The Top 10 Books for Software Engineering Managers

best books for software engineering managers

It’s important for engineering managers to stay up to date with the latest technologies and best practices in the fast-paced world of software development. One of the effective ways to achieve it is by reading books written by experts in this field. Today we will review some of the best books engineering managers should read. These books cover all the essential topics, including software design, team management, customer satisfaction, efficient recruitment, and agile methodology. Let’s start with the first book, which covers microservices architecture, the most famous software architecture for modern applications.

Building Microservices: Designing Fine-Grained Systems

Building Microservices: Designing Fine-Grained Systems” by Sam Newman is a great book on modern software architecture suitable for engineering managers. The book provides a comprehensive introduction to microservices, a popular approach to software architecture that involves breaking large applications into smaller, independent services.

The book provides best practices, design principles, and real-world examples for developing and deploying microservices-based architectures. It emphasizes how to develop and deploy scalable and highly available systems. As with any agile-based workflow, microservices are strongly integrated with DevOps and CI/CD; this book also explains how to integrate and deploy microservices with CI/CD pipelines.

This book also contains different case studies and examples of microservices-based architectures that help the readers evaluate a business problem and suggest how a microservices-based solution can resolve it.

Engineering managers can greatly benefit from this book as it covers all the essential elements of software design, including design patterns, scalability, DevOps, and continuous delivery, helping managers develop resilient, scalable, and maintainable systems. The book’s case studies and examples can also assist managers in comprehending microservices-based architectures in real-life scenarios instead of just from a theoretical point of view.

Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky’s Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent

Smart and Gets Things Done” by Joel Spolsky provides practical tips on evaluating technical resources, assessing culture fit, and making successful hires.

The book focuses on recruiting, interviewing, and hiring top technical talent. It provides practical guidance and information in a lighthearted manner. One of the unique offerings of the book is a self-designed test called the “Joel Test” that teaches you how to evaluate software teams. It also explains how to find exceptional employees and hire them quickly.

This book helps engineering managers recruit, interview, and hire top technical talent. It offers a system for hiring top technical talent and recommendations on how to recruit them. It covers resume sorting, candidate selection, phone and in-person interviews. It also suggests different ways to retain the top talent in your organization. 

Agile Estimating and Planning

Agile Estimating and Planning” by Mike Cohen is an essential resource for engineering managers who are interested in adopting agile methodologies and practices, including pair programming and test-driven development. It provides practical guidance on how to implement agile practices, and how to lead teams effectively in an iterative and collaborative environment.

This book gives agile teams actionable ideas and tactics. It demonstrates all the essential concepts and techniques through real-world examples and case studies.

The good thing is that it is written in such a way that even a non-technical audience can understand it. It is well-organized, and the chapters are arranged in the same sequence that is followed by the different stages of the software development lifecycle. The book has been updated many times to keep up with the latest techniques and tools. Mike Cohen, the author, is a well-known agile expert, and agilists all around the globe look to his practical guidance and insights

Through this book, engineering managers can learn how to plan and manage Agile development projects. They can apply all the practical advice and techniques for accurate and reliable estimates, user story management, iteration planning, release planning, scrum ceremonies, and apply resource allocation effectively.

The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Succeed

The Phoenix Project” by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford is a bestseller for good reason. It has sold over 500,000 copies and is a must-read for engineering managers. It tells the story of Bill, an IT manager at a parts manufacturer who is given the task of saving his company from a failing IT project. The book shows how Bill was able to save the project by breaking silos between development and operational teams.

This book’s content is presented in a narrative way and you will see a lot of real-world examples of how DevOps can improve a company and increase its revenue by following the guidelines mentioned here. It also emphasizes raising a culture of teamwork and mutual respect in order to achieve success.

This is a valuable resource for engineering managers. By following the same methods and techniques that Bill followed, managers can increase team productivity and help the organization gain a competitive advantage.

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship” by Robert C. Martin teaches software professionals about good software design and how to write clean, maintainable code. It covers principles, patterns, and best practices for writing clean code and provides several case studies from simple to complex scenarios.

