Best Product Management Frameworks for App Development

product management framework
Faiza Khalid
CIS engineer | Developer | Tech Writer

Are you looking to adopt product management frameworks for your app development project? 

The project management software market is expected to reach 9.81 billion US dollars in 2026. This tremendous growth means that there is plenty of room for startups and enterprise companies to create the next big software solution. 

In this blog, we will cover some of the most used and best product management frameworks for app development. We will discuss the need for a product management framework, the product management methodologies behind these frameworks, and how to select the best product management framework for your app project.

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Before diving into the details, let us start by looking at why we need a project management framework?

Contents

Why do you need a project management framework?
What is a Project Management Framework?
Project Management Methodology vs. Project Management Framework
Different Project Management Frameworks for App Development
Conclusion

Why do you need a project management framework?

Mobile or web app development is a complex task. It involves multiple teams performing different tasks. All individuals must follow the same guiding principles so that the project is completed with success and so that costly mistakes are avoided. 

The project management framework sets clear standards for the app development workflow. Its guidelines ensure that all the different teams are on the same page. As a result, the product owner’s requirements will be smoothly realized into the final product while the project development will meet its time and budgetary goals.

What is a Project Management Framework?

A project management framework involves all stages of development from planning, management, to the creation and launch of the app. 

A standard project management framework consists of the following parts:

  1. The software development life cycle

The software development life cycle represents all of the stages a software process will go through. Generally speaking, it is composed of initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closing. This is because the stages in the life cycle differ according to the nature of the project management methodology.

For example, the agile framework outlines three stages of conception, inception, and iteration before the product release, whereas, the waterfall framework has sequential phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, and testing before deployment.

  1. Templates and other task assignment tools

The project management framework provides the ‘tools’ to manage the process easily. For example, developers might choose to use elements of the scrum framework with the agile approach, etc. 

No matter what route developers choose, progress reports, backlog managements, bugs tracker, sprints management, are all essential tools in the arsenal to streamline development and to prevent roadblocks and bugs. 

  1. Processes

Each framework has a specially designed series of processes to follow. Agile, for example, uses iterations or sprints to break down development into more easily manageable pieces.

Project Management Methodology vs. Project Management Framework 

A methodology refers to project management standards that the final product must meet as well as the guidelines needed to be followed to ensure this. It shows the project completion roadmap and timeline including development workflow, process outline, test activities, and deliverables. 

The framework provides a direction to the project development process and differs from the methodology due to its adaptive nature. The framework is not rigid but flexible to the changing project requirements and conditions. 

The adaptive nature of frameworks is particularly useful in the software development industry where market conditions are rapidly changing. Read our guide on building a framework for more information.

In simpler terms, the project management methodology is a “set of principles and practices that guide you in organizing your projects to ensure their optimum performance.”

Different Project Management Frameworks for App Development

We will discuss some of the best product management frameworks that can help you, as a project manager, in your app development project.

  1. Waterfall

The waterfall framework works as part of the traditional waterfall methodology. It stems from the manufacturing industry, where process workflow is mostly sequential. The waterfall framework starts by gathering customers and other stakeholder’s requirements and then linearly going through the implementation. 

Every stage is crucial to complete before moving on to the next. There are no iterations or working backward to the previous phase. Any required modification is incorporated after the project cycle finishes. It means adjustments are made once the project launches and is at the maintenance stage. 

The water methodology is extensively used today to implement software development life cycle (SDLC) for new development projects. It constitutes of the following phases, as defined by its originator, Winston W. Royce:

  1. Requirement Gathering:

This is an important phase in the Waterfall framework as this stage is not found in the other major software development methodologies. The waterfall method insists that the PM and project owners gather all the client’s requirements at the beginning of the project development life cycle. 

There is no going back to gathering further user requirements or making adjustments during the later project development process. Hence, the project manager must gather all the necessary information at this stage.

