Software engineering project management: Key roles and best tools

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It can take up to nine months to develop fully functioning software. That’s an investment of almost an entire year — or more if the project is particularly complex.

All successful software programs begin with an idea, but the process of transforming a simple idea into a functioning application is never easy. In fact, software engineering projects are arguably among the most complicated due to all the moving parts and the potential for things to go wrong.

The good news?

With a reliable software engineering project management strategy, your agency can turn even the smallest seeds of ideas into functional, intuitive finished products that change lives.

What is software engineering project management?

Project management in software engineering refers to a defined system of processes and practices designed to help accomplish software-related objectives. Teams can effectively use project management methodologies to deliver new software products and patches (or updates) for existing ones.

Often, software engineering teams will also use project management plans for other tasks, such as:

  • Configuration management

  • Test-driven development (TDD)

  • Information system development

Software engineering agencies of all sizes can benefit from the use of a project management platform that's specific to software development.

In most cases, a "traditional" project management plan simply won't cut it because software projects come with all kinds of unique nuances. Not only does software have an inherently complex life cycle process, but the technology used to develop it is so dynamic that processes can rarely be applied the same from one product to the next.

With a dedicated software engineering project management process, teams of all sizes and scopes can deliver quality products that meet clients' needs in a timely manner while staying on-budget. In fact, 60% of project management software users report that these platforms allow them to better estimate milestones and timelines for product delivery.

Project management platforms for software engineering teams also encourage better communication across team members, faster bug tracking and reporting, and time-saving workflow automation tools.

6 key responsibilities of the project manager for any software engineering team

The specific roles of a project manager can vary greatly depending on the software product being developed. In general, however, project managers on software engineering teams are expected to take on six key responsibilities — all of which can be facilitated using the right software management tools.

1. Planning: Outlines the entire project and goals

First, software project managers are expected to put together an overall plan for the entire project. This should include specific details about the:

  • Scope of the project

  • Timeline

  • Communication expectations among team members

  • Procedures for carrying out each step

A project outline may also define the specific resources that will be needed to complete the project, which can vary depending on the exact type of product being created. Often, plans for testing and maintenance on a completed software product are also included in this project blueprint.

Software project management tools like Teamwork can help in the planning stages of any project, making it easier for project managers to define and document project plans and goals in a centralized and easily accessible location.

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2. Leading: Assembles and leads the project team

Agencies are also faced with the critical task of leading and unifying other team members. This can prove challenging, especially considering that software engineering team members often come from many different backgrounds and areas of expertise.

For example, even a small software development project may require stakeholders like:

  • Software engineers

  • Strategists

  • Data scientists

  • Programmers

  • Designers

To come together and work effectively, project managers must exhibit strong leadership and communication skills to keep everybody on the same page and collaborate effectively at all times.

Having a software project management platform in place can help immensely here, as these tools have features in place to facilitate stronger communication among team members. This can include tools such as real-time chat, activity streams, and feedback implementation to keep everybody informed and involved at all stages of the development process.

3. Execution: Launches and supervises the execution of the project

Even once the plan for the project is created and the team is assembled, the project manager’s work is nowhere near complete.

In fact, project managers play a vital role in executing, launching, and supervising every stage of the project from start to finish. This includes such vital responsibilities as:

  • Monitoring overall progress

  • Making sure that timelines are followed

  • Checking in with teams and individual team members

  • Generating status reports as needed

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This stage of the project can be especially complicated and stressful for project managers. Falling behind on even one seemingly small step can derail the progress of the entire project.

Software project management tools make supervising and executing software development projects easier with features like automated reporting. These allow project managers to easily generate reports about project progress, costs, timelines, and more. PMs can then share the reports with clients and team members to improve decision-making and efficiency moving forward.

4. Time management: Keeps the team on track and on time

One of the most difficult responsibilities for many software project managers is keeping projects on schedule. This can be especially complicated as the scope of a project inevitably changes and evolves. Even one missed deadline can affect the feasibility of other deadlines.

Unfortunately, failing to deliver a finished product by the promised completion date can have devastating effects on an agency's reputation and client satisfaction, so project managers must be well-versed in planning for and navigating sudden changes in timelines.

The best software project management platforms will have tools built in to optimize time management and keep things moving along, including risk management and mitigation features.

Meanwhile, real-time dashboards allow project managers to easily track the progress of any given task while seeing who is working on what at any given time.

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Track your time in Teamwork

Leverage a tool like Teamwork that comes with built-in project time tracking so your entire team can easily account for all time spent on projects. Get an understanding of how long work really takes so you can better manage your team’s resources and timelines.

