React Native: Building Mobile Products (MVP)

React Native for Building Great Cross Platform Products

 

W

hat is React Native?

 

React Native is a Javascript framework that was built by Facebook and re-licensed for use by third parties in 2017. It allows developers to create apps for both iOS and Android web stores using a single codebase and a single programming language. With React Native, developers have the ability to write one React code that compiles to native applications on both iOS and Android, rather than having to construct parallel codebases in multiple programming languages.

What are the Benefits to React Native Development?

Time and Cost Savings

Prior to the release of React Native a company was required to either find engineers that had experience with both iOS Android programming languages, or to hire separate developers to work on each platform individually.

 

In contrast, React Native allows you to have a single team of developers experienced in one primary programming language who can work on both platforms simultaneously in one single codebase. Depending on the functionalities of your app, at least 90% of the codebase can be shared across both platforms and since all the versions of your software are written in mostly the same code, updating and adding features becomes much faster and easier.

 

Though there are some differences between iOS and Android that need to be accounted for when using React Native, the time and cost savings of having one codebase are a huge benefit.

Open Source Libraries and the React Community

When using React Native you are taking advantage of the wider open source community and ecosystem that exists around React and Javascript.; A tremendous number of libraries exist that can be used for common mobile application features, meaning you won’t have to spend so much time writing code to add extra features to your app- it’s likely that that functionality has already been built and shared with the community.

 

Additionally, the number of engineers employed by Facebook, as well as a big open source community means a continued improvement in the platform over time.

Shared Web App Code

If your mobile app also calls for a web browser/desktop application, React Native can provide some reuse and sharing of code between those platforms. Because React Native is just React and JavaScript code, an experienced development team could get a head start on a web application.

 

Additionally, Electrode Native is an open source tool that will allow you to migrate existing React apps to React Native.

Who Uses React Native?

Because it’s such a reliable and powerful cross platform development tool, React Native is being used by many top companies to develop their mobile apps.

 

Facebook uses React Native for their social media site as well as for Facebook ads manager and Facebook analytics. Instagram was able to share around 85% of code between its Android and iOS apps by using React Native, allowing their team to deliver the app much more quickly than would have been possible using a Native solution. And Tesla’s app, an integral part of its user interface that enables users to remotely monitor and control their Tesla car or Powerwall from their iPhone or Android, was developed using React Native.

 

With React Native, developing and supporting apps for both iOS and Android is less effort it once was. From the ability to develop apps across platforms using one codebase to the benefits of utilizing the open source community, React Native provides an optimal framework for developing awesome cross platform products.

 

Tips for Product Backlog Management

Product Backlog Management

 

A

s a Product Owner, you are responsible for Product Backlog Management, in order to maximize the value of the Product. The Product Backlog is the single source of truth which contains all the work to be done on the Product. As a Product Owner, you will have to make some choices about what to build first and what to build later. But also what to build and what not to build!

 

In this article, we’ll cover tips about Product Backlog Management.

Tips for Product Owners:

Keep the Product Backlog manageable

A mistake we see many Product Owners making, is that their Product Backlogs are way too exhaustive. The worst Product Backlog I’ve ever encountered contained about 650 Product Backlog Items. This was hell! It was unmaintainable, it was impossible to manage, it was impossible to create transparency and nobody knew where the Product was heading towards. Typically, everyone understands that a Product Backlog of 650 items is unmanageable and this may have been exceptional. But what isn’t so exceptional is that I meet a lot of Product Owners, who typically have 100 to 300 items on their Product Backlogs. Out of 10 Product Owners, I would say that more than half of them have a Product Backlog containing more than 100 items. As a Product Owner, you will have to make choices! You will have to decide what not to do.

 

Only one Product Backlog

Saying ‘no’ to people is hard, it’s difficult, because we’re often afraid of disappointing people. Saying ‘no’ also feels permanent, definitive. But as discussed in past articles about product value, value may change over time, so something you say no to today, may be something you want to do a few months from today. So, to not forget about these items, we see a lot of Product Owners adding these kinds of items to a ‘separate backlog’. This ‘separate backlog’ operates as a container for all ideas, so that we won’t forget about them. The truth however, is that if something is actually valuable, and people are waiting for it to be delivered, then it will come up again later on. So, if you say no to something today and it’s really valuable, it will come up again a couple of days, weeks or months from now anyway. So, there is no need to keep a separate list! Order, maintain and own one Product Backlog! If you don’t want something on that single source of truth Product Backlog, then just say no! The side-effect of saying ‘I’ll put it on the other list’ is that the ownership of the item is transferred from the stakeholder to you as a Product Owner. It also means that the stakeholder will be expecting you to do something with the item. What I often see happening in these situations, is that stakeholders will eventually start complaining that they never get what they asked for…

 

Share some tasks to the Team

Since the Product Owner is responsible for Product Backlog management, many Product Owners want to do all Product Backlog management activities themselves. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, you are allowed to let your Engineering Team support you in managing the Product Backlog! So let them help you! As a Product Owner, you don’t want to describe all the User Stories, acceptance criteria, functional designs, etc. yourself. But, maybe you want to act more as an entrepreneurial Product Owner, therefore more focussing on the vision, the long-term roadmap, the stakeholders, market and business value. So, why not share some of the tasks with them!

 

Not everything is a User Story

We all know the ‘User Story’ a format:

As a <role>,
I want <functionality/what>,
So that <business value/why>.

A User Story is a template which can be used to describe Product Backlog Items. In Scrum, all items on the Product Backlog are called ‘Product Backlog Items’. Some of these Product Backlog Items may written as ‘User Stories’, but others don’t. For bugs or technical debt for example, it often has little or no value to describe such an item as a User Story.

 

Know your Product Backlog

What I see many times in practice, is that Product Owners let pretty much everyone add items to the Product Backlog, resulting in an exhaustive, unmanageable list of wishes. What I used to do as a Product Owner, and worked really well, was that I was fully in control over the Product Backlog. I didn’t have to know all the details of every single item on the Product Backlog, but I did know what items were on it. And I also knew what items I rejected, which ones I didn’t want to do. It is up to you to decide how you want to manage your Product Backlog, but letting everyone add stuff to the Product Backlog often results in reduced transparency, lack of clarity, a wrong ordering and loss of manageability.

 

Reorder continuously

The Product Backlog is a living artifact. It’s something that evolves, changes, grows and shrinks over time. Therefore, you need to reorder the Product Backlog continuously! The ordering of the Product Backlog may change from week to week, so make sure you keep the Product Backlog up-to-date. As a Product Owner, you should make the Product Backlog transparent for all the stakeholders and the Scrum Team. This transparency on the Product Backlog is valuable if and when the Product Backlog is up-to-date. Besides having a transparent and ordered Product Backlog for the stakeholders, you’ll want to have a transparent and ordered Product Backlog for the Development Team. Every Sprint starts with the Sprint Planning and in that meeting you’ll need to have an ordered Product Backlog so that the Development Team can create an actionable plan for the Sprint. Before that Sprint Planning, you’ll probably get some feedback from people during the Sprint Review and you’ll get some actionable improvement actions out of the Sprint Retrospective. So keep ordering and reordering the Product Backlog continuously!

