A mobile app development process isn’t rocket science. It could be easy as a piece of cake, but you should prepare yourself to build a successful product. Thinking that knowledge about mobile app development isn’t a case of a client and you should rely only on picked software house is definitely a wrong approach. You should be aware of the whole project methodology as well as how to choose a perfect software house to execute your product strategy.
The mobile app market is thriving globally. However, according to the Standish Group report from 2015, only 29% of software development projects finish successfully. So, why there are so many failures? The biggest mobile app development mistake is choosing a wrong software house to co-create your mobile app. It’s funny and seriously meaningful at the same time that the success of the project is decided before the start of the whole mobile entrepreneurship.
Hiring app development company isn’t as easy as appointing Grassman or Painter, but it needn’t have to be a mission impossible. When you compare creating mobile apps to building a house the task, which is very important if you need a positive effect, in the end, is to hire a professional construction manager. You should check his or her competences, experience in the similar projects and testimonials. Communication skills shouldn’t be disregarded as well.
Having a life-long mission to increase the number of successfully ended mobile projects, I will give you a checklist, in which you can find crucial issues to hire a perfect mobile app development company. All you need to do is to tick them out as you would do with a grocery shopping list. So, let’s go…
1. Portfolio & Experience
Your potential software house should have a willingness to talk about past projects. You can see delightful visuals, but it may turn out that their role in the project was only coding. So, at the beginning get to know the part of the potential subcontractor in similar works to yours. Ask them about the team and the methodology in a particular mobile app development project. They should have honest and straightforward answers, as well as willingness to give you a contact number to one of their clients if you would like to get first-hand information about the project. It is also essential to talk with companies with at least 5 years of experience in the field. It will confirm your belief that you don’t waste time on rookies and will also give you safety and opportunities to develop the application in the future. You may also ask about mobile app development failures and what conclusions they have drawn from them in order not to commit them in the future. Remember that creating mobile applications is teamwork. If they blame the customer for the failure of their projects, then this can also happen to you.
Opinions from current clients are essential and the software house should have fully accessible and credible opinions on their website and third-party services like clutch.co, appfutura.com, goodfirms.co. They provide a list of the suppliers, divided into categories with company description and verified customer reviews. Be aware that every company is accustomed to publishing only its positive opinions from satisfied customers. Therefore, remain curious and ask if their existing clients indicated areas for improvement during the project and how the software house reacted to these suggestions. Feedback is the best tool to improve the level of service. All your software house needs to do is to be able to use it properly.
3. Team & Office
You should get to know your project team as quick as possible. Don’t put everything on a client-salesman relationship. During the scope of the project, you’ll have to deal with PMs, designers and developers. First of all, put yourself on the phone with a whole project team. Try to assess if their level of English command is enough to build a delightful product. Ideally, all members of a team should be capable of conversing in English to avoid any misunderstandings and mishaps. You shouldn’t actually get on the plane (unless you want to), but asking whether the company feels comfortable with showing you around is another great foundation towards building trust. An office detour will give you a better idea of what kind of a company you are going to deal with and how transparent they are.
4. Project Management Methodology
Your future mobile app development company should give you a quick roadmap and exact details on how they plan to execute your project. What sets a reliable company apart from a freelancer is that the first ones usually have a powerful set of established business processes, governing each and every aspect of development. You should pay attention if the process consists of two main stages like designing UX/UI and coding. Very often software houses overlook the product design stage, which is crucial and in my opinion two or even three times more important than coding. So, ask your prospects about the UX/UI principles they deploy, what kind of PM methodology they use or simply request some of the team members to walk you through their day-to-day duties, specifically commenting on what tools and principles they adopt. An excellent product isn’t possible to appear without proper testing. Hence, inquire how they test mobile apps. Let them show the tools, devices and protocols they plan to use and allow them to guide you through the overall process.
I told you earlier that command of English of your future teammates is essential, but you should also pay attention to other aspects of communication issues. Before you sign a contract, the company should be responsive and replies on time. The overall tone of the conversation is friendly, yet professional. Their project manager has to have excellent communication skills and has a perfect command of the language. What’s more, you should discuss messaging tools and contact pattern. Nowadays, using Slack is common and trust me, there is no better way to keep your hand at pulse during a project. You may ask your Project Manager if the communication frequency will differ along the project. The experienced project management expert should reply to you that “yes, we will have one video call on a daily basis during a designing stage, and then after a coding sprint once or two times per two weeks.” One of the most significant foundations for creating the right product is communication based on continuous feedback on the results of the project.
6. Contract & NDA
If your mobile app will be focused on an innovative idea on the market, it’s good practice to sign up non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before you even start talking. It will protect your concept and give you an opportunity to build trust with the subcontractor. Then you should decide on which type of contract suits you better: Fixed price or Time & Materials.
The first model implies that you pay the set amount of money for the fixed scope of work. In other words, you address us your problem, the developer thinks of the possible ways how to solve it, and provide you with the final project timeline and price. The second model is a pay-as-you-go model which is a perfect pick for projects without clearly set requirements. Usually, it’s applied when a project can’t be estimated in advance because of some technical peculiarities. That also means the scope of work can change throughout the development. The legal contract and supporting documents should be undisputed. The requested deposit for the project is around 20-30% of the total project amount. The agreement you sign should have provisions ranging from IP ownership, payment structure to minimal confidential information management. At the same time, twenty pages of legalese is an overkill and may be a representative of the developer’s tendency to over-engineer solutions. There should be a careful balance of providing protection for both parties while still allowing the document to be readable without interpretation from a lawyer.
7. Time, budget & scope
If you want to create a unique and life-long product, you need to change your approach to more flexible in terms of time, budget and scope of your project. It is difficult to imagine that all three variables will be flexible, but at least one of them should be a hypothesis instead of a thesis. In my opinion, you should be open about the scope of your project. How your product will look in the future should depend on its users. Therefore, it is not without significance that Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is quickly launched on the market and new iterations of mobile applications are implemented. Your budget should also take into account the maintenance costs of applications, that vary in the first year from 20% to 50% of the costs of creating MVP. The final amount for maintenance and development depends on the extent to which your application will be the result of listening to the opinions of users. The bigger ears, the better…
These seven issues presented above will boost your confidence during the whole mobile project. You should carefully tick them out like your grocery list, which you do every week. Besides, there is no single template approach to select a mobile app development company. You should choose a developer that best suits your bunch of tasks while being open to your needs and requirements. The best seller is the one who listens first and then asks questions. Cooperation with a company that focuses only on its own, placing itself in the spotlight instead of the client is doomed to failure.
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Jacek Knaflewski CEO of ITgenerator, deeply passionate about helping companies transform their businesses through modern technologies.