It's safe to say that project managers can be incredibly helpful to any DevOps project. They're the captains of the proverbial ship, so to speak — making sure that everyone is always headed in the same direction and working on a larger collective goal. But at the same time, this is only true if those project managers themselves can implement the right processes and organizational methods that unlock the full potential of their teams.
A list of various ways poor project management practices negatively impacts DevOps teams follows. Understanding what each one is born from and what impact it can have is the key to avoiding situations like these in your projects moving forward.
Over-Reliance on the Waterfall Approach
By far, one of the most significant ways that DevOps teams are affected by poor project management practices has to do with someone who is still relying far too heavily on the "waterfall approach" to development.
This traditional approach to software development — and to project management in general — first brings key stakeholders together to discuss timelines and deliverables. Lengthy meetings take place regularly. The development team gets to work on the code. Then, the operations team can begin their work. Then, the security team needs to weigh in. All throughout this time, those extensive meetings are still taking place.
The problem is that because project managers still rely on this top-down methodology, software builds can take months — and sometimes even years — before they can be rolled out to end users. By entirely giving themselves over to the DevOps ideals, software builds don't just happen quickly. They can be deployed to end users just as fast, getting a viable product into the hands of the people who need it as soon as possible.
Not Utilizing Preview Environments
Another poor project management best practice involves not embracing innovation in general, simply because that's "not how things are typically done." It's an issue common in seasoned project management veterans, who may be slower to adapt newer techniques simply because what they're already utilizing works "well enough, so why bother."
Case in point: preview environments. These are available on demand and utilize cloud environments to test a git branch before merging into a trunk branch. It's a significant benefit to DevOps teams everywhere because it helps to increase their development velocity. New features can be tested in isolation, ensuring they're where they need to be before merging into (and potentially impacting) the larger whole of the solution.
The issue is that because this technique wasn't widely available even as recently as a decade ago, some project managers may be hesitant to adopt it. However, they're ultimately doing their teams a disservice by forcing them to work harder than they should to accomplish the same basic tasks.
Unfortunately, project managers don't always recognize this, and they are negatively impacting their DevOps teams as a result.
Missing a Shift of Perspective
Another significant way that DevOps teams are affected by poor project management practices is due to a lack of perspective on behalf of those individuals.
In the past, project managers and other IT leaders were simply responsible for meeting business requirements. They would work through a planning list, ensure that all of the appropriate boxes were being checked, and the burden of success or failure would fall to the teams themselves.
Now, project managers are equally responsible for business outcomes simultaneously. Those who do not understand this paradigm shift in software development are only doing themselves and their teams a major disservice.
A Lack of Trust
One of the significant benefits of the process of a DevOps team is precisely the fact that they are a team. Individuals with different skill sets come together to contribute to a larger goal, becoming something more powerful together than they could be on their own.
Sometimes, project managers don't believe in this part of the process or support it in the ways they need. While project managers can be essential in the right circumstances, professionals must be willing to step back from daily work. If they've assembled the right team, those members should be self-reliant and capable of delivering results without constant top-down oversight.
They don't need someone constantly looking over their shoulder — quite the opposite. They need to be trusted to make the types of decisions they were hired to make in the first place. Project managers shouldn't simply bark orders — they need to make sure those team members have the tools they need to feel empowered and thrive.
In the end, none of this is to say that a project manager who exhibits one or even multiple of the aforementioned poor practices is terrible at their job. Far from it. Sometimes, even seasoned industry veterans can fall into a habit that, while born from the best intentions, ultimately ends up doing more harm than good. But the key to avoiding those issues altogether — not to mention increasing performance on your projects — involves recognizing the signs and coming up with newer and more innovative solutions within your context.