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Development Project Management

Tips to Outsourcing your Product development

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Most of the startups / founders choose to outsource their product development due to shortage of development talent, business domain experts or to skip the hassle of recruiting quality talent and instead start building their product asap and ship it.

At Cybrilla, we get the opportunity to chat with many such founders / companies who have gone with the outsourcing model but have had a really bad experience. Most have had a terrible time managing product development, meeting launch dates, managing different development teams, project delays etc.

Unfortunately most of them have unrealistic expectations w.r.t budget and time about building their product.

If you are one of them, here is a list of things that we recommend to reduce the overall project cost and time.

1> Wireframe your idea :

As a founder / product owner, wireframe your products user flow before you speak to a development shop. It’s one of the most important steps when presenting your idea to someone.

Most of us have an idea that exists only in our head. Wireframes helps to get that idea out of the head and onto a piece of paper. Once your idea is on a piece of paper, you can easily visualize how it works rather than just thinking about how it will work.

It also helps you to jot down different ways a user can flow through the application. Wireframes act as the blueprint for product development.

More importantly it helps the development shop to break down the requirement into user stories.

User stories represent the different features of your product. They serve as guidelines to product development. Exhaustive wireframes will help the development shop to break down the requirements into user stories.

At Cybrilla, we write the user stories and put them into a project management tool like Redmine or Pivotal Tracker. We assign a priority to each story and estimate them individually.

This helps the client to breakdown the budget and assign it amongst the must-have and good-to-have features.

2> Active participation during product development :

You need to be a good project manager, since good project management is the major difference between finishing a project within the estimated time and spending more money on additional features.

At Cybrilla, we follow continuous delivery process and encourage our clients to test each and every build and provide constant feedback. This helps us validate the original requirements and/or make quick changes or tweaks in some of the features. Since we deliver continuously, its important that we have constant feedback

Right from product requirement to delivery participate in each and every step. You can help chart out the test cases which the developers need to validate post development. As a client it is necessary to stay actively involved in each and every step.

3> Having an open mind towards new tools and processes :

At Cybrilla we make use of many tools and follow agile development process. Take time to adopt these tools so that you remain an active participant. These tools help you to keep track of the development progress. Make sure that you are part of weekly sprint meetings where in your prioritize the weekly user stories which will be picked up by the devs.
So, the next time you are planning on outsourcing your product development, follow these steps and be amazed to see how far your budget will go. Take initiative to extensively wireframe your product, scope your product and actively participate in the development process.

Project Management

Useful Redmine Plugins

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At Cybrilla, we use Redmine project management tool for almost all of our projects. Redmine is  an open source project management tool which provides great out of the box features such as issue tracking, time tracking, role based access control, multiple projects support etc.

We have found redmine to be a solid product which fullfills most of our project management needs. Once of the great features is that redmine supports a lot of plugins which will aide you incase you opt for redmine.

1. redmine issue sla plugin : this plugin allows to assign SLA by issue priority to a project . All you need to do is set a SLA for each of your issue priorities ( number of hrs ) and it`ll automatically tell the response time when the issue should expire as per the set SLA

set_sla sla



2. redmine contracts with time tracking : Another great plugin, it helps manage time and money being spent on a particular contract. This solves on of the major issues involved in project management that of managing project cost. This plugin tells you exactly where the money is being burned, under which issue/ category etc.

One needs to create a new contract using the plugin and enter the start and end dates and the hourly rate. The plugin takes care of the rest and all you need to do is monitor the costs.

edit_contract multiple_contracts single_contract


3. redmine monitoring and controlling : this is a chart tool to monitor your project in redmine. It provides very informative charts and graphs for task management, time management and resource management. One downside is that it does not provide filters for  generating the charts. ( am in the process of adding one 😉 )


Some useful links :

Redmine githhub repo

Redmine guide

Redmine plugins


Native vs Hybrid vs Web application ? Which one to choose?

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With the inception of HTML5 and CSS3 and with the likes of PhoneGap, Appcelerator, RhoMobile, IBM Worklight coming up with cross platform mobile app frameworks the biggest question running in the minds of mobile app developers is regarding which mobile architecture to use .

Well after running around the internet and searching for answers myself I have tried to narrow down and summarize the problem with the help of the following questions :

What is Native? Hybrid ? Web apps ?