 

 The Product Backlog shouldn’t be complete

A pitfall that a lot of starting Product Owners step into is that they want to create a complete Product Backlog at the start of a new project, especially when they come from more traditional or project oriented environments. They’re used to defining the scope of the project or the team upfront, with all the requirements needed for the project. However, Scrum and Product Ownership aren’t focussed on delivering projects. They’re focussed around products (Value). Product Development is something that never ends, as long as the Product lives, and so, the list of demands, requirements, wishes and more will keep growing and shrinking over time, as long as the Product lives. So don’t try to create something like a ‘complete’ Product Backlog. Create a Product Backlog with the most valuable ideas for the Product and start from there! It will change over time anyway, so don’t try to get it perfect at the start, when you actually know the least!

 

Keep focus on ‘what’ and ‘why’

Another pitfall for a lot of Product Owners is that they are focussed too much on finding and describing ‘solutions’. There are many Product Owners out there that are doing a lot of business analysis, technical analysis and who are creating (functional) designs and descriptions for the Development Team. Although it’s not fundamentally wrong, I have always experienced that nine people have more creative and problem solving power than one person alone. So what I always recommend is that a Product Owner shouldn’t be concerned with the (functional/technical) solution. A Product Owner shouldn’t have to ‘design’ a feature. A Product Owner should be concerned with the problem he or she wants to solve, or the opportunity he or she wants to grasp. For me, a Product Owner should mainly be focussed on the ‘what’ and ‘why’. A Product Owner shouldn’t be concerned so much with the ‘how’. So, use the creative and problem solving power of the team to design the solution!

 

Everyone must see it

As mentioned earlier, the Product Backlog should be transparent for stakeholders and the Development Team. There are many ways of creating more transparency, but one of the most powerful ones is to literally put the Product Backlog on the wall or board! Of course you have to take all kinds of things into account (like a distributed setting or access restrictions), but what typically works great to increase transparency, is to put stuff somewhere on the wall, close to the team, so that when people walk by, they can actually see what the team is working on now, and what they will be working on in the near future.

 

There is more than customer or business value

The final tip for today is that there is more than business or customer value that you need to consider. Of course you want to deliver as much value for customers, users and the organization as possible, but should it be at all costs? Hopefully not! What we’ve seen a lot of Product Owners do, is that they are fully focussed on delivering as much features as possible. But, as a Product Owner, you are not responsible for delivering more features! You are responsible for maximizing value for customers and users! To put it otherwise: You are responsible for the success of the Product. This doesn’t only included deciding on new features or functionalities in the Product. It also means that you should consider resolving bugs, technical debt, improving the Products’ architecture, improving performance and security. It also means you should spend time on test-automation and the deployment/delivery process. If you spend time on automating manual testing and/or manual deployments, you will eventually be able to deliver more value, with higher quality in a shorter period of time!

 

These are the useful tips for Product Owners on the topic of Product Backlog Management! I hope you learned a few things and enjoyed them.

agile innovation design

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

Colin Powell

Digitizing Retail Experiences

A Global Perspective
Digitizing Retail Experiences
November 12, 2020 
10 am (EST)
Register now
Retailers have been focused on digital transformation to meet changing consumer expectations for at least a decade. The current uncertainty in the future of consumer confidence and behaviour patterns is both a challenge and an opportunity—and sharing key insights is just one way to meet the problem head-on.
Product enablement consultancy Rangle and leading online marketplace platform Arcadier present this panel on the future of retail experiences. The discussion will focus on digital experiences, both in-store and online, and offer a wealth of insights from retail professionals around the world.
Rangle’s CEO Nick Van Weerdenburg and Arcadier’s Chief Strategy & Partnership Officer June Boo will be joined by Koos Berkhout, Co-founder of The Tecsa Group, and Peter Tonstad, CEO of Placewise, to share their industry expertise as retail consultants and service providers in a one-hour panel format.

 

You’ll learn: 

  • How digital experiences can enhance bricks-and-mortar retail
  • How the future of the mall is changing with online marketplace experiences
  • How the global pandemic is speeding innovation and digital transformation for retailers around the world
Speakers
Moderator:
Nick Van Weerdenburg
CEO, Rangle.io
Nick is the founder and CEO of Rangle, a product enablement consultancy that partners with enterprise retailers to solve their most complex digital challenges. Nick has evolved Rangle from a startup providing modern JavaScript solutions to a company that consults for the Fortune 500. Prior to founding Rangle, he worked in consulting, architecting and delivering global product development and supply chain solutions, as well as optimizing their multi-channel global marketing operations.
Nick panel talk image
Panelist: June Boo 
Chief Strategy & Partnership Officer 
Arcadier
June has been working with companies, internally or as a consulting professional, to develop go-to-market, business development and growth strategies. Her expertise resides in strategy, digital marketing, mergers and acquisitions, corporate planning, performance and project management. She has helped many companies solve business issues and realize new growth expansion opportunities. As a corporate leader, June has served in executive roles at InterContinental Hotels Group, including Head of Channels and Head of Strategy for the Asia, Middle East & Africa region. She has also spent more than ten years in business consultancy with Boston Consulting Group Greater China, PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore and New York, and BearingPoint.
June Boo image

 

About Towa

 

www.towasoftware.com

Towa was founded in 2002, by Gerardo Lopez with the vision of using the most advanced engineering disciplines to develop a new concept in the delivery of software products. Towa has devoted over a decade to the research, development and application of engineering processes around the analysis and development of information systems. Towa’s Value Proposition to the clients is to deliver Software Projects with Certainty, delivery without defects, which fulfil all of the requirements efficiently. Our goal is to become an agile co-innovation strategic partner with our customers.

 

 

About Arcadier

https://www.arcadier.com

Arcadier is the world’s fastest-growing online marketplace builder and is the recognized global leader of multi-vendor ecommerce marketplace technology with users from more than 170 countries. Founded in 2013 in Singapore by senior PayPal executives, it has offices in 5 countries including Singapore(HQ), Australia, Philippines and most recently the United States and the United Kingdom. Arcadier enables Enterprises, SMBs, Governments and Start-Ups to build their own white-labelled marketplaces efficiently and cost effectively. Arcadier’s platform supports various eCommerce models including B2B, B2C, P2P, Service & Rental, across industry verticals such as retails, consumer goods, commodities, wholesale, manufacturing and services.

Recently Arcadier also launched Arcadier Enterprise to target needs of large corporations and multi-brand retail companies for their marketplace development needs.

To see more Arcadier Expert Partners, visit:
https://api.arcadier.com/expert-partner

 

Towa Software Media Contact

To learn more about Towa Software – Engineering Culture of High Performance Teams or to speak to Towa Software VP, contact support@towasoftware.com, or visit the website at www.towasoftware.com

towa

TOWA SOFTWARE INC.

