App to Date
FIRST CAME THE APPS, invading nearly
every mobile device known to humankind.
Now project managers are feeding the frenzy,
serving up sequels with a nearly non-stop
onslaught of update projects.
As companies race to meet the rapidly evolving needs of their users, project managers are
developing a certain aptitude, if you will, for
keeping the projects on track.
One of last year’s biggest releases was Finnish mobile game maker Rovio Mobile’s Angry
Birds. With more than 50 million downloads, it
was the most popular paid app for the iPhone in
2010. The game requires users to slingshot different types of missile-minded birds at devious
pigs guarded by a seemingly never-ending series
of byzantine structures. It may not sound like
much, but gamers of all levels were addicted.
Rovio isn’t resting on its laurels, though.
The company has targeted 100 million downloads for Angry Birds by mid-2011. How do
they plan to achieve this lofty goal? With projects aimed at creating updates, updates and
more updates across multiple platforms.
“Angry Birds is the first example of a brand
that was created on the mobile side and is now
going everywhere,” Angry Birds developer Peter
Vesterbacka told Google in an interview.
“We didn’t treat this as just a disposable
app that you throw out there and some people
download it and they forget about it,” he said.
“We focused on retention. We really want
to build the audience and keep the audience.
That’s why we’ve been doing free updates for
the game since the beginning, every four weeks
or so. When we do an update, about 80 percent
of the people who download the game get the
For project managers working on app updates,
time is of the essence.
“The biggest issue in our world for project
management is that deadlines cannot push out
because of campaign launches, etc., even as cli-
ent deadlines slip and/or functionality changes
occur,” says Bryan Rasch, senior vice president
of digital and mobile solutions at GMR Market-
ing, New Berlin, Wisconsin, USA. “It requires
our teams to manage the project from an always-
be-in-the-know perspective, with daily standup
meetings and active collaboration.”
The team at SmartyPig LLC, a West Des
Moines, Iowa, USA online banking venture that
links with users’ social network profiles, follows
the same philosophy. The company launched
an accompanying iPhone app in January and
immediately began responding to user feedback
That takes adherence to standard project
management tenets—and a willingness to adjust
along the way.
We find smaller releases implemented quickly, mixed with
detailed communication with our user base, is the key to
staying innovative while maintaining quality on a budget.
—James Sasek, SmartyPig, West Des Moines, Iowa, USA
IMAGE COURTESY OF ROVIO.COM