We Need Better Managers than Techies

This topic can be a little controversial, don’t you think? Techies are usually in demand, garner more salaries, and are pampered more. Won’t you say?

But in the software industry, who do we need most? Good techies or good managers?

With ever changing technology scene you might say that techies will always be more in demand and hence many tech folks do not want to leave the technical field even when they grow in experience. Plus the solutions are always technical in this industry, hence tech has an upper hand.

But that’s not entirely true, the projects that are executed, and the solutions that are implemented are always done against the constraints of time, and money. These factors are primarily governed by humans. No solution is good enough if it’s not developed as per the requirements, within a definite timeframe, and at a pre-determined cost.

Managing the human angle so that the project works as per the plan and caters to the requirements of the end user is what is more important than the solution itself. And to manage all of this we need good managers.

Managers who can understand what needs to be done (and what isn’t), how long we have, and what’s the budget within which this needs to be accomplished. And then get it done in a sea of uncertainties.

This is where most of the problems lie in a project. With technological advancements and things like no-code platforms, AI coding techniques, and the like, the tech part is getting handled in a much better and faster manner now. And yet the projects are over budget, not delivered on time, doesn’t satisfy the end users’ requirements.

We need better and more skilled project managers who can understand the holistic picture, handle processes and people in a better manner, and spearhead the project deliveries rather than just letting it happen. We don’t need secretaries who take down notes, set up meetings, handle get-togethers, or admin functions.

The reason most projects are going wrong is that we do not have enough experienced and skilled project managers. Or the PMs are not being assigned the right work. The expectations from them are to churn out nonsensical reports, do admin and secretarial tasks, and then blame the failure on them.

The project management discipline doesn’t get the same amount of focus and respect as the tech and that’s the major reason so many projects around us are running in red.

How to prepare better Managers?

  • Hire Right Skills: – Organizations need to relook at their hiring criteria for PMs. Managers with the right skills and diverse experience should be chosen. Don’t hire a college graduate and make him a PM. This job is much more complicated than a tech job as it involves managing humans.
  • Allow Freedom:- Once you hire a good manager, give him/her the freedom to run the project the way they see fit. Make sure they understand the objectives clearly and the output expected out of them but let them do the things their way.
  • Arm them with Tools:- The tech folks need the IDEs and tools to do their job the right way. Similarly, we need to provide the tools to the PMs to manage the project better. Don’t force them to use those free spreadsheets and docs for every job. The right tools will bring in better tracking, information dissemination, and increased productivity.
  • Continuous learning:- The PM practice is also ever-evolving, make sure that your PMs can keep track of that. Conduct diverse sessions that aid them in their everyday work and not just churn out dumb certifications. Learnings on tools, new pm philosophies, the art of negotiating, better reporting tools, emotional quotient, etc. are a few different types of knowledge areas that should be continuously imparted to managers.
  • Mental well-being: The mental well-being of all the team members is essential, more so for your managers who interact with multiple stakeholders (with different temperaments) every day, who carry project delivery pressure, who need to be able to take care of mental and emotional well-being of their team members. Make sure you take care of your managers so that they can in turn take care of other team members and stakeholders.

The project management discipline gets less attention in our industry than it deserves and often the thought is that anyone can do this job. The work that we assign, the expectations that we have from the managers are not aligned with them. And yet we expect them to deliver the projects. We need to change this paradigm and also focus on getting and developing better managers along with the tech folks.

Technology will only take you so far, unless you have good managers, your project isn’t going to succeed.

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