It can feel overwhelming when working with a software agency to develop your product. “Who do I communicate with about the project? How will my project be completed by the team?” are frequently asked questions. Fear not; most software teams have both an account manager (AM) and a project manager (PM) to guide your product’s development. But what are account and project managers, and how do they fit in your overall software project? Looking at the story of a fictional business-owner, Barney, details how these two roles are essential to solving your business problems while achieving your project goals.
Barney is expanding his tile manufacturing business by investing in both a mobile application and feature-laden web app. For this task, Barney hires a software development agency to guide his project and build the apps. As Barney meets his team, he is introduced to the roles of account and project manager. He knows these two are important to his project, but he still finds himself asking, “What do these two positions do for me, and how do they work together with the whole team?”
The account manager (AM) will be Barney’s first point of contact between him and the team. If he has a new idea or a concern about his project, Barney can tell his AM, who will then relay the information to the other team members involved in the project. Along with this, the account manager is responsible for:
- Managing client payments
- Selling continued development work
- Managing the client’s expectations
- Overseeing the process of delivery
- Ensuring that the client’s needs are met in a timely fashion
- Working closely with project managers to deliver realistic timelines and updates to the client
Mackenzie Dolacki is an account manager at WynHouse software. “I like the collaborative approach to problem solving in my role as an AM. Building relationships with clients and working with them to integrate new and impactful features in their projects makes my position very fulfilling. Another big part of my position is workforce adoption. It’s exciting to play a part in the integration of a new technology to the team.” While AMs like Mackenzie bridge the gap from Barney to the team, the role of project manager further supports the software product’s development.
The project manager (PM) works with the AM to make sure Barney’s specifications are implemented into the project perfectly. With the information given to them by the AM, the PM then translates Barney’s requirements goals and needs into functional requirements for the software product. Further on in development, the requirements are then turned into user stories for the developers and designers to complete. PMs handle more than this. They are responsible for:
- Understanding and communicating client requirements/needs
- Creating an execution plan for projects: timeline, user stories and milestones
- Serving as a liaison between clients and the product team. They provide status updates, demo projects and keep everyone one the same page
- Guiding projects to success by keeping them on track with budget (keeping costs associated with the project low) and timeline (making sure it is completed on time)
- Writing functional requirements and user stories to communicate to the development team what should be completed
- Delegating the workload to developers each sprint
- Services provided: Functional Requirements, user stories, development timeline, product roadmap, development milestones, and responsible for project completion.
Nathan Meller, a PM at WynHouse software explains, “The main focus of my relationship with the client is to understand what they need, communicate project progress, and notify them of any issues that may arise. While the account manager may have more communication and face time with the client, most often both the account manager and I will be present in meetings during the project planning and execution phase. In these meetings, I will usually strive to understand clients’ goals and budget, communicate the timeline of the project, or demo progress.
“What I like most about my role is not only seeing the transformation of client goals and requirements into tangible solutions, but also being a driving force in that process. All the projects we take on lead to an end result that profoundly impacts the client in a positive way. Doing my part in meeting the project timeline, budget, and scope makes the end result all that more rewarding.”
By communicating with each other, both these managers will make sure Barney’s requirements are applied to his product as functioning features. Not only do these two oversee your project to completion, they provide transparency and open communication into how your project is going. AMs and PMs serve as the mediators to your project, while keeping the momentum going. With them on your side, you don’t have to worry about your project fall through or becoming stuck. AMs and PMs work together to handle your project with expertise and professionalism while keeping you informed of the process.