The average timeline for building an app from start to finish ranges from 2 months to 9 months, depending on the complexity of the product, the number of features, the experience of the team, and other factors.
When you create a schedule for your app development project, your goal is to stay on track and release your final product on the expected launch date. However, there are a lot of different problems that can pop up to stall your project and push your whole timeline back.
As with most things, prevention is the best cure for a drawn-out app development project. So let's look at eight ways to ensure your whole team can stick to your initial timeline.
The more you know about the most common setbacks in app development, the more prepared you can be to overcome these obstacles when they crop up. Even better than that, by anticipating potential problems, you can devise solutions that allow you to avoid project slowdowns altogether.
According to a poll conducted on Twitter by an Intuit developer, the main reason that projects never get off the ground in the first place is limited resources. As you might imagine, this is also one of the most common reasons project progress slows to a screeching halt.
It's important to understand that many variables go into building a complete app, and you can't simply go off of the upfront price you're quoted by developers.
Sure, the bulk of your budget will go toward the cost of labor. Some people might try to save money by hiring offshore developers or piecing together a team of freelancers, but these options are less predictable than hiring an experienced domestic team.
Regardless of how you choose to build your team, building an app is a big investment of both money and time. Estimates of how much it costs to build an app range enormously, typically stretching from as little as $5k to more than $500k.
Making sure you have the resources you need for development, marketing, market research, launch-related costs, and more, will ensure that one of the main reasons for project setbacks doesn't occur.
Another major cause of stalling app development is unrealistic expectations. If you expect an entire app to be built overnight, you're going to find that your project is "experiencing setbacks." However, any developer will tell you that the project isn't actually stalled but that the timeline was unreasonable from the start.
Working to understand how long each stage of the project will take can help you build a timeline that straddles the fine line between ambitious and realistic. Of course, you want your project to be launched as fast as possible, but you also don't want to stress your team and yourself unnecessarily by creating a timeline that can never be met.
There's nothing inherently wrong with the nature of your project changing during development. However, the more the app strays from the original concept, the more obstacles you might face on the path that turns your idea into a reality.
As we'll talk about a little later on, clear communication is absolutely key in app development. Miscommunication can be costly, frustrating, and a reason that projects stall. If your developers spend a significant amount of time on a phase without clear instructions to help them suit your specific requirements, it could mean that they have to start over from scratch when it comes to light that they have been heading down the wrong path for quite some time.
If you try to save money hiring inexperienced developers for a complicated project, you might find that you are faced with setback after setback as they struggle to complete each phase of the project. Similarly, being inexperienced as a person tasked with managing developers can mean that there is miscommunication, wasted resources, and an undesirable finished product.
Luckily, there are many things you can do before you even start your project to help reduce the probability that your project will stall during development. Here are eight key methods you can use to ensure that your team is able to stick to your timeline and create a superior product at the end of the development process.
When you're beginning an app development project, one of your first tasks will be building a team to build your digital product. It can be tempting to hire the cheapest freelancers you can find to keep costs down, but this only increases the likelihood that you will experience setbacks along the way.
The hourly rates or flat project fees of more experienced freelancers might seem steep, but you have to realize that they will be much more capable of estimating how long a project will take and executing it efficiently. Similarly, hiring an experienced app development team that has a proven track record in leading projects from concept and implementation to support will ensure that your project stays on track.
Choosing the right team from the beginning is essential to avoid slowdowns in your project. Switching app developers mid-project can be difficult, costly, and setback your product launch significantly.
Perhaps the most important factor in whether your project will be completed on time has to do with setting realistic goals. It can be tempting to create an extremely ambitious timeline; after all, you want your app to get onto the market as soon as possible.
In reality, it's important to set goals based on a realistic sense of how long each step will take and incorporate some buffer room for setbacks and obstacles. When you work with an experienced app development team, they'll be able to help you project how long each phase of the project will take so that you can build a timeline that fits the actual scope and extent of the project.
