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Mobile app development agencies are growing in popularity, since apps continue to be a priority for businesses to attract and engage a wide audience of potential users. Users spend over three hours on average using their mobile phones everyday, with the top 20 percent on their phones for over 4 hours.

These trends shows no sign of slowing down, especially in a post-pandemic world. For many app businesses, if they want to unlock new growth opportunities – a mobile app is an effective route to get there!

Meet the ‘Iron Triangle’

Project management becomes an essential part of planning and executing app building projects, especially as you’re juggling multiple builds in different stages of development. Your agency may aim to build mobile apps that are cost-effective, innovative, and delivered quickly for their clients – however, this becomes a challenge especially as your work scales up.

When planning for cost, speed, and scope or complexity of the app, it’s often assumed that developers will need to sacrifice one in order to optimize the other two. This conundrum goes by many names: The project management triangle, the triple constraint, the iron triangle, the triangle of doom (okay, we might’ve made the last one up!) But is this true? Is it the right thing to do for your agency, and your clients? A point-blank trade-off can’t be the only solution.

This article will look at all three aspects and examine how they influence one another, and help your agency optimize all three!

Project management for your mobile app development agency

Irrespective of how simple or complex the app idea is that you’re building, project management plays an essential role in app development. It helps keep things running smoothly for your agency so that apps are launched, timelines are met, and clients are happy.

Back to our earlier nemesis, the iron triangle, in order to keep cost, quality, and scope in check, you need to be able to project manage the entire operation and accommodate all these factors.

When the scope increases, it would be up to the project manager to ensure that the app building costs don’t exceed the budget and the app is delivered within the timelines and with the right functionality. It is essential to have an understanding of the mutual dependency of the three constraints.

  1. Defining scope

Scope is the “size” of the app development project in terms of the features and design. It refers to the extent, dimension and spectrum of the development and design work that needs to be accomplished for your client.

If the project scope expands, it impacts the time and the cost. By adding more app features or expanding the existing ones, you will require resources that might not have been taken into account when deciding the budget.

Often, you might need to help clients map out the scope of a project, especially when figuring out how much it will cost to build an app for them.

Project scope may include:

  • Wireframing
  • Key features
  • Complexity of features
  • Design aspects
  • QA testing
  • Publishing
  • Ongoing app maintenance and bug fixes
  1. Determining cost

For the purpose of the project management triangle, cost isn’t limited to just dollar amounts.

Cost might include:

  • Financial budget
  • Paying team members
  • Any additional SaaS services
  1. Planning timelines

Timelines are crucial when building apps for clients. Any changes to the scope involve adjusting timelines, deadlines, and project management cycles.

Timelines may involve:

  • The overall project timeline
  • Hours worked on app building
  • Goals and milestones
  • Project phases

Tips for managing the triple constraint

  1. Keep one point flexible!

The key concept that the project management triangle rests on is this: no project can be successful if they three points are rigid or fixed. At least one needs to be flexible so that you have room to make adjustments.

Get a sense from your client which point that is, and work around it. For example, if their priority is staying on budget, you can deal with a sudden obstacle by extending the deadline rather than hiring more resources or refusing to take up other projects because of a lack of time. If your client has a tight timeline, it’s better to get an additional budget pre-approved so you have the resources to address any potential challenges without delaying development.

Follow these rules to keep your project flexible:

  • If cost is the biggest priority: Adjust the deadlines, scale back your scope, and agree on an MVP, or a minimum set of features that will help you keep the budget under control.
  • If time is the biggest priority: Discuss increasing the budget so you can add more resources, or cut down on some of the scope to ensure you have the flexibility to meet your deadline.
  • If the scope is the biggest priority: Ensure that you have things clearly documented, and set up flexible timelines while clearly communicating the possibilities of extension.
  1. Set expectations!

Once you know the constraints and priorities for the app development project, communicate their impact clearly to your client to minimize any unmet expectations and dissatisfied clients.

If you’re suddenly short on resources, update your client to let them know that there’s a potential for timeline extension. Clients always appreciate clear, transparent communication; and managing their expectations is one of the most important aspects of running a successful mobile app development project.

  1. Embrace the unknown!

You must embrace some uncertainty in order to properly balance out the triple constraint of project management. There will be times when you’ll need to compromise on more than you expected, there may be other times when you’ll have to work hard at keeping things as tight as possible in order to stay within scope. If you aren’t flexible, you’ll end up sacrificing the quality of the project, and your peace of mind!