At SDSOL, we meet and talk with prospective clients on a daily basis. In fact, many clients come to us as a result of a negative prior experience with an App Developer. As experienced software developers who’ve been taking on development projects long before Apps came around, we’re uniquely positioned to see some recurring, common mistakes made in our industry. Below are the Top 7, in no particular order.
It’s important to remember that an App project is just that – a project. And with any project, the success or failure can often depend upon the degree of planning. You wouldn’t build a new deck without a plan. You wouldn’t re-do your kitchen without a plan. And you certainly shouldn’t approach an App project without a clearly defined, mutually agreeable plan. Between the idea and the implementation lies the bulk of the work, and unplanned projects guarantee only one thing – unplanned results. Do you – and your developer – have a clearly defined process?
Lowest Cost Developer
App Development is contract work. And contract work invites unscrupulous contractors who will attempt to win projects based solely on some insanely low price. They figure they can get you in the door with an artificially low rate, and then make up the difference later on, once you’re fully committed to them and unable to walk away. On the surface, of course, we all want to save money – perfectly normal. But keep this in perspective: Did you choose the lowest price mobile tablet? Did you select the lowest price smartphone? Do you select the lowest price roofer? Or the lowest price automobile? Are you planning to market YOUR App project as the low price leader? In the end, research tells us that most app projects fail. And they fail, usually, because the ‘too good to be true’ price leader is indeed too good to be true, and the app investor drowns in poor results, project delays, and cost overruns. Aren’t we all willing to pay a little more in order to achieve better results?
Lack of Trust in the Developer
You may know a lot of things – you might have a great idea, or a great product. You might have a knack for good interface design. But unless you’re a software developer by trade, you likely don’t know as much about App Development as your App Developer. And it’s vital that you recognize this. Overly engaged entrepeneurs who micro-manage their projects can lead to project delays, frustration, direction changes, and unclear directives. In the end, you’re hiring a professional service provider who you want to be the experts in their field, and who you want to deliver the best quality results. Most of us wouldn’t think to tell our Doctors or Accountants how to do their jobs – we may direct them as to our goals, and we pay them to figure out how to reach them. Be careful micromanaging the process. Let your developer manage the development process, and the programming resources. And to do this requires trust. Ask yourself – do you really know and trust your Developer?
Not Understanding Server Requirements
Most people imagine Apps as self-contained entities. After all, the typical App user experience can appear to be a solo experience. A mark of a great app is that the backend components are seamless to the end user. But behind almost every successful App is a server that exchanges information with the App. Perhaps it’s high scores, or pricing, or content. Whatever the nature of the backend data may be, you should expect that your App may need to tie into a server of some kind, and this server will require programming, bandwidth, maintenance, and updates. And server-side development isn’t inexpensive. Ask yourself how you intend to push data or content to and from your App – the answer inevitably involves a server. Is your App Developer telling you this up front, and are you factoring this into your budget?
We all want projects done quickly. After all, every day your project takes is one more day that you’re spending money and not bringing in money (or results). But stop and think for a moment about bad experiences you’ve had with poorly designed software. Software code is often described as a foundation – lay a great foundation, and it’s ready to support whatever you want to build on it. Rush the project, take shortcuts, and cut corners, and you’ll usually regret it later. Good code will make or break any software project. Taking shortcuts in the development process is a very common tactic with lowest-cost developers, and something to be wary of. Does your App Developer cut corners and take shortcuts, leaving you with a poorly written App that can’t easily be upgraded or improved?
It’s no secret that offshore programming is increasingly common. In fact, it offers lots of benefits in terms of cost, and offshore talent is abundant. But there are common pitfalls, and they can be catastrophic to someone inexperienced in managing offshore development. Offshore programmers tend to work opposite hours than typical U.S. business hours. They also tend to do exactly what you ask, requiring you to be very explicit in your instructions. There is very little risk-taking or out of the box thinking. A good U.S. based App Developer will be one that sits down with you and helps refine, and even improve, the vision you bring to the table. They’ll truly engage and collaborate with you to deliver the best results. This isn’t generally the case with offshore teams. Are you willing to work odd hours, to be in synch with a development team that might be a full 12 hours behind your time zone? Are you able to bridge language barriers as it relates to complex ideas or concepts? Are your programmers able to see, understand, and improve your vision? Can you manage an offshore team, or better yet, have you done this before?
Unstructured Development Team
App projects have many components, and rarely will you find a single person adept at all of them. Think about it – you need the following: A visionary with a great idea (most likely – you!). A like-minded businessperson who can share in this vision – and maybe even help improve it. A project manager who maps out the steps of the project, breaks it into manageable pieces, sets timelines, and drives the team. A graphic designer who knows how to make the interface look gorgeous and functional at the same time. A programmer (or better, many programmers) who understands the particular platform you’re developing on and is experienced with it. A server or database specialist who understands how to integrate the interface and mobile product with the appropriate server requirements. And this is just the bare minimum – sometimes you need several of each of these. Low-cost app developers won’t have that broad array of talent at their disposal – they’re typically just lone-wolf programmers working from home. Or someone outsourcing your work offshore and operating as a middle man, skimming a few dollars an hour from each project and spending as little time as possible on them. Get to know your App Developer, and what team he has at his disposal. Is your App Developer a well-rounded team, or a lone wolf?