July 2, 2012
Category: App Development
The success of development projects with a lot of players hinges on building a strong peer-to-peer relationship between all involved parties. A clear communication plan should be determined early on to ensure milestones are agreed upon and accountability is shared. Everyone should feel like part of one team, working toward the same goal.
App Development Experts—Your Development Partners
App development requires experience and input from a variety of key players. Here are the people you will work with through your development partner.
The project manager is responsible for leading the effort from inception to completion. He or she leads the team, tracks progress to stay on-time and on-budget, and functions as the communication hub.
Finding the right team, giving appropriate direction, and managing the working environment while maintaining a strategic focus and staying on top of deadlines and deliverables are all part of a project manager’s role.
Designers are responsible for not only the visual look and feel of the product but also the entire user experience (UX). Good designers interpret written requirements and use cases in a visual way which elevates project understanding. While creating their designs, they work with developers to make sure what they produce can be implemented within the project scope.
Developers are responsible for creating the software that satisfies the project requirements. Most software development processes champion cross-functional team collaboration early and often in the project lifecycle. It is important for developers to not only understand the project goal but also have a hand in shaping it. This allows developers to identify potential pitfalls and opportunities early in the process.
Quality control experts are tasked with ensuring there are no surprises when your app goes live. They will evaluate every aspect of your app with a multitude of devices to identify and resolve any issues with its functionality.
Subject Matter Experts From Your Organization
In addition to selecting the right development partner, it is essential to have the right internal team on board. Take the time to include the appropriate stakeholders and you will reap the benefits down the road.
A common definition of a stakeholder is any person who is actively involved in the project or whose interests may be affected by the execution or completion of the project.
This will likely include members from the executive team as well as other cross functional team members throughout the organization (e.g. IT, product development, and marketing). To ensure all stakeholders have been included in the process, it is important to question whose support, or lack thereof, might significantly influence the success of the project. Turning stakeholders into project champions early on can reduce project churn and minimize friction. Underestimating the importance of project buy-in can lead to scope and implementation headaches.
As you think about key stakeholders, the end user is not only on the list but should be near the top when project decisions are made. It is vital to the success of the project to always consider how decisions will affect your project’s user base. Before you dive into the development process, it is crucial you answer this question as clearly as possible—“Who is this app for?” Your end-users should be top-of-mind every step of the way. Time spent fully understanding and describing your audience is the most valuable development investment you can make.
Whether your end users are colleagues in your organization or customers, their voice is the most important one in the development process. Listen to their voice directly whenever possible. You can also learn more about them by asking yourself some thought-provoking questions.
- Where are my users? (internal, external)
- Who are my users? (colleagues, current customers of our business, new customers)
- How do they relate to technology? (savvy users, intermediate users, novices, skeptics)
- How would they describe the need we are trying to address with this app?
- Does the app target businesses, consumers, or some combination of both?
- What devices do my potential users already have/use?
- What will the cost of this app be for potential users? (training time, money, procedural changes)
- What will they see as the benefits? (efficiency, entertainment, compliance, productivity)
An up-front understanding of who will use the app, how they will use it, and how you need to position it to garner interest will serve you well throughout the process. You may want to create two or three hypothetical users, or personas, at the beginning of the process. This is a very practical exercise which can also be a lot of fun. These personas can provide helpful influence throughout the development process.
This post is an excerpt from our book, Inspiring Apps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps. Want to learn more? Download your free copy from the iBookstore and gain a valuable business perspective on building mobile apps.
Don’t have an iPad? You can download the PDF for an equally informative yet slightly less interactive experience.
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