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Our company Y has various partnerships with other companies to sell products. However, Y is now developing its own application to sell products. Unfortunately, even before developing the product, they have put the product details on websites and sales teams are already trying to sell it. The product is far from ready, with finished development not even reaching 15%. Recently, a sales representative promised a customer that they would showcase the product to them. As a result, they are pressuring us to finish the product within a month. Currently, we have three teams working on Project X, with one team providing technical ideas, another testing UI and features, and our team consisting of three developers who will develop the app based on requirements.

Two years ago, another team worked on the same concept, but they all left, and the company decided to develop the application in-house. About a year ago, they hired us for development, and since then, we have been working on other projects. Unfortunately, we began development of Project X without proper planning about four months ago, along with other projects. Now, the project is allocated to technical and testing teams and is currently in phase one, where basic functionality is being designed. We still need to hire a UI developer for the project, and no further phases have been discussed yet. Hence, no tentative Gantt chart has been developed to declare dates.

However, salespeople keep bombarding us with questions about when the product will be ready and keep suggesting additional functionalities. We want to handle these requests and timelines by having the project done phase by phase rather than trying to achieve everything at once. Unfortunately, we do not have a proper project manager, and everything is being asked of us, which is our first time handling such tasks. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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    Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.
    – Community
    Apr 30, 2023 at 7:44
  • This is the million-dollar question :) It's like "I am expected to operate a brain surgery, but I only have a degree in agriculture. How can I do it? Any suggestions would be appreciated" :)"
    – Nezih TINAS
    Apr 30, 2023 at 7:46
  • @NezihTINAS, True. Management is expected from who has no idea about it.
    – AM5
    Apr 30, 2023 at 9:55
  • You can't do it all first. All you can do is try to get the customers to give you indications of priorities, then try to work on the most important and/or urgent things first. (Those are two different axes, please note). But this requires that you be willing to say "No" and/or "We can do that, but then we'd have to delay these other things you asked for and these other other things that customers have said are very important." An issues list that folks can (mostly) see, prioritized and sized, is the best solution but depending on who you share it with may be a security exposure.
    – keshlam
    May 2, 2023 at 1:00
  • Be glad they're involved and eager. It's better than never hearing whether anything you're doing is actually appreciated.
    – keshlam
    May 2, 2023 at 1:00

3 Answers 3

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Unfortunately, we do not have a proper project manager

This is where you start; it's great that you have sales people who want to sell your product, but you need a project manager in order to separate the developers from the sales people. You want to please everybody, but by trying that, you're not going to please anyone.

So; a PM to funnel the requests into a minimally viable product. You'll need to get a UI developer in for that to happen.

Once you have a full team, the PM should work with the sales people to identify the most important client. Just one. Build what they need, because it will be what other clients need also, but will provide a clear vision of where you need to be.

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    I agree with most of this - except it sounds like what the OP needs is a product manager, not a project manager. I know the roles can overlap to some extent, but they don't have to. May 2, 2023 at 7:41
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Besides searching for someone to step up and develop the role of a product manager (which entails a lot by itself) you might also want to look at incremental development methodologies (or any framework that follows agile principles).

In short, instead of planning for a design > develop > test > deliver (long) cycle, you work based on incremental deliverables (from days to weeks) to quickly validate market fit and acceptance. Some call it a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). Worth understand the logic behind this too. Early hypothesis could even be validated using a considerable amount of manual work in the background.

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The trouble with such circumstances is that they tend to suggest an absence of skilled management.

You wouldn't get many bosses hiring a team of 12 bricklayers to build a commercial building of considerable size and engineering complexity, without engaging a professional builder or architect, yet it's surprisingly common enough with software.

If correcting course was as simple as a bricklayer saying "surely you can't be serious?", it's unlikely the project would even have begun. I'm sure some carpenters said the same to Howard Hughes - but at least he was a billionaire with money to spend, whereas most bosses actually want to see profits.

It may be that planning your own departure would be a more effective use of your energy.

If you want to try, then clearly you need to approach management with two points:

  1. Timelines the sales team are working from are not remotely plausible, and you'd be unlikely to have a product ready for 12 months (or whatever time you think is realistic).

  2. There is an absence of a sufficiently experienced manager capable of managing the development - including gathering ideas from a stream of arbitrary communications, critically examining their feasibility, and arranging an executable series of project stages.

If you have sufficient experience, you may want to mention the timelines or management structure of similar projects you've previously worked on.

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