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I work in mobile development. I've just been promoted to a project manager. The problem is that I just have 4 months of experience in development. This was my first job and I didn't even finished school.

I need some advice or maybe some software to help me manage my team and my projects.

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What is your team's size and organization's size? –  Marcelo Jun 3 '11 at 20:56
    
The team is very small.Only 4 people under me. The company has around 30 people. –  flaviu Jun 3 '11 at 21:03
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First things I will recommend is a Version Control System and a Project/Issue Tracking Software like Jira atlassian.com/software/jira –  Marcelo Jun 3 '11 at 21:08
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"how can i become a good project manager?" learn and practice for about 5 years ;-) –  Steven A. Lowe Jun 3 '11 at 22:05
    
Don't create arbitrary deadlines. Prioritize the features and have them worked on in order. Release early and often. –  dietbuddha Jun 4 '11 at 5:31
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7 Answers

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In my opinion, you have way too few experience to be a good project manager at the moment, but you can evolve, learn from mistakes and eventually become one.

The first thing you should do is setup a software to manage your work items. TRAC is a configurable ticket system for example. Collect all work items/features the app should have you currently know of and gather them there. This will be a rough spec for your project. You can also use it as a bug database later on. It also features some statistics and there're lots of plugins available, you can use it to measure and analyse the progress of the project.

Then, use it and create a road map for your project, which should include all big milestones you want to reach. Each point should be the completion of a subsystem or essential component or feature. It'll be damn hard for you to estimate the amount of time necessary with your level of experience, but you'll eventually learn to estimate quite correctly.

Then, start planning the software technically in small steps, e.g. componentwise. Use UML or at least create a rough outline on how you are going to achieve your goals technically. Define the technologies you will use and definetely plan your technical infrastructure/architecture. How will you use data access? Where do you need interfaces? What is likely to change? Where do you need interchangeable parts? How will you glue everything together? How are files being organized?

Did I mention you should create coding conventions already? They should include information about formatting, naming of methods/classes/components/ui elements, do's and don'ts, hotkeys, ui design guidelines etc. Your team should adhere to them.

Then, start assigning your team members work items. Show them how to implement things so they fit within the architecture. Give each team member the tasks that best suit him/her. If someone is good in design, let him do the views. If someone is good in algorithms assign him to the more complex businesslogical stuff.

Then start implementing. Always measure your teams success and adjust your project plan/roadmap if necessary. Don't forget to test closed tickets. Only accept a close if everything works. It's your job and responsibility as a project manager, especially if you haven't got any QA guys!

Talk to your team members every day for five minutes. Let them report their progress every day in a short form. This will enable you to spot deficits in progress early and help out or assign other people to critical parts of the system, if someone needs help.

That's it for the junior management part, I'd say. You also should set up a build system like hudson or cruisecontrol and include unit tests for your software, so you can produce a build in one step. Of course you also need source control. Take subversion/git or mercurial, they seem to be the hot ones out there.

This should get you started.

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My company uses basecamp.I know that i don't have any experience. The biggest problem will be with estimating time frames for projects and giving realistic milestones.Thanks for the great answer.This will get me started. –  flaviu Jun 3 '11 at 21:16
    
Experience doesn't make one a good project manager. It doesn't hurt of course but you can (and many are) good project managers if they work hard and really get in and understand the project and their employees. –  Kenneth Jun 3 '11 at 21:29
    
I agree. But being the technical lead with just 4 months of experience ... he should work hard and pray. Let's hope it's a small and simple software. –  Falcon Jun 3 '11 at 21:33
    
It is not a big company but we have big projects. Big from my point of view. Since i am only 22 years old this is a big responsibility for me.I hope i can cope with the stress. –  flaviu Jun 3 '11 at 21:52
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Whether you fail or succeed, you'll learn an invaluable lesson. Work hard and pay attention to (code-)quality. –  Falcon Jun 3 '11 at 21:58
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Show consistent interest in the work the people you manage perform, give feedback early and often, and work hard alongside your fellow co-workers that you manage. Yes they are co-workers, don't forget that point. Don't take on so much yourself that you are too busy to do the above.

A quick starting point would be to see if your project passes the Joel test and if not make some changes.

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Thanks for the Joel test.It will help me a lot. –  flaviu Jun 3 '11 at 23:37
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There are many things that you can do to become an effective project manager. While there are many things that all effective managers do, part of the process is being willing to make mistakes (hopefully minor ones) and learn as you go. You'll need to develop a management style that works best for you. Some of the things that I have found to be helpful are the following:

  • Manage your time wisely
  • Follow up regularly with employees
  • Set goals for your self and your employees
  • Lead by Example
  • Learn to delegate effectively (know strengths and weaknesses of those you lead and yourself)
  • Be Consistent
  • Learn to communicate effectively with your superiors and employees
  • Work Hard and Efficiently
  • Be willing to admit when you've made a mistake
  • Remember respect is earned

Good luck!

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Thanks for the answer.I will try to follow this guidelines and i hope to not make big mistakes and to learn from the ones that i make. –  flaviu Jun 3 '11 at 21:30
    
+1 for respect is earned. –  Falcon Jun 3 '11 at 21:34
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If you want material to read, check out Steve McConnell's Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules. It pretty much does for software project managers what Code Complete did for software developers. McConnell's Software Project Survival Guide is also a good read. Both of these books were required reading in the Software Engineering Process and Project Management course that I took, and I would strongly suggest that you read them.

A few other books that might be good reads:

Although I have no practical experience as a long-term PM, I have taken on leadership roles in a few teams and organizations. You are going to make mistakes, but you have to learn from them, but also try to learn ahead of the curve, too. And it's best to take a look at the skills that you are going to need, such as leadership, human resources management, software design and architecture, requirements engineering, communications (verbal and written).

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Thanks for the books and for the advice.I will definitely read some of them. –  flaviu Jun 3 '11 at 23:19
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Having technical expertise and experience is important, but not "most" important.

Organization and process are tools, but you have to know how to use them.

Your most important asset is your people and your ability to interact with them.

The most important lessons you can learn are contained in this book. It is a short book, but you should read it three times. (I'm not kidding) Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People will equip you to manage the people you work with and for. Once you form a team of people who are working together you can be successful at any project.

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Pay attention to your team, listen to them closely. If you work with the team they can make up for a lot of your inexperience. You will make mistakes learn to notice them and to correct rather than sink with the ship. Except blame for planning mistakes don't point to your inexperience as an excuse it will hurt. Just accept the mistakes and move on. Read, read a lot. If this is going to become your regular gig you need to bone up fast (see the project manager stack exchange site). Run defense for your team. Your primary responsibility (in my mind) is to do everything you can to make sure your team has the tools and the most current information on everything important to them. Things unimportant need to be blocked and filtered by you.

Listen to your team (did i mention that).

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