So, you’ve got a great idea for an app. That’s awesome. Now all you need to do is find the right team to execute the ideation phase into a tangible product. But wait! That’s just the easy part. Managing the entire process of product development and information system development is where you’ve got to grind ’em teeth to get the fireworks going. But while there is a plethora of information on how to build mobile apps, how to market them, what are the kind of strategies that one must employ to ensure that the app is accepted in the world and so on and so forth, you’d be surprised at how little relevant information regarding effective project management is available for entrepreneurs. Don’t worry; we’ve always loved playing the knight in shining armor, so here we are at your rescue.
By the end of this blog post, we aim to provide you with information regarding just that. We will attempt to help you figure out the following:
a. What is a Project Management Triangle and how to use it effectively to kick start your app development process?
b. What are the 3 phases of Project Management?
c. How to manage risks during your software development process?
We will take these questions individually and try to explore them in detail. But before we deal with these questions let us understand briefly, what Project Management is all about. So, without any further ado, let us get right to it.
What is Project Management?
Project Management is defined as the process of working in cahoots with a team in a leadership role in order to meet a specified set of goals, within a pre designated timeline, not overstepping the allocated budget and finding success therein.
Regardless of the size of the project or the assignment, there are these three parameters that one has to be mindful of, and thereby ensure that the entire process of undertaking the task justifies them. Failing at any one of these may be classified as badly managed projects.
What is a Project Management Triangle?
A project management triangle is also known as the Project Management Triple Constraints or the Iron Triangle. It refers to the three factors that contribute towards the success or failure of a project. It is essentially the relationship between the three constraints, namely,
a. Scope of the project
b. Cost to be incurred during the project
c. The timeline needed to complete the project successfully.
Anyone who starts off with a task must bear in mind that while one has to overcome these constraints, they also have to make sure that the quality of the product (in this case mobile app) is not compromised. So, you aren’t allowed to rush the final stages of development and deliver a half baked app because you ran out of time, or end up bleeding your client’s pockets dry or even fail to ensure that all the features that are needed for the app are working properly.
Modifying or changing any one constraint will directly impact the other and can therefore throw a damper on your plans. Let us understand this with the help of an example. Say, for instance, a company asks you to develop a gaming app for them. In the discovery phase you get all the input regarding what the client wants and build a prototype based on that.
Now, your team creates a timeline of estimated delivery, a cost cover for the app by bearing in mind the scope as defined by the prototype. However, as you move on to the development phase, your client requests you to add a couple of more features to the app. You oblige, but can already visualize a drastic change in the timeline as well as the costs involved.
Not being aware of the Project Management Iron Triangle will only lead you to making commitments that you can’t fulfill to deliver an app that no one likes.
How to use the Triple Constraints to your advantage?
For the most part, entrepreneurs are ignorant towards the development process. They are focused on their core competencies which leave little or no room for them to understand the nitty gritties involved in building a mobile app.
This is where a good project manager comes into picture. It is important to understand that Project Management is not only about developing the app and leading the team that builds it, but also a bridge between the expectations of the clients and the realities of the developer.
You must educate the client about the relationship between the triple constraints and its combinative effect on the quality of the final app. Explaining this earlier on will prove to be an advantage because your client and you will always be on the same page.
Three Phases of Project Management
Building an app is a very rewarding process if done right. Coders and developers can play god because every string they write has an effect on the real world, bringing in funds, growing revenues, facilitating people solve problems and so on and so forth. Every app development process can be broken down into three phases.
To ensure successful project management, one has to be aware of these three phases and handle the process of app creation by keeping these phases in mind.
The first phase can further be broken down into three main sections.
This is the first stage of acquiring the project. Whether it is building a software product or information system development, one has to ‘discover’ what the client wants and discuss with the team to understand the feasibility of the project with the resources at hand. A good Project Manager knows when to say no. If the scope of the project seems overwhelming, there’s no point in trying to stretch yourself thin in doing it. Simply, discuss your strengths and deliverables with the client to set clear expectations and goals right from the word go.
If the project seems to be right up your alley, you get cracking on the project’s value and feasibility assessment. This is the time when you create a business case document to justify the need for the project including the financial benefits of the same and also evaluate the goals and timelines. To initiate the project, you will have to balance the timeline with the scope and create a plan to move forth.
Once your initial analysis is over, it is time to draw the big guns. You will now have to draft a solid plan to guide the team to undertake the project. The best way to do this is to set milestones and then achieving them one by one. Your Project Plan should include the following:
a. Direction for software product development or information system development
b. Quality benchmarks
c. Handling Risks
d. Creating acceptance for the product
e. Communicating the growth of the product with the clients
f. Managing resources
This phase comprises of two parts.
This is relatively the easiest part of project management. This is the time when you focus your team’s attention towards their skills. Developers and coders get to work hard using their talents and skills to create the product as per the client’s expectation. For this part, one has to adhere to the business plan that was built at the beginning.
To ensure everything is happening as per plan, a little bit of monitoring is required. The thing about coding and development is that it is a world in itself. Ask any developer worth their salt, they’ll tell you how easy it is get distracted by your own skills and trying to one up what you are doing continuously. This phenomenon is known as Project Scope Creep. This is why; it is very important for you to make sure that you monitor the growth of the project at every step. Also, it is always advisable to communicate the growth phases with the clients to keep them in the loop of all development.
Project Closure and Delivery
A team can only successfully close a project when the discussed upon software is delivered to the client after having communicated with them all the information regarding the functionality behavior, support etc. for the same. This is a very important step in the lifecycle of software development and information system development since it enables the team to analyze the project, the challenges faced during the process, the most successful strategies that helped in overcoming the challenges and so on and so forth.
A good project manager will also be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his team and identify budding project managers from their midst. For the growth of any company, individual growth and training is absolutely essential. Being able to identify key resources from within your team to be able to lead other projects in the future will increase your company’s scope and capacity to undertake more number of projects as well.
There are a number of risks involved in developing software product and information systems. However, taking stock of them early on will allow you to effectively manage these risks. Following are the key areas that you must pay attention to:
a. Clearly Defining the Requirements
d. Time to Market
e. Effective Communication
f. Adhering to Schedules and Milestones
g. Never Compromising on the Quality
h. Sticking to a Predefined Process
i. Creating and Abiding by a Delivery Strategy
On the Whole
Project Management has a lot to do with hands on experience than research. It is important for a good leader to be able to connect at a human level with the team and to nurture their growth alongside the development of the project. Making sure that you have a proper plan and sticking to it will definitely help you keep the Triple Constraints in check and delivering a high end, quality software each time.