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Top four secrets of successful mobile development projects

What researchers discovered may surprise you

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Mobile development teams are under tremendous pressure to deliver successful projects, and the challenge is set to grow. Gartner predicts that, by the end of 2017, market demand for enterprise mobile application development services will outstrip IT organizations’ capacity to deliver them by five to one.

As the stakes continue to rise, what can you do to position your next mobile application development project for success?

New research from the IBM Center for Applied Insights unveils four key differentiators for successful mobile application development projects (vs. less successful ones) that helped enable them to fully meet budget, schedule, and project objectives. The study, "Star qualities: What it takes for mobile application development projects to succeed," surveyed 585 mobile app developers and development managers across nine countries about mobile development projects and processes.

According to research from the IBM Center for Applied Insights, two-thirds of mobile application development projects fail to fully achieve budget, schedule, and project objectives

So, what are the four keys to their success? Surprisingly, success or failure of projects didn’t rest on many of the factors you might first consider, such as team size or use of native vs. web vs. hybrid implementation. The differences, the researchers found, boiled down to four simple strategies.

1. Strong team with the right expertise

One of the greatest challenges is finding qualified                             developers, with real experience in mobile. Mobile developer,                             Brazil
One of the greatest challenges is finding qualified developers, with real experience in mobile. Mobile developer, Brazil

Successful projects have developers with mobile development experience as well as strong business and industry expertise. For example, the study found that successful projects are 30 percent more likely to have one developer with more than five years of mobile development experience. Additionally, they are less likely than others to cite lack of specialized business and industry expertise on the development team as a challenge.

Key takeaway? Determine how you’ll fill any skill gaps, identify additional training opportunities, and map out career paths for your top developers.

2. Flexibility through cloud-based platforms and APIs

Successful projects use cloud-based platforms and mobile application development platforms more heavily. In fact, successful projects are 35 percent more likely than others to use cloud-based platforms and 31 percent more likely to use mobile application development platforms to develop their mobile apps.

Key takeaway? Consider using cloud-based platforms and APIs to boost development speed, and mobile application development platforms to avoid being locked into a particular platform or technology—an issue that can slow projects down.

3. Collaboration across the ecosystem

Successful projects maintain close collaboration across the entire ecosystem, from design to QA to end users. Take note of the emphasis on “close.” While study respondents as a whole said the number one trait of effective mobile application developers is the ability to collaborate with others outside the core team, those on successful projects reported closer collaboration, especially with key constituents, such as business stakeholders and end users.

Key takeaway? It’s not only important to identify developers with strong communication and collaboration skills; you’ll want to provide the right tools and environment to foster greater collaboration throughout the development lifecycle.

4. Innovation through analytics

Successful projects found inspiration in usage analytics. In fact, successful projects are nearly 1.6 times more likely than others to cite usage analytics as a top source of inspiration for mobile app innovation. Through significant analysis of indirect end user feedback, such as usage of application features/functionality, regularity of application use, and social media sentiment about the application, they are able to improve existing apps, as well as develop new ones.

Key takeaway? Conduct usability testing during development and use analytics after launch to identify popular (and unpopular) features and functions as sources of insight for continual app improvement.

Conclusion

Taking cues from these successful projects can help your next mobile app development project meet budget, schedule and project objectives. And who wouldn’t want that?

This article was originally published on the IBM Center for Applied Insights blog.


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