What to look for when choosing a Project Manager

August 7, 2018 | Rob LaPointe

A project manager for a software development job should know a substantial amount about everything that goes on with a project. Out of all the team members, the project manager should have the most experience so they can effectively guide the project in the right direction. It’s not only important that they know how to communicate, how to resolve conflicts, how to motivate people to work, and how to strategize, but that they also have the technical skills to be able to understand each person’s role and tie the team together.  

Every team is different, and each has a different atmosphere and style that works for them. Here are the top 10 most important qualities that every software development company should look for when hiring a software development project manager.

1. First and foremost, know how to code.

They may be the greatest leader of all the leaders ever, but what does it matter if they don’t have the technical skills to resolve problems related to coding or the software development process?

Managers that don’t know how to code have no sense of what good programming techniques are, how long it takes to code, and how long it takes to test the code. Without this knowledge, the team can feel lost or may even lose sight of who the real leader is. Great project managers know how to code and can work with the team to reach their intended goals.

2. Understanding The Development Process

The project manager should have the ability to bring suggestions to the table to improve the development strategy, keeping in mind UX and UI, and save time by recognizing faults in strategies early in the development process. They should also be able to provide direct influence over the methodology for software development, coding and testing standards, and hiring. They should be flexible in these areas to manage the team effectively.


3. Delegate Tasks

Notice how the title says that a leader should be able to “delegate tasks”, not “delegate responsibilities.” It’s important that even though another person might be completing the task, it’s the project manager’s responsibility to ensure that the team is doing the right thing. This will make for a more productive and settling feel amongst the team members.

4. Lead By Example

Remember, a project manager isn’t just a person in charge with the authority of telling people what to do. The whole reason the position exists is so that the group can get some direction from the leader, and then be allowed to use their own smarts and skills to get the team to their goal.

Great software development team managers should be able to work alongside the team on projects, constantly seeking better techniques, learning new programming languages, and bringing more goods to the table. Not only will this objectively propel the project forward, but it will communicate with the coworkers that they can listen to the manager since they truly understand what is going on.

5. Organization

Having the ability to stay organized is very important. All information you receive from the team should be kept in a manner that is easily accessible and comprehensible so that no time will be wasted digging for knowledge that is essential to the progression of the team.

6. Regular meetings/check-ups with team members

With all the progress from the team’s efforts, it’s important that the leader make connections with the team through regular one-on-one meetings to understand their current progress, motivate and challenge them, and ensure that the social dynamics within the team are balanced.

7.  Praise

If you want your software development team to be motivated, the project manager should ensure they praise each member and the team collectively, even when it comes to minor improvements. Psychologists have discovered that when one positively supports or reinforces a behavior, the person is more likely to continue that behavior in the future. The leader should focus on positive reinforcements rather than negative threats or tactics to motivate the team – these simply scare everyone involved and lead to a decrease in productivity.  

8. Dealing with conflict

In a team full of people with different programming backgrounds and ideas, there is bound to be at least some conflict amongst the team about which course of action to take. It’s important that the leader uses negotiation skills to resolve conflict and adjust the decision-making process so that it is in the best interest of the team.


9. Flexibility

With today’s fast-paced and varying business environment, the team manager should be able to “go with the flow”. The ability to be flexible relies on self-awareness, the relationships that the leader has with coworkers, and the ability to ensure that everyone can share their views. The leader should be able to facilitate conversations rather than dominating them and should be willing to accept advice and constructive criticism without getting defensive.

10. Remembering The Position

In the midst of the work environment within the development team, it’s important for the manager to remember that they are supposed to manage the people involved in a group effort. Teams can fail not because of technology, but because of the management style. Hiring, coaching, and managing people in a productive yet nurturing environment is essential for a software development project manager to steer the group in the right direction.

In the case your company doesn’t want to hire someone externally or can’t find a person with all of these qualities, you still have the option of hiring other companies to do the software development for you.

SDI has worked in the technology industry for over a decade, developing software for small and large companies, startups, and enterprises. Our software development professionals will use their skills and knowledge to ensure that your company reaches success. Interested in hiring professional software developers? Call Rob LaPointe at 408.805.0495 or fill out our contact us form for more information.

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