As a project manager, you should ask your client if the app project details are clear and can be fully agreed upon during the first stage before adopting this methodology. Try to make sure the stakeholders can provide you with:

  • Project scope: a document that clearly defines the functional requirements for an app, the deliverables at each stage, cost estimations, deadlines, and most importantly, the overall project goal.
  • Stakeholder expectation: In a software project, there are often numerous stakeholders and investors. You should confirm that the project scope is aligned with the stakeholders’ project vision. You can do this by conducting meetings with them and by asking the right questions.
  • Market Research: Conduct a thorough target market research. Look for similar apps, their users, what are they offering, and where are they lacking?
  1. Design:

After collecting all the requirements and understanding/outlining stakeholders’ and users’ expectations, the next stage is to design the app development procedure. The requirements will help you decide all the software and hardware requirements for the app development. 

You will decide on the software architecture during this stage. The logical aspect of the design phase is to brainstorm and outline possible solutions to all your requirements. These design schemas can then be turned into concrete app specifications. 

After finalizing your app specifications, you can create tasks and list them down. The next step is to schedule these tasks and assign timelines. At this stage, the project manager also starts estimating the cost and builds a budget around it. 

Here is an article on how to write a good design document.

  1. Implementation:

Your app developers will now take on the work from here. They take the outlined specifications and start writing the code. The app developers usually work in teams, each working on a specific module. The module is a smaller piece of a program called a unit. The teams collaborate throughout the process. 

Once all the units are complete, they undergo unit testing. When the unit developers are sure units are bug-free, integration is performed. The integration process joins all the unit programs together to build a consolidated app product. Integration testing ensures the unit modules are working together perfectly. In case of bugs and errors, developers remove them before the deployment phase.

After undergoing rigorous testing, the app is deployed. 

As an app project manager, you can manage this stage through:

  • Task assignment: A project manager can use a Gantt chart for this purpose. It outlines task descriptions and prioritization. Developers can work on their assigned tasks while still collaborating and being aware of where the rest of the team is. 
  • Monitoring: The project manager has to ensure timely delivery of the app. While the developers are working the project manager tracks their progress and monitors the overall pace of the project.
  • Resource and workload management: A balanced workload and allocation of resources where needed, thereby avoiding bottlenecks in the project development pipeline. A project manager is responsible for managing both. Here is a guide on monitoring a developer’s progress.
  • Reporting: Stakeholders are informed about the project’s progress. Meetings are arranged to discuss the project workflow.

Wrike, Spreadsheet, and ProjectManager are the top three tools for implementing the waterfall framework. They provide Gantt charts and task lists to manage waterfall product development.

  1. Verification:

The verification phase comes after the successful product launch. The project development process is formally wrapped up by finishing paperwork, issuing press releases, making payments, clearing retention costs, and fulfilling any contractual obligations towards the developers or stakeholders, etc.

  1. Maintenance:

The maintenance phase is an essential requirement for many software projects. Bugs can arise anytime, and developers should be available to provide technical support. However, the exact number depends on the project scope and the contract terms. The post-deployment technical support period should be decided beforehand and dictated in your contract.

As you can see, the waterfall method follows a strictly linear approach. However, software projects, especially App development projects, are often flexible and so require a different approach.

The Prototype Method:

Given the ‘adapt to user feedback’ requirements of some software projects, they will need something other than the waterfall method, which can be easily converted into the prototype method. 

The idea behind the prototype product strategy is that the client’s requirements cannot be gathered successfully without the user having experience with the product. 

To gain this user feedback, a product prototype is presented to the client after the design stage and before the system implementation stage. Once the client is satisfied with the product prototype, actual product implementation begins where users can begin testing the product.

  1. Agile

Agile frameworks work iteratively as compared to the rigid approach of the waterfall methodology. 

There is no need for extensive requirement collection at the beginning of the project. The project manager can communicate with the stakeholders throughout the product development lifecycle and incorporate the new requirements as and when they are agreed upon.

The 15th annual report on the state of agile indicates that by the end of 2021, there will be an 86% increase in the adoption of agile practices by software development teams. Better task prioritization and project manageability are identified as the top two benefits of adopting agile as a product management framework.

The Agile methodology is more flexible, open to in-process modification, gives importance to the user experience, and outlines a rapid iterative project development approach. 