MSc. Adrian Lopez
Customer Success Manager
+1 (512) 487-7734
adrian.lopez@towasoftware.com

 

Plus! Get a promo code for Arcadier’s Marketplace Platform when you register
Receive25% OFF a 3-month subscriptions of Arcadier Basic, Growth & Scale Packages
OR
30% OFF semi-annual & annual subscriptions of Arcadier Basic, Growth & Scale Packages
Panelist: Peter Tonstad 
CEO, Placewise
Peter has been working with digital transformation since 1996 within finance, media, music industry and retail. His experience includes 5 years of management experience from Tidal/WiMP/Aspiro, having served as CEO, CFO and CCO. Aspiro/TIDAL was acquired by Jay Z and 15 other world-renowned artists at the beginning of 2015. He has been CEO of the consultancy firm Tarantell, International Director of Edda Media/Mecom Ltd., CEO of the media monitoring company Opoint, Director of Business Development at Dagens Næringsliv Nye Medier/NHST, Head of Northern European Sales for Thomson Financial Intelligence Data and Head of Sales for Web Solutions at Reuters. Peter holds a bachelor’s degree from The Norwegian Business School (BI) and has completed a Master of Management program in Corporate Finance.
Peter Tonstad
Panelist: Koos Berkhout
Co-founder, The Tecsa Group
Koos Berkhout is the co-founder of the Tecsa Group, a customer engagement consultantcy that uses data to augment the customer-retailer relationship. Koos holds board positions with Rakuten Kobo and StylePoints, and in his international career in loyalty and analytics, spanning more than 20 years, has served as a CMO, Director of Client Insights and Head of Business Insights. He has hands-on experience in the development, launch and management of some of the world’s best-known loyalty brands, including Nectar, Air Miles, Rakuten and yuu Rewards.
Koos Berkhout image

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The right eCommerce solution

Which is the right eCommerce solution for my business?

 

Finding the right Partner for your E-commerce Business The new trend is to build a Marketplace using SaaS, and extend functionality with a plugins development.

Ecommerce in numbers

In 2019, retail e-commerce marketplace sales worldwide amounted to US$3.46 trillion, and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to a dizzying US$6.54 trillion in 2022 and will continue to drive the future of e-commerce forward. B2B (business-to-business) marketplace sales transactions are set to boom and will account for an estimated 30% of all worldwide online sales by 2024.

 

Combined, both B2B and B2C (business-to-consumer) marketplaces are expected to grow web sales worldwide to an estimated $7.1 trillion while peer-to-peer marketplaces including eBay and Airbnb will reach $240 billion in combined sales by 2024. However, the area with the fastest-growing global marketplaces will be in B2B.

 

Currently, only a small percentage of the annual worth of online B2B sales are made via marketplaces however, businesses are starting to realize the benefits of trading with partners via marketplace platforms. In this regard, as more businesses trade online, global sales will continue to grow which will include a wide range of industries and vertical markets.

Should I build around a SaaS?

SaaS, or otherwise known as Software-as-a-Service, is a software distribution model in which a service provider hosts applications via the internet for customers. SaaS falls under the form of cloud computing. Usage is subscription-based charging businesses either monthly, bi-annually, or annually to use the service. These online subscriptions come with their respective technical support and periodic upgrades, SaaS companies deliver usability without bogging down customers with details. You access content through a web browser interface and your content is hosted in either a cloud or shared server. There are a variety of businesses that provide this service for marketplace development such as Arcadier, CS-Cart, Dokan, and Sharetribe.

How can I customize the SaaS?

 

A plugin is a software add-on that is installed on a program, enhancing its capabilities. It is a form of integration of a separate application to the main platform, either by the platform owners themselves or by other third parties. For instance, you like to add an email marketing tool to your eCommerce business and you are using Shopify or Woocommerce to build your eCommerce, you can utilize the Quickbooks plugin that seamlessly works with your Shopify Store or your book-keeping or LiveChat plugin to create your customer support chat capability. A number of online store platforms offer a plugin that can turn your single merchant shopping cart into a multi-vendor shopping cart experience. Most of these were developed by third-party developers using their respective APIs and Webhooks, and these developers charge a fee for its use.

What option best suits my business model? 

This is the first question that goes through the minds of people who are trying to start their first eCommerce marketplace. Go with a SaaS provider such as Arcadier, CS-Cart, Dokan or Sharetribe, or via a plugin alternative that augments your platform to become a marketplace for online store platforms such as Shopify, Magento, or Woocommerce? It is key to understand the comparisons of their respective software delivery models.

 

The answer to this question will be dependent on three factors: User preference, costs involved, and feasibility associated with plugin systems.

 

Using standalone plugins is a great option, but it does have its limitations. For example, the plugin builder will still have to work within the confines of the eCommerce platform to change a user experience that is not natural to the main use case of the eCommerce platform. Dedicated Marketplace SaaS products have been built for the purpose of the marketplace experience in mind, so the user experience is designed from the ground up for a multi-vendor experience.

Build a team for your eCommerce business

 

Marketplace SaaS solutions are not significantly more expensive than what most plugin developers are charging for the download and use of their plugin. However, the risk of failure that the augmentation using a plug-in to a platform not developed to be a marketplace makes a dedicated marketplace SaaS solution a safer bet. The features provided by SaaS also enable businesses to efficiently create their own marketplace because a lot of the heavy lifting is already done for you, plug-and-play extensions, themes for your front-end, site optimization, dedicated support, analytics, and bug fixes are such examples.

 

The SaaS option is built-for-purpose but that does not necessarily mean the plugin alternative option should be ruled out, it is still a good option for building a marketplace, however, there lies the problem that all the plugin components on your platform of choice may not necessarily be able to properly shake hands with each other especially on more mature platforms.

Build fast and iterate 

 

SaaS vs Open-Source eCommerce solutions has their similarities, benefits, differences, and challenges. Both have their own niche market and success stories. A lot of people have built excellent marketplaces around both solutions.

 

The main factors to consider when choosing an eCommerce solution are budget, technical proficiency, and knowledge, and how serious are your plans to scale your business.

 

The more niche or more mature your marketplace is, the more customization will require.

Building valuable products: Remote agile teams

Numerous teams are constructing their work into a hierarchy of epic, feature, user story, and task. Using the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has made this hierarchy popular, but many other teams are following that model using the same structure.

Epics provide big valuable products or big valuable changes to products. You construct them into shorter pieces of value so you can deliver solutions to your users sooner than waiting for a killer solution at the end.

 

Features are constructed into high-value stories, which, according to the definition, should provide value in production, and again it occurs faster than building a whole feature.

 

But there is a hidden pattern in the way teams are constructing work into an epic-feature-story hierarchy. Teams use agile tools to manage epics, features, stories, and tasks. But they too often use them to articulate a work breakdown structure (WBS) instead of a value breakdown structure (VBS).

WBS refers to the common, age-old project-management practice of breaking tasks into smaller chunks, allowing teams to estimate time and costs for completion. VBS, instead, focuses on product delivery and sub-products, not tasks and sub-tasks.

Please follow us to detail our findings in building valuable products.

Old thinking ways result in poor user stories

WBS has been used to plan development work for a long time, so it is deeply embedded in our brains. And when we were project-driven, this was a great practice.

 

But with the agile movement for project culture and toward product culture, this method no longer works. You need to think in terms of product delivery and product value.

Rewire your brain

Here are two ideas to help people reframe agile development as a value breakdown structure (VBS) instead of a work breakdown structure (WBS).

