Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technologies are garnering more attention with the dominance of tablets and smartphones in the consumer and business sectors. Otherwise known as the "the Internet of Things," M2M enables mobile devices to talk to appliances and other devices in the home and the workplace.
The ability to manage an M2M project successfully requires many traditional project management skills as well as more of a holistic approach than traditional development projects. Here are five tips for managing your first M2M development and deployment project. This approach accounts for the business, budget, overall project plan, and development framework.
1: Assign the right project manager
There are many project managers who prosper as generalists and can manage a range of technology development and deployment projects and bring them to a successful completion on time and on budget; however, M2M development projects (at least at this juncture) require a project manager with telecommunications experience. This project manager can also help build your PMO's body of M2M knowledge so project managers without telecommunications backgrounds can lead future M2M projects.
2: Create a detailed M2M development and launch plan
The scope of an M2M project makes a detailed plan imperative so you can account for the technological, budgetary, and business decisions that serve as the project's foundation. The plan should also factor in the M2M product launch and include planning for elements such as:
- Technology choices
- Network build out
- Software architecture and design
- Data flow
- Data security
- Application security
- Network security
This detailed plan can also serve as a counterbalance when exploring new technological changes that can have potential impacts on the project. For first-run M2M projects, I'm partial to more documentation rather than less to capture decisions, develop an audit trail, and for lessons learned so you can build upon the successes and learn from any failures.
3: Consider open source M2M frameworks for product development
M2M has been held back because of its proprietary libraries and frameworks that lock M2M development projects into a niche territory full of "one-off work" for each project. This leads to cost run ups and developer lock-in.
One open source M2M development platform is Data Art's DeviceHive. Organizations can save money and time by using DeviceHive's prebuilt protocols and components in their M2M development efforts. Additional benefits of a platform like DeviceHive are the online documentation, code samples, and tutorials that can help establish an M2M body of knowledge within an organization undertaking its first M2M development project.
A framework such as DeviceHive also enables you to create replicable processes for developing and deploying M2M projects, which in turn helps save on budget and helps develop internal standards for M2M projects. A platform likes DeviceHive can even put M2M development into the hands of smaller, budget-conscious development organizations.
4: Monitor the M2M project's business model
It's in the best interests of the M2M development project, the organization, and the team to keep the business model in the forefront of people's minds. This goes for all levels of management and not just sales and executive management.
Keeping an eye on the business model with an M2M project isn't even just about today's dour economy. An Embedded Star technical paper about M2M project management cites creating revenue sources from new and existing services (a definite attention-getter in today's economy) as a reason why the business model needs some upfront attention.
5: Maintain budgetary control throughout the M2M project lifecycle
More than once, I worked inside organizations that never seemed to maintain budgetary control over projects (but, then again, I spent the last few years working on a federal government contract), so it was refreshing to see attention to budgetary controls in M2M projects during the course of my research.
An M2M project requires a degree of budgetary control that some organizations may not be used to putting in place for their development projects. The budgetary control should extend to these project elements:
- Consideration of cloud-based and on-demand platforms for better budget forecasting and control. The cloud is going to be a dominant force in the future of commercially viable M2M platforms.
- Budget forecast spanning network costs, back-office costs, development and integration costs, installation, and maintenance.
- Defined roles and budget caps on the use of outside consultants and contractors.
More about M2M
For additional resources and information about M2M, don't miss our special feature Tapping M2M: The Internet of Things, which is the global topic of the month across ZDNet and TechRepublic.
Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applications for online and print technology publications. You can reach Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.