The Agile methodology builds on twelve pillars. The main ones are:

  • Customer satisfaction is an utmost priority. 
  • Changes are welcomed even in the later stages of the product development lifecycle.
  • The timeline of software delivery is short. Software deliverables are sent to the client frequently.
  • Software developers and business developers work together and coordinate regularly.
  • A successfully working software is the major parameter to measure progress.
  • The project development teams meet after short periods to readjust to the guidelines when needed.

The iterative development process works well with a minimum viable product or an MVP. Amazon is an example of a new product development strategy including MVP for finding the right product-market fit. 

The Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, started the marketplace only as a book-selling platform. The product was developed iteratively, enhancing user experience while managing pricing and profits.

As an app development project manager, you may find the agile framework most suitable. The agility and flexibility ensure app development with maximum efficiency and end-user satisfaction. The agile frameworks keep documentation to a minimum while giving special attention to the project processes and tasks.

As an agile project manager, you will work on the following process phases:

  1. Current Process Evaluation: 

Analyze the present structure of the process in use by the development teams.

  1. Improvement and Optimization of Process:

Use the best-fit technology to optimize the process workflow. The agile process itself is independent of the technologies you are using. 

You will select the suitable tech stack according to your app needs. 

This depends on whether you are developing a mobile app or a web app, and whether you have the requirement for extra cyber security measures,  a need for any third-party API integrations, data management, and storage solutions, etc.  

  1. Application Design: 

Plan the app design, including selecting the appropriate technology stacks. Clients are part of the application design stage, so you will need to involve them in the process along with your dev team. Use software tools like Whimsical and Figma to make your design phase faster and more interactive. Also, read our guide on the product design process.

  1. Application Implementation: 

Develop the app according to the design approved by the client. Provide a fully functional and bug free app to the client and their users by the set deadline. If they have opted for an MVP, you will need to work closely with the client during this stage to ensure customer feedback is implemented in the latest versions. 

Tools like Invision help in building a basic prototype.

  1. Evaluation: 

Monitor the product development process in terms of KPIs and other performance metrics as agreed with by the client. Check this article on how to determine KPIs for a software project.

Agile methodology umbrellas several agile frameworks. Some of the prominent ones are discussed below.

Scrum

Scrum is the most commonly used framework for agile methodology. It enables small teams to work closely and incrementally to complete a complex software project through cross-functional and self-managing teams. 

Every member of the team is given a task and is expected to tackle it. The scrum framework ensures communication, teamwork, and a speedy development process. 

The scrum framework manages the development process through regular meetings and continuous delivery of working software. Scrum achieves these by setting roles in the team and making use of scrum tools. Some of the terms you will find related to the scrum product management framework are scrums, scrum master, sprints, and backlogs.

  • A backlog is a collection of requirements or user stories a team is working on.
  • Sprint is a development lifecycle that is usually 2-4 weeks long. 
  • Scrum is a meeting held at the end of each sprint. The tasks set for the sprint are reviewed, and progress is measured for each team member. Scrum prefers small teams of nine members maximum. 
  • Scrum Master manages the scrum process, including sprints and scrums. The scrum master ensures the product development life cycle progresses successfully and in alignment with the project goals.
  • Stand-up is a daily meeting to discuss the daily progress of each individual and the overall project.
  • Burndown is a chart that shows the pending project tasks versus the time left. It is a visual representation of project progression for time management and helping with stand-up meetings.
  • Definition of done is a review standard for Sprint review meetings. It is conducted at the end of each sprint to see if the sprint has successfully achieved all the set tasks.

The scrum framework stands on three pillars:

  1. Transparency: use of common terminology and standards
  2. Inspection: monitoring scrum artifacts (product backlog, sprint backlog, and product increment) regularly. It is to ensure project quality.
  3. Adaptation: adjust and correct if any sub-standard quality work is found during the inspection. Metrics are set to measure product quality.

Product managers manage the scrum product management process in three phases:

  • Before sprint: set the sprint goals and outline tasks to be completed during the sprint.
  • During sprint: divide the tasks among the agile product development team.
  • After sprint: this consists of the reviewing meeting and sprint retrospective sessions. It reviews what the team has accomplished and, so, is also known as the reflection phase. The following sprint goals and tasks are also decided at this point. 

