Tag: App development.

Following the early move of media apps and banking into the mobile arena, now the other industries are developing mobile technology as one of their key communication and service channels towards their customer. Last six months, Service2Media gathered a series of stories, opinions, cases, white-papers, interviews and webinars to sketch our views on apps. Each article was accompanied with an infographic. To conclude the series on app development, we combined the infographics into one infographic on the decisions faced when setting up the strategy, people and processes for app development.

#1: User driven vision as a basis for your app strategy – Focus from products to customers – Read article

#2: Advantages for in-house development vs. outsourced  app development - Read article

#3: How to manage a growing app portfolio? – Read article

#4: Develop apps for tasks not for processes – Systems of engagement – Read article 

#5: The six pillars for integration of mobile app technology in the enterprise – Read article

#6: Extend the app lifecycle – Read article

#7: How to use push for customer engagement – Context, relevancy, engagement - Read article

#8: Overview of security and privacy in mobile app development- Read article

#9:  Learnings & Basics Scrum for app development – Read article

Infographic App Development Steps

For successful app development you need the right people, technology and processes. For this week’s article we interviewed our project managers. They encounter the challenges and strengths of app development in their daily work, and have learned to incorporate Scrum methodology in app development projects.

What makes app development and Scrum a good match (vs. waterfall)?

Mobile app development is a highly dynamic process, as OS updates, (design) trends and non-mobile optimised back-ends influence app development projects. Next to that, Scrum invites the customer to modify the requirements slightly during the project. Although the initial requirements are still the starting point, the actual customers needs are most important. During the process clients become more educated on the opportunities of app development. They receive additional budgets, scale up development or extend the project scope, influencing the apps’ roadmap. On the downside, customers learn that app development is rather unpredictable and does not happen in insulation.

Compared to waterfall, Scrum enables clients to approach us with their changed needs and gives them milestone checkpoints to compare the deliverable with the required result. The waterfall method is more like carving the requirements in stone, putting them in a black box and hoping for an accurate end result. In the case of a mismatch between the requirements and the end result, scrum gives the possibility to rectify it within the same budget. In a finalised waterfall-based project, it is very likely that all budgeted development hours will have been used.

What are the four characteristics of Scrum that add most value to the quality of the project?

- Team Engagement: Developers work in empowered, motivated and self-organised teams, in which developers commit themselves to a sprint delivery. The client is part of the project team and as a team they are responsible for the product.
- Exposes Wastefulness: In app development it is key to focus first on the 20% functionality that will be used by 80% of the users. Frequent testing, feedback and milestone deliveries to stakeholders contribute to the quality of the end-result.
- Customer Centric: Scrum helps to define and meet the expectations of the customer by refining and polishing the end result.
- Adaptive and lightweight: Scrum has transparent steps and fewer bureaucratic processes as the priorities and speed of development are adaptive.

Great. But what are the pitfalls of Scrum?

In app development, Scrum can’t deal with fixed date, fixed price and fixed scope, whilst still providing flexibility in the process to the customers. As a result, Scrum has a higher risk of scope creep. Unless there is a definite end-date, project stakeholders are tempted to demand new functionality. Furthermore, Scrum requires more experienced software developers, as they need to deal with uncertainties, make assumptions, and give accurate estimations on development hours for functionalities. Making good estimations is extremely difficult for novice developers, as they tend to be too positive.

Scrum does not mean: let’s just start and see where this ends up. Clients need to be advised as to what they can refine in each sprint or stage of the development process. Each acceptance and every finalised sprint narrows down their options for adjustment.


Basics of Scrum:

Sprint Planning: Success is clearly defined using the “definition-of-done” set up by customers in their role as product owner. The product owner is involved in the project and can adjust the output by setting priorities on the work to be developed.

Daily Stand- up: The team has daily updates on the progress. Each team member has several minutes to give a summary of the work done the day before, the tasks and priority for the upcoming day and possible relevant obstacles.

Sprint review & retrospective: The sprint review is a natural result of the end of a sprint and is held when the customer receives a working app. In addition, the way of working is discussed to improve for example the teamwork, productivity or quality.

Refinement: The discussion with the product owner about the roadmap for the app, is on whether to optimise or improve the product.

Following the early move of media apps and banking into the mobile arena, now the insurance industry is developing mobile technology as one of their key communication and service channels towards their customer. In the coming two months, Service2Media will present you with a series of stories, opinions, cases, whitepapers, interviews and webinars to sketch our views on apps and app development centers

Last week we explained that a user driven vision is key for your company’s app strategy. We explained that the insurance industry has interesting opportunities to service and engage their customers using mobile apps. These opportunities originated from several characteristics of the insurance processes and the maturity of the digitalisation in these organisations.

in-house vs outsourced app development

App development centre

The choice between in-house development and outsourced development for insurance companies is not a trivial one, but depends on a number of complex factors. Second, this choice is not a one-time choice but needs to be reconsidered when the situation changes, or it can even involve a gradual transition plan from outsourced to in-house development.

One of the possible outcomes of this evaluation is the setup of an app development centre; a complete in-house app development, deployment and maintenance ‘assembly line’. The centre is a special department within the company’s IT organisation, fully geared towards efficient production and management of apps.

By centralising the app development in-house in an app development centre, the insurance company creates an environment for robust app development:

  • The development processes used will be scalable.
  • Knowledge will be secured inside the company.
  • The entire app lifecycle will fit completely within the company’s quality, risk and cost control environment.

Scalable development process

The development processes used for app development will be scalable in several ways. First, setting up libraries of components will make re-use of these components feasible. Basic functionality like communication protocols, encryption, authorisation and authentication, back-end connectors and CMS connections can be developed once and can be used whenever needed through the entire app portfolio of the enterprise.

Second, re-using these components will result in clear and common functionality for the end user that is shared across multiple apps. The user will recognise parts of the app easily and therefore the learning curve will be less steep.

Third, when components are created that interact directly with the end user, it is much easier to maintain the corporate design guidelines and keep a coherent appearance of the app portfolio. At the same time, changes in these design guidelines will propagate much easier through the app portfolio of the company.

Using these building blocks, the developer gets a powerful head start in developing new apps and the app creation efficiency increases.

Case Study: Achmea: Achmea’s App Factory

achmea leaflet app factoryAbout: The app portfolio in the insurance industry is a widely discussed topic. This paper elaborates on the App Factory initiative at Achmea, a large Dutch insurance group, to execute their app portfolio strategy. To respond to this vision, Achmea introduced their own app center: The Achmea App Factory, a complete in-house app development and maintenance ‘assembly line’. The App Factory is a special department within the company’s IT organisation, fully geared towards efficient production and management of apps.

Download Resource

Securing knowledge

During the app development cycle, knowledge will be captured and employees will gain expertise. Knowledge about app development, automation of certain business processes, interfaces and data connectors, all will contribute to the accumulated knowledge and intellectual property inside the company, resulting in value increase.

Quality, risk and cost control

The in-house app development centre is an integral part of the company. The department’s interfaces will mainly be internal, simplifying the communication. The entire app lifecycle will match the company quality, risk and cost control environment.

Next week we will introduce app portfolios. What options does one have to setup, manage and maintain an app portfolio?

Besides our side of the story, we are also extremely interested in your own thoughts and opinions. We would love to learn your vision, remarks, comments on what we say and start a dialogue or a discussion with you on this subject. Feel free to contact us.


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