How engineering project managers accelerate execution.

Feel more in control and make better decisions with your engineering teams.

Blog > Engineering · 6 min read
Effective project management is crucial for success in today’s fast-paced and complex engineering landscape. Engineering leaders face numerous challenges, from consolidating information scattered across multiple tools to making data-driven decisions and streamlining workflows for hiring and onboarding.
Fortunately, Coda provides the tools and capabilities to bring clarity, efficiency, and collaboration to your engineering projects. Coda’s Head of Engineering, Oliver Heckmann, delves deeper into this topic (and more) in The Ultimate Coda Handbook for Engineering Teams. And in this post, we’ll talk through four methods that engineering managers take to stop wasting time on process so that they can focus on the things that matter most.

1. Consolidating work into a single source of truth.

Many engineering leaders we’ve spoken to struggle with data fragmentation across multiple tools like Github, Jira, Google Docs, and Confluence. This often results in wasted time on manual updates and leads to stale, error-prone data. Any engineering project manager’s goal is to streamline their engineers’ day-to-day life, and team hubs built in Coda bring you one step closer to that. Here’s how:
  • Fragmented workflows turn into a single source of truth. No more copy and paste. We built Coda on the back of relational databases, so that when you change something in one place, it stays up to date across all other views. This also gives you customizable, personalized views of data, meaning each member of your team can work in whatever way suits them best.
  • One destination per team. Standup notes, design docs, tasks, and dashboards—all together. You won’t have to hear “Where’s the link?” anymore with Coda. Team hubs built on Coda bring everything together into a single link where your team and any stakeholders can find all the info they need.
  • All your tools are integrated into one place. Coda connects to your engineering tool stack. Coda comes with hundreds of out-of-the-box integrations with tools like Jira, Linear, Github, GitLab, and Opsgenie (not to mention non-engineering-specific tools like Slack, Gmail, and more). You can even build custom integrations to connect your proprietary internal tools. If the tool has an API, you can bring your data into Coda.
  • Team hubs offer better search and flexibility than traditional wikis. Content can live in multiple places in Coda––this means that the same table (say your company’s OKRs) can be included in multiple docs. You don’t need to leave your engineering team’s doc to review your OKRs—any updates made seamlessly sync across all docs.

2. Turning data into decisions.

Engineering managers are constantly faced with the challenge of prioritizing tasks with limited resources. While crucial for making these decisions, the available data is often either insufficient or overwhelming, which results in two imperfect options:
  1. Use traditional docs and sheets for back-of-the-napkin math. It’s familiar and straightforward to copy and paste data. The trade-off is that this process has to start from scratch for the next decision around the corner.
  2. Find purpose-built tools to help solve specific challenges. We can talk ourselves into thinking that niche tools can solve niche challenges, from software capitalization to hiring pipeline diversity. But you can be sure there’s a hefty charge for the uniqueness these tools cater toward, leaving you with a long list of tools and a tall stack of invoices.
Engineering project managers have found a third path: using Coda to build “engineering analytics” dashboards. These dashboards can track engineering productivity, execution against planning, software quality, progress milestones, etc. Simply put, you get insights into the performance of the engineering organization consolidated into one place. This means you’ll be able to make both project- and people-related decisions much more efficiently.
Staying on top of everything that’s happening can be challenging, especially for engineering leaders of larger organizations. Interestingly, many engineering leaders don’t realize how reliant they are on traditional documents and spreadsheets for complex decision-making until you point it out—they see the dedicated analytics tools but not the long tail of purpose-built docs and sheets. The flexible yet hyper-connected platform that Coda provides is the perfect balance to answer data-driven questions in a scalable way that’s tailored to your team’s unique needs. To help you make data-driven decisions, an analytics dashboard built in Coda leverages:
  • Coda’s extensive Packs ecosystem that allows you to integrate with hundreds of data sources.
  • Coda’s automations on the data you bring in.
  • Setting alerts (via Slack, email, or your preferred communication platform) to key changes.
  • And much more.

3. Streamlining workflows for managing headcount, hiring, and onboarding.

Managing staffing can easily be one of the most time-intensive processes of an engineering project manager. These important yet largely procedural tasks can consume a significant portion of time in different ways. Engineering leaders manage staffing by taking all these related yet separately managed tasks and using Coda to bring them together. Their approaches typically consist of three related and interconnected components:
  1. Headcount management: When engineers leave, you’ll need to keep headcount allocations up to date, and maintain the bookkeeping and accounting for internal transfers and backfills.
  2. Hiring pipeline: Tracking key diversity and inclusion metrics is crucial, yet trying to push this process toward efficiency while keeping diversity in mind can feel like being pulled in two different directions. You can consolidate the entire hiring pipeline into a single Coda doc to collaborate with the recruiting team, including managing interviews, the interviewer pool, interviewer training, tracking hiring pipeline stats like diversity, and, of course, tracking actual candidates throughout the different pipeline stages.
  3. Onboarding: Manage new hires through their first weeks of onboarding, track their milestones throughout their first year, and create a feedback loop that allows adjustment to the hiring process accordingly.
These tools are invaluable on their own, as they consolidate data and workflows that would otherwise be scattered across separate docs. But combining these docs gives engineering project managers a control center that saves time and simplifies decision-making. It becomes a powerful Staffing OS, allowing engineering leaders to manage and review all staffing-related work in one doc that is more than the sum of its parts.

4. Defining, optimizing, and integrating planning and OKRs with execution.

Engineering leaders often find their planning process to be neither easy nor short. They wish for shorter planning processes because less time planning means more time executing. However, many leaders also doubt the quality of their planning outputs, feeling like they’ve wasted time without achieving satisfactory results. This is a challenging problem to solve as planning involves numerous meetings, artifacts, and cross-functional collaboration. Additionally, planning often remains disconnected from team execution, with separate tools used for tracking tasks and OKRs. Infrequent updates further hinder the ability to track execution against plans, making it frustrating for engineering teams. You can read more about this topic in The Ultimate Coda Handbook for Planning and OKRs. But to summarize, we’ve seen three common patterns that make planning more efficient and effective:
  1. Define a planning output carefully: The attributes required from a planning system can vary based on the organization’s size and structure. For instance, some organizations may prioritize top-down guidance, while others may focus more on bottom-up idea generation. Certain teams may value detailed dependency tracking, while others prefer simplicity in their planning process. It’s essential to tailor the planning system to meet the unique needs and preferences of the organization.
  2. Optimize the planning process: Once you have a planning system that aligns with your team’s specific requirements, you can leverage Coda to simplify and streamline the process. Coda allows you to automate announcements through email or Slack, allocate a dedicated planning page for each team, and present the appropriate level of information to the company upon completion.
  3. Integrate to drive execution: By integrating your planning and execution, you can effortlessly track your progress against the established plan and make necessary adjustments. This connection enables you to monitor how well you execute the plan and ensures you can adapt and modify it as needed. The seamless integration of planning and execution facilitates efficient project management and empowers you to stay accountable to your goals.

Accelerate execution with Coda.

Want to learn more about how these tools can solve your engineering project management issues? Check out The Ultimate Coda Handbook for Engineers.

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