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Scientific Research Journal of India Volume: 2, Issue: 4, Year: 2013

TECHNICAL SOFTWARE PROJECT MANAGER VS NON TECHNICAL SOFTWARE PROJECT MANAGER


Zunera Jalil*, Nazia Tabbasum**

ABSTRACT In software industry many projects exceed from budget and time and acquire low customer satisfaction due to managerial problems. These managerial and technical problems lead to the shipment of an unsuccessful project, setting the reputation of the whole software organization on stake. Such failures not only damage the economical condition of the software market, they also create an air of uncertainty to win future projects. Keeping in view the managerial and technical problems being faced by the Pakistani software industry at present, we thought of conducting a survey on project managers soft and hard skills. In this paper we highlight those technical and non-technical skills that need further consideration or improvement. In addition to this, it is to give the software houses an overall picture of those practices that are common in our software industry and help them move towards the ideal direction so that they could effectively improve their skills.

KEYWORDS: Software project management; project manager; technical skills; non technical skills

I. INTRODUCTION In the 1970s and early 1980s, achieving


91

effective

software

project

management

became recognized as a significant issue.

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Projects were often delivered late and over budget and didnt meet requirements and expectations. As we approached the 1980s and our knowledge and sophistication with software development grew, the number of complex systems began to increase

management attack: standardize the process, standardize the product, standardize the support environment, and professionalize the workforce companies [1]. Many organization project and

arrange

management

training for their employees, but did not get the desired results. According to the Standish Group CHAOS report, 2009 [2] as illustrate in Figure 1.1-1:

dramatically, and the problems associated with ineffective project management became more acute. Collectively, these initiatives embodied a four-pronged technical and 32% completed on time, within budget and fully functional. 44% exceed budget and schedule. 24% failed or canceled.

Figure 0-1: Standish Group Chaos Report 2009 [3] Project manager can improve/enhance his/her abilities through training to contribute skills. TECHNICAL SOFTWARE PROJECT MANAGERS Technical skills are also called hard skills, considered a science and processes, tools and techniques to plan and execute PROJECT MANAGEMENT Managementin all organizational and business activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish required goals and objectives using available resources projects on time and on budget. Technical experts create project schedule, identify risks and conflicting issues, control changes, track the budget and schedule [4, 5].Some project managers prefer to have little technical knowledge about the projects to manage and leave the technical management to other junior managers, such as programming managers or network managers. Some have detailed technical skills of computer

technically, but it is unlikely to improve their management skills. Some basic terminology is define as

efficiently and effectively. Management is composing of planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing and controlling an organization. Project management requires a deep knowledge of human behavior and the ability to skillfully apply right interpersonal

languages, software, and networks. On larger

Scientific Research Journal of India Volume: 2, Issue: 4, Year: 2013

complex projects, such as systems integration projects or multiple-year projects, there are normally too many multifaceted technologies for the project manager to handle. Project manager is eventually responsible for the entire management of the project, technical or otherwise, require solutions to the technical issues that will occur [6,7]. A technical software project manager should know how to apply project

teambuilding; leadership style; responsibility; self directed learning; ethical and

professional moral; planning; negotiation; oral and written communication;

interpersonal ability to apply knowledge in the workspace; creativity and capacity to learn new skills; critical thinking and problem solving ability [1-12]. Software project manager should have technical skills but not necessity as: Many IT project managers lose control of a project because their technical leads provided

management

tools,

techniques,

methodologies and process. For example, he should know how to prepare requirements specification document, construct a network diagram, and work breakdown structure. Without these skills, software project

erroneous information, such as unrealistic estimates, flawed reasons for falling behind schedule, requests for unnecessary software, etc. This is because the project manager does not have the experience to know the difference [13]. Normally software projects fail not because of lack of adequate technology but because the soft science portions of the project have not been addressed adequately. Responsibilities of project managers are to develop strategies and and

manager cannot coordinate and facilitate the creation of a high-quality project plan and maintain control during project execution. NON-TECHNICAL PROJECT MANAGERS Soft skills can be termed as how we use it. Non-technical skills are soft skills that are normally neglected during software project management. Soft skills are an art which concerned with managing and working with people, ensuring customer satisfaction. These skills also help in creating conducive environment for the project team exceeding stakeholder expectations, improve cost SOFTWARE

implement

management

communication plans of their respective stakeholders and are also responsible for cocoordinating the scope of work packages and applicable terms and conditions [14]. Outsourcing is another successful way to build new software quickly and

performance and high quality product [8, 9, 10]. With reference from various studies, following soft skills are considered essential:

inexpensively. However, when companies outsource solely, they fail due to

misunderstanding,

inadequate

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communication and time zone. Software development in outsourcing requiring right mix of hard skills, such as software programming, architecture designing, and engineering, and soft skills, such as

