Taking your vision for a custom desktop or mobile app for your business, organization, or institution and turning it into a reality is exciting! You’ll finally be able to offer your clients, patients, or employees the versatility and functionality that you’ve only dreamt. The software may also allow you to scale your business in a way that, up until now, was totally impossible!
With all of these pros of creating a custom app are cons, of course. Developing an app is expensive and time consuming, and it just isn’t for everyone. In this post, we’ll discuss the biggest problems that our innovative partners experience with developing their custom app, both during the development stage and after the software is launched.
This article is broken into a number of sections:
- #1 Scope Creep
- #2 Unrealistic Expectations
- #3 Wanting the project to be “perfect” prior to launch.
- #4 The product owner does not have enough time to commit to the project.
- #5 App problems after launch.
#1. Scope Creep
What is Scope Creep?
There are three main components of any software project: the scope (exactly what is needed to complete the project), the budget, and the timeline for completion. They form a triangle, and when one of those components change, they all must be adjusted. Scope creep occurs when the scope of a software development project changes in a way that the overall size of the project expands without the duration of the project or its cost being discussed; where the entire project has unexpectedly “crept” to a larger size.
How Does Scope Creep Happen?
Scope creep often occurs from a lack of communication between the project owner and the developer. The project owner may request changes to the scope that, to them, seems like a simple change but it is not. The change can actually be something that may take quite a bit of additional time. The article “How Much Does a Custom App Cost?” discusses the time involved in developing an app equates to money spent. Therefore, the price of developing the app in increased.
How Should I Feel about Scope Creep?
Whether scope creep is viewed as good or bad often depends on the time and budget allotted for the app development project. Scope creep can be beneficial under certain circumstances – if the increase of the scope benefits both the end user and the product owner and the product owner is able to afford the additional cost and can make allowances for the extra time the app will take to develop. But, of course, those ideal circumstances do not always exist. If the product owner cannot allow for the additional expenses and cannot afford for the project to get larger or has time constraints, scope creep can become a large problem.
How Can Scope Creep Be Avoided?
Scope Creep can often be avoided by clear communication between the project owner and the developer. It is suggested that the project owner attempt to clearly communicate any changes they wish to make to their app to the developer while, at the same time, the developer be clear about the time and money involved with making those changes. If this type of communication is done on a regular basis, both the product owner and the developer should walk away with a clear understanding about how the proposed changes will affect the cost and duration of the project. From there, the app visionary and the developer can collaborate to determine whether to allow the scope creep to occur and to continue with the proposed changes to the project or not.
#2 Unrealistic Expectations
What Are Unrealistic Expectations?
An unrealistic expectation occurs when the app visionary hopes to create a piece of software that cannot be realistically delivered by the programmer.
What Common Unrealistic Expectations Do Visionaries Have?
Most unrealistic expectations can fall under the following categories:
- The technology does not yet exist to bring the product owner’s vision to life. Therefore, the developer cannot create it.
- The visionary lacks the budget needed to create the app they want.
- Whether the project is big or small, it cannot be completed within the timeframe which the visionary wants it by.
How Do You Avoid Unrealistic Expectations?
Unrealistic expectations can often be avoided through collaboration and communication of the product owner with the software development team. Together, the product owner and the app developer set expectations for the software that meet the needs of the product owner and end user within any time frame and budget constraints that may exist. This collaboration is not a one-time occurrence, either. As the project develops, we recommend that the innovator regularly checks with the app developer on the status of their project. In that manner, their expectations can be continuously reviewed and modified, as needed, to make certain that their needs continue to be met.
#3. Wanting the Project to be “Perfect” Prior to Launch
What Is a “Perfect” App?
A “Perfect” app might also be described as “Polished”, and would occur when any of the following scenarios occur:
- When a developed app is free of possible bugs or problems.
- When an app has all of the features and functionality that the product owner feels the end user will need.
- When an app’s design is exactly how the owner wants it to look.
What Are Pros of Launching an App Before It Is Polished?
There are many possible benefits of launching an app early:
- All of the tweeks, changes, and revisions to the app that the product owner performs prior to the app’s release could potentially cost more money and time than it might cost to release it earlier and see how it is received by the user. The app owner’s view of what the users might want is not always on queue with what they actually end up wanting.
- The product owner will receive user feedback sooner. The visionary can then create a final product according to the needs of the user vs what the product owner guesses the user may need.
- There is less waste. The product owner can build features into the app as requested by the user vs adding functionality that the user is not interested in.
What Are Pros of Waiting to Launch until the App Is Polished?
There are several reasons why waiting until an app is polished might be the best recourse in some cases:
- If the product owner is certain that the functionality they intend to provide the users is exactly what the end user needs.
- When the end user has a low tolerance or no tolerance for changes.
