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Fuckups in Mobile Development – Part 1Bart Franssen
In a constantly changing mobile landscape, bringing projects to a successful end is a journey full of surprises and pitfalls. At ACA we’ve always had a passion for Agile processes and in our mobile division we make this vision come alive in our motto:
Think BIG, ACT small and scale FAST
Our motto helps us to keep in mind that an agile development approach is crucial to respond quickly to unpredictable situations. Inevitably, we all fuck up along the way. Things don’t always go as we expect them to and this is were agile development plays a very important role.
In this blog series we will give you a summary of our presentation at the Mobile Business Congress. With concrete examples we will give you an overview of the methods we use to map out the route, the skills required to stay on track and the wrong turns taken along the way.
In part 1 we will discuss 2 common made fuck ups, how you can anticipate these and how to respond quickly!
Fuckup number 1: Anticipate and Isolate your Assumptions
Imagine you have to be at the movies and you have 10 minutes left…
You get in a rush to make it there and when you finally get there, you have to find a parking spot. This can be a very stressful situation and for disabled people, this is even harder. There are special parking spots for disabled people, but can they locate them?
To help disabled people, we built the Toepark app. Toepark is a hybrid application we built for the Flemish government to visualise parking spots for disabled people. This way they can easily explore parking sports using the mobile app or the responsive website www.toepark.be. At this moment nearly 16 000 parking spots are shown and for storing those points we investigated the possible solutions.
Our research showed that the Google Maps Engine was the perfect solution, parking spots could be uploaded, managed and visualised on a map with minimal effort. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any detailed pricing information for the Engine, so we decided to move on. We made the assumption that the Engine would fit our budget and above that, we also had a tight deadline of 7 weeks, which meant that we did not have the comfort to wait very long for any information.
Anticipate your assumptions
We started developing with the Engine and after 3 weeks we got a reply from Google and it struck like a bombshell…
It turned out that the Engine would NEVER fit our budget.
In the beginning we knew that it was a risky move to go on with the Engine without knowing the details about the pricing, but we always kept 1 important thing in mind: Think big, act small, scale fast! We identified the assumption up front and isolated its implementation during development. This way we could easily switch to another solution in our development fase.
We all make assumptions before, during and even after a project. The most important thing is that you identify and isolate those assumptions, so you can limit the damage when those assumptions end up being wrong.
Fuckup number 2: Only thinking Big !
CIONET is an international communicty of CIO’s. They get together regulary to discuss current hot topics in IT like Cloud, Big Data and obviously Mobile. When they are not at one of these meetings, they stay in touch through their website where they can share and comment, view the event calendar, indicate wheter they’ll attend events, exchange messages and so on…
To increase the usage and accessibility of the website, CIONET wanted to replicate this functionaliy in a tablet app. When they got in touch with us, we mobilized our entire team to come up with a great design for a fully featured app: our analyst, developers, user experience guru, security expert and graphical design wizard.
Don’t forget to act small
Building that app wouldn’t be a problem, but would it be worth the investment (rich functionalities ask for a rich budget) ? So how to find out? We tried interviewing some CIOs, but that didn’t provide us with much information. A questionnaire gave us more results, but still nothing conclusive. We needed a more targeted approach!
We built the functionality we saw as being the most critical – the sharing and commenting of articles – in a nice, native and highly interactive interface. The other functions were embedded as the already existing website. This way we could provide all the functionalities we wanted in the app, without going for the full investment of doing it all in native code.
The app was released in the app store recently, so we can start measuring the actual usage now. This will tell us if and where we need to scale next. A creative solution made the big dream a reality by providing all the functionality with minimal effort and by basing our decision on real world usage.
This first part of our blog series has shown us the true value of an Agile Development Approach.
The next part of this series will highlight 3 other commonly made fuckups in the development process and how you can avoid these: Making big wins with minimal effort...
Don’t hesitate to contact one of our Mobile Experts!
Fransen Bart, Mobile Enterprise Applications Expert, ACA IT-Solutions
With a lifelong fascination for alternative input methods and smaller screens, the arrival of the modern touch-based smartphone was a revelation for Bart and it didn’t take him long to switch from his web-based career to this new field full of excitement and innovation. After a few false starts with various small start-ups, he joined ACA to spearhead their new dedicated mobile division into the future.
Yakup Kalin, Mobile Solution Engineer, ACA IT-Solutions
As a Mobile Solution Engineer, Yakup is involved in mobile development processes, where he delivers creative input for realizing usable & likeable mobile applications. With a huge interest in mobile technology and armed with mobile devices, Yakup develops Native, Hybrid and Responsive Web Apps. Throughout the years, Yakup gained valuable knowledge on Mobile Solutions by working on various mobile projects for clients such as VAB Fleet Services, the Flemish Government,… .