I am trying to summarize a short list of what I deem the most important for software management.
- Management is about the right people making decisions. It is about forming the trust and delegate chains.
- Emphasis on programming skills. Everyone should try to learn programming.
- Break the boundary. People should not be separated way too early into testing people, system admins, developers. They should try to learn the comprehensive programming skills, which include how to do testing and how to run servers and do deployment. Testing people and system admins are encouraged to learn programming.
- Programmers’ time is the most precious.
- Empower programmers instead of putting various kinds of restriction on them. Give them the best tools. Let them fly!
- Programming takes a lot of learning. Understand this! Value employees’ learning! Build up a rich learning environment! Have architects who can mentor people.
- Rich projects to build up a comprehensive learning environment. Projects of different size and difficult levels, many of which are independent projects that are not tangled with other projects. So every individual in a software team can find projects that fit her/him to improve step by step.
- Emphasis on product. Everyone in the software team should care about the software that s/he is building. Thus everyone should care about the product. Dedicated time (for example, Friday afternoon) is allocated for software team members to do nothing but playing with the product.
- Emphasis on design skills and cultivation of programmers’ architect skills. Design sessions are scheduled regularly, when team members take turns to tell what s/he has found in her/his daily life that has a good design or bad design and why. Various design topics will be covered during such design sessions.
- Do pair programming and code review very often to help programmers improve programming skills.
- Software planning is strategic. Like a soccer team needs a coach to plan things strategically and build up the team, so is a software team. If you have a software architect in the company possessing those comprehensive skills, cherish her/him, let her/him make the decisions and be responsible for them.
- Hiring is an important window for a software company. Tech director should be in charge of hiring of engineers and pay attention to the details in the hiring process. Tech director should have the directions in how s/he wants to build up the team and how to build up a good public image of the company as a tech company in order to attract talented engineers.
- There is no software architect who doesn’t do intensive programming anymore. Maybe it is ok in other disciplines to have architects who don’t do hands-on work anymore, but not in software.
- Everyone is building stuff. Everyone is a builder. No one is just a talker, doing management only. This is from Spotify founder Daniel. And I understand it as an important way to cut down communication cost in software management. I think at least for software management, this should be enforced. It might seem radical to enforce this at the whole company level. But I would love to see that happen, and I tend to believe that should be a very good thing for the software company.
This list might not be comprehensive. They are what I can think of off the top of my head. Maybe they are what I deem most important. Or it might just be related to my recent experiences. Time will tell, I think. If it is short, I hope people can keep it in their minds and constantly get reminded in their management of a software company.