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How To Build A Team Management App?

Awestruck by the popularity of Asana and desiring to cash in on this lucrative emerging market?

Read on….

The world has changed massively in the last decade. Geographically dispersed remote teams, and the popularity of “Internet and Communication Technologies” (ICTs) have bought about a new type of team management.

Team management apps like Asana have created a new and lucrative market, which is attracting startups from everywhere.

Before you can cash in on this market, you need to learn how to build a team management app. In this article, I aim to explain how you can do precisely that.

Contents

A lucrative market
Examples of leading team management apps
Features to offer when you build a task management app
Explained: A project to build a team management app
Have great ideas for a team management app?

A lucrative market

Team management apps like Asana or Trello fall within the business app category. This is one of the most popular categories of apps, as the following statistics indicate:

  • As of Q1 2018, business apps were the 3rd most popular category on Google Play, as a Statista report
  • This category was the 2nd most popular on Apple App Store as of Q3 2018, as another Statista report
  • The growing trend of working remotely will sustain the demand for business apps. A 2018 survey found that 55% of the respondents worked remotely all the time. Read “55% of remote workers now telecommute full time, survey says” for more information.
  • At the time of writing, over 1 million Android users have downloaded Asana, and the Trello Android app has over 5 million downloads.

 

Examples of leading team management apps

Reviewing a few leading team management apps could give you great ideas for your project. Here we go:

Asana

Asana is a great example of a collaboration app. It offers the following features and advantages:

  • The app is organized around organizations, portfolios, teams, projects, and tasks.
  • Users can create and organize their projects, moreover, they can create tasks.
  • Asana users can plan dates for the tasks and assign them to team members.
  • The team can collaborate on tasks, using features like follow, comment, mentions, etc.
  • The app enables users to monitor projects and tasks.
  • Asana integrates well with email.
  • App users can consult their various learning resources.
  • Asana is available on the web, Android, and iOS.
  • The app has a great “User Interface” (UI).
  • Asana has both free and premium versions.

Trello

Trello continues to be a prominent team collaboration app. The following features and advantages of Trello are worth a look:

  • The app allows you to create tasks in a team environment and organize your work.
  • Users can add comments, attachments, due dates, etc.
  • Trello cards are excellent for end-to-end collaboration in a project.
  • Integration with other popular apps like Slack, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. is easy with Trello.
  • Trello has web, Android, and iOS apps.
  • Users of Trello have access to great learning resources.
  • Trello has excellent integration with email.
  • There are free and premium versions of Trello.
  • An appealing, yet easy-to-use UI is another great advantage of this app.

 

Features to offer when you build a task management app

Consider the following features when you plan to build team management tools:

  • The app should integrate well with email, so that app users can set up organizations and send collaboration invites.
  • A team collaboration app should enable users to organize their work around portfolios, projects, teams, tasks, etc.
  • The UI should be simple enough so that users can easily create projects, tasks, etc.
  • Collaboration features like comments, mention, follow, and an ability to add attachments are important.
  • App users should be able to plan tasks with dates and assign them to colleagues.
  • Users need the ability to monitor the status of projects and tasks.
  • The app needs the “Push notifications” feature.
  • Users might need to upgrade to the premium version, moreover, you can optionally offer in-app purchases. These require eCommerce and payment gateway integrations.

Read a review of a few team management apps in “The 20 best team management apps for small businesses”, to understand the importance of these features. You should offer web, Android, and iOS apps. Scalability, performance, etc. are important considerations when you build a team management app.

Explained: A project to build a team management app

Now that you know the features to offer, let‘s describe the steps to build a team management app, which are as follows:

1. Project Scoping

Work with your business stakeholders, and define the project scope. My suggestion is the following:

  • Build web, Android, and iOS apps, and launch it for one geography to start with.
  • Incorporate the above-mentioned features, including the optional feature to offer in-app purchases.

2. Use the Agile methodology

You are developing web and mobile apps, which are customer-facing apps. These are known as “Systems of Engagement” (SoEs), and they typically require frequent enhancements.

Agile methodology, which supports iterative development is the best bet for such projects. Read “Waterfall vs Agile: which methodology is right for your project” to learn more. You will launch a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) first, and subsequently enhance it.

3. Establish the development team

“Scrum” is a popular technique to manage Agile projects, and I recommend that you use it here. Build small, cross-functional teams where designers, developers, testers, etc. work closely with the business stakeholders.

Such teams are called “Scrum teams”, and the project manager (PM) works as the “Scrum master”. The team works on iterations, which are called “Sprints” in Scrum parlance. Read “How to build a Scrum development team?” for more insights.

The team needs the following roles:

  • Business analysts (BAs);
  • UI/UX designers;
  • Web developers with Node.js experience;
  • Android developers with Kotlin skills;
  • iOS developers with experience in Swift;
  • Testers;
  • A scrum master.

4. Strategize for future internationalization

You will launch the app in one geography initially, however, you might target other geographies in the future. Your design and development should follow certain best practices that facilitate such future expansion. We call this approach “app internationalization”.

A few examples of such best practices are as follows:

  • Separating the code from content;
  • Coding the logic in such a way that the app picks contents from different files based on geography.

You can read “The ultimate guide to mobile app internationalization” to learn more.

5. Find a “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) provider for the web app

Infrastructure management for web apps on an ongoing basis takes time, moreover, it calls for upfront investment. Entrepreneurs can expedite their web app development by using a PaaS platform.

There are several advantages to using a PaaS, e.g.:

  • PaaS providers manage cloud infrastructure, networking, storage, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment. You focus on coding and application data.
  • Scalability is important for a team management app. PaaS providers offer “Application Performance Monitoring” (APM) and auto-scaling solutions, which improves the scalability.
  • PaaS providers enable you to integrate several services such as database, DevOps, and 3rd party “Application Programming Interfaces” (APIs).

