Insight for CIOs: Building a Great Mobile App Development Team

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Source: Kevin Doley

Mobile development is new enough in enterprises, that often application development teams are created on an ad hoc basis. That works fine for a while, but at some point — if your business is going to get serious about creating mobile apps — you need to thoughtfully assemble a strong team, and organize them in a way that helps them work effectively and efficiently.

How to do it? Adrian Leow, Nick Jones and Richard Marshall at Gartner offer plenty of help in their new report, “How to Build a Successful Mobile App Development Team.” The report lays out the issue this way:

“Organizations are typically lacking in basic app development life cycle skills such as user experience (UX) design, quality assurance, mobile-specific back-end data integration and mobile-oriented security needs. To reduce app development time, while maintaining app quality, a systematic full life cycle approach is needed to cover the mobile app life cycle stages of discovery, design, development and testing, deployment, and gathering and analyzing feedback.”

Taking the a Full Life-Cycle Approach

In Gartner’s view, everything flows from that life-cycle approach. Key to successful development, the report says, is establishing a Mobile Center of Excellence (MCOE). A Mobile Center of Excellence should be run by a leader who will typically be “a mobile visionary, a business architect or a line of business (LOB) manager.”

Once that is done, the leader should conduct a discovery process to gather ideas for apps, prioritize them, and create a roadmap for developing them. A team including LOB and IT representatives and domain experts should be part of that process.Gartner

Next, the app and user interface design phase starts. Gartner recommends combining this with the testing phase, and using an iterative design-and-development approach. The team to do all this should include the following:

  • User researcher
  • Interaction designer
  • Visual designer
  • Content strategist
  • Front-end developer
  • Experience lead

When that is done, the app should be developed using agile development practices, with a group composed of a product manager, a “scrum manager” who acts as a team coach and organizer, and the development team itself, which is in Gartner’s words, “a cohesive, self-organizing, cross-functional group that contains all the skills necessary to deliver on the project goals.” Next comes the deployment cycle, overseen by an expert with experience in either public app stores or private mechanisms for app deployment.

The app team shouldn’t consider its work done when apps are deployed, Gartner says. They need to use analytics to monitor app use, and then use that feedback to continually improve existing apps, and better design and build new ones.

To read why Gartner is recommending Rapid Mobile App Development (RMAD) platforms for these teams, click here.

To learn why 2016 is the year CIOs must go mobile or die, click here.

To read the full Gartner report, click here.