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Part 5: Application Development Management

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This is a continuation in our series in developing scalable minimally viable applications at the least possible cost and with the fewest headaches.

Assuming you are successful in finding a trusted solution provider, project management is critical and cannot be left entirely to the development firm. You must have someone internally with a firm grasp of the goals, budget, timeline, and the stakeholders whose interests need to be addressed.

However, the better the company you have selected, the less involvement your organization will need to ensure the program is on track in terms of budget and timeline.

Here are quick tips on how to ensure your project runs smoothly:

1. Determine Your Development Approach: Agile or Formal

Agile essentially means that you develop on the fly based on written general requirements and wire-frames, aka mockups, that are approved before actual programming. This approach saves time and leaves more room for developers to solve along the way. This process is obviously faster and less costly but can result in surprises that can add unexpected costs.

Formal means that the general requirements are spelled out in complete detail in advance, so that any problems are essentially worked out in advance and programmers work with a completely specified instructions. This approach is more costly upfront but reduces the chances of surprises.

We at Jetruby can work either way, based on the budget.

2. Get to Know the Assigned Project Manager in Advance

Make sure it’s the vendor’s policy to have a dedicated project manager who knows your program inside/out. This person should be involved at the very start.

Find out how long the person has been on the job and have a face-to-face video conversation at least to find out about their approach to project management and communication. Look for project managers who are transparent; budget, detail- and deadline-oriented; calm, and customer-focused in their dedication to minimizing surprises.

3. Establish Clear Milestones in a Written Project Plan

  • Even with the agile approach, make sure that the solution provider delivers a clear plan with specified deliverables and easily verifiable milestones, as well as any contingencies—i.e., circumstances that could affect the project plan.
  • Keep to a strict timetable of review meetings guided by a clear review agenda against the written requirements or wire frames and record the meetings when appropriate with full disclosure to the solution provider.
  • Make sure to involve any key stakeholders at every critical stage.
  • Communicate directly and clearly with the project manager if you sense an issue and try to have a face-to-face video meeting before escalating concerns. Do not ignore nagging instincts about something going wrong.
  • Depending on your contract, make sure that you have a secure copy of all code and required documentation uploaded on a regular basis on a platform you control and to which only you have access.

Click here for Jetruby’s complete guide to selecting an application development partner.

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