Read more about PaaS in “10 top PaaS providers for 2019”. AWS Elastic Beanstalk, i.e., the PaaS offering from AWS is a great choice for this project.

6. Sign-up for a “Mobile Backend as a Service” (MBaaS) provider for the mobile app

I recommend you use an MBaaS provider since this enables you to offload the mobile backend management to the provider and focus on the front-end. MBaaS providers offer many advantages, e.g.:

  • They handle cloud infrastructure, networking, persistent storage, etc.
  • A growing range of mobile platforms and devices introduce complexity in mobile app development, however, using an MBaaS simplifies this.
  • User management, security, push notifications, etc. are easier to implement when you use an MBaaS provider.
  • A team management mobile app needs to scale well, and MBaaS providers help you in achieving scalability.
  • You can easily integrate 3rd party APIs when you use an MBaaS platform.

Our guide “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?” explains the advantages of using an MBaaS. Sign-up with AWS Amplify, which is the MBaaS offering from AWS. You need only one AWS account to use their PaaS and MBaaS platforms.

7. Get an API solution to implement the team collaboration features

I recommend that you use an API solution to implement the collaboration features. Miro offers an API solution for this. You can use the Miro REST APIs, which offer the following advantages:

  • Your users can track their projects using the workflows provided by this API solution.
  • Developers can create custom integrations and bring in automation for the Agile processes. This helps in team collaboration.
  • App users will be able to create boards and invite their colleagues. These boards are sharable on real-time, which saves time.
  • Team members in a project can note down their comments related to tasks.
  • Users can integrate their organizations‘ messenger apps, task trackers, and other relevant systems with the team management app.
  • Miro provides extensive documentation, which your development team can use. In fact, there is a step-by-step guide for creating apps using Miro APIs.
  • Miro has a JavaScript SDK, and you can find the documentation for it here.

You can check out their pricing plans here.

8. Use a bulk SMS solution to engage users

You would want to engage your app users, therefore, I recommend that you use a bulk SMS solution. Twilio has an offering for this, named “Programmable SMS”. Note the following:

9. Find an eCommerce solution for the in-app purchase feature

Assuming you are incorporating the optional in-app purchase feature, you will need an eCommerce solution. BigCommerce is a great choice, and the following facts are worth considering:

10. Sign-up for a payment gateway solution

Whether upgrading to the premium version or using the in-app purchase feature, your app users will benefit from a payment gateway solution. I recommend that you use Stripe, which offers the following advantages:

Check out their pricing plans here.

11. Use Node.js for web app development

A team management web app needs scalability, therefore, Node.js is an excellent choice. Node.js offers more advantages, e.g.:

  • It’s a popular open-source runtime environment with a growing developer community. This developer community has created thousands of sharable open-source frameworks and tools. This improves developer productivity. I recommend that you use js, which is a great framework to create performant apps.
  • js is based on JavaScript, which is a relatively common skill.
  • A team management app needs to store attachments. You will probably use a NoSQL database like MongoDB for this. MongoDB uses JavaScript, therefore, Node.js programmers find it easy to use.

Read “10 great tools for Node.js software development” to learn more about the plus points of Node.js and Express.js.

12. Web app development

You can now develop the web app as follows:

13. The mobile app UI design

A user-friendly and appealing UI is key to your mobile app, therefore, address the following key aspects:

14. Android app development

Now that you have completed the UI design for the mobile app, proceed with the Android app development as follows:

  • Use Kotlin, the programming language of choice for many Android developers. This open-source language with a concise syntax helps developers to improve their productivity. Kotlin is fully interoperable with Java and uses Java libraries. Its lightweight library makes the app fast, moreover, Kotlin facilitates bug-free coding.
  • You can code the Android app using Android Studio, the popular Android “Integrated Development Environment” (IDE). Android Studio fully supports Kotlin, and you can get development guidance in “Get started with Kotlin on Android”.
  • At this point, you need to integrate Miro, Twilio, BigCommerce, and Stripe APIs and SDKs in your app.
  • Consider using Espresso for testing the Android app. Espresso is a popular testing framework, and you can learn about it here.
  • You also need to publish your app to Google Play, and this guide can help you with it.

15. Code, test, and deploy the iOS app

Your next step is to develop the iOS app, which involves the following:

  • You can code the iOS app using Swift, the programming language that Apple champions. This English-like language has helpful features and operators that improve the productivity of programmers. Apps written in Swift are fast, furthermore, the language facilitates error-free coding.
  • Use Xcode, which is the IDE of choice for iOS developers. It supports Swift.
  • Your next task is to integrate Miro, Twilio, BigCommerce, and Stripe APIs/SDKs.
  • You can use XCTest, a well-known testing framework for apps coded in Xcode.
  • Finally, publish your app to the Apple App store, by following this guide.

16. Use effective PM tools

The scrum technique works as follows:

  • A “Product owner” provides the requirements in a document called “Product Backlog”.
  • The scrum team estimates the requirements, prioritizes them, and plans sprints in “Sprint planning meeting”.
  • “Daily stand-up meetings” help in project status tracking.
  • The team demonstrates the app to the business stakeholders in a “Sprint review meeting”, and gets approval if the app works as expected.

An effective PM tool helps in managing these activities, and I recommend that you use Jira. I also recommend that you use a real-time dashboard to manage the project. I have earlier explained the benefits of using such a dashboard in “How a real-time dashboard can revolutionize your eSports development process?”.

Have great ideas for a team management app?

A project to build a team management app can be complex despite using PaaS, MBaaS, SDKs, and APIs. End-to-end project management is a critical success factor for such projects and reputed development partners can help here. Consider engaging such a partner, however, read “How to find the best software development company?” before you do so.