Project Management core processes and Knowledge Areas remain fundamentally same; however, the way it is applied in different industries or scenarios varies. Truly, the PMBOK mentions about tailoring the project management processes based on the project requirement.
Here, I have put across some points to help manage mobile application development based projects. One may think that more or less it would be similar to the project life cycle for IT software, but there are differences that one must know. In fact, even within the IT software industry, projects are managed in different ways based on the size and complexity of the IT project.


If we look at the overall project life cycle, it all looks similar in the sense that it involves the 5 core processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, closing. One needs to apply the various knowledge areas in varying degree to ensure that the Mobile Application Development project is executed successfully. However, there are differences that need to be looked into.

Let us first understand some of the key features of Mobile Application Development.
Mobile application development is the next generation technology driven business. Mobile application development differs from PC software development. Device compatibility is a major pointer here. Also, based on the Operating system such as Symbian, Android, Java ME, or Windows Mobile, one need to use appropriate coding language, environment and testing in simulation environment to ensure that the application developed caters to the appropriate OS and device. See, link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_application_development for in depth detail.
So, obviously another aspect will be the GUI that too will vary to some extent based on the mobile device. The Quality testing done for mobiles also varies.
Testing is done for the device itself to ensure that basic functionalities such as Charging, Network etc are working fine. The testing of application developed itself is conducted separately. Finally, once all this is working fine, the device is finally tested to ensure that local Govt laws and regulations are adhered to.

So, here are some practical tips to manage mobile application based projects:
1) SCOPE: Ensure that the scope mentions clearly about the mobile device compatibility and the OS, Coding language, environment etc very clearly. Specifically, which mobile devices are NOT covered in the project will be very useful. Ensure that the scope does not affect external environmental factors such as Govt laws, regulations etc.
2) INTEGRATED CHANGE CONTROL: This is the key to every project. Hence, an insight on how this area is impacted is important to know. Ensure that, the changes expected by the client are recorded in detail and discussed and thrashed out to the minutest detail. This is to ensure that the lack of technical knowledge at the client end should not create scope creep or even changes that are beyond the scope of the project. Especially due to the mobile device and OS compatibility.

3) TIME, COST and EVM: Ensure that all stake holders are aware of the exact status of the project. This is more important especially because we are dealing with changes in a relatively new industry.

4) COMMUNICATION: The communication plan should be published early in the project and with clear escalation path. The project status and reports should be communicated regularly to all stakeholders especially the client. If there are any technical changes (e.g., change in GUI or in the business logic) and calls for more time, it should be clearly communicated. More so, it is important to have face to face meeting with the client to help him understand the technicalities and complexities involved due to the changes expected.

5) RISK: Last, but not the least. Needless to say, apart from the risks that would arise due to scope creeps, time delays, etc, the key would be to keep a watch on all the technical changes. Especially if the changes alter the business logic or GUI. If the requirement is to support a few more new mobile devices that entered the market that was not anticipated earlier, it may require a complete new project in its own. Especially due to the technical limitations mentioned above. The change in govt laws or regulations can play havoc if the mobile is shipped without conforming to these. This too should be put in the watch list and taken up as a priority when the need arises.

Finally, all this ties up together to manage the Change Control effectively. Especially because all stakeholders are new to a relatively new emerging technology driven industry.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Project Management Tips for Mobile Application Development.

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