Working With App Developers

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If you’ve hired an app developer to work on an app for your business, you’ll want to follow a few “golden rules” to ensure the app development process goes smoothly. App developers have a vested interest in creating something fantastic that you’ll love, and to that end, the more you can do to support them through the development process, the better the end product will be. Here are the five golden rules you’ll need to follow if you want your app developers to create a great product on time and on budget.

Listen to Your Developer’s Professional Opinion

Creating an app is an exciting project, and as the owner of your business, you’re probably overflowing with ideas for what you want the app to look like. That’s wonderful, and your passion and ideas will prove valuable in kick-starting the project. But keep in mind that your developer is an experienced professional who knows what works and what doesn’t. That new feature idea you have? Maybe your developer has seen it fail in past apps and is steering you away from it so your app doesn’t suffer that same fate. Always remember that your developer is on your side, and your developer’s opinion is valuable. Listen carefully to your developers before forging ahead with plans – they might save you from an embarrassing failure.

Promote Open Dialogue with Your Developer

Keeping the communication channels open will be critical to the success of your project. Great communication will allow your developers to alert you of setbacks, get your feedback quickly, and refine the app into a well-polished product in a short timeframe. Open dialogue can also help to avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings, so you end up with the app you wanted instead of a product you hate. Just like any other business, app development relies on clear and concise communication to bring projects to fruition.

…But Not Too Much Dialogue

That said, it’s important to remember that your app developer’s primary focus is developing your app, not responding to emails. It’s okay to check in with your developers once every few days to see how your project is going or update them with new information. But if you’re bombarding your developer with multiple emails a day, all of them marked urgent, you’ll only succeed in distracting or even unnerving your developer – and a distracted developer never does great work. You want to keep tabs on the development process with regular communication, but avoid annoying your developers with constant emails. If you have several important pieces of information your developers need to know, send them all in one email instead of a stream of five or six.

Define Your Scope and Stick to It

If there’s one thing developers hate, it’s scope creep. Apple founder Steve Jobs was notorious for telling developers that a product isn’t finished until it ships – which may explain why he always ended his keynotes with his now-infamous “just one more thing” remark. Jobs, though, had the cash reserves of a $400-per-share brand behind him. Apple could afford to constantly innovate and tweak its products. For most businesses, though, scope creep is a menacing scourge that could kill your budget and your app.

Scope creep is what happens when a client repeatedly changes the goalposts for a project without planning for additional time or funding. Scope creep usually starts with just small changes, which eventually snowball into large shifts in the project parameters. Projects that fall victim to scope creep often don’t finish on time – or at all. Scope creep is not a traditional cost of business and it’s harmful for both the developer and the client.

In order to avoid scope creep, it’s best to come up with a scope agreement defining what work is going to be completed and how long it will take. A clearly defined scope of work explains in plain language what is and is not included in the work agreement. It also lays out the project vision and major priorities, then lists a set of deliverables and milestones. With a well-defined scope document, both you and your developer will have a solid understanding of how long the project will take and what the end result will be – and this will make the whole process run much more smoothly.

Remember: Time and Labour are Finite

Time and labour are two very finite resources. They cannot be regained once they’ve been lost or spent. That means your app development company must be very cautious with respect to how much time and labour they budget for each project. Projects that overrun labour and time estimates are difficult to manage and may even hinder work on other projects. That’s why your app development company will budget a set amount of time and labour for your project – and your project manager won’t be afraid to enforce these limits. Your developers can only work on your project for a set amount of time before they start costing the development company money – if you’ve budgeted for 20 hours and your developers invest 40 without extra charge, then not only has the firm lost 20 hours of time they could have spent working for another client, they’ve also been forced to spend 20 hours worth of wages that weren’t in the budget. Your app developer also has other clients who require attention, and taking up more of your developer’s time than you paid for is unfair to the developer’s other clients. Always keep these time and labour limits in mind when dealing with your developer, and have a concrete and fair plan in place for how you’ll deal with any overruns that might arise.

Working with an app developer can be a fantastic experience if you set a few ground rules first. With these five principles in mind, you’ll be well prepared to work constructively with your developer and create an end product your users will love. You’ll also avoid any problems or disputes that might arise, and your developer will love you for it.