Software Engineering Management Roadmap

The job of a Software Engineering Manager can feel ambiguous.

As a manager, you’re responsible for many things, and what those are can be confusing. This roadmap covers the critical areas of responsibility for Software Engineering Managers.

The Job Of An Engineering Manager

An engineering manager has five responsibilities.

  1. Direction: Clarify the vision, mission, goals, roadmap, and priorities.

  2. People: Lead, support, grow, hire, onboard, and retain the people who do the work.

  3. Execution: Deliver results that align with the needs of the business.

  4. Systems: Create, improve, enforce, and execute the systems that enable a business to operate.

  5. Communication: Managers effectively communicate information to stakeholders, their teams, and customers.

These areas are all “high leverage.” Each area dramatically impacts an organisation's performance. Doing these well enables an organisation to succeed, while doing them badly will cause it to fail.


A crucial part of your job as an engineering leader is setting direction for your team or organisation. Without clear direction, there will be a lack of alignment, and your business will not operate effectively.

People must understand where they are going, why their work matters, and what is most important.

  • Vision and mission

  • Goals

  • Strategy

  • Roadmap

  • Priorities


People are the foundation of any successful organisation. Software Engineering Managers do not “do the work” themselves; they succeed through others.

Your job is to support and grow the people in your team. A good Software Engineering Manager is a multiplier. By effectively leading the people in your organisation, you increase the performance of everyone on your team, leading to better results.

  • 1:1s

  • Delegation

  • Giving Feedback

  • Setting Goals

  • Coaching

  • Managing Performance

  • Promotions

  • Setting Clear Expectations


Any engineering organisation's primary goal is to deliver business results. The difference between low-performing and high-performing teams is execution. An Engineering Manager is responsible for the output and impact of their team.

  • Planning

  • Delegation

  • Project Management

  • Reporting


An engineering organisation is a complex system made up of many subsystems. Each system has a goal, inputs, outputs, feedback loops, and metrics that measure efficiency.

I broadly use the word system to include technical systems, such as delivering work and releasing software, and operational systems, such as those used to hire.


Effective communication is critical to any business. It motivates, inspires, and creates clarity, focus, alignment, and action. Engineering Managers must constantly communicate information to their organisation, leadership, external partners, and customers.

Effective communication means ensuring that the right messages are received and understood by those who need to hear them. Without good communication, an organisation will experience misunderstandings, misalignment, and confusion.

Example: Two teams work on an essential project in different locations and understand the goals and requirements differently. The project has stalled due to poor communication, which risks the timeline. Each team pulls in different directions, waiting for the other team to do work. A manager identifies the misalignment, brings people together and facilitates a discussion that creates clarity between both teams. This seemingly inconsequential act can mean the difference between success and failure on a project.

  • Meetings

  • Writing

  • Facilitating

  • Reports