Throughout the year I have dealt with a lot of software managers and project managers. Most often than not, they have no clue as to what work needs to be done. So they are lost when it comes to producing schedules. Then a developer like me comes in and must spend a lot of time explaining everything to them. This goes on until the manager can produce a meaningful schedule. To me this is the opposite of adding value. If the entire task of creating a schedule was left to me, I would be able to get the job done faster. Instead I need to waste a lot of time bringing a clueless manager up to speed on the assorted development tasks.
You will imagine my surprise on my current assignment. My manager told me we had a lot of change requests to review and cost. I dreaded a lot of wasted time. Initially my manager thought there would be minimal impact to the application suite that we maintain. I found this strange and dug into the technical aspects of the changes. It was nice to find out that my manager was right. There were a few exceptions that I mentioned to my manager. He asked me a couple questions on each of the tasks I thought we would need to do. The next thing I know, I get a whole level of effort document listing all tasks and anticipated hours required to complete them. The manager did this for my team and for a number of other teams as well.
I find myself having more and more respect for this current manager. Perhaps he was a developer in a past life, and knows how to get technical work done. This enables me to focus on the matter at hand. I am currently designing the changes required for another huge change to our application. There is not a lot of wasted time in this arrangement. I get to go home on time. And I do not feel disgruntled because some lackeys are using up all my hours at work. Why does this good setup have to be the exception rather than the norm. It might be due to the fact that are few really good technical managers out there. Or maybe the time wasting schedule sessions are a necessary evil and will be a way of life as long as I am in software development.
One thing is for sure. When I find a good manager, I really want to continue working under them. Hopefully this is a win-win situation. I get to work on the things that developers should be doing. And then we deliver good software on time that meets or exceeds customer expectations. Then the manager gets the big bonus for setting the team up for success. The only chore I have right now it to make sure this good manager does not get promoted to higher position or another project. I wonder how someone in my position can do that.
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