This article appeared in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Better Software magazine
of the test devices, goes home, and other team members touch those devices and get sick as well.
It is important to consider a conscious practice for minimizing the spread of pathogens between team members. Otherwise, you may be surprised at how quickly your team gets sick. Here are some practices I've used on mobile projects to avoid health issues:
- Supply hand sanitizer to each team member and encourage its use before and after using mobile devices and computers.
- Wipe devices after use with a cleaner. We used rubbing alcohol.
- Limit usage to team members, and store devices in clean, dry locations so they aren't sitting around picking up food, spilled coffee, pathogens, and other things from desktops.
- Remind people to wash hands frequently.
I was quite surprised at how much of an impact those simple steps had on reducing the spread of colds and flu. Prior to having a practice in place, we sometimes had most of the team off sick at the same time. This wreaked havoc with productivity and schedules.
All of the areas I have talked about have a potential impact on scheduling. If you decide to support a lot of devices, you have to develop for them, test them, and try them out with different carriers and network types. That requires time to set up devices with a telecommunications company, manage contracts, and, if required, get devices licensed for development. This can be time-consuming if you have a large target group of devices to work with.
When I am working with a mobile team, I plan and factor time differently than with traditional software. I scale down my available hours per day on mobile projects, and I always try to factor in time for uncertainty. The devices take more time to set up for development and testing, and there is a learning curve for adjusting to new tools and hardware versions, not to mention licensing or maintenance work. A surprising amount of time can be lost if devices aren't available–batteries die, communication or data contracts and licenses expire, cables go missing, and devices are "borrowed" by other teams. Not paying close enough attention to application store submission requirements during development can result in submission denials, and sometimes several attempts are required before you get it right. People get tired and uncomfortable more quickly using mobile devices than using computers, so they have fewer hours in a day that they can work steadily on the devices. Loss of work time due to sickness also has a larger impact than you might expect.
With a bit of planning and careful thought on these issues, you can still estimate accurately, but it isn't a "copy/paste" from a software project.
Read part 1 of this article at Mobile Challenges for Project Management: The Project Factors