Things Every IT Manager Should Know About Software Development

by HSG on May 07, 2019 in

How Can Managers Work More Efficiently with IT?

Would you rather work under someone who is an excellent developer but lacks people skills or leadership capabilities - or for someone that has excellent people skills, communicates well, and is a great leader but has limited understanding of productive coding practices? That’s not to say that the choice is one or the other but in many professional situations it does.

Managing an IT staff comes with numerous challenges, especially if the manager has no previous experience with the coding necessary for completing the project. Managing a business and IT's execution of tasks vary greatly in required skill sets, but it's important to find a cohesive and cooperative middle ground in order to see a project to its end. To fully grasp the intricacies of IT's involvement in the project at hand, managers can do the following to help further their efforts.

Get a basic understanding of coding and technical practices necessary for the project at hand by taking the time to research and practice enough to get a grip on the concept. This will allow managers insight on what their IT folks are really working on daily. Expertise in a programming language is not required, only an overview of the stuff that matters, i.e. understanding the concept of OOP (Object Oriented Programming.) Having this knowledge cannot be overlooked and will gain respect among multiple spectrums in the organization.

Clear communication seems an obvious requirement, but having knowledge of the language and an image of the finished product easily conveyed to developers goes a long way. If a manager cannot clearly articulate what it is they are looking for in the project, then time crunches will inevitably become the norm. Ensuring IT knows specifically what to work on and when to work on it can keep everyone on task and hurtling towards the goal in a timely manner.

Programmers are frequently faced with pressures which can intensify should their requirements sporadically change.  While they are often capable of resolving the issue on their own, having a manager provide clear and realistic goals makes a huge difference. A manager who is prepared for multiple possibilities in a project can aid in swift changes that help the project advance much faster. Keeping track of priorities, addressing problems in an agile environment will easily keep everything moving forward.

Have a backup plan. Sometimes all the planning and prepping in the world will not make a difference in situations where unexpected issues arise. It is important to have another route already thought out. When a plan fails, changing out the current task list for one that makes more sense can keep the day productive and the project in motion while working on a replacements plan.

There are all kind of ways a manager can improve the working conditions and expectations of their IT team. Keeping these tips in mind, when planning out the project a manager can simply S.C.R.E.A.M. This acronym helps incorporate the above advice, and also lends an easy way to remember what to do to advance the project.

Schedule efficiently. Managers do this by working on their knowledge of the language. The more one knows about coding, the easier it will be to know what to expect from their team on a daily basis. If one cannot fully grasp the language immediately, then a simple way to go about scheduling is to have the team work at their pace on the first day. At the end of the day, have them report how much they were able to get done. Use that knowledge to schedule for the future.

Create daily task lists. Based on the knowledge acquired through observation of the team, a manager can make lists to complete daily until the goal is reached. Planning each day realistically can keep everyone on task and let them know what the expectations are. This goes hand in hand with communicating efficiently and effectively. While managers provide their teams with daily and weekly task lists, they can keep their eyes on their own monthly or quarterly task lists.

Remain calm. In the face of failing equipment or mistakes in the code, the urge to get frustrated tempts. As a manager, it's important to remain calm and do what can be done to resolve the issue and keep on task for the day. Having that knowledge of troubleshooting and keeping warranties available will help the situation blow over much quicker.

Ensure correction. Allowing time for IT to double check and ensure that each line of code is properly written is essential. When technicians are working fast and completing tasks, mistakes can easily be made. One typo can throw off an entire sequence. With that in mind, ensuring technicians have the time to proofread and edit on a daily basis will speed the process up.

Anticipate interruptions. Have that backup plan ready in the event equipment can't be replaced immediately. Know that there is always a chance something won't get done, and be ready for it. Being able to redistribute the load should a section of the team undergo a drastic change will keep the project on track.

Make use of spare time. Some IT jobs may get done faster than others. A manager can create tasks specifically for the more efficient members of their team.

At the end of the day, understanding a developers programming plight can lead to significant closures in gaps between the business folks and IT staff.

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