When you have concerns or questions about resources and expectations, communicating them clearly as soon as you can will help avoid project setbacks.
This might sound like obvious advice, but clear and effective communication isn't as easy as it sounds. You don't just want to pass on information to your development team but work to help them understand the intent behind your requests and why you are prioritizing certain aspects of the project over others.
At the same time, having a communicative development team is key. Even the most experienced teams will run into hiccups along the road, but the best teams will keep you in the loop about what is going on so you can understand how it could impact the timeline of your project.
The more you and your team can communicate as app development progresses, the less likely you will be to run into issues that stall your project in a problematic way. The more you know, the better able you are to come up with workable solutions in a timely fashion.
To help reduce the occurrence of issues that stall your project, you'll want to create a comprehensive project schedule right from the get-go.
This document will outline a detailed project timeline in addition to all of the organizational resources that will be used to complete each phase and task.
One of the most important elements of a successful project is collecting and analyzing data along the way. Setting good goals is a great start, but they aren't nearly as useful as they can be when you don't track and measure the progress of your project along the way. The more information you're able to collect, the more transparency there will be in your project, and the less likely you will be to get surprised by a major setback.
It's important to have systems set up to track your budget, task completion, and quality. You will want to make it a regular part of your process to check in on the project's progress so you can foresee any potential problems or adjust your schedule as necessary.
When you're creating an app, you might be tempted to reduce the number of steps between the formulation of the idea and the launch of the product. For this reason, the idea of taking the extra step to build an MVP might not be appealing to you. In reality, though, creating an MVP can save you time and money in app development.
An MVP (minimum viable product) is a version of your app that only contains the essential features. By making this barebones draft of your app, you and your team have the chance to test out the most important aspects of your project. Before you put the time and resources toward creating a finished product, you can gain valuable feedback about and insight into whether you need to tweak your development project for the best possible end-user experience.
App development can get pretty pricey, but underestimating how much the total project will cost will stall your project when you realize that the whole process will cost a lot more than you expected. While the cost of development is a big part of your budget, there are other costs you will need to incorporate when determining how to allocate your resources.
For example, it's not uncommon for people to underestimate the cost of market research or even ignore it altogether. This is an essential step that can't be skipped– after all, you need to know that there is a market for your product before you go through the trouble and expense of building it.
On top of that, it's easy to overlook the additional costs that crop up after launch. For example, advertising, bug-fixing, and ongoing maintenance will need to be considered when creating your initial budget structure.
A common phenomenon among younger engineers is the temptation to try and build software from scratch rather than leveraging existing frameworks. Also referred to as "reinventing the wheel," you are much more likely to run into unanticipated setbacks when your developers are trying to build their own framework from the ground up.
Using existing frameworks whenever possible can save you time, money, and headaches. It is particularly important in specific areas of development, including:
To help avoid the outcome of a stalled project, try to use some trusted open-source components if they're available. If you find that your developer wants to "roll their own" framework, ask them to explain why this is the more appropriate option than leveraging an existing framework.
It's also worth noting that it can be difficult to support a component that a developer wrote from scratch after they leave the project. When you are planning out your project, it's a good idea to build a plan ahead of time regarding how you will deal with developers no longer working to support your app down the road.
Lastly, it's important that the focus of your app development is aimed in the right direction. Most likely, the primary goal is to build an application that meets a business objective or solves a problem for your customer. When developers are instead fixated on a goal of building new architectural components or frameworks, it means that the energy and resources behind your project are being misallocated to some extent.
Unforeseen events can always occur when you're developing an app, but following these steps should help you prevent predictable problems from rearing their ugly heads during the process. There are a lot of different moving parts when building a digital product, and issues can arise at any point, but meticulous planning while maintaining a flexible mindset can go a long way.
One of the biggest factors that impact the predictability of your development timeline is the team you choose to work with. The more experienced the developers you're working with, the more confident you can be that everything will go according to the original plan.
Are you looking for the right team to help you develop your app? Drop us a line and tell us about your project today.
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