People using mobile services expect them to evolve as new technology becomes available: innovative features, additional services, improved performance – customers will demand all of these, and won't be happy if they have to wait six months to get them, especially when they see their friends' service providers offering the enhancements within weeks.
Agility is the name of the game, and you need to structure your mobile delivery approach to be rapid, iterative and responsive to evolving needs.
However, you must also think strategically, to ensure your agile delivery takes you in the right direction. While there can be a natural tension between agile and strategic thinking, the right approach can address this effectively.
Moreover, you need more than just a team of iOS or Android developers. High-quality mobile services require a broad range of interconnected skills.
While app developers will play an important part in the delivery of your mobile services, they're one cog in a much larger system that encompasses technical and business skills – all of which are required to make mobile a success. You need expertise in strategy roadmap development, business process design, experience design, systems integration, agile development, and testing and release strategy.
No one person will possess all these skills. This is why it's important that the respective individuals understand the others' roles and the implications on their own job. For example, an experience designer must create something that will load in a tolerable time – a mobile user will not want to wait 10 or 15 seconds for a page to appear.
Moreover, the blend of skills required to deliver a great mobile service is rarely found within one organisation. It's therefore important to choose your delivery partner carefully, to complement your own in-house competencies and ensure no part of the overall mobile experience is left out.
Mobile delivery approach
High-quality mobile services begin their life as part of a high-level strategy: what does your organisation want to achieve, and how will mobile help it get there? This strategy then needs to be turned into a list of features – a service catalogue or product backlog, if you will.
From here, you select which features to deliver first, bearing in mind the relative cost and time required for each. This is when you can set about building your four-tier engagement platform, delivering features iteratively to construct your mobile service offering.
Each iteration should follow a typical agile delivery cycle, delivering a carefully defined set of functionality. Whether you deploy this after each iteration or bundle up a few features to release together depends on their importance and complexity.
Following deployment, you'll want to test your mobile experience with real users, use your analytics to assess how it's being used, and feed this learning back into your service catalogue. This will help revisit your strategy and shape future iterations to meet continually changing customer needs.
- David Shepherd is IPL's Delivery Director and has been an integral part of successful complex mobile delivery programmes.