Mobile App Development and Managing Expectations

Scott CooperMobile app development, while not exactly new, is still in the early stages of its life cycle. Many companies are just starting to swim in these waters. If a company knows what its customers want, and manages their expectations effectively, then everyone involved with a project has a positive experience and, more importantly, a successful launch.

Like most technology projects, it is difficult at times for certain project team members to imagine a finished product. That is why there are meetings, technical specifications, wireframes, mock-ups, development/testing environments and even ad-hoc releases before going live to the world. Creating something so technologically driven, and somewhat new for an organization, can be challenging. These types of projects are usually new to most of the people involved in a project. Plus, everyone wants their piece of the pie represented when possible, which creates multiplemajor stakeholders and requires different data points that must all be brought together and logically made into a single cohesive app with a stable backend.

As a technical project manager, the first thing my customer and I need to have is an agreement on what our project is going to produce. I can’t manage expectations effectively unless there is a common expectation from the start. It may seem obvious, but the first, and most important, step to managing expectations is to establish a common understanding of the solution that is to be delivered. Normally this is done with the customer’s approval of the project’s technical specifications. Having customer approval signifies that they understand and agree with what is to be delivered, how it will be delivered, and when major milestones and delivery will occur.

Once a common expectation is reached, you then need to communicate proactively regarding the status, issues, response times, and risks associated with the project. You have to stick to the timetable agreed upon and provide a resolution, or a progress report. Then get all of the work completed on time. If it is determined later on that the expectations cannot be met, the customer should already be aware of it through proactive communication, then gain a new common understanding of the project based on the updated circumstances.

I find that assuring customer expectations are managed properly from the start makes all the difference for any project. Think about how many of your frustrations are caused because you expected something to be different that it was. If you had known what to expect, you would not have been as upset during the normal twists and turns of bringing a mobile app project from concept to market.

Bookmark and Share

One Comment

  1. Posted May 18, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I’ve never considered app building as such a minefield. I’d (foolishly in hindsight) considered it the preserve of coders trying to fill a percieved gap in the market with things they’d find useful, as opposed to a fully fledged product launch.

    I guess that’s another indication of how young the field is?

%d bloggers like this: