Demand for mobile app development will soon be growing at least five times faster than IT’s capacity to deliver them, according to Gartner. It’s no surprise, then, that our partner Venado Technologies’ clients often come to them with a problem: how do they sort and prioritize the numerous apps they are building, and how do they prioritize all of the features they want included in an app?
While the question is straightforward, the process of determining which features and apps will provide the most value relative to development effort is anything but. It requires input from and collaboration between three separate roles: the business unit requesting the app, analysts to determine the business value of various features, and developers to estimate level of effort and to build the app components. These groups don’t always see eye-to-eye, and friction between them can sink projects.
Venado Technologies’ expertise in aligning business units, analysts, and developers has been a critical factor in their success. Their process for sorting and prioritizing features started off as a collaborative spreadsheet – business units would list out the features they wanted, analysts would assign value to those features, developers would estimate level of effort, and Venado would act as a consultant and determine which features should be in version 1, 2, 3, and so on.
The team at Venado are digital experts and they realized the process could be refined. For one, Scrum best practices dictate that analysts’ and developers’ estimates be done in a vacuum, so that knowledge of the value an analyst places on a feature doesn’t affect developers’ estimates of the effort required to build it, and vice versa – something that can’t be accomplished in a spreadsheet. Venado also realized that they were performing a lot of the same prioritization math and analysis manually across multiple projects or multiple apps within the same organization. So they decided to automate and improve the process.
Enter VECTOR3, an application Venado built from the ground-up on Kinvey’s backend as a service platform to perfect how organizations rank and prioritize their digital initiatives. VECTOR3 helps companies document features associated with apps, assign a benefit or value to the business associated with each feature, assign a cost or level of effort to develop, and then uses advanced algorithms to decide which features provide most value or benefit associated with cost.
One of the big differentiators of VECTOR3 as opposed to a spreadsheet is that it includes individualized roles for the business analyst and the developer so that they can assign business value or level of effort without being influenced by the other. It also provides an easy way for customers to drag-and-drop features into releases, for example placing the most important features in the MVP and lower value ones into subsequent releases. It includes a graphical representation of the project wherein the highest value, lowest cost features are floated to the top to make this process as streamlined as possible.
Brett Williams, a Principal at Venado, told me one of the philosophies guiding the project was to track everything, so that customers improve future projects based on previous ones. “We wanted to collect and, more importantly, store the ‘pie in the sky’ features, the wishlist, the things that might never get built,” Brett said. “If we record those features instead of delete them as you would in a spreadsheet, at a future point you can work them back in or move them to a different app. It sets our customers up to build very innovative, forward-thinking applications. We actually used VECTOR3 for VECTOR3, and we’re excited about being able to add features in the future that were just too complex for the first release and others that have come up since creating the first release.”
If you’re interested in seeing a demo of VECTOR3, visit Venado’s website and give them a shout!
To see some other great apps that have been built on Kinvey’s mbaas, visit our App Spotlight page. And if you’ve built something cool on Kinvey and would like to be featured in a future spotlight, please contact us!