Developing software is complex business. Lack of proper planning often sets your project up for missed timelines, inflated costs, and dozens of other missteps that plague app development projects. Below we look at 5 critical steps that will set your project on a path to success.
Define a Release Schedule
Every application should have a release schedule that coincides with development timelines and any marketing efforts planned pre and post launch. A well thought out plan with target launch dates (especially when dealing with a multi-platform app) not only gives your designers and developers a full understanding of your project delivery expectations, but also provides set timelines that will allow your sales and marketing team to set customer expectations and build a coordinated launch plan.
Find the Right API Validation
Finding the right API’s for your product upfront is important, and validating their usability is even more critical. Again, these are items that are roadblocks to project timelines, should project managers or developers be forced to research new services or validate API’s after development sprints have already begun. At the very least, have a set of potential APIs your product could utilize for various services ready for your development team to validate, compare and contrast.
Set Up a Project Backlog
A project backlog is used to define and prioritize the features and associated requirements of an application. A properly formated project plan does not include a single feature without the requirements associated with making that feature a reality. Setting up a project backlog is another way to set client and developer expectations and solidify project understanding in an effort to avoid getting something a bit different than expected. Always ask developers and designers if there is any confusion related to any feature in your project backlog to avoid changes when deliverables start coming your way.
Create Wireframes and User Flows
Before development can begin, your development team will need to see a comprehensive set of wireframes. Wireframes are product schematics — or blueprints — that detail each screen within your application and the general flow users will follow while using your app. Creating these design elements are critical during your discovery phase as they layout the what, why and how’s of your products key features. This will also be extremely helpful to you as you finalize your business plan.
Create a Prototype
Prototypes are an amazing testing tool. They allow users to interact with your product as if it were the real thing. If you have key questions or concerns about certain features or usability related to your app, a design-based prototype may be great option for clearing up any concerns and addressing issues before a release. Prototypes can also be used by founders as they look to obtain funding. Providing potential investors with a clickable prototype that mimics your final application can be an invaluable tool in the pitch room.