App Development: Time and Money Expectations.
Updated: Feb 5, 2019
Are you looking to transform your business idea into an app?
App development entails multiple facets, from mobile app development to web application development or even a web-based software which doubles as a mobile app.
The varied nature of strategies can be daunting and lead to uncertainty even before the first mock-up is created. The development strategy has a significant impact on the eventual outcome. Before we go any further, let’s first understand the primary application development strategies:
Holistic View of Application Development Strategies
1. Mobile Applications (Native Apps) - Unique for iOS and Android operating systems
2. Mobile Applications (Hybrid) - Single code base shared by both iOS and Android operating systems
3. Web Applications - Supported on Laptop / Desktop views of Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, FireFox
4. Web Applications Responsive - A web application or website compatible with browsers on mobile devices
5. Web Applications Adaptive - A web application which features specific controls on mobile device browsers
6. Wearable devices - Apps interacting with devices worn by people like smart watches
7. Home and Car Interfaces - Compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and home devices
8. 3rd Party Systems - These could vary from simple Social Media Signups and Payment Gateways to as complex as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems
Using the above list, a project leader will need to determine the impact areas and what is needed to meet those requirements. Each strategy has its own nuances and thus addresses a specific need. There may be more than one area an application would need additional development.
Here are some obvious examples:
If you are developing a mobile application which has excessive use of graphics/motions such as games, animations, image processing, then your strategy should sway towards developing a “native” mobile application and NOT a hybrid app.
On the other hand, if the application is a 100% web-based first development with a transaction value to the customer who may not want to download the app, then a pure-play responsive website would be ideal.
While the above examples look straight forward, there has to be a scientific way to help make the right decision.
Let’s look at the key impacts which should be kept in mind while making the right decision.
Perceived “Visible” Impacts:
1. Cost of Development - Immediate cost incurred while developing the application(s)
2. Time to Develop - Time frames could become extended due to making technology work for the given scenario
3. Management of too many Moving Parts - Complexity to manage multiple applications
4. Fear of Over Engineering - Decisions leading to over-complicating the ecosystem
5. Risk of Falling Short - Not adding sufficient value to the users
Downstream “Hidden” Impacts
1. Re-work - Changing technologies late in the process
2. Wasted effort - Scrapping some or all of development efforts (due to new findings)
3. Complex suite - Leading to steep operational costs
4. Over-Simplified Offering - Leading to customers looking for alternatives
5. Speed to Deliver is Plateaued - due to complexity or rushed out architecture
So, how do you mitigate the above risks and how do you even make the right decisions? To answer these questions, you need to first have a good MVP road map with clear short- and long-term objectives as was discussed in the previous blog “MVP - What do you Really need?".
The next step would be to identify “actors” (i.e. the targeted audiences) who would be using those features. Audience’s behavior must be understood to clearly determine what development strategy would benefit them the most. You should spend quality time on an objective review of the features and the target audience's expectations to determine what development strategy would benefit them the most.
Having received the details from the “actor-feature” review, they should be mapped into possible development strategies. A critical component is to map which actor would be using a specific feature and what preferred device. This has to be a very detailed exercise and you MUST keep in consideration the “80-20” principle when it comes to cost vs benefit: the objective is to get the most bang for your buck. Thus any feature which is good but would not impact the actor’s journey on the application should be set at a very low priority.
In summary, the application development has multiple facets which impact the outcomes. The decision to take on the most effective strategies must be a scientific one if possible, in conjunction with a subject matter expert who has sufficient knowledge and a successful track record. These (right) decisions will contribute to the eventual successful outcome and would certainly be time and money well spent.