 

Method 1: Really understand what you are building, and why…

Here, ask yourself and the team to articulate, at a high level, what they are building. Note that you’re not listing the steps to build it (that’s WBS) but instead are describing what it is (VBS).

 

Collaborate to create a list of what you are building

Let’s imagine the team says you’re building four things:

  • A new report here
  • Modifying an existing report with X
  • A new detail view with a graph for Y
  • Bringing function Z, from older version to newer

The answer could be a list such as the one above, or it could be a one-sentence answer such as “an space ship.”

 

With the team decide whether it’s an epic, feature, or story

In a VBS, epics, features, and stories are the same thing: value delivery. It’s just that each has different rules and syntax due to each having a different level of risk.

Epics are highest risk, features are less risky, and stories the least risky. So epics require more precision to secure you have thought through the risks and have the best chance of success.

Additionally, every epic, feature, and story creates or modifies a product.

So your team need to decide based on the following guidelines:

  • Epics are value that will be delivered to production or be production ready in more than two months.
  • Features can be delivered in a sprint.
  • Stories can be delivered in less time than a sprint.
Group similar types with their product value

Simply ask yourself “How long would it take to deliver this value to production?”

Then simply assign the correct type to the piece of value! Just like that, you now have epics, features, and stories in your backlog.

 

Look at the blocks

Some believe that all valuable work must be visible from the epic level, because the epic level (in SAFe) is also the portfolio level. And the portfolio level is where you make financial decisions about work.

 

But this is not actually correct. All three types—stories, features, and epics—are about value. The goal is to decentralize value decision making and push it downwards, where the risks are low. Stories and features are small, and the product owners and product managers are trusted and empowered to prioritize those types of work.

 

People can also feel as if these stories and features are “orphaned” if they don’t trace to a higher-level container. But, in fact, they do trace to a higher-level container: the product value they are associated with.

 

Remember that all three types either modify or create products. Just ensure that every epic, feature, and story traces to a product.

 

Team work and break down all features and epics

You might have a pile of epics, features, and stories that need to be built. If all of the work is small, you may have only stories. If all the work is big, you may have a list of epics. Or you may have any combination, strictly based on the size of the work. There is no hierarchy here, just a pile of different size work to do.

 

Big items such as epics and features need to be decomposed so they can be prioritized with the other lower-level work. You can do this by asking, “What is a smaller piece of value we could do more quickly than this whole thing?” And as you de-construct them, you don’t do it into tasks but into value items.

 

And once you decompose features and epics into smaller value chunks, you once again ask, “How long would this take to put into production, or to make production-ready?” And again you give them the appropriate epic/feature/story type. Repeat this until every epic and feature has been disintegrated to the story level.

 

Stories do not disintegrated into smaller value; you can disintegrated those into tasks. Note that tasks are the only element in the hierarchy that are like those found in a WBS. They are tasks, not value chunks.

 

In other words, the epics, features, and stories are all value chunks. The tasks are tasks, and they are optional.

 

Eventually every epic is separated into features. Every feature is separated into stories. And all of them are value chunks, not tasks. And thus you have a VBS instead of a WBS.

 

Now the story backlog

So at the story level, you will have a bunch of stories, some of which are standalone, some that trace to features, and some that trace to features that in turn trace to epics. But all stories can now be prioritized against one another.

 

And if they do trace upward, that will be considered during sprint planning. You want to finish a whole feature if possible, so a high-priority feature would increase the priority of the stories as well.

 

Bottom line is that epic versus feature versus story is simply a first-level guess at the size of the effort to deliver value.

Method 2: Adjusting an existing backlog

For teams with an existing backlog that’s more WBS than VBS, this can be quite easy to repair.

  1. Grab the current list of epics, features, and stories and leave it open in the background.
  2. Notice there is a mix of some items that are WBS tasks, and some that are products or value of the VBS type. It is common to have a mix of both styles.
  3. Extract the products or value, and create a fresh backlog with only value delivery items.

To accomplish step 3, take a task-style backlog item and ask, “What product or sub-product does this create or improve?” The answer will be the real VBS item that should be in your backlog instead. If you can’t figure out the answer, then why would you do that task?

 

The third step can be fun and satisfying for your teams. Their new epics, features, and stories are true value work items. Each work item needs refinement, development, test, and deployment. Each is valuable to users.

 

Imagine that your storyboard columns were “refine, develop, test, deploy, done.” Notice that a WBS task-style story doesn’t work on a board such as this: “test component Z” would make sense only in the test column, rather than flowing through them all.

 

Value-type VBS stories, on the other hand, flow through all of this. “New finance report X,” for example: Refine your understanding of it. Develop it. Test it. Deploy it. Done! Value to the user is achieved. But when “Test component Z” moves to done, direct user value has not been achieved.

software-team
Real value on delivery

Once you move away from a WBS to a real VBS, you can easily report on value delivery. Which epics closed? That is value delivery. Which features closed? Value delivery. Stories? Value delivery.

 

So your value delivery reports can simply be reporting on work items closed. And it only works if the work items are real value delivery items, not work breakdown tasks. If every item is a value delivery item, these reports are satisfying and informative.

 

If someone wants a report of value delivery for their dollars, they can now show their recently done backlog and answer that question by just using their work management tools instead of creating PowerPoint presentation. It’s a beautiful and better way!

 

 

Change your focus to value

Many people see their agile work management tools as a hierarchy of epic, feature, and story. And the WBS mindset win, they fit the WBS into the containers of epic, feature, and story.

 

Instead, focus on products, sub-products, and value delivery. Refine and adjust existing backlogs by separating tasks from value. Think of the epic-feature-story hierarchy as nothing more than a first estimate on time. Epics take more than a three months. Features require 1 sprint. Stories are done within a sprint. And all are value delivery items.

Managing Remote Agile Teams: 7 Strategies

How can teams maintain effective communication when they are separated by location and time zones?

Principles like “software over documentation,” “responding to change over following a plan” and “quality interactions over tools” take on whole new meaning when managing remote teams.

Why Agile prioritizes communication

Agile methodology recognizes face-to-face communication as the most efficient and effective means to share ideas. The benefits of sketching on cards or a whiteboard are two-fold — improving the level of understanding and reducing the time it takes to deliver the core message.

 

Most credit the adoption of Agile thinking as the primary driver to create more open, collaborative office spaces no longer punctuated by rows of cubes and team members appearing every so often. Open spaces led to more drive-by conversations between team members and more feedback collected throughout the development process naturally.

 

Unlike smaller teams who do have the option to co-locate, enterprises managing remote teams often don’t have the luxury of sharing the same physical space each day.

 

Team structure options:

  • The stakeholders and the development team share the same physical space.
  • The business is physically separated from the development team with the stakeholders in one office and the development team in another, often offshore or nearshore.
  • The stakeholders and the development team are separated by distance and time. Additionally, the development team itself is distributed across cities or countries.

 

Distributed teams must actively work to avoid falling into communication traps that shift the project process away from Agile development to a decidedly waterfall one. But, the world is a small place even for distributed teams — made smaller by the available communication platforms from Microsoft Teams, Trello, Slack, Jira, or Skype. Promoting the same close communication expectations is the key to supporting the Agile process on distributed teams.

