3 tips for CIOs supporting mobile development groups

By Jonathan Hassell, on


Mobile apps are springing up everywhere, and your role as a CIO likely requires you to be responsible for them — lucky you! In the interest of creating great apps that are secure, cost-effective and functional for the knowledge worker, the following are three tips for supporting multiple mobile development groups:

1. Try to avoid reinventing the wheel

If multiple mobile development groups are working with overlapping items in your infrastructure, you should have some type of shared workspace or at least a common check-in system so that APIs, connection protocols and other base-level code doesn’t have to be created from scratch by each independent group.

For example, if you are interfacing with a core system through a set of REST APIs, share the API documentation with everyone and have each group be responsible for a certain set of implementations that will then be shared by both groups. This cuts down on both wasted mobile app development and expenses. It also reduces the number of bugs, as the code will be tested roughly twice as much than the same code would have been if it had been integrated into just one app. This yields less expensive yet better-quality apps.

2. Try to use the same language or development platform when possible

Though developers are your employees and should obviously be treated with respect, you should attempt to make your development operation run so that any given developer can move among teams both inside and outside your organization with minimal disruption. This way, you can shift a developer to untangle a thorny problem in one group and then move him or her back to the original group to continue moving efforts along.

This developer jigsaw is harder when one of your mobile development groups is writing an iOS application natively using Objective-C while another group is writing a native Android application in Java. Though one developer might be competent in both languages, every developer has a natural strength and fluency in one language in particular. Try to match those up when you can, and instruct your team to choose languages and mobile platform solutions that make developing for multiple targets using a single language simpler and more automated.

3. Consider establishing an oversight group within the organization

When developing a portfolio of mobile apps for their organizations, many CIOs set up oversight groups that aim to support individual development groups with a common framework and set of standards that all mobile apps within the organization should honor. These standards provide security and offer a group of templates throughout the lifecycle of the mobile app’s development. This approach gives individual development groups the freedom to make decisions within the context of their apps while reporting into an existing structure of how mobile apps should work in one business or another. CIOs can make this “center of excellence”-style oversight and governance work well even as they start to manage more mobile apps.

Though being in charge of a wealth of mobile apps is certainly a hefty responsibility, implementing mobile development best practices can help you and your team create the best apps possible.

About The Author

Jonathan Hassell

President, 82 Ventures

Jonathan Hassell runs 82 Ventures, a technical writing and consulting firm based in Charlotte, NC. He centers his focus around network administrator, security, the cloud, and mobile technologies.

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