This book discusses in detail the principles for writing clean code, such as using meaningful names, writing code for humans, not machines, and avoiding redundant code. It also sheds light on different programming patterns and best industry practices for writing clean code, such as refactoring, object-oriented programming, behavior-driven development, and test-driven development. No programming book is complete without practical examples; this book is no exception. In the book, numerous case studies illustrate the values and practices of writing clean code.

This book will increase engineering managers’ capacity to lead engineering teams. Managers can define code push workflows and pull request checklists through this book. The book will ensure that managers are able to successfully deliver a project having clean and maintainable code.

Leading the Life You Want: Techniques for Combining Work and Life

Leading the Life You Want: Techniques for Combining Work and Life” by Stewart D. Friedman is a great book on balancing work and personal life. It emphasizes the significance of harmonizing principles and behaviors to achieve personal and professional fulfillment. The book provides different techniques for managing time, energy, and relationships to meet one’s goals and ideals. It also includes real-life examples and case studies to help the readers.

This book helps engineering managers in many ways. It offers practical tips for balancing work and life. It also helps managers work better and live better. Most modern software development is agile-based. The face-paced nature of agile may bring stress to the managers. The book equips managers with practical advice and techniques to deal with this stress.

The Manager’s Path: A Handbook for Tech Leaders to Navigate Growth and Change

The Manager’s Path” is an excellent book authored by Camille Fournier (tech lead turned CTO) that guides readers through each step of the journey from an engineer to technical manager. It includes themes such as coaching interns, mentoring team leads, interacting with senior management, establishing team culture, and managing individuals.

If you’re an engineering manager, you should read The Manager’s Path. It will help you not only build the skills of a great leader but also take your leadership mindset to the next level. The book covers topics ranging from hiring to firing and everything in between. Managers can learn how to deal with difficult situations, such as conflict among team members.

Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices

Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices” is a book written by Robert C. Martin that provides agile software development ideas and methods in a thorough and clear way. It covers a variety of topics, including agile approaches, object-oriented design, design patterns, refactoring, and testing. It focuses on the core pillars of agile, including the value of communication, collaboration, and adaptability in software development. You will also see very helpful examples and case studies to understand how to use different agile techniques in real-world scenarios.

The book is very useful for engineering managers since it thoroughly explains agile development principles and how to successfully apply them. It helps managers better understand how agile practices can be used to solve different challenges in modern agile-based development.

Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation

Jez Humble and David Farley’s book on continuous delivery is an excellent reference to using continuous delivery principles in software development. Modern agile-based software development has given rise to continuous integration and continuous delivery. The book also discusses other aspects including automated testing, deployment automation, and release management. It offers a complete roadmap for improving software delivery procedures and delivering faster, reliable releases.

The book is a valuable resource for engineering managers to improve their software delivery process by optimizing the continuous delivery workflow. Managers can learn practical tips for automating the build, test, and deployment process, enabling cross-functional teams to release software rapidly and securely.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel H. Pink is a book that highlights the major factors that motivate people. The author emphasizes the importance of intrinsic motivation and how it can lead to better performance and satisfaction. Pink identifies three key factors of intrinsic motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. He also discusses how extrinsic motivation, such as rewards and punishments, can sometimes negatively affect performance and creativity. Through various real-life examples, Pink encourages readers to adopt the modern approach to motivation instead of following the traditional carrot and stick approach.

The book helps managers apply modern motivation science to their employees. It guides the managers on how rewards and punishments can backfire in the long run. Managers should aim to motivate workers by giving them autonomy, mastery, and a feeling of purpose. 


Today we covered some of the best books that should be studied by software engineering managers. These books cover a variety of topics including agile software development, system design, architecture, team motivation, and DevOps. Each book mentioned in this article provides a unique perspective and set of techniques that can help engineering managers succeed in their roles. If you are an engineering manager and you want to take your leadership to next level, pick up one of these books and start reading.