Software Engineers Leading Projects: Part One
Why and when engineers at all levels could and should lead projects, and advice to prepare for leading these.
Q: My tech lead is stretched, leading several projects. What suggestions would you have to ease the load?
Let me flip the question: should the same person - like the tech lead or engineering manager - lead all projects on an engineering team?
At both high-growth startups and in Big Tech it’s common for engineers at all levels to lead engineering projects. As an engineer, building up the skills to do so is important if you want to grow into senior or staff roles. And as a manager, helping people build these skills will help you scale as a leader.
In this issue we cover:
What is a ‘project’? What do “projects” mean in the context of Big Tech and other tech companies? And what about Agile?
Why, when and who should lead projects? What are setups in which engineers taking the lead makes sense, and what are cases when it does not?
Advice for engineers to prepare for leading projects.
Advice for engineering managers to empower engineers to act as project leads.
Companies where engineers at all levels lead projects and how these project lead positions are referred to.
A subscriber-only guidance document for engineering project leads, used as inspiration by hundreds of teams.
In Part 2, we further cover:
Kickoffs and milestones: why they are important, and what good kickoffs look like.
Stakeholders how to work with them, especially the problematic ones.
The “law of software project physics”: how people, scope and timeline are connected.
Day-to-day project management: practices worth using.
Risks and dependencies: spotting and mitigating them.
Wrapping up projects properly.
Leading several projects: managing workload once you’re an accomplished project leader.
This is part one of a two-part series about engineers leading projects. See part two for the more practical parts: day-to-day activities related to leading projects, managing risk, and wrapping up projects.