Development firms, independent developers, tech companies, and other businesses have built a foundation on designing and developing apps and websites for themselves and other customers. It’s a potentially lucrative business, and one in high demand, but it can only be successful if it’s led by a competent project management team (or, if you’re working alone, if it’s guided by your own project management skills).
Key Considerations for Success
These are some of the most important project management strategies that will influence your success:
- Understand the difference between project management and PPM. Before you get too deep into the project management side of things, recognize the difference between baseline project management and project portfolio management (PPM). PPM refers to how you organize your current portfolio of projects, including which projects you take on and which ones take priority, rather than focusing on the minutiae of managing any one single project. You’ll need both if you want to be successful managing mobile app projects, but it’s important to recognize the distinction.
- Know and improve your talent. Your talent, whether it’s a team of developers working under you or just you doing the coding yourself, is going to make or break your project. You need to take your time finding the right people, hiring them, and incentivizing them to be successful. Plan education and training courses to improve their skills over time, and reward them for jobs well done.
- Set deadlines conservatively. When trying to make a good impression on a client or reap the benefits of your new app as quickly as possible, it’s tempting to push your deadlines. Stricter, faster deadlines may force your team to work harder, and can get results faster, but they’re also incredibly discouraging when unmet, and can lead to sloppy work. Instead, opt to set deadlines conservatively, giving yourself more time than you really need, and aiming to complete projects faster than necessary—within reason.
- Plan to change your plans. No matter how far in advance you plan your project, there will be unknown variables and unforeseen developments interfering with your strategies. If you want to be successful, you need to be as adaptable as possible, anticipating unknown changes and being prepared to shift resources and priorities at a moment’s notice. The more agile you are, the less likely you are to fall victim to one of these developments.
- Make revenue the priority. Whether you’re designing an app for a client or for yourself, your primary goal should be creating a platform that generates revenue. On paper, your app might have lots of advanced features (bells and whistles), but they may be superfluous to its primary functionality. Instead of waiting to develop all these features before launching, try to manage the project so you can launch with a minimum viable product, and build the rest of the features out at your leisure.
- Establish clear lines of communication. Throughout the course of the project, you’ll need to open lines of communication between developers, project managers, and clients. Each of these parties has a different area of expertise and different priorities, so enabling these parties to speak openly with each other (in a way that each other party can understand) is pivotal to success. This will frequently mean making compromises, and running the risk of over-communicating with more emails, phone calls, and chats to clarify misconceptions. When possible, verify everything in writing—even if it’s just an email—so you have a tangible record of what was said and when.
The Importance of Experience
Your first mobile app development project will be intimidating, and may cause you significant stress. You’ll make mistakes, but the project should turn out just fine. The next project won’t seem nearly as intimidating, and you’ll make better decisions, ultimately seeing a better result. Project management is a skill like any other, whether that’s riding a bike or coding yourself, and the more experience you have with it, the better you’re going to be. These considerations are like training wheels to get you started on the right path; once you have a handful of projects under your belt, you’ll be able to forge your own path.