Why You Need Project Planning Stage

Project management for mobile and web development involves loads of processes. To get everything done on time and correctly, project management is divided into several stages including initiation, planning, execution, control, and closure. 

The project planning and control stages account for nearly 80% of the efforts spent on project management and often require special attention. Project planning starts when a project gets the green light and all details need to be arranged. This stage lays the foundation for a project. If managers create an effective project plan, a project has a good chance of running without problems and having the desired outcome. 

It’s vital for us to make sure that your project is successful and that you get the product you expect. That’s why project planning is a core part of our  mobile and web development projects. In this article, we share the Yalantis experience, describing all the essential stages that effective project planning requires and explaining how they influence a project. 

What is the project planning stage in app development?

Yalantis uses the project planning stage to understand the needs of each client and make sure that it will meet our client’s expectations. 

During the project planning stage, business analysts and design and development teams conduct thorough research to define the technology stack and product concept and to prepare a product specification, wireframes, and other project documents. 

We also communicate with our customers a lot to understand what exactly they’re looking for. At this stage, it’s important to discover the smallest details that weren’t contained in the brief regarding how our client sees their future product and what they expect from it. We need to know the budget, functionality, business rules and constraints, business objectives, and design preferences. The project planning stage usually lasts a week or two but can last up to a month depending on the size of the project.

Sprint Zero

Communication

We typically communicate with our clients every day as project development progresses. This is one of the reasons we provide a project manager. 

During the first week or two of project planning, a project manager’s task is to explain all of our development approaches and processes to our clients. It’s important to discuss the details of communication channels as well as when meetings will be held. 

We make sure to discuss the project in detail during the project planning stage so that all questions have been clarified before the actual development starts. That’s why before we go to the concept development stage, we assign a requirement analyst to the project. 

The task of our requirement analysts is to discover and analyze all product requirements so they can create specifications for your project. A requirement analyst starts from analyzing your business case and product concept. All the data they gather helps them to identify your requirements in detail. After that, we discuss these requirements with you. When all details have been approved, we can start developing the product concept.

Read also: The value of a project manager in the app development process

Developing a product concept and MVP

Before an idea goes into production, we need to understand the business goals behind it. We also need to know the budget limitations. This way we can study the project and make an offer that will fit your needs. If you have a lower budget than your project requires, we can try fixing it either by removing some less important features from the scope, using a different technology, providing an alternative service, or simplifying the features that we’ve already set out to develop.

When business goals and budget limitations are defined and the functionality has been clarified, we can go to concept development. Sometimes our clients are non-technical and therefore not confident about how their app should work in technical terms. In this case, we help our clients define the set of features, map out the product’s design, and finalize the requirements for the product backlog. 

Each of these stages is followed with feedback from our requirement and business analysts to make sure that all decisions made at the planning stage are thought out.

Read also: Requirements Engineering at Yalantis

At this stage of the project, managers arrange a planning stage to break down modules into tasks for the development team.

Creating wireframes and user flow

Once the concept has been developed, it’s time to visualize your ideas. Project managers provide designers with all the requirements of the product and task them with creating wireframes. 

Wireframes represent the structure of the app. Basically, they’re maps of the app screens that look like some sort of a diagram displaying connections among screens. Wireframes allow you to visually represent your idea.

Moreover, wireframes help to plan and visualize user flows. A user flow is a path that users follow across different solutions in an app. User flows aim to plan and structure the user interface in such a way that users can accomplish all the tasks set for them. Also, using wireframes you can define some user behavior patterns that will help you understand how your product feels and what should be changed before development starts.  

Once all your thoughts have been thoroughly mapped out, we can make sure that nothing has been missed when the project jumps into the development phase.

Discussing UI design

The design phase begins only after all the visual details have been discussed. This phase consists of the following stages:

Moodboarding. A mood board is a collection of pictures and photos that visualize your ideas. Designers create mood boards to show the mood and emotions for a product. Mood boards also show the approximate color scheme of a user interface. 

Colors, elements, and animations. After moodboarding, designers start planning user interface details. They need to define the essential elements that help users interact with the product. Moreover, all UI elements need to be structured according to principles of visual hierarchy. Finally, designers need to think through possible animations for the user interface to make it interactive. 

Rounds of negotiations. Decisions on visuals can be quite difficult. Sometimes our clients’ tastes and their vision of the product may differ from ours. Sometimes business domain specifics may restrict the choices or demand specific design approaches throughout a whole product. It often takes some time before we come up with design decisions and go to the next stage.

Design of screens with the main functionality. We don’t create the design of all screens right after the details are discussed and approved, since discussions can never give the full picture of what a design will look like. Our designers first create prototypes of the most element-rich screens. This way we can finally show you how your product will look and work. 

Creating project related documentation

  1. User stories offer descriptions of a software feature from the end user’s perspective (for example, a user should be able to add the product to the cart). User stories are extremely useful for describing and understanding product functionality.
  2. A detailed estimate is a document that contains a list of features that will be implemented and hours that it will take to implement them. A detailed estimate also includes total hours for the project and the project’s budget.
  3. The project plan is a document that breaks down the detailed estimate into sprints. Each sprint has a start and an end date, a number of hours assigned to it, and a list of features that are going to be implemented during it. The project plan helps you track the progress of the project, monitor the delivery date, and see what features will be implemented when. The project plan often consists of the next parts:
    a. Project work breakdown structure (WBS)
    b. Project schedule
    c. Project budget
    d. Test strategy (created by QA) as the quality baseline
     

  4. The technical requirements document describes a desired programming language (if there is one), programming approach, external APIs that should be used in the project, and other technical particularities.
  5. The Model–View–Presenter (MVP) document shows a UI architectural pattern engineered to facilitate automated unit testing and improve the separation of concerns in presentation logic.

See also: Lean product development

Assigning the design and development team 

When assigning developers to your team, we take into account the technical specifics of your project and the expertise of each developer. Our programmers have experience developing a great variety of products, so we’ll definitely find a great team for your project.

To sum up, the efficiency of project planning stage has a significant influence on the app development process. That’s why we always pay a special attention to this stage. 

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