Having worked in mobile app development field for about seven years we understand that every client is unique. Some of them are technical and some are not. Some have a clear vision of their future product and how it can be developed and some don't. Some have enough budget and some are quite short on money. In the end, some may be searching for an MVP or they may not.
When the process of app development is just getting started, it’s important to figure out what the product which will satisfy the customer is going to look like before we get down to creating it. Despite the uniqueness of our clients, there is one solution that will perfectly fit all the different cases. The name of this solution is project planning.
What is project planning stage in app development
The Scrum product development methodology has the term Sprint Zero which can be described as «getting ready for the project». Scrum professionals put together design, infrastructure, process improvement, implementation, test, and validation as the goals of Sprint Zero. These components are essentially the goals of every sprint once the product development process has been started.
We have our own vision of Sprint Zero which we call the project planning stage and which we want to share with you in as simple way as it is possible.
During the project planning stage we communicate with our customer a lot to understand what exactly he or she is looking for. We need to know the budget, functionality, design preferences, deadlines, and other details. The project planning stage usually lasts for a week or two depending on the size of the project.
In other words, a project planning stage is used by our app development company to understand the needs of each client and, at the same time, to secure our own work and make sure that it will meet our clients’ expectations.
Remaining true to the principles of Scrum (though Scrum is not always the case), every sprint needs to have something potentially shippable delivered in the end. That applies to the project planning stage as well. So, here are the main goals of it.
Well this is obvious. Mind you, it doesn’t mean that we talk only during the progect planning. Communication may happen every day as the project development process goes on. This is one of the reasons we provide a project manager. However, it’s this first project planning week or two when our team figures out the idea of the app, its functionality, preferable design features, etc. You probably know that it’s better to do a little talking and a lot of working. We make sure to discuss the project in detail during the project planning stage, so that when the actual development process starts all the questions are clarified.
Assembling the team
When assigning developers to the team, we take into account the complexity of each project and the preferable level of each developer. Our programmers have enough experience developing a great variety of products, so you will definitely find the best team for your project. The process of selecting people on board might take some time given interviews with developers and initial team meetings, so why not to do it while the project planning is still in its phase?
Developing product concept and MVP
Sometimes our clients might find it hard to identify the most important features of the product and their implementation. In this case, Yalantis acts as an advisor. We consult our clients regarding the functionality, development particularities and business analysis of the app so that it becomes profitable and successful on the market.
It might happen that our client is limited on budget. So we will use project planning stage to study the project and make an offer that will fit our client’s needs. This can be done either by extracting some less important features from the scope, using different technology, alternative service or by simplifying the features that we have already set out to develop. Check our video that explains MVP concept.
Or, another case, if our clients have enough budget and a strong need of an app. But, say, they are non-tech guys and, therefore, not confident about how this app should work. In this case, we will help them develop the concept, map out its design and finalize the requirements which will be listed in the product backlog. We will do the market research, study the end users and suggest the functionality that will meet their needs.
Wireframes are a schema that represents the structure of the app. Basically, this is a map of the app screens which looks like some sort of a diagram displaying connections between one screen and another. Wireframes allow you to have a visual representation of your idea. When all your thoughts are thoroughly mapped out, we can make sure that nothing is missed when the project jumps into the development phase.
If you take wireframes and put some color on them, you get a basic design. Discussing design implies choosing color palette, complexity of animations, and other factors essential for the app’s look. Sometimes our clients’ tastes and their vision of the product may differ from ours. That’s why it’s important to clarify design preferences and outline preferable features.
Read also: UX design techniques in Yalantis
Creating project related documentation
- User Story — a description of a software feature from the end user perspective (e.g. a user should be able to add a product to the cart). User stories are extremely useful for describing and understanding the functionality of the product.
- Detailed Estimation — a document with a list of features that will be implemented and hours that this implementation will take. Detailed estimation also has total hours of the project and its budget.
- Project Plan — a document where the detailed estimation gets broken down into sprints. Each sprint has a start and an end date, total hours that we plan to spend on this sprint and a list of features that are going to be implemented. Project Plan helps the client track the progress of the project, monitor the delivery date and see when and what feature will be implemented.
- Technical Requirements — a document that describes a desired programming language (if there is one), programming approach, some external APIs that should be used in the project and other technical particularities.
See also: Lean product development
To sum up, the project planning stage in the app development process results in a certain product, whose purpose is to explain how the future app will work and be developed.