Why do I need a project manager? Why can’t I work directly with the software engineer?

Mon 10 February 2014 Written by Evi

Entrepreneurs are smart enough to know that they need help and to find it. However, when it comes to software projects they’re often missing out. I keep coming across adverts like this for projects, “Looking for software engineers only. Please no agencies and no middlemen.”

OK - I can see how a middleman can fail to add value, though it’s worth noting that agencies can save you a lot of time and effort when it comes to finding the right engineer. However, the one thing I rarely see is a call for a project manager. That means a lot of businesses are missing out on real value in their software projects.

Communication is Key

Software engineers are not renowned for their interpersonal skills. In fact it’s often remarked how hard it is to deal with them. They’re usually really, really intelligent folk who have worked hard and been trained to think and act like software engineers, which means they need to get under the skin of the project and pull apart every bit and every byte. They are there to take a requirement and examine it thoroughly to make sure it’s viable. Their communications skills reflect their expertise – they’re detail people and not big picture people. That means when it comes to talking through a project with you, there’s going to be a bit of a struggle to get you talking the same language.

As an entrepreneur you don’t have the time to learn that language. If you already have an advanced technical background – you’ll have fine communication with software engineers. If you don’t, the whole process is likely to become very frustrating. Even if you do have the right background what’s the ROI on your time spent discussing minutiae of product development? You have marketing, finance, sales, operations, etc. to run. Do you really want to spend all day talking about lines of code? Are you sure you have the expertise to communicate your requirements adequately to your developers?

What’s the Solution to This Issue?

The solution is simple - hire a project manager. The right one would have a hands-on practical background in software engineering and awesome communication skills. They’ll be the people person that acts to turn your business needs into technical requirements. He (or she) will handle all the development related issues on the project too - including scheduling, functionality, and the budget.

The project manager saves you time, energy and money. They take your ideas and execute them in a way that you can trust, and frees you up to concentrate on developing your business. Micro-managing developers, on the other hand, is the perfect recipe to drive an entrepreneur crazy while they handle all the other headaches of a product launch or a start up enterprise.