Mobile Apps and Agile Discovery

Mobile Apps and Agile Discovery

Screen_Shot_2014-04-29_at_12.30.09_PMIn today’s world business leaders are demanding IT organizations deliver high value mobile applications at little cost and lightning speed. And if you’ve worked on any mobile application project, then you know that mobile application development projects can be a challenge. 

Mobile apps and websites used to simply be a replica of the desktop version of a website, but today they are much more. They are productivity tools, information lifelines and are central to how successful companies are conducting business. For example, in the past marketers used to have to wait and gather campaign statistics – in this day and age, marketing and sales use mobile apps to track campaigns, manage promotions, track inventory – in real-time!

By now we’ve all heard of Pinterest and have seen how much growth they have experienced since they first popped up on our social media radar a couple years ago.  From inception, Pinterest has seen visits skyrocket by 5,124 percent to more than 28 million visits per week in their second year of business. The result? As an organization, they had to move quickly to successfully support their growth spurts, or risk the trap of ‘growing too fast’ and not being able to keep up with the market demands.  They did this through automation, agile tools and strong collaboration between developers and all other operations. 

In other words, Pinterest was successful because they were able to move quickly and had established an agile development environment early on.

One of the key principles of Agile Development is the ability to handle changing requirements even late in the project, and minimize the risk usually involved in doing so.   In fact, in agile projects, it’s vital that the stakeholders can make changes easily at any point in the development lifecycle – from beginning to the end.  Tracking and managing these constant changes is vital in order to stay on top of any project and still come in on time and on budget – and with happy stakeholders.

But for any project, it’s important to remember that before agile development comes effective discovery.

Discovery starts with the team—it can include business analysts, designers, developers, business stakeholders and the list can go on.  Establishing what stakeholders want can be tricky but a must in the discovery phase—in fact it’s what successful discovery is all about.  The team needs to look at: what are the current best practices? What are the current experiences? How can your future app improve these current practices and experiences? Is this feasible? Can it be built? What should be built first? What will be the most valuable functionality?

But discovery goes beyond just asking the questions, it’s important that the time is taken to understand who the people are that you are asking these questions to.

By doing user research, a clearer picture can be painted and an understanding of who your users are is established. User personas can show who the user is, how they currently perform their work and what they would find valuable to have in the future. Create a story map and include what makes your project fun, painful, or confusing for the stakeholder. Do we need to change behavior for the stakeholder? What should the outcomes be? Capture and analyze the problem statement or opportunity so that you are addressing in enough detail to get everyone on the same page. 

And don’t forget about your business overall. What will YOUR company gain from building this app? Develop the app in the context of your business objectives to make sure you’re meeting the needs of the company and helping them achieve their overall goals.

Establishing and meeting key performance indicators are vital in figuring out what the right mobile application should look and act like for your organization and your market. Establish a common vision among all team members and stakeholders so everyone is motivated toward the same clearly defined goal. Also make sure everyone is aware of vital constraints – understand and communicate the budget, deadlines, and other limitations to your whole team.

Organizations that implement and utilize agile discovery are more successful at understanding what needs to be built—resulting in more successful projects that deliver higher value features and products at lower costs and higher rates of user satisfaction.

Learn more about Enfocus Solutions and how we can ease your Agile Discovery process.

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