The Value of Project Manager in Our Application Development Process

In this article, we will demonstrate the role and importance of project managers using a hypothetical project as an example.

Our project managers have at least a three-year experience and high technical education. They play one of the key roles in the application development.

The project manager coordinates the teamwork at all stages of the project development.


Rough estimate

The work on every project starts with receiving an application development request from our client.

In our example, let’s assume that you need a mobile social application to be developed. The app is to support both iOS and Android platforms.

Your email message describes the features that the social app should have:

  • location of the current user’s position on the map
  • notifications to the user about special offers by local entertainment places
  • ability to add friends
  • chat
  • video chat
  • ability to post and edit photos / videos / text
  • ability to share posts in social networks
  • offline usage
  • push notifications
  • in-app purchases (group video chat, message stickers), etc.

Our project manager joins the project at the rough estimate stage.

The project manager studies your request to identify particular details and to find more cost-effective solutions. At the same stage, our PM also discusses the project with you.

The rough estimate gives the approximate idea of the time and costs required to complete the project.

According to the rough estimate, our project will need about:

  • 500 – 800 hours to develop the app for each platform
  • 20 percent of the cost to engage a project manager
  • 20 percent of the cost to engage a QA engineer
  • 300 hours for the design + UX (prototyping)
  • 300 hours for the server side development

There may be cases when the rough estimate exceeds the budget, which you have planned for the project. In such situations, we can suggest creating an MVP first to lower the initial costs.

In the process of designing the MVP, the project manager conducts market research, suggests the basic set of features to be included in the MVP to create a marketable product. He also outlines the way these features can be implemented to show the product.

The MVP should include the core value features without which the product can’t exist.

A well-developed MVP based on solid market research should get positive user feedback, fulfill the business goal set by our client and, sometimes, even attract investors. Or it can point us to what is wrong with the product that we can work on.

In any case, you will have the resources necessary to develop the full version of their application after releasing the MVP and analyzing the data it yielded.

If we were to make an MVP for the application in our example, we would, probably, leave out the video chatting functionality and the offline usage support.

Both of them are somewhat complicated to implement and are going to consume much time.

At the same time, these features are not critical for the application purpose and the business goal the app is to achieve.

If the MVP gets enough customers and the proof of concept, these features can be implemented in the full version of the application.

Please note that this approach is not universal and should not be applied to all projects.

For example, in specific applications, it is the most time- and cost-consuming functionality that is its core component and main advantage.


Project planning

If, as the result of the rough estimate discussion, you decide to begin with developing an MVP, our project manager will start project planning.

Usually, application development is performed in two-week iterations, which are referred to as sprints.

In the first sprint, the application design is usually done.

The first iteration also includes specific preparation tasks, such as project architecture creation and development environment configuration.

In the second sprint, the application design done in the previous iteration may be further adjusted and fine-tuned and the project development as such starts.

During the project planning, our development scope is broken down into tasks corresponding to the approved UI mockups.

These tasks are scheduled for the second and subsequent iterations. Starting with the second iteration, the certain time is also allocated to testing and bug-fixing.

All features of the MVP scope are divided into smaller tasks and assigned to project iterations until the entire MVP functionality is covered.

Please note that the plan created at this stage is not final, and you can suggest changes to it already when the development is in progress.

We only ask that any changes to the plan have to be made as early as possible, as they may disrupt the development flow and result in delaying the project scope completion.

After putting together the project plan, the project manager proceeds with a detailed estimate and a client proposal. The proposal contains the details of the project development, such as its scope, the team structure, communication schedule, delivery date, pricing model, etc.

Particularly, the proposal states the risks that may affect the project development process.

For example, unclear requirements to the project may result in longer development time, regardless of the team expertise and competence.

Also, if you refuse to include a project manager in the development team, the project management will have to be done on your side.

At the same time, there are specific ways the project manager can reduce the risks and make sure that the project meets the estimate. Read on for details.


Project concept development

Even a detailed estimate does not cover all the specifics of the project.

To form a complete picture, we also need a detailed specification, user stories, a mind map or any other document describing all features and components the application should have.

For that purpose, project development always includes a project planning stage.

During project planning, we prepare a full estimate for you. The whole estimate is made based on the thorough analysis of the planned application functionality, both visible and hidden.

The time we spend on project planning is not included in the full project estimate.

At the end of the project planning stage, the project manager prepares the following documents for you:

  • wireframes showing all UI screens of the application
  • basic project design
  • user stories
  • product backlog containing all components which are to be included according to your requirements
  • development priority starting with the most critical components and continuing in descending order
  • project milestones represented by essential application components or features implemented at each stage
  • iteration timeline
  • release dates (the date of application approval at App Store / Google Play as well as the dates of all subsequent updates).

During the detailed estimate preparation, our team will closely cooperate with you.

After all the details of the project are discussed and agreed upon, we sign the annex to the contract. After this annex is signed, our team begins the development.


Project development coordination

For the entire duration of the project development, our project manager coordinates the team.

The project manager schedules and conducts team meetings; determines the scope of features be implemented in each sprint; takes care of any changes occurring in the development process and controls the deliverable for each iteration.

Resolution of any issues, misunderstandings, and disputes arising in the process of project development also falls within the project manager’s responsibility.

With wise management, the project manager can bring clarity and transparency to the development processes, guarantee a prompt response to any issues and inquiries, establish and maintain effective cooperation between you and our team as well as within the team itself, and resolve any difficulties which can hinder the project progress according to the approved plan.

Also, the scope of the project manager’s responsibility is documentation maintenance and monitoring.

It is our project manager who provides you with the requested documentation – various project-related reports, such as team evaluation reports, bug reports, etc. The project manager also monitors the project backlog, updating it as necessary and keeping the team informed of any change requests*.

*A change request is any modification of the initially approved project specification or wireframes resulting in changes to the agreed project scope and estimate.

The primary goal of the project planning stage is to bring the probability of change requests to the minimum.

However, many projects face specific issues in the process of development.

For example, the client’s vision of the end product may change, the investors may make unexpected demands, there may be technology updates, which need to be taken into account.

It is up to the project manager to resolve such issues as quickly and efficiently as possible, reducing their consequences for the client while retaining the project concept consistency and trying to keep to the originally set deadlines as strictly as possible.

The tools using by project manager are Trello, Jira, Slack, GoToMeeting, Skype…


Further project development

One of the goals of the first version of the product is determining whether it corresponds to your expectations and meets your user’s needs.

To evaluate the application performance, we include analytical tools to gather the data generated by the application usage and to analyze user engagement.

Based on the results of such analysis, we can suggest changes or improvements to the application bringing a better user experience.

The project manager will discuss the analytics results with you suggesting possible updates and approving the scope of each subsequent iteration.

It is a short summary of the project manager’s role and responsibilities in the context of application development.

Should you need more information on this matter, contact us by email, we will be happy to answer your questions.