Native refers to building an app in a device’s native programming language. For iOS devices this means Objective-C, and for Android it’s Java. Native apps are typically fast, reliable, and can access all the the device’s hardware. These apps are usually built for high performance needs like mobile games. But the downside is that once built this app is tied down to the platform for which it is built. So an iOS app would not run on an Android device.

A hybrid app is built using web technologies, and then wrapped in a platform-specific shell that allows the it to be installed just like a native app. Thus it is sold/accessed through the device’s app store. PhoneGap is an example of a framework that allows you take a web app and turn it into a native app for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows 7, WebOS, Symbian and more. The hybrid frameworks typically have APIs as well, that allow you to access the device’s hardware and features that are locked out from the browser.

A web app is a website that you access from your device’s browser, but the site is made to resemble an application rather than a traditional website. It’s purpose is also more functional – it offers a utility or service rather than a straight-up website which is often more informational. A web app can be accessed by any mobile device that has a browser. Though being browser-based, it’s typical that not all of the device’s hardware features can be tapped into. To produce a more engaging and interactive experience. HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript are increasing being used to take advantage of the advanced features offered by this new specification.

1> Pre application build considerations. What kind of application is to be built ?

What architecture you use depends mostly upon the kind of application you want to built.

If you application require the use of native features like camera, bluetooth, accelerometer, database, microphone, speaker, GPS, PUSH etc, then you are better off with a native app. Native apps provide you seamless transitions and quick/flawless access to these device capabilities. Or maybe you want to develop a high end game which utilizes the device graphics and relies on offline storage capabilities, native is the way to go.

On the other hand suppose that your app will seldom utilize minimum device capabilities like camera, push notifications, then you can go for an hybrid app. These apps will infrequently use these capabilities but are not entirely dependent on them. Depending upon the API`s provided by different frameworks like PhoneGap, Rhomobile, Worklight etc you may choose one and start building the app. As the code written using these frameworks is interpreted by the browser and then compiled these apps are slower than the native apps.

The last case is if you want to create a web app wherein you just want to share some information with the users on a regular basis or provide some kindof notifications to the users or for eg. You want to provide a product catalog for the consumers online. In this case the application does not utilize any of the device capabilities like camera, bluetooth etc. Such applications can be built using the powerful yet simple emerging technologies like HTML5 and CSS3. These apps can be accessed from anywhere by anyone using any device as long as they have an internet connection. These apps are the simplest to develop and maintain.

2>Post Application Built Considerations. Cost for developing, testing, maintaining, versioning.

Going native is always going to be costly. Consider this, you may want to develop a game which is available for iOS, android, blackberry and windwos 8 platforms.

Not only do you need experts across different platforms to develop this game, but you now have to maintain 4 copies of the same game.

Going native would increase the cost for distribution, testing, maintenance, enhancements etc.. On the plus side however, these apps will provide you with all the functionality the device has to offer. The user experience would be the best and cannot be compared elsewhere.

The plus point with developing a hybrid application is that the cost of building the application is reduced drastically. You would only need to develop the code once and the framework will provide you with 4 working versions for as many different platforms.

Thus testing and maintenance of the app also reduces. But these apps are yet to showcase the seamlessness and user friendliness displayed by the native applications. One can only imagine with technologies like HTML5 and CSS3 developing that the gap between hybrid and native will be reduced.

The web applications are again the most simplest to develop. Once however needs to take care adjusting the web page resolution depending upon the screen size of the device. For example the same screen resolution used on a 4 inch iPhone will not look great when used on a 8-9 inch tablet. By careful design considerations and coding this however is not a huge task. Again these apps are the simplest and do not use any device capabilities.

Below are a few points which compare the advantages and disadvantages of each :

Native Hybrid Webapp
Skills/tools needed for cross-platform apps
  • Objective-C
  • Java
  • C
  • C++
  • C#
  • VB.net
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript
  • Mobile development framework (like PhoneGap)
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript
Development Speed
Slow Moderate Fast
Number of applications needed to reach major smartphone platforms 4 1 1
Advantages Lets you create apps with rich user interfaces and/or heavy graphics. Combines the development speed of mobile web apps with the device access and app store distribution of native apps. Offers fast development, simple maintenance, and full application portability.  One mobile web app works on any platform.
  • Development Time
  • Development Cost
  • Ongoing Maintenance
  • No portability (apps cannot be used on other platforms)
  • Can’t handle heavy graphics.
  • Requires familiarity with a mobile framework
  • Can’t handle heavy graphics.
  • Can’t access camera or microphone.