7 Communication strategies for managing remote agile teams

Foster a culture of continuous integration while builds are regularly reviewed and planned.

 

Creating a culture where continuous integration is the norm is especially valuable on projects with extended timelines or while managing remote teams. In this structure, it’s easy to opt for dividing work for teams along technical boundaries. These technical boundaries may be divided by frontend/backend work or even database and services layer/frontend. Team bandwidth or security might drive the boundaries. Additionally, some businesses may be cautious of releasing intellectual property into a cloud-based platform like GitHub.

 

This usually results in the maintenance of two source code repositories with a commitment to merge them later. Resist this. The technical debt that results from this fractured code is more time-consuming to overcome than if the teams had increased the communication necessary to manage just one code repository in the first place. Overcoming any communication barriers to work on the same code base is worth it in every way.

 

The team manages successfully at leading remote teams and achieving this culture will begin to see evidence manifest in the daily communication and behavior of team members:

  • All members actively strive not to break the build.
  • They will provide visibility to broken builds.
  • All will react with a sense of urgency to adjust build issues.
Commit to frequent builds, so you don’t prioritize upholding the plan over agility.

 

It’s easy to produce a giant spec instead of communicating daily with the remote development team or let distance become a reason to stay the course and avoid developing the solution when challenges or barriers arise.

 

Building on a weekly schedule is good, daily is even better. Hold your team accountable to submit a change set to the source code control each time. Then, take advantage of your compiler as a stand-in team member to ensure your source code has reached or exceeded quality expectations. Adding smoke tests can propel this even further.

 

Welcome the human process of developing custom software.

 

Most people assume custom software development is a purely technical process. While it’s true the process is highly technical requiring years of training and experience to run successfully, software development is a human process first and relies on trust between individuals.

 

Promote knowledge sharing on every team. This is less about documenting processes in a Wiki and more about nurturing this behavior in daily stand-ups or any time team members give updates.

 

Support your team to share beyond what concerns to that day’s work. If a team member expects something they are working on may impact another role the next day, call that out. Once team members master the habit of sharing important, forward-looking insights, that’s when true knowledge sharing has been reached.

 

Foster communication between UX designers and business analysts to accelerate throughput by a factor of two.

 

Fostering close collaboration between designers and business analysts, urging extra attention to the graphical interface. This mean additional time is spent creating visual artifacts for the technical team to complement related user stories. The prize? Less questions related to aesthetics and less iterations created as a result of the mismatched expectations.

 

Consider even non-functional requirements.

 

For teams who are co-located, it’s easy to address questions around performance and scalability as they arise. Imagining and documenting requirements with the appropriate level of detail serves as the link between the business and technical teams.

 

For distributed teams, understanding non-functional requirement feature plays an even bigger role. Without specific directions documented for the technical team, it might result in the production of an architecture that makes assumptions about the non-functional requirements resulting in increased rework, and time waste later.

 

Managing a distributed team may mean documenting more.

 

While all Agile teams strive to write “just enough” requirements, managing a distributed team means accepting “just enough” may still mean documenting more than would be created for a co-located team.

 

Distributed team members can’t quickly sketch on a whiteboard to work through a complex concept. Rather than leaving your development and testing teams left guessing on the nuances that would otherwise be delivered verbally, document them and “give the answers” before the test.

 

By augmenting user stories with test or acceptance criteria you can set the technical team up for success without drastically expanding the narrative.

 

Choose a set of communication tools for your team that allows for the usual escalation of communication needs.

 

When teams are co-located, the level of communication needed escalates naturally. It might begin with co-workers speaking one-to-one in the breakroom. If clarifying details are needed, additional subject matter experts may be pulled into the conversation. Then, the conversation shifts from many-to-one or many-to-many, depending on the context. Maintaining this escalation process is essential to create outlets for quick answers or more in-depth conversations despite any distance that may exist between team members.

 

Types of Communication

  • Chat 1–1
  • Chat many-to-1
  • Voice call
  • Visual call
  • Screen share
  • Collaborative Board

 

The ability to ask quick clarifying questions is inherent in how most teams work. In the past, this could be accomplished with face-to-face drive-bys in the office. But, increasingly even teams who are co-located are relying on instant messenger or video calls to accomplish this.

 

Instant messaging is a powerful tool for managing remote teams that include non-native English speakers. The tool allows them the space to craft replies without the pressure of discussing directly (and quickly) with a native English speaker. That said, tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack allow for escalation from messaging to voice and video calls and even screen sharing if needed.

 

While the importance of instant messaging cannot be over-emphasized for distributed teams, watching body language and physical reactions to comments or questions are also critically important, especially when discussing challenges or questions to estimate feasibility or understanding.

What does it take to win with distributed Agile software teams?

No digital tool or communication strategy can replace the determination of the leaders needed to achieve the Team highest potential.

 

Co-Innovate with us.

 

Towa SoftwareBoosting Digital Transformation with best ROI – Remote Tech Teams. 300 strong.

 

Towa joins Arcadier Marketplace Expert Partners Program

Helping companies reach their full potential

San Antonio, Texas, February 2020 – Towa Software, Inc. a leading software engineering company, today announced a new partnership with Arcadier, world’s leading online marketplace builder to better serve its North America customers seeking to customize and expand their marketplace to suit their business needs and co-innovate functionality.

With more than 19 years of development experience, Towa has successfully executed numerous projects spanning a variety of industries, including, Retail, Banking, Financial & Trading Services, Telecommunications, Professional Services, Transportation, Higher Education and Utilities. Beyond web development, Towa also has depth experience with mobile technologies, developing solutions for international clients under iOS and Android platforms.

Carlos Mendoza CEO at Towa said, “At Towa, we are very excited about the enormous co-creation possibilities this partnership opens for both companies! We truly believe we are giving a big step that will strengthen and extend our current capabilities.”

“We are excited to have Towa Join our Arcadier Expert Partner programme as we are seeing strong demand for our marketplace technology in North America.” Commented Kenneth Low, Arcadier’s Chief Commercial Officer. “With this partnership, we can better serve our marketplace users in the region with strong reputable local software development expert partner.

 

About Towa

www.towasoftware.com

Towa was founded in 2002, by Gerardo Lopez with the vision of using the most advanced engineering disciplines to develop a new concept in the delivery of software products. Towa has devoted over a decade to the research, development and application of engineering processes around the analysis and development of information systems. Towa’s Value Proposition to the clients is to deliver Software Projects with Certainty, delivery without defects, which fulfil all of the requirements efficiently. Our goal is to become an agile co-innovation strategic partner with our customers.

About Arcadier

https://www.arcadier.com

Arcadier is the world’s fastest-growing online marketplace builder and is the recognized global leader of multi-vendor ecommerce marketplace technology with users from more than 170 countries. Founded in 2013 in Singapore by senior PayPal executives, it has offices in 5 countries including Singapore(HQ), Australia, Philippines and most recently the United States and the United Kingdom. Arcadier enables Enterprises, SMBs, Governments and Start-Ups to build their own white-labelled marketplaces efficiently and cost effectively. Arcadier’s platform supports various eCommerce models including B2B, B2C, P2P, Service & Rental, across industry verticals such as retails, consumer goods, commodities, wholesale, manufacturing and services.

Recently Arcadier also launched Arcadier Enterprise to target needs of large corporations and multi-brand retail companies for their marketplace development needs.

To see more Arcadier Expert Partners, visit:
https://api.arcadier.com/expert-partner

Towa Software Media Contact

To learn more about Towa Software – Engineering Culture of High Performance Teams or to speak to Towa Software VP, contact support@towasoftware.com, or visit the website at www.towasoftware.com

towa

TOWA SOFTWARE INC.

MSc. Adrian Lopez
Customer Success Manager
+1 (512) 487-7734
adrian.lopez@towasoftware.com

 

“At Towa, we are very excited about the enormous co-creation possibilities this partnership opens for both companies! We truly believe we are giving a big step that will strengthen and extend our current capabilities.”

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Tips for distributed agile teams

“Agile development isn’t any longer considered to work for collocated teams only. Also, teams, projects, and organizations that are distributed are asked to focus on delivering value. Yet, with Agile’s emphasis on -among other things- face-to-face communication, this seems like a contradiction. So the question arises, how to adhere to the Agile principles when applying them in a distributed environment.”

H

ere you will learn about the key success factors for distributed teams. Readers will understand that also distributed teams can benefit from a value system and from principles that are beneficial for small teams. In fact, the two trends – distribution in terms of globalization and Agility – can even complement each other.

Many organizations find themselves faced with the challenge of making distributed agile work. Mergers and market consolidation, geographic expansion, and offshoring have made multi-site development the norm rather than the exception. Companies with sites in competitive labor markets can find distributed team members as an alternative when they can’t recruit locally.

Agile can work in a distributed environment, but it requires work; more effort than you’d expect if you’ve never done it before. Here are eight hacks that can make it easier.

Why distributing the team might make sense

You might not be able to get all the people with the right skills in the same location, but the world is filled with talented, motivated people, and being open to working in a distributed way opens up your options.

Besides, today’s technical professionals have more choices about where they live and work. They may like where they live and not want to move. In short, the people you need may not all live in the same location.

Local culture matters. If you’re developing a product that needs to appeal to customers in different countries around the world, you’ll need people who know the local culture and language. There are also political or security reasons for distributing development—from tax advantages for doing work in certain countries, to restrictions on data crossing country borders, to the need for people on the team with particular security clearances.

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons a business would choose to have a distributed team, and whether we like it or not, the number of remote workers is only going to grow. With that in mind, here are eight simple distributed-agile hacks that can set the right tone for a successful remote team.

1. Recruit motivated individuals

It is possible to make distributed development work; open-source projects do it all the time. They have a couple of advantages that other initiatives often lack.

  1. Their team members are often exceptionally self-motivated, at least if they are committers.
  2. They often don’t have to deal with stakeholders or requirements, because they are often building a project for themselves, so they know the problem domain very well.

In more normal situations, having highly motivated team members is really important, and the remote team members are going to have to be exceptionally self-motivated. that’s because they are going to have to work harder to communicate, stay engaged, and stay focused and productive. They won’t have the informal network of co-located team members to fall back on.

The co-located team members are going to have to work harder, too. They are going to have to make a special effort to engage their remote team members.

2. Create self-organizing teams

The worst thing to do when forming any team is to assign people to work on it; it kills motivation and destroys initiative. Since distributed work is even harder than co-located work—because it requires even greater motivation—the distributed team needs to be strong, with members who are committed to the mission, to the way of working, and to each other. That level of commitment doesn’t happen by accident.

Letting people choose to be part of the team—to work with one another—is an important first step. They must want to work in an agile way, and they must want to work with one another. Let people volunteer to join the effort, and then bring them together to establish their norms and working agreements.

3. Co-locate, at the start, to let teams form, storm, and norm

Forming a team usually takes at least a couple of sprints, sometimes longer. You will make your life, and theirs, much harder if you don’t invest in helping them develop into a high-performing team. It takes time and experience working together as a team to develop the trust, commitment, and mutual accountability that they need to perform well together and to be transparent about the state of the work.

Artificial team-building exercises do little to help teams go through the forming-storming-norming-performing process. Bringing teams together for a couple of sprints is really the best way to develop the working relationships that are essential to future performance.

4. If the effort is large, have co-located teams at each site

Let’s say that an organization has sites in multiple locations, as well as multiple teams, each with team members at every location. In this situation, you’re going to end up maximizing the amount of extra work for everyone.

Instead, you should try to form co-located teams at each location and let them figure out how to share the work among themselves, extending Scrum with a scaled agile approach such as SAFe or Nexus. In this approach, multiple teams are working on the same product.

With a scaled Scrum approach such as Nexus, you help multiple Scrum teams simplify cross-team collaboration by resolving and preventing cross-team conflicts and ensuring that they deliver an integrated product increment with every sprint.

Regardless of which framework you use, you should make sure each team has a Scrum Master. Masters will not only help their own team perform better, but they will also help everyone else who needs to collaborate with that team.

5. Co-locate development teams with their product owner

This sounds obvious, but I’ve encountered plenty of strange situations where this is not the case. I’ve seen companies with the development team in one location and the product owner in another. This really hurts collaboration and communication, so don’t do it. Find a different team or a different product owner, move the product owner to the same time zone, or empower a local delegate for the remote product owner if the product owner is co-located with another team.

6. Invest in collaboration, but invest first in teams

Collaboration technology really helps teams be more effective—distributed source-code management, continuous integration, continuous delivery tools, wikis, video conferencing, and chat platforms such as Slack all help high-performance distributed teams be more effective. But they can’t make a low-performance team into a high-performance team. Lack of these tools can decrease the effectiveness of even a high-performance team, however.

7. Share the pain of time-zone separation

When a team has members at multiple sites, they demonstrate mutual respect by sharing the burden of working odd hours. Some teams make the mistake of having the team with the most members set the workday rules, but this sends the message to teams at other sites that their contributions are not valued as much. Making everyone share the burden is not only fairer, but it also creates a sense of empathy with what other team members have to endure.

8. Minimize wait times

Different time zones increase wait times. When a person at one site must wait for a team member at another to start the day to resolve a blocking issue, the rest of the day is lost. These delays add up. The daily stand-up can help uncover these problems, but the team will have to look not only at today’s work but potentially at tomorrow’s as well to know what issues might block them. It won’t be perfect, however, and some additional delay is inevitable.

Flattening roles and refining the product backlog to spot potential conflicts earlier can help. With dependencies reduced, and with teams having members who potentially can work on any product backlog item, blocking issues and slow hand-offs will be less frequent. But the issues can’t be eliminated.

No shortcuts to great teams

Distributed agile development is harder than co-located agile development. Time zone differences make collaboration more challenging. However, teams with members working at the same site but in different buildings will find collaboration more challenging as well. Being agile requires transparency, which doesn’t exist unless team members trust one another, and developing trust requires time spent working together.

Organizations make a big mistake when they think of teams as simply a group of individuals. A great team is far more than the sum of its members’ contributions. Being part of a great team is motivating—it challenges people to do their best, and it rewards them with a sense of shared accomplishment that individual accomplishment cannot. Great teams take time and investment to build, and they are worth preserving when they come together.

