Practical tips and best practices for ensuring your enterprise/mobile application project is a complete success.

Although there is a LOT of software application project management information out there on the web, it’s hard to find practical tips on how to manage an enterprise or mobile application design and development project on a day to day basis, therefore we have put some simple points down here that, if put in to practice, will help you a great deal when dealing with your application project.

Therefore, here are some practical best practices and tips that we’ve learned in our years of experience at ACT Mobile Solutions:

Time Management

All that needs to be done in – how long?! 🙁

Bear in mind that at LEAST 50% of the enterprise application development project will more than likely need to be completed in approximately 20% of the time left! In other words, you will need to do a great deal of work in a short space of time.

End users/clients will ask for last minute changes, system testing can take longer than expected, decisions will be taken just before you plan to ‘go live’ etc. Push the project forward as much as you possibly can at the beginning in order to have more time at the end of the enterprise application project.

Hmmm, that’s going to take….

Keeping the first point in mind, think about the minimum amount of time you need to complete the project, and double it. Think in working days and remember to take in to consideration bank holidays and employees involved in the project taking days off.

Many people consider software application projects to be relatively easy however they are highly labour intensive and depend on key individuals completing their tasks in a timely manner. There are numerous reasons as to why it is vitally important to add additional time to each task, because on every single enterprise software application project there will always be changes, updates, modifications, extra communication with the client etc.

How are we doing guys?

As an enterprise software application project manager, you should really be checking that you are not running over time every day (AND gently pressuring your colleagues to complete their tasks), however you should put a (weekly) check point in your calendar for the duration of the project to discuss how the project is progressing according to your….

Gantt chart

A Gantt chart is a very simple way of keeping on top of tasks. Think about tasks that can be carried out in tandem with others. Design at the same time as screen development? Quality Assurance at the same time as development? Print it off and stick it up on your desk.

Finished already! 🙂

A lot of project managers believe they need to deliver on the exact date they say they will however, if you are able to complete the enterprise application before the specified date it is a win – win. The client/end user will be more than happy and you save money/make money.

Manage your time

Keep a running log of things you can realistically do in a day’s work. Genuinely try to stick within an 8 or 9 hour day and don’t go beyond it. Working incredibly long hours increases stress and becomes detrimental to your health and doing a good job. In project management of software applications, it is very easy to work seriously long hours but it rarely helps in the long run.

Project Management Software (Do’s/Don’ts)

Rest easy on the fluffy cloud…ahhhh

There are free project management tools out there, such as the excellent Trello, which greatly simplifies an enterprise software application project;  by allowing you to add all the action items in your project and sorting them in order of importance, add screenshots/images, mark as done etc. It is a very complete tool. You can add people to your project and they can give you feedback and comments accordingly, all on the ‘cloud’. It’s great for working remotely.

There is of course Google Docs as well, which is also very useful – any tool that allows everyone involved in the project to have access to the same document/edit it etc. will help you manage your enterprise software application project.

Remember that, if you use Google docs to work through a list of action items for example, use initials/dates (AB 01/05/2016 for example) when making comments etc. Using colours to show comments does not work and gets confusing.

Two clicks – bang, found it!

Create a file (again, the cloud is good here) specifically for usernames/passwords, useful project links, libraries etc. Again this is a real time saver, is very useful if you can’t access your email, and it saves you having to continuously search for it.

Hahaha (Chat platforms)

Chat platforms (skype, whatsapp etc.) are great for having some fun, having a (silent) laugh or asking a quick question but try to avoid them when discussing your software application project. They are incredibly difficult to keep track of and require a lot of scrolling to see what was said. The fewer platforms/documents you use to manage your enterprise application project, the better.

For anything official regarding the project, always use (clearly labelled) email or better yet, use amendment documentation as discussed below. Any changes should be logged immediately, the moment they are received (along with the date) so as to not lose sight of them.

Email Management

Errr now, where did I put that email?

