In many respects, managing a mobile application project is similar to other types of software development efforts; however, a project manager would be wise to bear in mind a few considerations unique to mobile application development.
- Get Agile : While fixed deliverables and strict deadlines don’t traditionally align with Agile development principles, incorporating some flavor of Agile will probably suit your mobile development life cycle needs best. Daily standups, sprint planning, and retrospectives allow a cross-functional team to more swiftly adapt to changing technical and functional requirements, and they provide for increased trust, collaboration, and engagement among team members and stakeholders. For most apps, the API will almost definitely be under production alongside your front-end work, and your iOS and Android developers will need to collaborate closely to maintain consistency. Built-in Agile processes aim to neutralize these development complexities before they ever pose a risk to that strict release deadline.
- Plan for QA: At WillowTree, we have 200+ devices for continual testing throughout and following development. Mobile development, unlike back end and enterprise systems, must accommodate a wide variety of devices, screen sizes, and operating systems. Visual effects optimized for iOS 9 might not be compatible with iOS 8, and videos that play smoothly on one Android device might freeze on another. Moreover, when it comes release time, there is no substitute for thoroughness in regression testing, and that takes time, which needs to be planned for from the beginning.
- Prepare for OS Releases: Apple generally releases new versions of iOS in the fall of each year. Google is aiming for one major release per year, as well, though the lag between release and adoption of Android operating systems is considerably slower than iOS. Accounting for new operating systems in advance of development is considerably less troublesome than regression testing the OS, incorporating necessary – and potentially significant – changes after the fact, then retesting those additions.
- Take the Lead: Many clients will not have the same level of familiarity with mobile development as they do with enterprise software. The mobile project manager therefore has the unique opportunity to provide meaningful thought leadership. Particularly for specific processes, such as preparing for and completing a timely app store submission, the project manager is the go-to source of information that will reinforce an ongoing, trusted client partnership. While an app will appear on Google Play in under a few hours, Apple’s review process will take at least a few days, and budgeting for this time difference will ensure a smooth rollout come release time.