My question is more of a management than a technical one. My boss gave me my first team project. I'm used to writing code by myself. This project will require that I manage a team including myself and a partner who has less experience than I do. This project is also training, since my boss seems to expect me to lead a team in the future.

I don't have experience working with someone, specially with people who is just starting in his career as a developer. I have experience writing code by myself, but so far lack the coordination and skill to lead such.

I would like to request for directions, books or articles that will help me get a head start on this endeavor and learn more in in this kinds of projects.


  • Please read this : pm.stackexchange.com/questions/19/… From that list - emphatically, grab DeMarco/Lister's books and read them ASAP. Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 3:03
  • @DeerHunter It seems it's available in Kindle. Thanks for the tip!
    – Mr A
    Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 3:51
  • <sotto voce> Suppose you have already read The Mythical Man-Month, haven't you? Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 18:51
  • @DeerHunter, I'd say that suggesting TMMM for first time managers would be like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. The examples Brooks use are for huge teams / projects / scopes, very far from a two-people-project. It doesn't mean, however, that doesn't worth to read, of course...
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 14:21
  • Maybe this question can help you: pm.stackexchange.com/q/2717/430
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 14:23

4 Answers 4


I would argue whether two-person project requires extensive project management knowledge. Actually, it is more about some basic planning and organization and a lot of collaboration. Fortunately the latter mainly between two people.

Leaving aside a crucial part of collaboration with your peer, the rest of project management effort should likely boil down to a few areas:

  • Scope management
  • Task organization
  • Product management/product ownership
  • Communication with clients and/or users

Depending on your situation one or more may be less important then the others. You can see a bit more explanation of each these areas in this post and in this PMSE question. Context of these sources focuses on one-man project, yet most of the time, your situation should be very similar.

I would add to these sources that in terms of task organization techniques and tools known under the name of Getting Things Done (GTD) might be useful and at the same time they require little initial investment.

In terms of collaboration, with just two people, I'd just try to find it out experimentally what works for you two best. Be it pair programming all the time or splitting the project into two separate parts and working on them independently or whatever in the middle--as long as you talk one with the other you should soon find out which approach you like and which makes you effective.

Knowing which areas you want to focus at it is a good idea to address the knowledge gap. I would probably recommend Peopleware and/or Making Things Happen. In both cases please do remember about your specific context, which is a very small team, as much information covered in books on project management typically address more complex environments.

Then, the final advice: experiment with the way you work. Such a setup is a great sandbox to learn as you can adjust your methods, practices and tools rather easily. It's enough to convince the other person that it's a good idea to try this or that.


I agree with Pawel. Don't over think this. It is great to find and read on various 'how to' PM topics; however, project management has been a function of your work, and play, since you were a child. Get organized, do a bit planning, think about things that can go wrong, assign tasks, and get to work. I like his idea of experimenting, too. With only a two-resource project, this is a great time to test some ideas, maybe things you pick up from the resources you find. Just keep it simple!


The book list linked to above is great. I would add to it Steve Maguire's Debugging the Development Process: Practical Strategies for Staying Focused, Hitting Ship Dates, and Building Solid Teams It is a book I come back to time and time again. Here is his fundamental guideline for project leads:

The project lead should ruthlessly eliminate any obstacles that keep the developers from the truly important work: improving the product.

What he is talking about here I now know to be Systems Thinking and Kaizen, two very current concerns but he was writing this back in 1994!


Managing projects requires two skill sets:

  • Hard skills. This includes all the good stuff that you learn from PMP or PRINCE2 training or reading any number of textbooks, things like how to set up a schedule, how to document risks, how to level resources, etc. These generate tangible outputs and so are relatively easy to learn and understand. And as David and Pawel indicates, they are also easy to abuse or overdo, especially in an environment that doesn't have mature PM practices. You need to tailor the outputs produced by these hard skills so that they meet the needs of the project without generating unnecessary bureaucratic overhead.
  • Soft skills. This includes knowing how to manage conflict, how to motivate a team, how to act as a leader, when/how/to whom to communicate information, etc. These do not generate tangible inputs in the short term, but when applied well will go a long way to ensuring project success. They are not amenable to being learned or understood from a textbook, they are instead a huge part of on-the-job training and are what separate the experienced from inexperienced PM. I believe that you can NOT afford to tailor the use of your soft skills, you have to use them full-bore all the time.

With that out of the way, the best (or at least most straight-forward) introduction to "soft skills" that I've read is Premonitions of the Palladion Project. This is a short fable that defines a couple of dozen key lessons for new project managers that is easy to understand.

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