“When distributing work, for whatever reason, focus on forming great teams at the beginning. These teams can be formed with distributed individuals if they are motivated and supported, but it does take more practice on everyone’s part.”

Risk Management Banking Industry Trends

Fintechs and nonbanks now have a substantial influence in the banking industry. They are highly agile, innovative, and aim at exceeding the demands of modern customers in banking services and experiences. Established retail banks need to compete and often play catch-up. Still, they acknowledge the need to change, and change fast.

 

 

 

Agile culture for remote teams

Distributed teams or remote teams are more important now than ever, the new normal requires teams and individuals to work from home or in different locations to deliver products and services. How can we use it to thrive agile culture?

 

Agile development was originally conceived for clustered teams, or teams physically located together in the same room. In keeping with the idea that “the most efficient and effective method of communicating information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation”, early agile teams were meant to work together in proximity.

 

But today most businesses have a few–or many–distributed teams. This isn’t just a trend; it makes good sense. Distributed teams can work on projects around the clock, and strong talent can be found in less competitive markets. (Not to mention, talent is easily retained by not requiring an undesired relocation.) But the benefits of distributed teams aren’t without some trade-offs. For many distributed teams, it’s difficult to adopt the agile practice of face-to-face interactions.

 

Other challenges that emerge for distributed software teams:

  • Coordinating across time zones
  • Building rapport when everyone is not in the same office
  • Collaborating among different development cultures
  • Scheduling meetings or informal conversations when both teams are online at the same time for only a few hours (or less)

These are real problems. But not impossible ones. Let’s walk through some strategies to help bridge the distance gap between local and remote teams, and ideas to help mitigate other potential issues as well.

 

How to structure cross-border teams

Good software architecture dictates modular design, so structure your teams the same way. Every team should be self-sufficient in developing a single piece of technology, which minimizes the amount of collaboration required with teams in other offices/locations and makes them generally autonomous. When a project does require teams in different locations to pitch in, they can focus on their integration points and APIs.

 

Code reviews also play an important role. Since people are online at different times, distributing knowledge of the code between teams makes support and maintenance much easier. If a production issue emerges when the team is not online, another team can easily step in to support and resolve the issue, thanks to the know-how they gained from cross-team or cross-location code reviews.

 

Building rapport and co-worker affinity

It’s important in any team, especially in agile projects to have solid rapport across the team. Personal connection builds trust, minimizes missed expectations, eases self-organization, and boosts morale. Within your office, take the time to get to know everyone on your team. And, as much as possible, do the same with the people you work within remote teams. Personal connections are important. The stronger they become, the greater the chance of seeing these colleagues as any other, rather than distant coworkers from unfamiliar places without good relationships.

 

TIP: At Towa, each new employee posts a “intro blog” on our internal Communication tool, Towa’s content collaboration platform. The blog introduces the new hire professionally as well as personally (hobbies, interests, family, etc.) which really helps bridge the gap between offices. The more we know each other as people, the stronger we are working together as teams.

 

Above all, nothing replaces meeting face to face. Team members in each office will benefit from regular face time, and that includes video conferencing as well as visits to remote offices.

Video conferencing tools like Zoom help bridge the gap between teams, especially for distributed agile teams. However, teams that rely on Zoom should be aware of certain limitations.

 

  • Video conferencing often allows for a very short window of communication, while working in the same office gives significant visibility into another’s world: challenges, successes, and opportunities.
  • Zoom has done well to address network hiccups. Still, there may be times when network issues occur between buildings that can make video and audio choppy or difficult to understand.
  • Most people still think of Zoom video conferencing as scheduled time. Create a culture of using video chat for spontaneous casual conversation. Also, use instant messaging tools like Slack, Whatsapp, or Teams for quick communication.

 

To help mitigate some video conferencing issues, encourage team members to have regular 1:1 video chat sessions. These can be less formal, and help facilitate knowledge sharing in a casual way. Teammates can use these moments to build rapport and work better together.

 

Remember, tone, voice, and posture play a significant part in communication. In-person time helps the team know their remote colleagues in higher fidelity, which, in turn, makes future video conferencing more effective.

 

 

Building a united culture

There are four simple ways teams can make working across offices easier and share a common culture:

  • Over communicate decisions across all teammates
  • Setting up the development environment for easy collaboration
  • Clearly define the definition of Done
  • Create guidelines for filing effective bug reports

 

Let’s talk more about it.

 

First, when moving from a co-located office to a distributed culture, communication becomes significantly harder. The first challenge is training the team to understand that, when decisions are made, they need to be communicated. This may sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget! Oftentimes important decisions are made in hallway conversations, informal local team meetings, or by individuals. Plus, it can be easy to dismiss small decisions as unimportant.

Communicate even minute details until both teams find a healthy groove.

When decisions are made, everyone in each office needs to understand the decision and ideally why it was made. Don’t use email. It’s too easy to lose important information. Use a content management system like a wiki where team members can easily browse for updates across the team (and get notified of updates via email or Slack group chat tool). You can also use Slack to create channels for individuals and teams to communicate and see updates. Delays caused by team members working on outdated information, hitting a roadblock, and then asking a question costs the team significantly more time than proactively sharing information.

Second, consistent development environments across the team make it easier to work together and track down issues. Spend time creating a simple “Getting Started” guide and overcome first-day friction by automating the setup as much as possible.

Third, when working between teams, clear standards around the definition of “complete” makes it easier to manage expectations and build agreement across teams. A firm definition of complete eliminates the ambiguity in the work. For instance, when shipping a release that involves multiple teams, make it clear what it means to be complete: code written, pull request created, code reviewed, tested, and merged into the appropriate branch.

And finally, when problems come up. Having clear guidelines for bug reports and troubleshooting how-tos makes it easier for anyone on the team to track down an issue. Code review and good automated tests also share knowledge about the code base and empower the affected team to make the fix and validate that the change doesn’t have any unexpected side effects. Thus, no team becomes a blocker.

 

Maximize the golden hours

Every photographer knows “the golden hours” – just before and after sunrise and sunset–is one of the most effective times to take great landscape photos. The golden hours for distributed software teams are when the local and remote teams are both in their respective posts at the same time. When all teams are online, this is a great time for stand-ups.

For teams that share work between time zones, stand-up is a great time to pass the baton so the team just coming online can pick up where the other team left off. And holding stand-up via video conference makes it easy to ask questions and get up to speed so everyone is off and running as soon as the meeting is done.

 

Sometimes teams are so far apart that meetings will cause some form of pain for one team. (Get up at 6 a.m. for stand-up with the other team? Umm… no thanks.) Rotate the meeting time so it’s a shared burden, rather than continually subjecting the foreign team to the odd hours–a sure-fire way to destroy morale. Closely monitor the entire team’s engagement at stand-up. If there is an undue tension, or the team is not getting a lot out of it, team members will begin to disengage and stop listening or sharing. And stand-up doesn’t absolutely have to be a daily meeting. Meet with the remote team a few times a week and use the other days for a local stand-up. Similarly, a stand-up doesn’t have to be a morning routine, either. Whatever time of day is most convenient for everyone involved is the best time of day.