- When the user has certain expectations related to what the app should entail that must be met before they will use the app at all.
#4 The Product Owner Does Not Have Enough Time to Commit to the Project
Why Must the Visionary Make a Time Commitment?
A software project relies on the vision and valuable feedback of the visionary for the project’s success. As the developers create and implement the project owner’s vision, only the visionary can discern whether their needs have been met or if the project needs to be modified, altered, or change direction to fulfill that vision. Also, there is a change that the app developer may misunderstand or misinterpret part of the founder’s ideas. Therefore, the app founder needs to make the time commitment to make certain that the end product turns out to be what they were hoping for.
How Much Time Commitment Is Involved?
How much time is needed from the product owner to develop their app depends on the details of the individual project. In some cases, the visionary may need to make a daily or weekly commitment. In other cases, the commitment may only be once a month. To gauge the amount of time a project owner needs to commit to their software project, they might need to determine how much time they may need to talk to and collaborate with the developer that would allow the developer to proceed with the project without having to reverse direction and redo large portions of the work if a misunderstanding occurs in the app development.
In addition to specific meetings to be determined by the software developer and product owner, the developer may also need to ask occasional questions or need clarification from the visionary now and then to continue to move the project forward. Therefore, the product owner may need to be accessible and willing to answer questions in a timely manner. This would help to ensure that their project will not be delayed.
#5 App Problems After Launch
What Types of Problems Occur with Newly Launched Apps and Why?
People are creative, and the end users of an app may find new uses for the app that were not initially intended or considered by the app founder. This can cause a bug to develop in the app, where the app doesn’t act exactly as it was intended due to the unexpected actions of the users. There’s also a chance that the newly launched app can crash and not function at all, or another problem could develop with the app that can’t be foreseen ahead of time. If the product owner and the program developer continue to communicate through the process of finding issues with a newly launched app, they can determine together the best ways to work through the problems while continuing to meet the product owner’s vision and end user’s needs.
Now that you know the most common problems that visionaries have when developing a custom desktop or mobile app, you can approach software companies with the right questions to ask so you can find the company that is the best fit for you. Matraex is a premier app development company located in southwest Idaho. If you live in the Boise, Idaho area, check out our article about the top software development companies in the area, and feel free to contact Matraex or call us at (208) 344-1115 with any other software questions you may have. You can even post a question on our Google Business Page. We want to help you hire the software company that is most suitable for you that can take your software vision and turn it into a reality.
Sign up to receive answers to your questions delivered directly to your inbox!
The Developers Kept Saying Story Points
I sat in a meeting recently, with a group of developers discussing what we had accomplished at work that week. We went around the room, dishing out numbers for different projects we were working on and I noticed something strange. The developers kept on telling the group how many “story points” they had done. I think I should point out that I am not a developer and their lingo is still somewhat foreign to me. I was intrigued. Part of me knew a story point probably wasn’t very interesting, but another part of me imagined the developers putting together plots and storylines for a Dungeons and Dragons quest. So what are story points used for?
Story Points are a Strange Unit of Measurement
I guess anything new can be a little strange, and story points were strange to me. I talked with David Sutherland, one of our awesome developers, and asked him what story points were. (We actually made a video about them. I’ll post it at the end of the blog). Anyway, David told me that story points are a way for developers to measure the amount of work they need to do. Before the developers start building an app for a client, they need to be able to give the client an estimate of how much the app will cost to make. Apparently, as I found out in my research, estimating how much time it takes to develop an app, is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Difficult enough, in fact, that app developers worldwide have adopted story points as a unit to measure the work needed to build apps.
How are Story Points Calculated?
It’s easier for developers to estimate the number of steps it’ll take to make an app, than it is to estimate the amount of time it’ll take to build said app. They’ll break the project down into smaller steps and assign those steps (or tasks) a number. A task with a higher number, will most likely take longer to complete, than a task that is assigned a lower number. It gets trickier though. There’s a level of uncertainty associated with any task that needs to be completed. This means that when a developer is working on a step, they won’t know how long it will take to complete, until they’ve actually started working on it. The reason for this is because unforeseen challenges can arise that will slow down the process. I should probably note that a task or step with more uncertainty is given a higher story point value. Different development teams attach different time lengths to story points, but it can work something like this: 1 story point = .5-2 hours, 2 story points = 2-4 hours, 3 story points = 4-8 hours, 5 story points = 8-20 hours.
Why do They do This?
So why then, do developers spend so much energy trying to accurately estimate work? The answer is money. In the video David and I made, I had already figured out why this was important, but I asked him anyway, why these estimates were so critical. He told me, that underestimating the time needed to build the app, would result in the client spending more money on the app than initially budgeted. On the other hand, if the project was overestimated, the higher price could scare customers away. Hence, being able to accurately estimate the amount of work/time needed to build the app is entirely necessary to make sure we don’t overcharge the client.