project management association. This also helps software project managers to

understand how they can perform better in project management area by considering the soft skills of their working. This paper identifies and analyzes problem that help us understand the barriers to management of project management area within the

communication, collaboration, and project management. For more complex projects software project managers require a mix of programming skills, technical proficiency, cultural compatibility and communications Unfortunately in most of the software organizations; management management disciplines are and project

organizations. The survey conducted on the basis of the above Since the field of software project management is new to Pakistani software industry, we are interested in assessing the abilities of the software project managers working in different software companies; analyze their qualification, experience, skills, and success rate of their software projects. The survey will be intended to determine project managers abilities by investigating the following: Technical skills to measure project managers ability of implementing basic project management tools and techniques throughout a project life cycle. Skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication to manage realworld problems. A survey of 59 software project managers was conducted from all over Pakistan. For this research, survey is conducted focusing mainly on level of project manager (PM) skills and also include the problems which have been involved in software project

considered

redundant, futile and most importantly not the main focus of work. Like traditional mindsets, many believe that the best way to get work completed is through technical skills mainly. People, employees and team members or team heads within the projects consider technical work as the central focal point of the project and therefore pay no attention to project management. Due to these reasons, an improvement in the technical essentially improvement and non-technical for the skills is

required and

overall

organizational

sustainability, maturity and development. The objective of this research is to help the software organizations in Pakistan analyze the technical vs. non-technical skills of project managers and evaluate them with respect to the ideal project management practices as defined by the Project

Management Institute (PMI), the leading

Scientific Research Journal of India Volume: 2, Issue: 4, Year: 2013

implementation. It has been found that there are more or less twenty five software project managers in Pakistan who have management skills very strong. It is made sure that all organizations and software project managers are approached for their response. And for this purpose questionnaires have been

Graduate (Management/Others) Basic Others Education

Degree

(Diploma

in

(Management/Other)

Project Management Training level Certifications Training courses Technical Skills Experience development Experience in Project Management Strong understanding of domain Planning and control Non technical Skills Communication skills Team building skills Conflict resolution skills Planning and Control skills Leadership skills Problem solving skills Management skills Time management skills Experience Number of years in project in Software

designed which are then floated via web, emails, face to face interviews and personal contacts. The methodology and process adopted for conducting this research is further elaborated in this chapter. A. SURVEY FORM The survey form was made to get the following information about software project managers: Technical PM Education Post Graduate Degree(Comp.

Science/Software Engineering/IT) Graduate Basic Degree (Comp.

Science/Software Engineering/IT) Education (Diploma in

(Comp. Engineering/IT)

Science/Software

Non-Technical PM Education Post Graduate

management Number of years in other disciplines

Degree(Management/Others)

B. OBSERVATIONS AND ANALYSIS

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Technical PMs: Focus on Technical and Time management skills The results show us that about half of the technical project managers having In addition to this, 40-50% percent nontechnical project managers have sociocultural skills such as leadership and problem solving.

moderate technical skills (follow standard method, experience and domain knowledge).

Non-technical PMs focus on Team development, communication, leadership and management skills. Most of project managers are fortunately able to meet the deadlines, probably because of putting in extra hours, making the resources sit late till night in the offices and in some cases, making the weekends on (time management: 82% ). Therefore, we conclude that the project managers of our software industry put too much stress on the team members regarding the completion of work in little time allocated to the project activities. This could

be because of pressure from the client end, but the project managers should devise methods to avoid making their team members work in a crunch mode.

FREQUENCY

OF

RESPONSES

ACCORDING TO COMPANY SIZE As can be seen in the graph below that the only type of enterprise that has minimal responses is Micro-Enterprise. Therefore, it is evident from the fact that the sample of this survey mainly contains the Small,

Scientific Research Journal of India Volume: 2, Issue: 4, Year: 2013

Medium and Large Enterprises.

Figure 0-2: Percentage responses according to company size Our statistics have confirmed that Companies involved in offshore development are higher in rate than the rest of the companies. In hybrid development, project managers always motivate, consult with team members before taking any decision and timely decision and we observe in relation to team involvement and motivation are about 53 percent in in-house development. 50-60% of the technical software project managers sometime follows standard method and has domain knowledge. Many project managers cannot handle resources and appropriate decision.

Figure 3: Responses according to Type of Business In off-shore development, non-technical PM seem to realize the importance of effective communication skills and because of this, 58% non-technical PM motivate team

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members to complete the work assigned to them. In In-house development, most of the project managers almost focus to define clear goal, monitor the performance and motivate their team to promote cooperation. The analysis confirmed that following soft/hard categories are at the High, Medium and Low severity levels according to Company Types.

