Several years ago I was leading a team of agile business analysts on a journey to document user stories (requirements) for a new mobile app supporting one of the largest business functions at our company.
We have an existing web application with tons of features, and the stakeholders love it. Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to take the features of the web app and downsize them to mobile. The answer was simple – DO NOT take all the features in the web and put them in mobile! The primary differentiators for mobile are identifying the user personas, the types of users who will use the app and define the use cases, the specific scenarios or actions the users will perform.
The Mobile Business Analysis Reference Guide includes ‘tips’ and ‘things to consider’ for mobile initiatives. These tips can be added to your virtual BA toolkit. The BA toolkit includes the tools, processes, and templates needed for day to day business analysis efforts. This can include anything from word and visio to more formal requirement management tools. Your organization may have custom tools or processes as well.
How is Mobile Analysis Different?
Mobile apps typically serve three distinct purposes – Enable, Support & Leverage. Mobile is not simply a miniaturization of a web app. If a web app exists, mobile may be viewed as an enabler. Mobile apps support mobile users, those that go to the app for a specific purpose for a limited amount of time. We can also leverage the technology offerings of mobile. For example, many apps leverage features such as location services, notifications, and camera. The functional and non-functional requirements defined during analysis are inputs to the solution design recommendations for mobile.
The following reference guide highlights questions and ‘things to consider’ for mobile apps. Add the reference guide to your virtual toolkit and pull it out when you find yourself on a mobile project.
Mobile BA Reference Guide
- What functionality should be included in the mobile app? Does a web application exist? If so, determine the selected functionality suitable for the mobile app.
- Mobile applications have primary targets in terms of functionality. If a web app exists and a mobile version is being developed, determine the primary features that need to be included in the app.
- Should the app be built for tablets and smartphones? What are the primary differentiators?
- All apps are not built for both tablets and smartphones. Determine the user personas for the app. Are they phone users or tablet users?
- Is the content optimized for smaller screens? Text-heavy solutions may be best suited for tablets.
- What are the primary use cases for the app? These questions will assist you in determining and/or recommending the type of mobile devices for the app.
- UI/ UX considerations such as screen size, transitions, non-functional usability considerations, orientation, transitions
- How to connect security standards/ guidelines at your organization to ensure security standards are followed? Consider the following:
- Network Requirements
- Device Security
- App Restrictions
- App Interactions
- Network Access
- Data Security
- Mobile users are…mobile. Mobile apps have unique scenarios that should be considered for various conditions. Note: There are architecture, design, and UI implications for each scenario. Collaborate with your team to determine the best approach for the project.
- How should the app respond to each contextual scenario below? What happens to the data when the user is…
- In a cab and lose app connection?
- On a plane traveling and airplane mode is enabled?
- On a train and data connection is interrupted?
- Using the app and receives a phone call?
- Using the app and receives a text message?
- Using the app and other app notifications appear?
- Storage low; no storage?
- Battery low; battery dead?
- Given the different functionalities, one app or multiple apps?
- If multiple apps, how do you decide a breaking point with a ‘user-friendly’ cross-app navigation?
- How do we utilize the technological advantages the smartphones/tablets provide to improve the experience? Identify native device functionality vs. app functionality. Examples include:
- Geo-location services (GPS Functionality), Accelerometer (games, pedometers, maps, etc.), Hardware keys (camera, media players using volume, hardware buttons to snooze reminders, etc.)
- What relevant notifications are needed for the app?
- Push notifications – notifications on device; does not require user to be logged into the mobile app
- Example: New article or activity published, user is informed via notification on device screen; does not have to be logged in
- How will data be presented in the app?
- Should screens retain user input if the user navigates away from the screen? The app will need to implement periodic auto-saving, state management, or possibly navigational considerations