Some best tools for implementing the Scrum framework are Jira, Scrumfast, and Nutchace. These tools help with overall project management, from software development to testing, while helping to manage resources and expenses.

So, should you go for a scrum as your project development framework? 

Well, this depends on the type of agile approach you want to follow for your app development. 

Scrum is a good option if you are willing to use a lightweight framework that adapts easily to changing priorities and works well with small cross-functional teams. A social media app or a healthcare project might be best developed using the scrum framework.

Kanban

Kanban, like Scrum, is effective for a project with continuous deliverables. Kanban prefers collaborative but self-managing product teams. It is a visual product management framework. 

The product managers use Kanban boards with virtual sticky notes and task lists to maximize their oversight. The kanban board helps to outline the complete product development workflow. 

On the Kanban board, there is a kanban list. A kanban list contains multiple kanban cards where each card has tasks assigned to each individual. The kanban board shows the work under three sections of to do, doing, and done. 

Unlike scrum, the product development lifecycle does not divide into sprints. A complete project visualizes in the kanban framework. 

Kanban framework works on the following principles:

  1. Continue with the existing product roadmap: kanban does not promote drastic changes in the project workflow. The kanban practices incorporate slowly along the product development process.
  2. Respect responsibilities: respecting the assigned roles will help in the kanban framework implementation.
  3. Self-management: encourage managing roles at all levels. Self-organized teams reach optimal results.

Is kanban a better fit for your app development project? It is if your project follows a flexible roadmap. 

An app project for a small user base, say CRM for an organization, can be developed using the Kanban framework. If the nature of the project is complex and needs a more directed approach, then kanban might not be the best product development framework for your app.

  1. Lean startup

The Lean methodology dates back to the 1980s when the Toyota Company adopted it. Since then, the Lean methodology is extensively in use in the manufacturing industry. The software industry is now using it, but with modifications. However, the fundamental nature of the lean methodology remains the same: to achieve more with less. 

The lean startup framework works by eliminating waste and seeking to accomplish the project goals with the minimum resources. It delivers the client’s requirements by focusing on continuously improving the process by removing waste in terms of cost and time. 

The five principles of the lean methodology are:

  1. Value: Think of the value you want to provide to the customer. This will give you a clear idea of the project objective.
  2. Value stream: This outlines the value for the complete project workflow in terms of technology and deliverables. The value stream helps in analyzing the area of waste and helps to cut them.
  3. Flow: This is achieved by reducing waste from the project stream. The result is a flow of only the necessary tasks.
  4. Pull: The flow of the project stream is maintained without encouraging to ‘push ahead’. Tasks should not be undertaken before their time. This reduces the waste of resources.
  5. Perfection: Review the project goals continuously to achieve perfection. Reducing waste by cutting down unnecessary requirements helps to achieve this.

Some essential tools to implement a lean startup framework include:

Lean Canvas for a web interface to efficiently plan and implement business ideas.

Surveytime.io for carrying out the user survey regarding the product idea.

Unbounce to create landing pages swiftly without going through the whole process of website building. It also helps in performing A/B split testing to quickly test the consumer market for the product idea.

Lean startup is a good product management framework when you know the project from end to end. The goal is to maximize profitability by cutting out unnecessary resource waste and to produce a valuable deliverable within a tight budget or time frame.

Conclusion:

There are multiple product management frameworks for app development. 

Understanding the nature of your app development project and choosing the best suitable framework is a difficult evaluation to make. 

If you need help with this or to find the right skills that you might be lacking for your project development, why not contact DevTeam.Space and one of our expert account managers will get in touch to answer any questions that you might have. 

Top Three FAQs for Best Product Management Framework for App Development:

1. How can I introduce agility into my app development process?

Agility and flexibility can be introduced in your development process by choosing the right development methodology, architecture, technology, and infrastructure.

2. How can I find the best suitable product management framework for my software project?

The factors that will help you find the right great product management framework include team size, available resources, the needs of project stakeholders, and the project size. Read this article for more details.

3. Which product management framework is most widely used for app development?

The Scrum framework is the most used product management framework in the software industry.


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