All projects require systems and processes to stay on track. But how do you support your dev team with effective project management for cloud-based work? Read our insights here.
It goes without saying that any large-scale project requires systems and processes to ensure that it stays on track. And someone to oversee these systems and processes. Tech development, and by extension working in the cloud, is no exception. But what’s the best way to go about project management for development teams? And is there anything to bear in mind for cloud dev teams in particular?
The human involvement behind cloud development projects cannot be downplayed. People are vital to getting the work done and pushing cloud applications into the digital world. Therefore, effective cloud project management requires a human approach. Here, we’re going to interrogate and explore what effective project management for cloud-based applications looks like and why having a management framework is integral to cloud success. We’ll also provide some handy hints along the way.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s define exactly what project management is. A project manager takes a project from start to finish – this is known as a project’s life cycle. This is achieved through planning and provisioning tools and practices that successfully deliver said project.
Project management in tech development takes this foundation and applies it to technology-based projects. This type of role requires both non-dev work along with tech know-how.
A project manager helming a cloud tech team has the following responsibilities:
Scoping out the project
Setting the timeline and establishing the schedule
Developing the strategy and relevant business cases
Cost-management, planning and forecasting
Prioritization and decision making
Handling the non-dev work that keeps the ship afloat
As mentioned above, a project manager working with a cloud team has both non-tech and tech related tasks. Whilst they don’t need to be as familiar with code as developers to be effective in their position, having robust technical knowledge will only benefit the rest of the team.
Like any project, whatever size it may be, having someone overseeing and managing it is always a good idea. It’s simply a more efficient and helpful way of handling something that has multiple moving parts.
A big part of effective project management is ensuring that everyone is on the same page. This covers everyone understanding the what, why’s, when’s and how’s of the project. As you can see, communication is a pretty big deal here. In fact, successful project management prioritizes communication for everyone involved too – from stakeholders, devs, tech to non-tech roles.
Communication isn’t just limited to updates and feedback. It influences the way in which a team works. For instance, initiating structured processes keeps everyone involved accountable, with easy-to-track results. And then there’s the opportunity for a project manager to share their knowledge with their team and stakeholders.
Whilst the above can be applied to multiple types of projects, cloud technology itself provides some specific challenges that benefit from effective project management. Let’s take a look at them.
Cloud project management is unique in how complex it is. This is because there are lots of spinning plates to account for. And there’s a lot that can easily go wrong if someone takes their eye off the road. Cloud architectures consist of so many different components that it’s essential that everything is planned for. There’s things that do things that do other things that affect even other things. Here’s an overview of the challenges involved in cloud development:
Keeping on top of coordination with cloud vendors, external APIs and other third parties.
A knock on effect of using third parties is the importance of establishing and enforcing robust security processes. This is because of potential data vulnerabilities.
Another effect of integration with third parties? Ensuring that everything is compliant with legal requirements, such as GDPR.
Budgets can easily get out of control if not effectively managed. This is largely down to the different types of pricing structures for cloud tools and services.
Just having to wrangle multi-cloud environments and complex cloud architectures.
To successfully project manage a cloud dev team is a balance between technical-awareness and people management. Establishing a culture of trust will motivate those in your team as well as providing a psychologically safe environment to work in. Here’s what else to consider for cloud-specific project management.
This is where soft skills come into play. Before you do anything, familiarize yourself with your team, their processes and ways of working. There’s no one way to manage a team. Each team is unique, because each is composed of different people.
Set clear roles, responsibilities and expectations so that everyone knows what they need to do, and what they don’t.
Once you get to know your team, it’s time to consider what work methodology to implement, such as Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Waterfall, 12 factor. You’ll want to choose a framework that balances project expectations and deadlines and the expectations and experience of the dev team. This is a fundamental step, and not something to overlook.
Understand the nuances in your cloud architecture and how to align these with best practices.
Decide on the basics so you can develop a strong foundation to build your cloud project on. For example, where will workflows be stored? How are these accessed securely? And so on.
Plan, plan, plan. Anticipate roadblocks and what could slow down delivery, and factor these into your roadmap. For example, availability risks, compliance issues, and labor-intensive tasks.
Know what to focus on and prioritize. Stay aware of scope creep and keep it at bay.
Choose your tools wisely. Ask your team what they use, what they recommend, and what they don’t like. They’re the ones who’ll be using them after all! If they’re familiar with their toolkit, it’s less likely that they’ll run into problems and troubleshooting will be much quicker and easier.
Cloud technology is complex, so the key to delivering a successful product is keeping processes clear and accessible.
Ensure communication and feedback is simple, clear and understandable. Resist the urge to overcomplicate things when talking to your team!
Add in buffer time for tasks and set realistic deadlines. Remember, you’re aiming for quality over quantity.
Ensure there’s adequate time for devs to focus away from distractions.
Establish a useful meeting cadence in line with your methodology. Remember, too many meetings can hamper productivity, but too few meetings can mean there’s not enough direction and collaboration. Consider alternate ways of communication and feedback if required.
Allocate weekly time for devs to focus on fixes, so it doesn’t seep into their other tasks.
Whatever cloud project you are preparing to manage – whether it’s legacy integration or the development of a new application – there’s a hundred things to do beforehand to ensure smooth sailing. Effective cloud project management rests on understanding that the cloud itself is complex. It’s the role of the project manager to ensure the roadmap anticipates this complexity and makes accommodations for potential challenges.
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