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Quick Guide for Developers: Ace Presentations to Management

A big part of many developers’ jobs is giving presentating to management. Read these tips on how to do it better.Developers regularly need to present to management on the status of app development projects. Here are some tips to make your updates and presentations crisp and compelling.

Developers and engineers are great at writing code and designing and deploying apps, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be successful at their work. A big part of many developers’ jobs is giving presentations to management, which requires a very different skill set than coding work.

For many developers, providing update presentations or presentation a project proposal to management can be a real challenge. But it needn’t be that way. Here's a summary of tips from InfoWorld’s Andrew Oliver on “How to present to management: A guide for developers and engineers.” 

1) Clearly Understand the Purpose of the Presentation

First, he says, you need to be clear about why you’re giving a presentation. Know whether you’re asking for resources, you’re explaining why a project is over-budget and/or behind schedule, or helping management determine a major change in strategy or structure.

Once that’s done, keep in mind what management cares about and what it doesn’t, so you present the right information. Management cares about the big picture, notably benefits and risks, how the change will likely affect the organization, and whether the right people are in place for doing it. They don’t care about the little details like “your web framework, computer language, or other technical minutiae,” says Oliver.

2) Decide on a Presentation Structure

Now it’s time to put together the presentation. Oliver recommends starting with explaining who you are and why management should listen to you. So give a very brief bio. He says, “It’s best to give more than your title. But don’t give you résumé or some long bio, but do casually mention a success that qualifies you in this situation.”

3) Explain the Problem You're Solving

Next, cover the problem or what management has asked for. Oliver says:  “This needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. Context may be required, but start with the statement. In general, avoid the long-form storytelling approach when defining the problem. You can use customer stories or other facts as evidence after you define the problem. This should be one slide if possible.”

4) Outline the Tactics and Costs

After that, it’s down to brass tacks: Describe the costs required and provide enough detail so, in Oliver’s words, “it’s clear you didn’t pull it out of the air. No one wants to read an accounting statement, but show your work, as your elementary math teacher demanded.”  Make sure your audience understands the work involved and the resources or time that will be needed to complete the project (either completely or in phases).

5) Explain the Benefits of the Finished Project

Then cover the business and strategic benefits. Oliver explains, “For example, if adding AI to your product makes you the only AI-navigated aerial assault drone and you can demonstrate that there might be demand for that, allowing you to edge out the competition—lead with that.”

6) Identify Any Risks

Next, cover the risks and how they can be mitigated, and then the alternatives you considered.

One final tip for each section of your presentation: When creating the PowerPoint presentation and giving it, he says you should make sure not to create wordy slides, not to talk needlessly, and have your research done and at hand so you can answer questions.

Another Helpful Presentation Tool for Developers

PowerPoint isn’t the only tool you’ll need for a presentation. If you’re giving a presentation about a new app project you want to develop, it’s very helpful to show a mockup. Even better: when management sees a working prototype, managers are more likely to sign-off on a project. Unfortunately, developers are very pressed for time and taking time to prototype an app from scratch that may or may not be approved is not necessarily a priority. Fortunately, there's a new tool that can help developers rapidly prototype apps in hours and win more app projects.

prototype apps with Alpha TransFormAlpha TransForm allows developers to prototype working data collection apps, such as inspection apps, scheduling apps, approval apps, repair apps, work order apps, etc.) in just hours. Some developers report spending only 2-5 hours to prototype an app that led to a project win.

Alpha TransForm will prototype apps that will work without a WiFi or cell connection, scan bar codes, take photos and mark them up, record audio and more. Apps can also connect to existing data sources and systems to leverage existing corporate investments.

Learn more about Alpha TransForm and take the free trial.

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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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