One day you wake up with a clear understanding that you (most likely your company) need a mobile app. How would you go about ordering one? It feels intuitive and straightforward at first, but once you start formalizing and structuring your plan of actions, you may end up failing to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. We hope that going further through the article you will be able to arrive at a clear mobile application business plan that will guide you along the way.
Once you realized the burning need or desire to develop a mobile app, as a decision-maker, you have to consider all parties potentially involved in the process and make sure everybody’s expectations are at least met, but preferable exceeded. Let’s look at the parties some or all of which are starring in this performance:
- Investors – if you cannot raise sufficient amount of money yourself, you may find investors and get funding in exchange for the share in your company. Investors care about return on investment (ROI), as this is how they are getting their money back. An alternative to investors will be a bank giving you a loan. In this case you will have to ensure timely payments, which means you company has to do well.
- Customers – they are the ones you are creating your app for, right? So, you’d better make the happier than ever, because they have your money. Give them what they want cheaper, in a more convenient way, of higher quality, and when they want it. The Requirements part of your plan is there to ensure you have the right product for the right customer.
- Your company – you are the nub that should make all spokes moving steadily and trouble-free. Make sure you have a designated team (or person) to manage the project. Yes, you are hiring app developers, but you still have to take care of marketing, sales, legal issues, infrastructure, etc. Take mobile app development seriously, it is not inherently successful, it is hard work of an enthusiastic team that make an app rock.
- Development team – most of the time development of a mobile app is a one-time occasion, which makes having a dev team in-house inefficient. Be sure to hire a dedicated development team to avoid the risk of having your tasks postponed, or done negligently when overridden by higher priority clients. As you future is at stake, be picky when selecting a team to work for you: pay attention to reputation, portfolio of completed projects, and fit (technologies used, and culture guiding the working process).
These are the main groups of people you will have to deal with. Now let’s think of how to make the right thing.
Collecting requirements for mobile application development is one of the key stages that greatly determines effectiveness and productivity of the entire development process. Here are a few ideas to consider during requirements collection:
- Ask stupid questions – you never know what is going on in this business analyst’s mind, so have a habit of asking “Do you say that this means this?”
- Answer stupid questions – same idea as the previous point but in the opposite direction. What’s clear for you may not make sense to the person in front of you. Being on the same page is crucial.
- Ask potential customers – never think you know better. Double-check. Conduct surveys, analyze competitors, and talk to visionaries.
- Cover different aspects of your app – every little bit of the app matters, so discuss everything that you feel necessary: interface, functionality, design, languages, pricing, compatibility, etc.
- Leave some wiggle room – make sure you talk through the process of requirements change in detail. You should be able to adapt your app to market trends, economic conditions, or legal restrictions.
Once the development team has the requirements, it should come up with the prototype of your app – a responsive “draft” enabling you to check the flow, review concepts, and provide feedback before any serious coding is done. Having an interactive prototype is a cheap and quick way to pin-point shortcomings and ensure requirements will turn into the right product.
These days you can distinguish yourself by design alone. You will get the taste of how designers perceive the look of you app on the prototype stage, but it is definitely subject to changes. Once again, be sure real people give you some feedback about the level of excitement experienced during the use of your app. Polish until excited!
This section is a little techy, but may save you from unnecessary worries and expenses. Even if you are aiming at iOS market right now, but might consider expanding to Android, Windows, etc., you will benefit a lot from having our mobile app developed using the API-first approach. This allows to build an app on various platforms on top of the same basement. In addition, you will be able to build, deploy, and manage the entire app lifecycle from one source. And as mentioned above it saves time and money once the need for rapid scaling emerges.
Apps rarely operate in vacuum (unless it’s a calculator or the like). So it is absolutely critical to ensure seamless interaction with all and any apps and services your app can be tied with, e.g. payment gateways, social media apps, etc.
Mobile app development process is successful when structured and sequenced properly. The above guidelines should help you to put together a comprehensive and detailed plan of your app creation.