What is the crux of the matter?
Here are some common reasons we often hear:
- We are working on our new product/start-up and the time-to-market is crucial for us and our investor/s.
- We have important releases or new features planned in the pipeline and really need to ship them on time.
- We have the development pipeline planned till the end of the year and want to have a comfortable situation in Q4, avoiding unnecessary rush and stress.
As you can see, managing the project gives quite a headache to any tech manager. They often ask themselves how to organize the work of the development team to avoid delays and make sure all the planned product features are smoothly and timely developed. Needless to say, a potential ‘gap’ and stagnation in the development may have painful consequences. Overly optimistic schedules, lack of developers, poorly organized work, etc., may add up your project being behind the deadline.
The MOSCOW method
Let’s start with a quick explanation of what the MOSCOW method is exactly. It is a special prioritization technique used in project management and software development to reach an understanding with stakeholders (clients or members engaged in a project) on the importance they place on the delivery of each requirement.
So, I think a good solution for every tech manager is to brush up on the MOSCOW method (with its categories such as ‘must’, ‘should’, ‘could’, ‘will not’). The implementation of the first two categories – ‘must’ and ‘could’ – is usually difficult. The number of tasks to be done - sometimes with limited human resources, upcoming deadlines or some other obstacles - may not be feasible.
Basically, companies have different approaches to deal with this kind of problem. Good risk management is key to turning threats into victories. Let me present a recent example related to the subject. A few weeks ago, a Project Manager from the SaaS product company contacted me about the possibility of outsourcing three software engineers for a fixed period from the beginning of October to the end of November. It happens that during some periods, companies need support from more developers because of the number of tasks to be done and keeping the project at the desired development pace.
The mentioned Project Manager came up with the idea of hiring a dedicated team of backend engineers, knowing our tech stack matches their core product stack. We kicked off the project in a flexible and comfortable pay-as-you-go model. It did not require numerous long meetings, calls or signing a pile of complicated contracts. We got a clear idea about the nature of the request and, knowing the time is of the essence here, we’ve arranged the set-up smoothly, so the rescue team is ready to roll.
There are many more advantages of joining forces with a tech partner relevant to your growth plans. External support is primarily cost-effective (it saves you up to 35% of your budget). Developers who join your in-house team often bring extra knowledge and a fresh perspective into the implemented project. Thanks to such cooperation, the client eliminates risks and bottlenecks related to the deadlines, slowdowns and a long list of pending backlog tasks. Coming back to the mentioned MOSCOW method: is the pace of delivering 'must' and 'should' category tasks worth compromising?
Is it a solution for you?
This is our perspective on how to keep the projects on track. I am curious if you have similar experiences with your engineering team’s setup? How do you plan the workload for important features in your pipeline during the holiday season? What other methods do you use and recommend for other tech managers so they may have a great summer not only when on vacation, but also while running smooth product development? Let me know in a private message here.