Product design
18 February 2021

9 tips to anticipate the planning of your IoT project

How to control the timing of your IoT project? How can you avoid schedule drift? In a project, there are ALWAYS unexpected risks. Always. Particularly in the case of connected object projects, because they bring together a multitude of professions,

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How to control the timing of your IoT project? How can you avoid schedule drift?

In a project, there are ALWAYS unexpected risks. Always.

Particularly in the case of connected object projects, because they bring together a multitude of professions, players and stages and because they concentrate a certain technical complexity before arriving at an industry-ready product.

There are solutions to avoid these unexpected risks and take control of your project.

There are ways to ensure that these unexpected risks have a minimum impact on the timeframe of your project. Here we give you a summary of good practices for the success of your project: from the basic principles of project management and planning to tangible tools.

 

Here are 9 tips to maximise your chances of meeting your project deadline!


1. Accept that you cannot plan everything in advance and ALWAYS allow for margin


Even if the scope of the actions and the tasks to be carried out have been well defined, the further along you go, the less likely it is that the schedule will be accurate. It is impossible to foresee unforeseen events.

In such a case, what can you do?

Allow for margin. 

For each stage, extend your deadlines a little to protect yourself from the unexpected. For example, allow for a delay in the supply of a component, unforeseen sick leave, a delay in adding a product preparation stage that has not passed the first certification phase, etc.

For each sensitive stage, imagine the scenarios that could delay the project and keep a time reserve in case these scenarios occur.

 

2. Anticipate the schedule and define the tasks as best as possible


In order to get the best possible idea of how long your project will take, the first step is to list the macro tasks exhaustively. And that means looking at your project specifications. The more precise your specifications are, the easier it will be to assess the tasks at hand and thus achieve a realistic development time (remembering to take into account all the other tips in our list). To make this easier, list the associated sub-tasks for each task.

For each task, allocate time and resources. Get in touch with your experts in each field to refine the estimation of the time needed for the tasks in question.

Then try to synchronise the tasks as well as possible. This is the subject of the next point.

 
9 tips to anticipate the planning of your IoT project

3. Manage the schedule, but especially the timing


As we have just seen, planning is a way of scheduling tasks. Timing is the principle of getting them done at the right time. It is the idea of synchronising as many tasks as possible and avoiding waiting for one to finish before starting another. Some tasks will obviously be blocked by others. Our advice: try to list these prerequisites to avoid lost time. In this way, you will be able to have an overview of all the tasks and you will be able to better control the overall development of your project.

Thanks to this analysis, you will be able to establish a breakdown of your tasks. And you will therefore be able to move forward in small iterations. This is much easier to control. This practice is inspired by Agile methods. We talk about certain aspects of these methods in more detail in this article.

Another tip: anticipate the need for information to complete your task. This may seem very simple, but once you are immersed in your project, you tend to forget these small actions. This will allow you to lulls in time and, in the end, not to bite off the schedule.

 

4. Define the project well and clarify areas of doubt and uncertainty from the outset


We could have started with that! The potential issues must be clear: from the outset, the purpose of the project must be known.

A vaguely defined project will inevitably generate uncertainties and questions and will cause additional delays.

Before launching your project, we, therefore, advise you to take the time necessary to clarify the potential issues and expected results.

At Rtone, we have set up workshops to find the real need of the client and ensure that the product takes into account the end user.

During these sessions, we will “kill the specifications”. Questioning our client’s objectives. Sometimes we realise that it is more a technical concern than a functional one. The job is to prioritise the different functionalities to be given to the product. Here, we reduce the risk of the initial scope because both parties know the direction to take and the priorities as well as know what the service provider will focus on first.

You can find our article and our previous webinar on our 5 productivity tips for your tech team here.

 

5. Provide a contract that allows for project flexibility to deal with unforeseen events


In order to deal with unforeseen events, the service provider must be allowed to adapt. A fixed set of specifications risks compromising this aspect. 

Why would this be the case? 

Because a fixed set of specifications linked to a traditional fixed-price contract (for example) gives a rigid framework. The more rigid the framework, the less room there is for your service provider to adjust and organise itself around your priority criteria. 

In our view, there is nothing better than some Agile contracts. Agile contracts are much more flexible. They focus on the delivery of a functional product while keeping the budget and timeframe. Indeed, these contracts allow for changes in scope without compromising on time and budget.

 

If a component is out of stock or its price increases, the contract will allow the service provider to adapt without having to provide for a amendment or additional budget. The Agile contract allows the service provider to propose alternatives when faced with unforeseen circumstances. Thus, the collaboration can only be a win-win situation!

 

6. Take into account the management of resources


What do we mean by “resource management”? 

There is of course the material and the budget, but also the human element.It is to this point in particular that we wish to draw you attention.

Here again, you can take into account foreseeable and unforeseeable data, which are often forgotten…

We are thinking in particular of holidays. 

This is a point that you can easily anticipate from the start. For example: calculate that a 12-month project actually lasts 14 months. 

In the same vein, you will also have to deal with the availability of the teams, if they are not 100% on your project during these 12 months. Synchronisation will be less obvious and also has to be anticipated.

And as we know only too well from last year, other contingences can be integrated into the calculation of the product development time matrix: illness, a pandemic, etc. So here again, we advise you to plan for a safety reserve when scheduling your teams.

 

7. Make time for key steps


Prototyping and certification are steps that should not be underestimated. These key steps include: production time for prototyping, testing on receipt (with a random duration), noting improvements to be taken into account, making corrections and re-launching a prototype. Sometimes you simply have to double the development time for this prototyping time. As for the certification process, it is essential to be ready and anticipate the preparation of the product for this stage.

 

8. Drawing on Agile methods to ensure the success of your project

 

Certain methods will prove to be successful in keeping to the project schedule. At Rtone, we follow the practice of sprints. The development of the product is divided into several short periods: sprints. During each sprint, we develop a feature – the priority of which has been defined beforehand. This way, customer satisfaction is guaranteed, since at the end of each iteration, a functional version of the product is presented.

Each sprint will also enrich the next. With this in mind, the retrospective plays its role: we take stock of what went well and not so well in order to do better in the next sprint.

In short, these methods allow both parties to agree and plan continuous improvement before embarking on the next sprint.

 

9. Surround yourself with professionals to ensure that the project runs smoothly


An IoT project is a complex environment, with multiple businesses. We often repeat at Rtone: for an IoT project to progress well, all businesses must progress simultaneously. The risks of schedule overruns often occur at the intersections of the businesses, especially when you have chosen to work with multiple providers. 

 

To ensure this fluidity between businesses, your IoT project needs a conductor. Someone to oversee the architecture and management of the project. Whether it is an experienced person in-house or an outsourced choice.

 

Simply put, the IoT brings together very different professions where synchronisation is the key. Anticipating what can be expected will also help to keep to the schedule. Lastly, certain tools and methods are particularly well suited to this type of project management and will help to limit the risks of overruns.

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