As enterprise or mobile application projects can go on for months, you will invariably end up with a huge amount of emails (containing large amounts of information) belonging to a project therefore, before the project commences, create a new email folder for the project. You can also create sub folders for a particularly difficult task or functionality.

Speak to your colleagues and customers and ask them to diligently write the project name and a strong description in the email title for every email they send about the project.

Something like this: ‘Pepsi – Adding the ‘Phone number’ field to the contact form’.

You will save yourself a great deal of time if you can get your team to commit to this.

Always try to get your end user/client to give you any changes, updates etc. in one email, in a numbered/bulleted list/description format and get as much detail as possible. Detail is extremely important to avoid confusion.

Paperwork

Contract/project documents

You may be working on an internal enterprise application project (project documents) or for a client (contract) but the principles are the same. It is wise to document, to the minutest detail possible, everything that is included in the project. Unless you make project issues, tasks etc. abundantly clear, they are left open to interpretation and can cause you problems further down the line. Try to think outside the box when looking at functionality and business processes. We discuss business processes in more detail in our previous post about enterprise applications.

This is incredibly important when working on an enterprise software application project, especially if it is a modification project to existing company software because there will be people who will be affected within an organization that you do not know, who use the system when changes are taking place. Try to notify users as many times as possible before you make a change.

Send out regular updates to all employees, which include the main changes and what users can expect. Use screen shots as a visual aid.

Amendment paperwork

Amendments to enterprise software application projects are incredibly common, therefore keeping an official log of exactly what will be changed is incredibly important. The amendment document should always contain the following:

  • The date
  • A strong title detailing the functionality that is to be changed
  • An indepth description as to the functionality change
  • What will be needed (hours, people etc.)
  • Agreed to by both parties
  • Date the document was agreed to
  • Notify system users of changes before they happen

Amendments should be logged in a spreadsheet to keep track of them.

Project Steps

Have main milestones (and team member assigned) clearly defined.

This is another list that can be printed off and stuck to your desk.

A ‘milestone’ is defined as a major step towards completing the project. These may be; for example, an ‘approval’ from a client or, completing your business processes. Try to split your enterprise software application project up in to a series of logical milestones of about 8-10 major steps.

Back ups

 

What?! The code is GONE?! 

Always back up your enterprise application code up! Hardware breaks down, ‘saves’ don’t save, people make mistakes etc. You get the idea 🙂

Other areas of importance

 

Track your costs

Whenever you agree to a price for carrying out part of your enterprise/mobile application project, always write it down immediately, in a central location. Again, it’s very easy to start to lose track of costs and for it to become a serious problem later on.

Mitigate risk

Successful management of an enterprise application project is to try and foresee as many risks as possible so that you can deal with them before they occur.

Try to ‘flag’ problem areas before the project begins so that you can plan for them accordingly.

Always check your team’s work

As the project manager of an enterprise software application project, it is your job to check your team’s work to ensure it is what the client/end user wanted. If it is not, you should send it back and get it changed before it gets to the client/end user. This will save you a lot of time (and the embarrassment factor) of not getting it right to begin with.

Asking others to do something

Sometimes there will be things that come up which are quicker to do yourself than to ask the originator to complete. When you have the time, you can always do it yourself, to free up your team members for other more important things, save time and to gain experience in tasks that you wouldn’t ordinarily do.

‘Techie’ speak (same as ‘Klingon’, isn’t it?)

Just knowing (and understanding) the main technical terms used in an enterprise software application project will make your life a lot easier when explaining exactly what you need to happen.

Terms such as API, Web Services, VPN, VPS, Hosting, Domain, Metatags, iOS versions, Android versions, Design protocols, Banners etc. are all terms that are used regularly on enterprise/mobile application projects.

 ACT Mobile Solutions is a small, top quality enterprise and mobile application development company that is founded on excellence in the industry and complete customer satisfaction. We pride ourselves on delivering your system to the highest possible standards and being the best in the business. For further information, please don’t hesitate to email us at alastair.bartlett@actmobilesolutions.com or feel free to use our contact form below. Also, love to hear your thoughts on what we have discussed. Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *