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Project Management Secrets: Inside Look with Ptolemay's Expert

Olga Gubanova

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December 15, 2023

Ptolemay is a company that specializes in outsourced IT development. Imagine you have a great idea for an app – an electronic business card service – but you're unsure how to build it. This is where Ptolemay steps in.

In short, Ptolemay takes your idea at any stage and turns it into a fully functioning product, managing everything from the initial planning to the final maintenance.

Idea Readiness Levels: Navigating from Concept to Execution

Clients come to us at different stages of their idea's development. Some have only a basic concept without detailed plans. Others are more advanced, with market research, Terms of Reference (TOR), and initial designs.

No matter the starting point, we offer full outsourcing services.

Our expertise is the cornerstone upon which our clients depend to transform their concepts into complete, polished products. After development, our work is still ongoing. We continue supporting the product, handling updates, and technical maintenance.

Our goal is to keep the product relevant and user-friendly.

Depending on the project, we can hand it over to the client's management or keep overseeing it ourselves.

Requirements Gathering Stage and Market Analysis

We start by listening to the client's idea and aim to understand their vision in detail.

  1. Exploring the Idea: This involves probing into the client's concept. We ask questions and discuss potential features. Our goal is to get a clear picture of what the client wants.
  2. Conducting Market Analysis: Next, we research the market. This means looking at existing solutions, trends, and user preferences. We'll study current apps and user feedback.
  3. Identifying Unique Features: We think about unique functionalities that can set the app apart in the market.

Our findings and discussions culminate in creating a Scope of Work document. This SOW outlines the client's requirements, market analysis results, and proposed unique features.

The Essence of Scope of Work in Project Development

The Scope of Work (SOW) is a foundational component in project development. It is a detailed guide for how a project, whether a website or an application, will operate. Let's break it down:

Defining the Modules: The SOW divides the project into distinct modules. For example, in a marketplace app, the first module might be user authorization and registration. The second could be a product display ribbon. The third involves categorizing these products, and the fourth is a shopping basket for purchases.

A client brings an idea, often just a rough concept. They explain it to us. We agree to develop a detailed Scope of Work. In a week, we return to them with this plan. It outlines their idea into specific modules and functions, turning it into a structured project blueprint.

Adding Functions Within Modules: Within each module, specific functions are identified. In the categories module, tasks like search and product recommendations are essential. Each product might also need its dedicated page with detailed information.

Importance in Cost Estimation: One key purpose of the SOW is to assist in the initial cost estimation. It provides a clearer picture of the project's complexity, helping to gauge the required effort and resources. This helps ensure clarity and accurate hour estimations for the project's development.

Scope of Work in Project Development
Say you need a chat room feature in your app for user messaging. We can evaluate its basic functionality. However, we also consider additional aspects: message pinning, video calls, group chats, emoji usage, audio messages, chat history storage, and search functionality. These details impact our scoping score. We set a maximum estimate to cover all possible complexities, although we often stay under this threshold in actual development.

The Scope of Work is the project's first concrete step, transforming an abstract idea into a structured plan, paving the way for effective development and accurate cost forecasting.

Project Development Formats: Time and Material vs. Fixed Price

Choosing the right pricing model is crucial when embarking on a software development project. It sets the tone for how the project will be managed and billed. Two common models are Time and Material and Fixed Price.

Time and Material

This format adapts to project needs. Costs are based on time spent and materials used. It's flexible and suitable for projects where requirements may change or are not fully defined.

Fixed Price

Here, companies set a project's cost and timeline upfront. Once agreed, they commit to completing the work for that price, regardless of challenges. This approach works well for projects with clear, defined parameters.

