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UPDATE: This situation pertains to my current one w.r.t. potential partnership with co-founder. It also however relates to previous situations in which the company I was in was trying to address these issues raised at various levels of management and development.

Due to the shortage of developers, there are additional burdens on managers who are non-technical to handle additional "technical load".

For example, in delivering a web app, one would expect managers (project, product, startup co-founders) to at least understand the following:

  1. How to gather requirements and project scope in a simple, effective manner that does not lead to outrageous document bloat (piles of Excel and Word files, etc). This is in the case of sales managers or co-founders meeting clients and essentially selling them on using an organisation's services.
  2. For managers to understand a core aspect of team contribution: How to log into and view GitHub and/or Bitbucket to understand changes and features being made, branches and people working on code, at least at a high-level? This provides some basic estimates (especially with GitHub dashboards) to understand project contribution, project velocity etc.
  3. How to log into and view Amazon AWS or Azure services to grasp the services running and status of services (eg. Route53), again at a high-level without needing to be a devops person?
  4. How to add notes into Jira (at least Kanban and comment accordingly) based on customer requirements, without being a "SCRUM Master" or "Agile" specialist?

How does an organisation train the managers in the above, so that they don't have to rely so heavily on developers, nor ask developers to train the managers (hence severely impacting development time)?

That is, Manager A can ask Staff B, "has the web app been up for the past 2 hours?". However, it is more efficient, effective and profitable for Manager A to simply look at the Route53 status themselves.

Or is this all too much to ask? For startups, small or large organisations, this is a huge problem now as I suspect many developers shall attest to. We can't just say you have "dud managers" because technology and so on is changing so much, how can an organisation help the managers to cope?

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Mister Positive, jimm101, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Lilienthal Sep 11 '18 at 14:56

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Snow Sep 11 '18 at 14:40
  • A variant on this was asked before here but I recommend reading this off-site article: should your manager know how to do your job? – Lilienthal Sep 11 '18 at 15:00
  • There is no shortage of developers. There may be a shortage of money to pay them market. I suggest diverting the funds used to send managers on pointless courses. – TheMathemagician Sep 11 '18 at 15:06
  • @Lilienthal yeah my current situation involves a potential partnership but if I have to be constantly hand-holding one of the key co-founders in everything while coding while having little budget, it's pretty insane. Praise God I found a new job for next month. The past few months have been ridiculous. Shall check out that link. – SaltySub2 Sep 12 '18 at 11:13
  • @TheMathemagician The co-founder has already paid for a lot of development work and got some results back but is so lacking in basic technical and project management tasks (for the business he pursues), it's kind of a miracle he's gotten this far. – SaltySub2 Sep 12 '18 at 11:14
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There are only two options if you are insistent on current management learning these things without the dev team:

  1. They train themselves. The problem is they don't know what they don't know. They would at a minimum need to be given logins and at least the names of what tools are used; minimal dev effort required.
  2. They are trained by contracted trainers. This has the same problem as 1 as the trainer would need the same information. Ideally, this would be quicker to train them.

My suggestion: the abilities you are talking about are why many companies have lead developers, project managers, and systems analysts. You already have developers, so making one of them a lead developers may not be much of an issue; same basic job, but also oversight on the technical side of the development and product support; managers will never be able to guide the development like a good lead dev due to lack of time and expertise. Project managers and systems analysts are often a dual role; you can certainly find someone to fill that position and I recommend doing that; a good SA/PM will really help drive development and it is nice to have someone that knows the questions to ask a client about new requirements as well as being able to communicate that to the dev team.

Rhetorical: Wouldn't the current management team's time be better spent on finding new business or coordinating with other managers to ensure the company's goals are met?

  • Since the question is on hold, I'm marking this as the accepted answer. As some have indicated, I'm trying to find a solution (past, present and future) to a primary challenge, which is incompetent managers constantly bugging the development team and the development team helping out managers to such a degree that development falls further behind, and the developer:manager ratio continuing to be an issue (not enough managers). Part of the issue is a startup situation in which that person finding new business (eg. co-founder) really doesn't know much else besides selling. – SaltySub2 Sep 12 '18 at 10:28
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Have your remaining developers write a simple dashboard which integrates with AWS, issue trackers, and everything else and display a simple RED and GREEN status thing.

Regarding writing notes in issue tracking, that should be simple enough to do. Present them with a questionnaire or a form and ask them to follow it when they enter info.

Regarding this question:

How does an organisation train the managers in the above, so that they don't have to rely so heavily on developers, nor ask developers to train the managers (hence severely impacting development time)?

You bring in external consulting if you want it done quickly.

  • Unfortunately writing additional dashboards to help managers who can't currently look at already-existing dashboards is just additional development work that conflates the issue. As for external consulting, noted, what kind of consultant is required? There are a broad range of "consultants", etc. Cheers. – SaltySub2 Sep 11 '18 at 11:57
  • @SaltySub2 Then you buy an off-the-shelf product or hire additional developers (which it sounds like you need to do anyway). As for which consultants you need, if you go for an off-the-shelf product, chances are they'll either have a bunch of internal consultants or are partnered with a consultancy to train people with using their product. If you build it internally, you'll need to have the training done internally too. – 520 Sep 11 '18 at 12:27
  • @520 by "off-the-shelf" do you mean project management, scrum master training, agile training, etc? – SaltySub2 Sep 11 '18 at 12:29
  • @SaltySub2 By off-the-shelf I mean a ready-made product designed to assist in management (e.g: by providing the dashboard that was mentioned earlier). Waffle.io is a good example. – 520 Sep 11 '18 at 12:31
  • @520 OK I'll check that out. – SaltySub2 Sep 11 '18 at 13:17
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If this is necessary for a company then the best way is to hire or promote developers to management.

Otherwise you need to incentivise it somehow, through bonus's perhaps. But there will be pushback and you may need to discipline people to achieve it, because many may not see these skills as useful in their future careers if they leave.

  • A plausible approach. The issue here is that developers are not normally suited to management. Yes, some decent senior/lead developers can certainly step up to their role. But as you indicate the senior/lead developer would feel that they can still easily succeed (and get a large paycheck) without having to move into management. There's also the situation whereby if you promote developers to management, then you drain from the already scarce pool of developers you have. Appreciate your answer, cheers. – SaltySub2 Sep 11 '18 at 11:59
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    I don't think this is a good solution at all. The problem that the company faces is a manager/developer ratio that is too high. Your solution increases the number of managers even more, decreases the number of developers even more, so it worsens the ratio in both ways. – MSalters Sep 11 '18 at 13:58
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The "Managers" that you refer here are people that are considered as the Product owners in Scrum methodology. Managers are not (and should not be) the Scrum masters.

With this, it is the job of the assigned to Scrum master to do these

... add notes into Jira (at least Kanban and comment accordingly)

and not the product owners.

However though, Scrum may not work effectively if the product owner bothers the scrum members (developers) more than twice a day.

Finally, to answer your huge question

How to send managers for basic software development process training?

Given a good scrum master, your "manager" will get trained on the processes as scrum sprints progress one after another.

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