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Project management tips: communicating with developers

Avoid the common mistakes project managers are making when it comes to communicating with developers.

Updated on: 15th November 2019

As project manager, you are responsible for ensuring communication is optimised. This means that all relevant parties are kept in the loop with anything that could be relevant to their role. The last thing you want is project being delayed because something wasn’t communicated efficiently.

When it comes to developers, it’s important to stay on top of things to avoid wasting anyone’s time or money.

Communicating with any tech team, when it isn’t your specialism,  is hard for a number of reasons. Whether it’s down to an apparent technical language barrier, lack of training or just blatant negligence, tech team communication fails can be a real bottleneck for any project. But irony aside, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Check out these project management tips for working with any barriers and communicating better with your developers, so you can achieve more successful projects.

Learning People | Team meeting in office

Do: Sharpen your project management skills and be clear

Ensure you’re making use of your internal comms channels, to keep all parties up to date with what’s going on in each team. Developers will need to be kept up to date with the progress of the project so that they can hit deadlines and chip in if something will directly or indirectly affect their tasks.

Establish a clear process of how things will be communicated. Top project management tips include making use of shared calendars, sending out reminder emails about upcoming deadlines and delivering clear action points after meetings. Don’t leave things up to chance, keep the communication regular and specific.

Make sure your communication is clear, complete and concise. The technical language barrier is difficult enough already. Check your grammar and punctuation to avoid wasting time clarifying later. Set exact deadlines and assign tasks to individuals not just ‘first come, first serve’. 

Don’t: Use them as your personal IT assistant

Developers have spent time refining this amazing skill, avoid misusing them by asking them to fix any technical issue in the office. They shouldn’t be fixing the WIFI in place of important project tasks. 

Take time to understand their experience to help them feel empowered. It would be a bonus to encourage the rest of the project teams to do the same. There is nothing worse that a manager who can’t evaluate how hard someone has worked to achieve something, simply because they didn’t understand it.

Do: work out the basics

Going one step further, it is advantageous to learn the subject matter at a basic level. It may already feel as though you’re playing technological catch up, so why not check out online training courses that specifically teaches you how to communicate with developers? This can really help to break down that language barrier.

You don’t need to learn to code yourself, you just need a general understanding of the key concepts. Don’t worry about going for full blown online web design courses, but our diploma in tech fundamentals aims to close the gap between technology and business transformations. Within the course you don’t learn to code, just how to speak the language of a developer so you’re able to work more easily with technical experts and make the vision of your team – or project – a reality. 

You’ll find a solid understanding of the technical jargon a great help when it comes to understanding how the team are prioritising tasks, what’s likely to take the longest and why some things just may not be possible within the company’s overall capabilities. 

Learning People | Developers laptop phone and notepad on desk

Don’t: take them for granted

When interacting with your tech team, it’s also important to make them feel valued and that you’re not pushing tasks on them and adding too much pressure. 

If an urgent task presents itself, get past the technical jargon and actually talk to your developers about the issues. Don’t just assume they have the capacity to take on the task. Look at what they’ve already got on their virtual plate and work with them to see how they can get the job done. 

Remind yourself that without them, nothing would get done, so it’s important they feel valued.

Do: offer the occasional treat

As a project manager, keeping your team motivated and empowered is at the top of your priorities. Ensure the tech team is feeling appreciated by rewarding them for their hard work.

Developing tasks are commonly overlooked because they can’t always be connected directly to conversions, but the fact of the matter is, they are probably putting in a lot more than you realise. Take time to ask them about their successes, in case you’ve missed something.   

Don’t: forget that the issue might be you

Avoid pointing the finger at the developers, the second something technical appears to go wrong. User error is always a possibility. You may think you’ve found an error page but actually you messed up the URL when you entered it. So bear this in mind when blaming your tech team. 

Take a good look at yourself and check before you communicate the wrong thing. Sharpen up on ensuring what you are communicating is factually correct. Even if your developers are tired of hearing your voice, they’ll be thankful you’re not bugging them with your misinformed ‘issues’ and that when you do communicate with them it is for a good reason.

Next steps

Whether you need to develop your project management skills or simply validate existing ones, consider getting certified. Learn a new framework for dealing with all types of teams, not just developers.