What is the process behind creating a web application / e-commerce at Studio Present PART 1
Ever since the early days of my career as a project manager, I have enjoyed reading tutorials and good practice manuals on how to best organize the work processes. I believe it is important to know exactly which are the steps needed to complete a given work process, so as to ensure it is finished, functional and profitable.
It’s an everyday challenge to adjust the processes just the right way so that they bring the wished-for results, and, more importantly, how to communicate those adjustments and organizational processes to colleagues.
In this post, I will introduce the practices used at Studio Present. The guidelines compiled below are aimed at seasoned PMs, junior PMs and of course, the clients. As we all know, the learning process is never-ending. Even today, with more than 15 years’ experience under my belt, I am still learning from experienced leaders, investors, and PMs.
This decade and a half spent working in this field have made me confident enough so that now I am able to transfer some of my knowledge to the younger generation of project managers or perhaps help someone upgrade their processes.
So, let’s begin. There is always that famous first email or phone call, which triggers the cooperation and leads to the:
I always advocate that the first meeting must be in person. If for whatever reason, this is not possible, then the meeting should be held via video call.
Face expressions and body language are crucial factors for smooth communication and better understanding. After all, you don’t want any misunderstandings, especially not at this vital, first stage of cooperation.
At the first meeting, we try to gather as much information as possible: about the company, stakeholders, and the desired application. What is it exactly that the clients want to achieve or improve? What is the current problem that they want to solve with our support, by creating this new application?
How will the application help in generating more profit or in decreasing costs?
So, after the initial goals have been laid out, we move on to the second part of the meeting, which is the presentation of our company. We must carefully present what our rules and processes are, what the flow of the production is and what our expectations are. Please, make sure the client understands your company’s guidelines, so as to avoid later misconceptions.
At the end of the meeting we must find out about the main idea of the application, its basic functionality, though without getting into much detail, there will be plenty of time for that later.
If the project is to have several stages (and let’s be honest, most projects do), then we need to know roughly what these stages are. For example, if the client wants an app for managing warehouses, but he already knows that in the future, the app should be connected to the CRM software, then sharing this piece of information would be a good idea, as it will assist our overall work and result in a better app.
At the meeting, it is important to be able to devote all our attention to the client. In this regard, I’ve been in the habit of recording our conversations during the meeting, naturally, only given the client’s permission. However, an audio recording is an immensely helpful tool when it comes to preparing the:
Technical documentation and diagrams
When creating complex web applications, I always ask the company to assign one or more people to work closely with us and stay in constant communication. It is simply impossible to develop good technical documentation and lay solid groundwork without this.
In most cases, the documentation is prepared with the help of Google Docs. This way I can create first draft titles and subtitles, sections, everything starting from the first meeting, incorporating all my previous experience.
Google Docs is shared with the client only for viewing and commenting.
It also makes it easier to see the comments and quickly receive answers to my questions that arise during the writing process, although email is also an option.
If the client does not have any documentation, this means that I will have to take on the role of lead writer, with the client providing me with the vital data. At the stage, I start posing questions to my senior team.
If the app development is complex and there are numerous references, the best way is to draw diagrams. When I have visuals, it is much easier to explain to the team or to the client how the specific items need to function. With the diagram, we can all see the main blocks of the application and their interrelations.
For diagrams and wireframes, I usually use Axure RP because of its great sharing capabilities.
Offer for producing wireframe and UI/UX design
Due to app complexity and uncertainty, for the last couple of months, we have been opting for a new workflow.
Before offering a rough estimation for the entire app development, we first create a wireframe and app design (prototype).
Based on earlier jobs and previous experience, we can easily predict how much time the given project will require.
Once we have finished the design, both the client and my colleagues can see the big picture. Compared to simple diagrams, these visualizations with their details can provide us with a much better understanding as to whether a specific feature needs to be removed or some other feature added instead.
Read the PART 2