Developing a mobile app is a complex and challenging process that requires careful planning and budgeting. Unfortunately, many business owners make the mistake of skipping the discovery phase and jumping straight into development, only to discover that they've underestimated the time and cost required to complete the project.
The Tale of the Business Owner and The Shady Agency
Let's start with a cautionary tale that illustrates the risks of not doing a discovery phase. Imagine you're a business owner with an innovative idea for a new mobile app. You do some research and find a development company that seems to offer a good deal. They claim to have experience developing similar apps and promise to deliver your project within a few months at a price that seems too good to be true. You're thrilled and eager to start, so you sign the contract and send the information they asked you for.
As the weeks and months go by, you receive occasional updates from the development team, but you begin to notice that the features they're delivering are half-done and full of bugs. You start to worry, but the team assures you that everything is under control and that they'll deliver the finished product soon. However, as time passes, you realize that the work that's still required is almost double what's been done. On top of that, the team confesses that it will take extra time and cost more than initially estimated.
You feel heartbroken as you realize that you've already spent most of your budget, and the features that have been delivered so far are not what you hoped for. You start to doubt whether you'll be able to achieve your dream or have to abandon it halfway.
You've fallen into the trap of a shady agency trying to make a quick sale by luring you into starting development quickly, only to tell you later that it will cost more to finish it.
The Importance of a Discovery Phase
This cautionary tale highlights the importance of a discovery phase, which is the initial stage of the app development process that involves researching, planning, and defining the project's requirements. The discovery phase can help prevent situations like the one described before by clearly understanding the project's scope, timeline, and budget.
During the discovery phase, you can work with a development team to identify the project's goals, target audience, and features. The team can provide you with a detailed analysis of the project's technical requirements and limitations and a realistic estimation of the time and cost required to complete the project. Doing so allows you to avoid surprises and ensure that your project stays on track and within budget.
The Risks of Not Doing a Discovery Phase
Skipping the discovery phase and jumping straight into development can lead to several risks, like wrong estimations, choosing the wrong development company, and the cost of going in without a plan. Here's a closer look at each of these risks:
Wrong estimations: Without doing a discovery phase, it's difficult to receive an accurate time and cost estimation from any development company. And this is because it is unrealistic to think that anyone can fully understand a software project in just a few hours of learning about it, at least not deep enough to map the amount of work needed to turn your idea into a reality. You may end up with generic estimations pulled out of thin air that lead to delays and cost overruns.
Choosing the wrong development company: Not all development companies are created equal, and some may be inexperienced, unprofessional, or unethical. Without doing your due diligence and researching potential partners, you may end up with a development team that's unable to deliver on its promises. And the first red flag is a company that gives you an estimate for a complete project after just one meeting with you. If that company ensures that what they gave you is an accurate estimate, then you need to worry. They need to, at least, warn you that what they shared was a ballpark and that they need to do a deeper analysis before giving you a more accurate estimate.
The cost of going in without a plan: Jumping straight into development can be a recipe for disaster. You may end up with a product that doesn't meet your users' needs, requiring costly redesigns and rework.
Tips for Planning and Budgeting Your App Development Journey
Now that you understand the risks of skipping the discovery phase let's explore some practical tips for planning and budgeting your app development journey:
- Write down your ideas and map out the requirements: Consider different user flows and alternatives, and consider different scenarios that users will run into.
- Create user stories: Once you have mapped out the requirements, create user stories so that any development team can understand what the software needs to do.
- Create wireframes: Create wireframes to visually detect any missing pieces and start viewing how the app will work and the features it will have.
- Create a clickable prototype: Once wireframes are done and accepted by all stakeholders, create a high-definition clickable prototype. This will allow you to see exactly how the app will look once completed.
- Create an architecture design: It's important to create a software architecture design that will support your application's end goals and is prepared to scale.
- Focus on creating an MVP: Spend time estimating the time and cost for development, but always focus on creating an MVP (minimum viable product) first. This will allow you to release a working product in a few months and then iterate and improve with actual user data instead of hunches.
A discovery phase is an essential step in the app development process that can help prevent costly mistakes and ensure that your project stays on track and within budget. By planning and budgeting your app development journey carefully, you can create a successful app that meets the needs of your users and helps your business achieve its goals.
We also understand that as a business owner, you may not have the time or experience to dedicate yourself to planning your software project. That is why we offer a done-for-you approach in the form of our Discovery Service, where we handle all these steps for you.
Using this service can reduce the risk of doing a software project by 70% because we will help you catch issues before spending on development. Additionally, there are two extra benefits. First, you will experience working with us for a month at a lower cost allowing you to find out if you like the experience and if we are a match for working together. Second, assuming you enjoyed the experience and decide to proceed with development, we will credit what you paid for the discovery service as part of the total payment for the project. It's a risk-free approach that can help ensure the success of your project.