Posted by:Ranjit Anand March 31st, 2014

Where are we at the project now? What’s the status of the app? When can we start using the app on our phones? … Tired of often answering such questions from stakeholders? A simple project plan will help you be prepared with the right answers. The most important step in the project lifecycle is the project plan which will help you measure the progress of the project. A few tips to consider while creating the project plan for your mobile projects.

  1. Avoid a long list of the activities

Thinking in detail is very important but you need to have an eye on the big picture..always.  It is simpler to break the bigger tasks in to multiple sub-tasks such that it is easy to know what is expected. A typical project stakeholder will not want to dive into details but would rather prefer an overall progress report of the project. Keeping the tasks in the project plan organized, such that they always point to the overall health of the project will do the trick.

  1. Schedule comprehensive sprints

The world is getting agile over time, and so are mobile projects. Projects are expected to be delivered in sprints. Sprint needs to be planned keeping in mind, thedelivery of a comprehensive chunk of the application. Many a time, the sprints are defined based on time intervals which leads to features of the app delivered partially as the remaining part of the features are moved to the next sprint. It is recommended to plan the sprints based on completing a functionality of the application such that the deliverable can be thoroughly reviewed and tested.

  1. Sequencing based on resources

The total duration of projects is established depending on the order of tasks in the project plan. But often, project managers end up ordering tasks one after the other and later allocate them to resources.. resulting in a confusing Gantt chart. In a multi-member project team, it makes sense to start with identifying resources who will work on the functionality. Once the tasks are allocated, it is easier to sequence the tasks based on the predecessor task of that member. The resulting Gantt chart will reflect an optimum utilization of resources.

  1. Be aware of dependencies with integration

Many mobile applications are built with integrations from web servers and also from 3rdparty systems. Delivering a sprint will end up being worthless if the appropriate services are not integrated in the mobile app. It is important to be aware of the tasks involved in building the integration points, especially while deciding the sprints. Such integration tasks have to be accomplished in parallel with the app development such that it is in tandem with the mobile app functionality deliverable.

  1. Responsible team

Often the project manager comes up with the project plan which details tasks and their completion time. Although he is well aware of who is undertaking each task, it becomes difficult for other stakeholders to understand individual responsibilities involved. Especially with projects where multiple vendors are involved. It is important to mention the responsible person/vendor against the tasks just to keep all parties accountable.

  1. Marking important milestones

Every project will have milestones defined in-terms of releases, payments, launch, etc. It would be nice to plot such milestones on the project plan so that the business team of projects can better connect with the project. The milestones are usually marked as a no day event in the plan, and it helps the team member to push for the completion of the tasks to reach the milestone on the scheduled date. Milestones can include technical, business and other strategic milestones for better visibility across the project.

  1. Individual days off, holidays and other events in the team

One of the most common mistakes committed by project managers is not considering holidays while preparing the project plan. Many project planning softwares provides the ability to pre-define holidays so that it automatically excludes those days in the project. Do consult your team if they have any vacation/ scheduled time off planned during the course of the project. Another scenario is when the HR team plans team events that require employees to be away from work. Considering these overheads is a wise step during project planning.

These are some tips that I have learnt from my experience and ones that I recommend you to consider while preparing a project plan. Do you have more tips for better project plans? Do share your views by posting your comments

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