Main image of article 'Tech Connects' Podcast: The Future of Project Management

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Our latest guest is Dylan Etkin, CEO and co-founder of Sleuth, a company that helps engineering teams measure and improve their efficiency. If you’ve used JIRA, the application that allows teams to manage projects and keep track of bugs and other issues, you’re already familiar with Dylan’s work, as he was the lead developer on JIRA for five years. He was also head of development and operations teams for Bitbucket, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with.

In other words, Dylan is uniquely positioned to provide some fascinating insights into making engineering teams more efficient, how development teams can make great decisions that take everyone’s views into account, and much more. Let’s listen in!

As you could tell from the episode, Dylan thinks so deeply about the project management issues that dominate our work lives. Here are some key takeaways from our discussion:

First, there’s a growing realization that engineering is a combination of the creative and the scientific. It’s not about how many lines of code you write or how many features you ship within a particular quarter; sometimes, the most effective developer or engineer on the team is the one who only writes a few lines of code after thinking very carefully for days or even weeks. As you figure out your team’s deliverables, KPIs and measures of efficiency, you need to think carefully about what actually matters in terms of goals and measurements, and plan accordingly.

Second, when it comes to project management, automation will only get better. In theory, project management tools will allow teams to hand off more monitoring and management processes to an algorithm, allowing them to focus more on important work. And that’s a good thing! But as we pursue automation, we need to be careful to make sure the proper “guardrails” are in place so that automation doesn’t mess up processes or make things overly complicated.

Third, it seems like big tech companies such as Meta are embracing efficiency and trying to take away layers of management. Across the tech industry, it’s all about smaller teams, fewer managers, and more individual contributors. As Dylan says, this is going to be an interesting experiment over the next few years. Do you really need a thick layer of middle management? How many managers are too much? And should managers actually be coding, or devoting all of their energies to actually running teams?

We covered a whole lot of other topics, of course, so give it a re-listen if there was something you missed. We’ll see you next time—and remember, Dice is your best resource to find the tech talent you need to fill your open roles, and for technologists, the best place to grow your tech career.