Learn more

5. Budgeting: Creates and sticks to the budget

Staying on budget with a software engineering project is never easy, especially considering that each one is unique and has its own complex nuances. Combine this with the fact that the average cost to develop a complex app in 2022 was around $72,000, and it's easy to see how difficult it can be to estimate the cost of a project and stick with that figure.

At the same time, clients rely on project managers to give them accurate cost estimations and adhere to them as closely as possible. Unfortunately, there are many things that can go wrong during a software development project that can throw off budgets substantially.

Project managers are tasked with not only sticking to an original budget but reassigning funds and regulating spending as needed to keep things on track. 

Software project management tools can make this easier for project managers with reporting features that help them see:

  • Where money is being spent

  • Which areas of the project are on-budget

  • Where funds may need to be reallocated

6. Maintenance: Encourages constant product testing

Even once a software development project nears completion, a project manager's job is nowhere near complete. That's because project managers are also responsible for maintenance, which includes product testing, troubleshooting, and bug tracking. 

The earlier you can identify and report issues, the faster your team can resolve them. This keeps the project humming along so your agency sticks to timelines and provides deliverables that meet (or exceed!) client expectations.

This is another area where a software project management platform can make things easier. Specifically, these platforms offer tools like bug tracking and custom workflows to identify and resolve issues promptly.

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Best project management tools for software engineering

As you can see, not just any project management software will do when you're dealing with the complexities of software engineering.

There's simply too much at stake to trust your software development projects to a generic platform.

Fortunately, there are a few project management tools available that are designed specifically with the unique circumstances of software engineering in mind.


Teamwork is an all-in-one project management tool that's trusted by more than 20,000 companies. Known for its intuitive interface, easy scalability, and unrivaled customer support, Teamwork can help power your next software engineering project with greater confidence and precision.

Learn more about our task management tools for agencies and try us for free for 30 days — no strings attached!


  • Includes workload planning and resource scheduling to ensure that your team members have what they need to complete a project — and that no one gets burnt out in the process 

  • Integrates with many platforms your teams may already use, including Google Drive, Zapier, and Dropbox

  • Offers plenty of ready-made templates to help kickstart your next software engineering project, all of which are fully customizable to suit your exact needs

  • Makes budget tracking easy and accounts for one-off costs so no expenses slip through the cracks

  • Simplifies profitability reporting so your agency can keep track of which projects are the most fruitful


  • Free membership tier may not have all the features a larger software development team needs to accomplish tasks effectively, though paid membership options are competitively priced

  • Can take some time to become familiar with the platform and comfortable using all of its features to the fullest extent

  • Options to export and/or migrate data are somewhat limited


BQE CORE Suite is yet another all-in-one project management platform that's designed with software engineering teams in mind. It includes a wide range of tools to help software engineering projects run more smoothly, including project management solutions, accounting features, reporting, analytics, payment processing, and much more.

BQE CORE Suite also offers a free demo that allows you to try the software for yourself before making any kind of commitment for your team.


  • The easy-to-use dashboard allows team members to easily see the "big picture" of a software development project.

  • Team performance and progress can be easily tracked through the use of built-in digital reports.

  • InteractiveGantt charts, kanban boards, and resource allocation tools allow teams to work better together.

  • Seamless integration with QuickBooks, Google, Microsoft 365, and many other platforms commonly used by software development teams


  • It can take some extensive onboarding and training to get teams up to speed on how to use the platform.

  • There is no free membership version available after the free trial period ends.

  • The platform can sometimes lag or run into glitches, especially when teams are importing large amounts of data at once.


Quickbase is a project management solution that is designed with complex projects (like software development) in mind. With automated workflows and continuous deployment, Quickbase helps software engineering and development agencies manage risks while cutting down on unnecessary costs and keeping projects on-track.

Meanwhile, this platform was created with a no-code design, so users don't have to be professional coders or computer science experts to get the most out of its features.


  • Plenty of security and compliance features, including roles and permissions, audit logs, and two-step authentication to keep sensitive projects safe

  • Debugging applications allow for developer validation as software is being created

  • "Test as user" and "test as role" capabilities that ensure the proper function of an application or program to avoid issues later on


  • No free membership tier is available after the initial 30-day free trial, and paid plans require a minimum of 20 users.

  • Integration with other apps can be clunky.

  • Some features aren't always intuitive for inexperienced users to figure out, and onboarding support and tutorials are limited.

Manage your projects easily with Teamwork

Achieving success in software development and software engineering requires much more than a surface-level understanding of project management

From planning and budgeting to managing time and fostering collaboration, agencies carry heavy burdens that can be alleviated with help from the right project management tools.

Teamwork aims to help software engineering agencies work better together so projects can be delivered on time, on budget, and in line with client expectations. Reach out to our team today to learn more or to request your free trial (no credit card needed!).

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