Things You Need to Know as a Developer Managing Your First Project28.07
We’ve all been there: you’re a developer with a few years of experience, and suddenly you are put in charge of setting up your first project, wondering how to navigate this new terrain. In the world of software development, there are two crucial aspects that you need to consider if you want to grow into a seasoned role: business management and technical management. In this article, we will explore these dimensions and give you some tips and tricks to help you successfully manage your first project.
Required Roles in Software Development
Before we delve into the specifics, it’s important to acknowledge that software development projects involve various roles and organisational structures. In this blog, we will focus on two aspects that you may encounter less frequently as a developer, but are still essential for assuming additional responsibilities: technical management and business management. These areas can overlap with other roles such as project managers, architects, or DevOps specialists.
Technical management revolves around collaborating better within development teams, particularly in cloud-native environments. On the other hand, business management focuses on aligning with stakeholders, prioritising features, and leveraging Agile methodologies to meet business requirements effectively. Let’s take a look at both of these aspects.
Business Management: Why Agile in Software?
When you want to manage your first project, it’s crucial to understand the significance of Agile methodologies and how they can benefit your project. As a developer, Agile might mostly feel like an excuse for project managers to plan lots of meetings, but once you’re on the other side you’ll realise that it’s actually a much-needed response to the inevitable changes that occur throughout software development projects.
Two popular approaches within Agile are Kanban and Scrum. Kanban provides an overview of the backlog and emphasises prioritisation, while Scrum focuses on planning and executing work. Choosing the right approach depends on the project’s context and requirements.
Scrum, despite its additional meeting overhead, offers closer collaboration with the team and stakeholders. Its meetings serve important purposes in breaking down the backlog into manageable work items, and enhancing predictability, effectiveness, and efficiency. Sprint Planning requires understanding team availability, Daily Stand-ups enable progress reporting, Sprint Reviews showcase accomplishments, and Sprint Retrospectives allow for reflection and improvement. In addition to these benefits, Scrum meetings foster clearer communication and alignment among team members.
Here are some practical tips we want to share, based on our experience as consultants in Agile projects:
- Clarify the appropriate level of work items (epics, features, stories, tasks), and involve business stakeholders early on to ensure clear requirements.
- Schedule daily stand-ups in the morning to address roadblocks as soon as possible.
- Conduct demos at the end of sprints and retrospectives afterward.
- Consider organising a Sprint Refinement session in the middle of a Sprint to avoid conflicts with the next Sprint Planning and enable proactive action.
Technical Management: The Importance of Governance
Technical management is a fundamental aspect of successfully managing your first software development project. It fosters effective collaboration, and establishes governance within the development team. To achieve these goals, setting up governance in source control is paramount. Let’s delve into the four key strategies involved in technical management: branching, releasing, merging, and versioning.
There are many different branching strategies out there, some more effective than others. In general, we recommend adopting the GitHub flow, consisting of a stable main branch leading to feature branches. This approach aligns well with Agile principles, enabling short feedback loops and rapid iterations, making it especially potent in the early stages of a project. Make sure to always consider the organisation’s specific needs when picking the right branching strategy, and don’t be afraid to pivot to another strategy once the project really gets going.
The tried-and-true YYYY.MM.DD.versionnumber syntax is perfectly valid, but we prefer the Semantic Versioning (SemVer) system, since it provides clarity and consistency. It involves assigning three numbers to designate the impact of changes:
- MAJOR for incompatible (breaking) changes
- MINOR for backward-compatible additions
- PATCH for backward-compatible bug fixes
We recommend using automated tools for your versioning strategy. These can track any changes based on commit messages, adjust version numbers accordingly, and even write automated release notes that you can share with business stakeholders and developers alike.
The release strategy is a critical aspect of software development, so make sure to give it the attention it requires. One popular approach that many development teams adopt is the DTAP strategy, which stands for Development, Testing, Acceptance, and Production. This ensures that each release is tested and approved by stakeholders before it is deployed into the production environment. It helps to minimise the risk of introducing bugs or disruptions, and ensures a smooth transition from development to the hands of end users.
Enforcing code quality through comprehensive code reviews and implementing merge restrictions is crucial for maintaining high standards in software development. With code reviews, peer developers can identify issues, improve readability, and ensure adherence to coding standards. By requiring at least one other reviewer and re-reviewing updated code, teams can enhance code quality and catch potential bugs or conflicts.
If there’s one tip that we’d like you to remember, it’s that you should always aim for smaller pull requests. Keep in mind that small requests require small tasks, which will be refined during a backlog refinement. Decreasing the size of your project’s pull requests will streamline the review process, facilitate meaningful feedback, and reduce the likelihood of overwhelming your team with extensive changes.
As a developer managing your first project, embracing both business and technical management is crucial for success. Agile methodologies provide the flexibility to adapt to change and enable effective collaboration. On the technical side, governance in source control and well-defined strategies for branching, versioning, releasing, and merging contribute to streamlined development processes. By applying these tips and tricks, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle your first project with confidence.
Embarking on your first project can be both exciting and challenging. At CloudFuel, we specialise in application modernisation and cloud migration journeys. Our team of experts can guide you through the intricacies of project management and development, leveraging the latest tools and methodologies. Contact us today to unlock your potential and deliver successful projects.
Remember, you’re not alone on this journey—CloudFuel is here to support you every step of the way. Happy coding!