Why Time and Material Contracts Work Best

Why Time and Material Contracts Work Best

Ptolemay primarily opts for the time and material contract format for project development. This decision is rooted in software development and the unique challenges it presents. Here's why this approach is favored:

  1. Flexibility in Development: Time and material contracts offer unmatched flexibility. They allow Ptolemay to adapt to changing project requirements and unforeseen complexities common in software development.
  2. Handling Complex Integrations: Software projects often involve intricate integrations, some of which may be novel or rarely used. Such scenarios make it challenging to predict the exact time and effort needed. The time and material model is ideal for these situations, as it accommodates the variability and unpredictability of such tasks.
  3. Transparent and Fair Billing: This approach ensures clients only pay for the time spent and resources used. It's a transparent billing method, providing clients with detailed breakdowns of how their investment is being utilized.
  4. Encouraging Regular Client Interaction: Working on a time and material basis fosters continuous communication with clients. This regular interaction ensures the project aligns with the client's evolving requirements and expectations.
  5. Realistic Estimations: Ptolemay provides clients with an optimistic forecast of minimum and maximum expenses within the project's scope. This practical estimation method accommodates potential changes, ensuring clients are not faced with unexpected costs.
Sometimes, our initial time estimates are higher than what's needed. For example, we might quote 700 hours for a service integration. But with good client documentation, we complete it in 600 hours. The client then pays only for the 600 hours worked, not the original estimate.

The time and material contract format aligns well with software development's dynamic and often unpredictable nature. It allows Ptolemay to deliver high-quality, tailored software solutions while maintaining transparency, flexibility, and fairness in billing.

From Scope to Deployment

After finalizing the SOW, Ptolemy's next step is crafting the Terms of Reference (TOR). Here's how it unfolds:

1. Writing the TOR. This document dives deeper into the project's requirements and analysis. It serves as a detailed plan of what needs to be developed.

Learn the essentials of crafting an effective technical specification for your app by exploring our article, 'How to Create a Brilliant Technical Specification for application develop.'

2. Client Collaboration. Once the TOR is drafted, we engage in a thorough discussion with the client. This ensures every aspect of the project is covered and agreed upon, including discussions on developing mobile apps, focusing on good app ideas, and understanding the nuances of application development.

3. Setting Precise Timelines: Post TOR discussions, we establish more accurate timelines for the project. This stage solidifies our commitment to the client's needs and schedule, ensuring we deliver the best in apps for creating exceptional user experiences.

4. Developing the IEP. At this juncture, we create an Integrated Engineering Plan (IEP). This plan outlines the various modules of the project and how they connect, with a focus on how to create software for Android or iOS. For instance, in an app development project, the IEP would detail how the user registration module links with the user profile module and the database. The IEP is then presented to the client for validation. We check if everything meets their expectations and if any aspect needs to be noticed.

5. UX Design Phase. In this phase, we create schematic, black-and-white layouts for UX design, ensuring alignment with the client's vision and focusing on what makes a good app.

UX Design Phase: Crafting Schematic Layouts for Optimal App User Experience

6. Determining Page Layouts. We decide on the structure and elements of each page, using sketches to plan layouts.

7. UI Design and Backend Development. The UI stage involves creating visually appealing designs and prototypes, with room for client-led adjustments. UI designers and backend developers begin their work in tandem, focusing on efficient coordination to minimize revisions.

8. Frontend Development: This involves implementing the design into code, following the completion of the backend and design stages.

9. Testing and Quality Assurance: Testers evaluate each module's functionality, ensuring alignment with the TOR and identifying any bugs. Continuous testing is conducted throughout development.

10. Finalization and Deployment: The project is launched after final testing and quality checks are completed.

Ptolemay's process is thorough and client-centric, ensuring each project phase, from detailed planning with SOW and TOR to design, development, testing, and deployment, meets the highest standards and client expectations.

Strategic Analysis in Technical Specification Development

In developing technical specifications, Ptolemy emphasizes the need for thorough analysis before and during the process. This approach ensures the final product aligns with market needs and user expectations.

1. Market and Audience Analysis: Before diving into development, we conduct market analysis. This step is crucial for understanding current trends and audience needs. It involves surveying potential users and analyzing their feedback.

2. Architectural Scheme Creation: We develop an architectural scheme beyond the Terms of Reference (TOR). This involves creating tables with keys to demonstrate how different app components will interact. This method provides a clear structure for the app's framework.

3. IMPA Scheme for In-Depth Analysis: The Integrated Modular Process Architecture (IMPA) scheme offers a layered view of the project. Starting from a high-level process overview, it details each module and its interconnections. For example, an alert system in an app might trigger different actions based on whether a message is received or not. Such intricacies are mapped out in the IMPA scheme.

The Integrated Modular Process Architecture Scheme for In-Depth Analysis

4. Developing a Minimal Viable Product (MVP): When there's uncertainty about an idea's viability, we recommend creating an MVP. This approach allows us to test the product concept with real users, gather feedback, and make necessary adjustments.

For a detailed insight into how an MVP can bring your app idea to life, read our informative article: The Technical Specification for the Mobile App Has Been Approved, so What's Next?

5. Iterative Feedback Collection: Early-stage feedback collection is vital. It helps us understand user pain points and align the development with their needs. This iterative process ensures that the product we develop is technologically sound but also market-fit and user-centric.

Our development process is dynamic and responsive. First, we assess user interest in the new product idea. We ask potential users if they like the concept and might buy it. Their answers guide us. If the response is positive, we proceed with the idea. If not, we modify our approach. This early feedback is vital. It helps create a product that is technically sound and appealing to users.

Client Communication Approach in App Development

At Ptolemay, client communication is a key aspect of our development process. Here's how we manage it:

  1. Regular Weekly Updates: Generally, we connect with clients once a week. This frequency ensures consistent updates and feedback.
  2. Intensive Initial Interactions: Early stages involve more frequent discussions. We cover the Scope of Work, Terms of Reference (TOR), and UX design. Once we finalize the design and backend, our calls become less frequent. During these calls, we demonstrate the completed work and its logic.
  3. Demonstrations Post-Module Completion: After completing each module, we showcase it to the client. We send a 'ticket' - a testable part of the application. The client can download and try it out. The number of tickets varies, typically 10 to 20, depending on the project's complexity.

Post-Release Support and Maintenance

After the application's release, we enter a crucial phase: the support and maintenance stage. The following steps characterize this part of the process:

  1. Monitoring User Feedback: Once the app is available to users, we closely monitor feedback. This includes identifying and addressing any bugs users may encounter.
  2. Regular Updates and Fixes: Our team swiftly works on updates to fix any issues and enhance the app's performance.
  3. Preparing for the Next Version: This stage often involves planning and starting development on the app's next version. This is based on user feedback and the evolving needs of the market.

The post-release support stage is vital for the app's longevity and user satisfaction. This approach guarantees that the app stays operational, pertinent, and consistently aligns with user requirements as they evolve.

Maintaining Transparency and Timeliness in Client Projects

We use tools like Yutrek timesheets and GitLab to ensure transparency with our clients. These platforms provide detailed records of the coding process. Clients can view the progress of each application, including the time spent on specific code segments.

The most effective approach is launching the app on time, with all features working perfectly, leading to a satisfied customer.

Project Manager Reports

The pivotal role of our project managers is integral to upholding transparency throughout the development process. They provide weekly reports detailing the project's progress, outlining what has been accomplished and hasn't. These reports also include plans for the upcoming week and flag any potential issues early on. This proactive approach keeps clients well-informed and involved in the project's progression.

Handling Unforeseen Circumstances

In software development, unexpected situations like a developer falling ill or team changes are inevitable. We analyze the cause and adjust timelines if necessary to manage these challenges. Our large team and diverse expertise allow us to reallocate resources efficiently, ensuring project deadlines are met without compromising quality.

Conclusion: Transform Your Idea into Reality with Ptolemay

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital products, turning an innovative idea into a tangible, market-ready application requires expertise, precision, and a client-focused approach. At Ptolemay, we have honed our skills in navigating the complexities of software development, bringing to life over 70 digital products with success and client satisfaction.

Whether you're looking for tips on creating an app, seeking guidance on how to create a mobile app, or needing expertise on how to construct an app from scratch, our team at Ptolemay is equipped to turn your vision into a successful digital solution. With our flexible time and material contracts, transparent project management, and a commitment to keeping your product relevant and user-friendly, we ensure a development journey that is as rewarding as the result.

Are you ready to see your app idea flourish? Trust Ptolemay to deliver not just a product but an experience that resonates with your users and stands out in the digital marketplace. Contact us today, and let's transform your vision into an exceptional digital reality.