Posted by:Richard Smith March 14th, 2014

Have you desired an ideal scenario where you can anticipate all hurdles before starting your mobile project? Do you want to make sure every project gets through a smooth execution? Well, I am sure you do. Being aware of some of the common pitfalls is the first step in that direction.

Presenting some of the common problems faced by Mobile Project Managers during project execution

Challenge # 1: Unplanned Days Off:

Let me start with an all too common scenario. The project is well planned and everything is laid out in the work breakdown schedule. And then, you encounter days where your key team members take unplanned days off and you are notified at the last minute. Stopping people completely from taking unplanned vacation days might be a tough task, but what the project manager can definitely do is handle it with alternatives. Be it including buffer time during the initial project schedule or creating back up resources to cover up for people on leave or letting team members know to arrange for someone to cover for them during their absence.

Challenge # 2:Mandatory Upgrades

Given the competition in the mobility space, there are upgrades released frequently for the Mobile OS or devices. Sometimes, they are mandatory upgrades. In such a situation it is very important for project managers to make sure all the OS versions and devices supported are well defined in the contract before starting development. And in case of mandatory upgrades during the project, it must be brought to the client’s attention. Appropriate time and effort has to be allocated to carry the work forward or make up for time lost.

Challenge # 3:Non-Technical Clients

Majority of the stakeholders tend to be from a business background venturing into the mobile space. Although it has been few years since the smartphone era, not many understand the jargons like mobile OS, app store, SDK, native, hybrid, etc. So, many a time, project managers combat situations where technical/functional constraints have to be conveyed in layman terms such that non-technical clients get the picture. In such situations, the project managers will have to make sure they substantiate it with information that gives more clarity, provide authenticated articles/links to use cases, provide examples and more.

Challenge # 4:Real World Scenarios

With mobility service demographics, most of development work tends to be outsourced to development teams at a different location than the client. The mobile app might include many real world scenarios such as geo fencing, time dependent interaction, or other location-based scenarios that require the application to be tested out in the real world as opposed to the virtual world. It would be helpful if a few people from your team are deployed at the client’s location to collaborate and work with them on these real world scenarios. Or you could take help from client’s team. But, it is a necessary step.

Challenge # 5:Spot Commitments

Most of the project manager’s time is spent on participating in meetings, be it with the implementation team, management or the client. Apart from status, progress, issues, there are many ideas that spring or evolve during these meetings. Most of them boil down to actionable tasks. And, right there, arise questions related to implementation, time and cost, all directed to project managers. And, all with the expectation of an instant response, right on the call. Such commitments, if not assessed properly can throw the entire project off track. It is very important to go through a detailed analysis before any “on the spur” commitments are made. It would be wiser to take a step back, buy some time, get the team’s thoughts and then commit to it.

Challenge # 6:Testing Devices

What matters finally, is whether the app works for the end user or not. In the case of iPhone and iPad, we know the devices to test on. But in the case of an OS such as Android, there are just so many devices from varied manufacturers, that it is not feasible to test the application on every single type of device. It is very important for project managers to clearly state in the contract the devices that will be supported, or to consider taking additional time and effort for any new device to be in sync with the schedule.

These are some of the more common challenges encountered in mobile projects. I am sure there are more out there.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced in your projects or how have you overcome them? Share them with us.

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