In

the world of software technology,

experience is a particularly powerful and effective teacher. Statistics have confirmed that majority of the PM population in this survey is of the software practitioners having experience more than two years and less than 6 years.

The results show that 90 of the project managers we targeted in our survey had some prior Having software some development software experience. development

world of software technology, certification is a particularly effective trainer. From our survey, we observed that the project

managers in the market fall in the following range of PM experience: 54 percent Non-Technical PMs on the average have PMP Certification. 42 percent Non-Technical PMs on the average have No Certification. The rest have 4 percent CMMI Certification 33 percent Technical PMs on the average have PMP Certification. 56 percent Technical PMs on the average have No Certification. The rest have 11 percent CMMI Certification

experience indeed is an added quality of a successful project manager who can well understand and comprehend the technicalities of the project. But the emphasis should be on managing projects without getting too much involved in the technical details of the project and taking into consideration the business aspect of the project as describe by PMI [1718]. Statistics have confirmed that majority of the PM population in this survey is of the software practitioners having certification almost fifty percent of total population. In the

Scientific Research Journal of India Volume: 2, Issue: 4, Year: 2013

Figure 4: Percentage responses according to Respondents Certification CONCLUSION In this thesis, the level of software project manager (PM) skills is conducted, by gathering inputs from Pakistan software industry. There are a total of 45 software project managers who have participated in this research. It has revealed more of the soft skills were missing in past articles. The survey has a significant importance among past studies related to soft and hard skills because of (i) technical vs. non-technical as users learn and mature with time and the difficulties in incorporating multiple,

diversified and contradictory vision and views. We can reduce technical and

management risks with proper practices. Some of the experience software project managers when interviewed on the

enhancement and improvement strategies for technical and non-technical skills, responded that these soft skills must be promote and tackle with the professionalism and training on the importance of leadership, they also mentioned that top management should now forget about the past experiences and should have the courage to meet the challenges of coping up with the standardization of their software, if they want to be recognized as a reliable software industry in the world. They have also stated that new opportunities must now be created for the true professions in the Industry by giving them job security and seeking new ideas to improve or evolve their processes as this could be the only way to introduce CMMI in their organizations and pacing it up to the ultimate capability level just like some of the top-notch companies

skills are specific to Project Management Body of Knowledge(PMBOK), (ii) Survey is conducted on Pakistan Software Industry which has its own uniqueness in a way that it is a Industry of an under-developed country and having a different culture in terms of both political instability and economic

situation, and (iii) It has revealed that software industry currently has more lessexperienced project managers than the

experienced ones. The complexity of recent software systems also causes difficulties for software project managers. The potential challenge is the ever-changing requirement of customers

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have already done in recent years of Pakistan. FUTURE WORK From our observation, it can be concluded that the software industry currently has more less-experienced project managers than the experienced ones. Emphasis should lie on making the more experienced project

managers as well. Furthermore, educational programs in the institutes could also prove to be helpful in producing good project

managers by equipping them with the desired soft and hard skill sets so that they can stand out to be better project managers and help the software industry using their managerial skills. The training of project managers should focus on those identified skills required to deal with the Typical Problems encountered.

managers help the inexperienced ones by giving them valuable guidance and direction so that they could turn out to be good project

REFERENCE
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Scientific Research Journal of India Volume: 2, Issue: 4, Year: 2013

11. Z. Jalil and A. A. Shahid, "Is Non Technical Person A Better Software Project Manager?," in 2008 International Conference on Computer Science and Software Engineering, vol. 2, 2008, pp. 1-5. 12. S.A. Slaughter and T. Mukhopadhyay N. Langer, "Project Managers' Skills and Project Success in IT Outsourcing," in ICIS 2008 Proceedings, 2008, p. 147. 13. S. Gillard, "Soft skills and technical expertise of effective project managers," Issues In Informing Science and Information Technology, vol. 6, 2009. 14. S. Milladi. (2007) What it Takes to be a Better Project Manager Going Beyond Project Management. [Online]. http://www.pmworldtoday.net/ 15. D. G. Morales, L. M. de Antonio, and J. LR. Garcia, "Teaching Soft Skills in Software Engineering," in Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), 2011, pp. 630 - 637. 16. M. Pinkowska, B. Lent, and S. Keretho, "Process Based Identification of Software Project Manager Soft Skills," in Computer Science and Software Engineering (JCSSE), 2011 Eighth International Joint Conference on, 2011, pp. 343 - 348. 17. S. Dillon, H. Taylor, and G. Rodriguez-Jolly. (2010) The identification of IT project manager competencies: a grounded theory approach. [Online]. http://www.pacis-net.org/file/2011/PACIS2011-044.pdf

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR:

*Department of Computer Science, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan. **Department of Computer Science, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan.