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Estimating Mobile Apps


Does your business need to deploy a software product on the mobile platform? Perhaps, you are an ecommerce business, with a very successful web store front? Or, maybe you have an internal employee-facing application, that would make your employees more productive by going to the mobile platform.

There are countless possibilities.

The mobile plaform is a great way to get your product literally into the hands of users. On top of that, you can use it to increase customer engagement, and end-goal for every business, more revenues.

People dont surf their laptops while waiting for the bus. They fire-up their iPhone or Android device. The case is very compelling.

Now that you are highly interested in deploying a mobile application, the next big question is what is the budget?

Development on the mobile platform is relatively new. iOS has really only been commercially availabe since 2009 and Android is slightly newer. In addition, there are different ways to deploy to mobile, and each option includes different factors.

However, estimating your project is a fairly traditional task. One of the most time-proven approaches is to divide the project into a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Break down the project into manageable chunks of work. This might include different components, different sets of screens or a customer facing app versus an employee facing app.

You will need to start developing some tasks and milestones. Start big and narrow it down. You think you have a 1 year project, but certainly nothing less than 6 months. While you are working at a high-level, use a business analyst to start developming user stories based upon your high-level requirements.

These user stories needs to get vetted against the vision of the Product Owner who knows the buiness requirements.

Once you have all your user stories defined, you need to hand those off to mobile developers. They will review the user stories, which hopefully also have some wireframes, and begin to work on the bottom-up estimate.

JIRA with Greenhopper is an excellent tool for this task, because all of the work required is entered into a JIRA as a series of tickets, which consist of stories an sub-tasks. Once the developers complete estimating all of their stories, you also have a fully executable and Agile project plan ready in JIRA.

Your developers can enter an hours estimate and a story point estimate for complexity.

You probably want to review some technical constraint and confirm backlog priority, then you are ready to rock and roll.

At this point, you have a top-down estimate and a bottom-up estimate for your mobile project which is fully actionable.

This project is roughly 2,000 hours and will require 2 mobile engineers for about six months. Multiply 2,000 by your blended rate, and tack-on about a 20% contingency, and you will have successfully budgeted your mobile application.

The next step: Prioritize, analyze and plan-out a few sprints to play for Release 1.

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