Our team of developers are highly skilled in both programming AND estimating story points, so they can build your business a quality app at an affordable price. If you have an idea for an app you’d like us to build, contact us.
From time management, account management, to money management, apps can help your business in a variety of ways.
Here are 4 Ways Apps Can Help Your Business
- Time Management Apps
Whether it’s tracking your employees’ time or tracking your own, keeping track of tasks can help you save time and money. Let’s break it down.
Let’s say you are a grocery store owner. Each employee in any department has a variety of tasks that they complete each and every day. How long does each of those tasks take? Are they adding value or simply costing your grocery store money?
From the time that an employee clocks in at the main punch-in machine to the time that they punch out, what did they accomplish?
Did they spend a lot of time doing department cleaning? Did they spend a lot of time helping customers find items? How long did your baggers spend collecting carts from the parking lot?
These are all tasks that can be tracked but in most cases they aren’t. The benefits of tracking time are clear and are laid out plainly right here: https://biz30.timedoctor.com/time-tracking-statistics/
They include increased morale, more money saved, and overall a more cohesive team.
2. Account Management Apps
Businesses have thousands of interactions with clients and prospective clients each year. How do you track those interactions? Do you have a paper ledger? Do you use an electronic spreadsheet? These things may work just fine, but using actual account management software could save you time and money.
You receive an email or you find someone that would make a good contact for your company, you then open your ledger or electronic spreadsheet and manually enter all of their data. Before you know it, you’ve spent 5-10 minutes just adding in one contact.
Wouldn’t it be so much better if this process could be automated? Or at least most of the process? Here’s the thing, it can. We use an account manager system that we developed for our own use and it saves so much time. Whenever we get an email from a new contact, that person is automatically added to our contact list. This allows us to easily update newsletters and be able to filter our contacts.
We don’t just swear by account management apps, we live by them.
3. Money Management Apps
If you use a mobile banking app you probably have recognized by now that it automatically sends you updates when you’ve added funds or are low on funds. Wouldn’t it be nice if apps could automatically bill your clients at the press of a button? Well, they can.
Business owners often miss an invoice and fail to bill a client. This often results in lost revenue. Using a money management app that is coded specifically to help you invoice clients can help you make the hard-earned money that you deserve.
4. Security Apps
One of the deterrents of crime nowadays is the installation of cameras and security locks for office buildings. While these are beneficial to keeping unwanted visitors out, they can introduce a headache for people that need access in.
With a security app, you can select who gains access to the building, which doors they get access to you can even give access to the cameras. This can all be done by providing access by job title or credentials. As a business owner, having instant access to your building in the palm of your hand can be extremely helpful and can reduce a lot of unneeded stress.
Having a security app can also help you identify the intruders in the case of a break-in or a once-loyal employee gone rogue.
Thinking of More Ways an App Can Help Your Business?
You may be thinking about how an app can help your business. A great resource for you will be speaking to software developers. Choosing a software developer for any project can be difficult. How do you know if they will be the right person for the job? Will they actually care about your project? How will you know that things are getting done? These are all questions that we answer in the free guide which you can download by clicking the image below.
That depends, did you give the app access to them?
Apps Seeing and Stealing Your Photos
When you first download an app or go to import any kind of photo into the app, by default you will be asked if you want to give the app access to your photos.
By selecting “all photos” you will give the app access to all of your photos.
By selecting “select Images or photos” you will be able to choose specific images that you want to share with the app.
If someone can see your images what stops them from downloading them? Hackers are able to access information without even knowing seeing what information is available. Compare that with anyone that can see your photo via the server that you allow your photos to be uploaded to most assuredly can download them.
How Do I Protect My Photos From Apps?
If you have given any application access to your photos whether it be web or mobile you have already provided the opportunity for them to be published to the internet. That’s not to say that just because you gave an app access that they have done so, there certainly are honest developers out there. Again, the opportunity for them to be published is there if the application has access.
In order to best protect your photos be careful about which applications you give access to them. You’d only give the keys to your house to the people that you want to visit. Don’t just give your access to your photos away freely. There’s a lot of data that can be gathered from photos, personal things that you probably wouldn’t tell a stranger.
Ever taken a photo of your Drivers License to send someone? Your social security card? Taken pictures at your favorite restaurant? Do you take cute videos of your kids? Did you take a picture of your house when you first moved in? Or how about yourself at the hospital that you go to?
All this is information that you give up freely to complete strangers when giving access to “all photos”. Be careful about who you give access to. You don’t know what kind of person is sitting on the other end of that device.
Don’t want your pictures seen or stolen? Don’t give the access.