledge of the industry, etc.
The important thing to remember is that we can achieve our desired goal by working together.
« The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. »