Building a Terrific Team to Create a Mobile Application

October 5, 2021 | Dmitry Mikhnevich

Part of building any great and useful application is a quality idea and vision for your product. It is necessary to understand the needs of your users, and it is key that you are ready to react to their feedback and that you are positioned to quickly adopt those changes into the app. However, no idea, no matter how great, can be realized without people working together as a well-coordinated, organized, and motivated team.

We’re going to discuss how to use Scrum framework to create and manage a team that will take your application to the next level.

Defining what makes a great team

In our own work, take the recent transportation project as an example, we use the following basic principles when creating a successful team.

  • Goal setting. We’re not just organizing a team to hang out. We have a goal, and our goal is to create something. It is key to set and achieve goals together.
  • Distribution of roles. A football team will not succeed if every player is covering the same position. It is important for there to be a clear and thoughtful delineation and assignment of roles. A team cannot achieve anything if all the main roles are not covered.
  • Planning. We need to know where we currently stand and what steps are ahead of us. This will help us achieve each benchmark along the way of building an app, and reaching our ultimate goal.
  • Creating a comfortable microclimate. Clearing the way of conflict and misunderstandings allows for quality collaboration. It is impossible to achieve high results with a team in conflict.
  • Tracking progress and being flexible. During the project life there can be many changes in requirements, goals, team composition and it’s very important to react to these changes in time.

Goal Setting

Goals need to be clearly defined. You cannot find success if you do not know what you are aiming for. It is also important to create intermediate goals. A big goal can seem daunting, and creating a successful app alone is too broad of a target to give you a clear path of pursuit. If goals are too ambitious, there is a high probability that they will not be achieved on time, or even at all. Even if the team will go above and beyond to achieve them, this can be a great way to demoralize and demotivate them.

Intermediate goals will make the larger project more feasible for the team. The goals and vision of the product should be clear and open to everyone, not just managers. This makes it easier for the team to plan their work and perform their tasks at a higher quality.

Distribution of roles

Clearly defined roles and areas of responsibility are integral to any project’s success. Otherwise, there may be confusion surrounding who is responsible for certain decisions and arguments may emerge about implementation. A responsibility matrix can help. There are various ones you can choose from, such as RACI (it stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed). For our project, we chose RAPID® (it stands for Input, Recommend, Agree, Decide and Perform).

Planning

The path toward achieving a goal should have a transparent structure and consist of clear stages. There are many project management methodologies, which basically can be split into two categories: PMI’s PMBOK® Guide (classical standard for project managers) and Agile methods. Agile framework Scrum fits perfectly for our needs. It is what we chose to use when working on our transportation app and it is one we recommend. Scrum framework encourages the team to analyze their successes and failures, learn from the experience gained, master the principles of self-organization, work to solve the problem, and constantly improve.

According to Scrum framework, the team should work in short cycles, or sprints, each usually ranging from one to four weeks. We chose to work in three weeks’ sprints. The goal of each sprint is to create something valuable for the customer and the product.

Project planning "Transportation app"

Each sprint begins with planning and ends with a review and retrospective. In the middle of a sprint, Scrum framework encourages short daily meetings that help us to coordinate each team’s work and to create daily plans so each member can work in conjunction with the rest of the team. Each team member knows what should be achieved during the sprint, and everyone sees a list of tasks and are aware of the other member’s plans. This makes sure that everyone sees how the product grows and is supplemented with valuable features, and helps ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Task tracking

Creating a comfortable microclimate

Developing a sense of trust among members of a team is a key element of comfort and it contributes to productivity. Mentor programs for new employees and team-building workshops can help, but it is also important to conduct one-on-one meetings and to collect feedback.

You can’t always expect people to come to you. Sometimes people may be hesitant to come and talk about a problem or share their idea for product development or productivity increase. If there is a lapse in communication, that can lead to a blindness of a potential or ongoing conflict, the loss of a valuable employee, or missing out on a worthwhile idea.

Feedback sessions help employees recognize their worth and significance. By allowing people an environment to express themselves, you are encouraging a sense of communication and creativity, two essential elements for the development of a quality team and product.

When working on our transportation app, we organized regular, informal sessions where everyone could share their ideas for product development or they could criticize what had already been implemented. If an implemented functionality had lost its relevance, we were able to identify the issues so that it could be resolved and the product could be improved. We also had an agreement that all our team members would use the application in their everyday lives. This increased their level of engagement, stimulated their desire to come up with new ideas, and helped us create a truly user-friendly application.

Tracking progress and being flexible

Regular analysis and performance evaluations are effective tools for team development. As mentioned, since we’re using Scrum framework, each sprint ends with a review and retrospective. The Sprint Review is a meeting where the team and product owner demonstrates the results of the sprint to the stakeholders. We share what we achieved during the sprint, answer questions, and collect feedback.

For the Sprint Retrospective, the team discusses the past sprint, what worked, what difficulties arose, and what was learned in the process. The retrospective allows the team to discuss all aspects of the project with the team. The purpose of this meeting is to develop an improvement plan.

So, everything goes smoothly, right?

With these principles in mind, you can build a great team that is involved in the process, is concerned about the results, and gets good results, but this doesn’t ensure that everything will go smoothly.

Let’s imagine a situation. Your team has been working diligently to provide new features and improve existing ones. Users should be delighted! The entire team agrees on this, and it’s time to wait for the reviews and metrics to roll in.

Several days pass. The reviews and metrics have arrived. Users aren’t delighted. How did that happen? Everyone was convinced that they would. Everyone on the team loved the new solutions. So, what do you do?

It’s a given that each team is trying to do the best for its users. However, you can’t necessarily read  users’ minds. That’s why the most effective way to fit users’ needs is to, simply, ask them.

Asking them isn’t always an easy task, especially when you’re working on a product aimed at a wide audience like we were for our product in the field of transportation and navigation. Asking each, of potentially thousands if not millions of users, is not necessarily a feasible task, at least not on any realistic timeline. This is why, when adding new features, we frequently use A/B testing.

In our next article, we’ll take a closer look on how to run A/B testing in order to get great results in building mobile applications. Check out more of our articles in this blog or get in touch with us for more exciting insights.

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