 

Every team is remote

In a distributed organization, the reality is that every team is remote. All teams need to adapt and learn how to share work between locations, communicate effectively, and grow a consistent culture across geographies. The most effective teams don’t just make the remote team adapt to their own culture because they understand that every team can learn something from the others. They seek to find and share successful practices across all locations. They also embrace “we” rather than an “us vs. them” culture.

 

Because the new reality is that most will become distributed. Businesses are working at home, we all need to manage a work/life balance. Teams that embrace both structure and transparency scale more efficiently. When your project scales beyond your location, the culture will be set up to do the right thing.

 

 

 

Android or iOS for retail?

Develop apps for both platforms using cross-platform development tools, like React Native or Flutter 

Many retailers face a difficult decision: should their mobile retail shopping app support Android or iOS? They feel their limited resources cannot be stretched to build and support both platforms, so they often pick just one. Some retailers may have already committed to one platform, but are unsure if they made the right choice. Others have not yet developed on either platform and are exploring options for their first mobile shopping app. With our past experience working with large retailers, we believe that to maximize revenue from mobile, companies need a presence on both Android and iOS in order to avoid losing the opportunities that each platform provides.

This article will explore the options available for retailers with only one app or no native mobile app at all. We will show you why supporting both platforms is the only choice, and how using a cross-platform development tool like React Native or Flutter, provides the resources to support both platforms at 60% of the cost.

Should you have a mobile retail app at all?

Our research shows that any retailer interested in keeping up in the current, competitive omni-channel environment needs a mobile presence. The number of retailer mobile apps actively used by consumers has doubled in 2019, from an average of four apps per phone to eight. According to studies:

  • 72% of consumers use apps for browsing products
  • 60% for accessing discount coupons
  • 57% for making purchases
  • 86% are happy with the customer experience provided by retail mobile native apps.

What about relying on a mobile website instead of a native app? Let’s look at the data:

  • The average time a user spends on their mobile phone: 4 hours, 10 minutes
  • How long a user spends time browsing the mobile web: 32 minutes 
  • How long a user spends time using mobile apps: 3 hours 40 minutes 

Users no longer consider the mobile web as a viable alternative as 90% of mobile usage time is spent on apps. The mobile web does not seem as responsive to user inputs as a native app. For the user, a native app is a much more immersive experience. For the retailer, a native app offers a superior branding opportunity. Clearly, not having a mobile retail presence is a costly mistake for any retailer. Your customer expects the convenience of mobile shopping, and the responsive performance of a native app.

What each platform offers

Both platforms have plenty to offer. Internally, there may be discussions about whether marketers should target heavy spenders among iOS users, or whether they should cater to Android users, who continue to outnumber iOS users 6-1?

The decision will depend on many factors, such as your app category or your target audience. In some regions and demographics, Android dominates, while in other areas, iOS dominates. It is important to prioritize your targets and tactics based on the audience you want to engage.

A case for Android

According to IDC, Android phones have 85% of the global market share as of 2019, while Apple iOS has only 12%. The other 2% is split amongst all other mobile operating systems.

Statistics show that Android users spend slightly more time interacting in the app than iOS users do. In the case of retail shopping apps, Android users spend an average of 7.6 minutes vs. the 6.6 minutes iOS users spend.

So, given the high lead in market share, Android seems like the logical choice for your first app, right? Not so fast…

A case for iOS

It is generally accepted that iOS users are more profitable for retailers than Android users. Figures released by Google and compiled by Benedict Evans provide some hard data on just how big that gap is.

“Google Android users in total are spending around half as much on apps on more than twice the user base, and hence app ARPU (Average revenue per user) on Android is roughly a quarter of iOS.”

A study in 2014 shows that the median iPhone app user earns $85,000 per year, which is 40% more than the median Android phone user, with an annual income of $61,000. Even though Android has far more downloads than iOS, iPhone users spend twice as much on their phone than their Android counterparts. Another study of small retail purchases found that on average, Android users spent $11.54 per transaction. iPhone users, on the other hand, spent $32.94. Independent research indicates that the perception that iOS users are the “Big Spender” platform is more than a stereotype — It’s an observation supported by facts.

Impressive engagement rates suggest that iOS users offer better value for money than their Android counterparts. So obviously iOS development is more cost-effective than Android, right? Well, there is still more to consider…

Regional differences

The physical location of your target audience can make a large difference in the type of platform used. Note that iOS is favored in regions with large amounts of disposable income. Android sees high usage in lower-income areas of developed markets. In emerging markets, Android extends its lead even further.

The demographics and income profiles of the target region can also have a significant impact on the choice of the platform the retailer chooses to concentrate on. User age, gender, education, and other factors not covered here may also impact the platform choice. The decision process can become quite complex with no conclusive answer.

The cost of developing for both platforms

To maximize revenue from mobile, companies need a presence on both Android and iOS to avoid losing the opportunities that each platform provides. We have seen that Android downloads far exceed iOS downloads. We have also seen that the iOS purchase value exceeds that of Android. To further complicate matters, target regions, and other demographics matter. Even the type of purchase may favor one platform over the other, so the most ideal solution is to develop apps for both platforms.

Recall that the reason we were forced to choose between the two platforms in the first place was to control development and support costs. Two apps, one for each platform, will cost twice as much as developing one app, says conventional thinking. We are glad to report that this is no longer the case. Cross-platform development tools, like Facebook’s React Native or Google’s Flutter, have come to save us.

Buy one, get one free

Both React Native and Flutter are an excellent cross-platform development framework. The initial investment in app development using these frameworks will yield applications for both platforms with native app performance.

They offer strong support and backing of the biggest technology companies with a highly-attractive UI and excellent native performance. Once the developer is up-to-speed using the programming environment, development time is faster than any alternatives.

To learn more about React Native and its advantages over other cross-platform development tools like Iconic or Flutter, check out our blog post Why React Native should be your next mobile development framework.

If you do not have any app neither Android nor iOS

Developing in React Native or Flutter will yield an app for both platforms with the same resource cost as building for a single platform. We estimate that it is 60% cheaper to use React Native or Flutter as your development platform than using Swift and Kotlin. The code is only written once for both apps. Also, from our experience developing in native and cross-platform applications, we estimate developing with React Native or Flutter is about 15% more resource-efficient than the native languages.

If you already have an app on one platform

Already have one platform app developed? Using a cross-platform tool still makes sense. Using React Native or Flutter for developing your second app will incur the same development resources as developing using a native language, possibly slightly less. However, both applications will now use common code, saving future costs for maintenance and upgrades. Consistency of look and feel between the two apps will also have a positive effect on corporate branding.

Conclusion – You can afford to have mobile apps on both platforms

The days of choosing between Android or iOS have long past. It is now a requirement to support both platforms. Ignoring either platform has direct negative consequences on your revenue stream. Fortunately, the days of having to choose platforms based on development costs are behind us. Both React Native or Flutter development tools can build a cross-platform application for both Android and iOS with the same performance as development based on native application language for the same cost as a single platform. The cost savings extend to app maintenance as well. Contact Towa Software for further information or a quote for us to build out or update your mobile application portfolio.