Understanding the App Development process

App development

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photo-1457612928689-a1ab27da0dadThis post is borne from personal experience and my years of project management. I’ve seen many projects in my day. Most have been successful, but some haven’t been. As in business, it’s important that we learn from experiences that are less than positive, I’m writing this post to help those who might benefit.

The decision to build an app is a big one. But often, it is entered into flippantly. As with any other business venture, education is key.

Before  you turn over your hard-earned cash to a development firm, agency, or vendor to build your dream app consider the tips below. Happy developing!

Weigh your options

There are tons of app development agencies and vendors around. You can also check out Upwork or Elance to find individual developers who are willing to build your app. It behooves you to start with a high number. As high as 10 and whittle it down from there. Have a real conversation with each prospect. Ask about their process and take notes. If you’re not particularly technical, read up or make sure that someone who is technical can join the call to handle these areas of the conversation. As you begin to weed out the ones you don’t want to work with, you should begin to feel more confident about your decision. By the time you get down to 2 or 3 you should have a fairly decent sense of what you feel most comfortable with from each.

Educate yourself

Educate your self on the app development process. Ask about their process, too.  If they don’t have one and can’t speak to it, run — don’t walk.  Below are some questions to ask:

  • What are the acceptable forms of payment?
  • Do they create an SOW?
  • How are changes to the project managed, are change orders issued?
  • Who manages and maintains the schedule?
  • How will the app or site be tested?
  • Are there regular checkins?
  • How often will you receive builds?
  • What deliverables are you responsible for and when are they due?

When you’re weighing prospects, ask as many questions as you need to. Your vendor must answer these questions intelligently.

Organize yourself

If you’re not organized, your developer, agency or vendor cannot save you and your project will fail. In the event that you have more than one partner, assign one person to be the point person to liase with the vendor or agency. Assign a project manager on your end to help to organize you and your team. If there are more than one of you and feedback is required, make sure that you have a consensus. Remember to provide feedback  in writing so you can refer back to it.  Someone should take notes on your end, too.

Understand your contract

Read your SOW  or contract as it is a legally binding document. If an SOW or contract isn’t issued, this should be a red flag. The vendor must actively manage the scope of the project and ensure that you are getting what you’re paying for. It also protects the vendor in case you decide to change things. Typically, any changes outside of agreed upon terms require a change order as they have timing and cost implications. It is important to honor these. Endless changes and revisions can take a project off track quickly.

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