Last week we launched our Smart Cookies Breakfast Club webinar series. Our CTO Nic Alpi hosted the first session on 7 costly mistakes to avoid if you’re outsourcing your app development.
We’ve been building and scaling products for other people since 2011, and Nic has been at the heart of every one of those relationships. It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about what’s really required to make a project a success, or how to spot the signs of a build going off the rails.
He took us through the 7 most costly mistakes business owners make when they’re outsourcing app development, and how you can avoid them. You can watch the replay below or read on for the write-up…
Mistake #1 – No serious market research
Our alarm bells ring when we’re approached by someone saying "I’ve had this idea for an app, I think it’s great, and my mates down the pub are very excited about it."
You may have a hunch that your product will be successful, but you need to back that up with some research before you start spending money. If you’re hiring an agency to help you build or market your product, you’ll want some hard data behind you to ensure that the money spent is an investment and not wasted on a gut feeling.
- Who will buy your product?
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- Why would they pay you to solve that problem?
- How much are they willing to pay?
- What does the market look like?
- Are there other products out there that solve the same problem?
If you haven’t properly researched your offering, you’ll be making decisions (and spending money) based on assumptions. Research provides knowledge that will feed into what you are building and can be the pivotal difference between having a good idea and building a successful business.
Mistake #2 – Too much too soon
MVP, MSP, MLP – they all mean the same thing. That is, you want to start with something small.
When you’re putting your product in the hands of your market for the first time, you don’t know how they are going to react. Something will be missing for a particular segment, or not understood correctly, so it makes sense to start with the smallest possible product so you can adapt and build rapidly.
An MVP is the smallest version of a product that has just enough features to allow you to learn. It allows you to test your idea with early customers and plan for a future product/service development. As you go through the development process, it’s tempting to look at what other companies are doing and follow suit.
Resist this temptation – nail your initial offering, focus on the main problem you are solving and build from there.
Mistake #3 – Choosing based on price alone
There will always be someone cheaper than the people you’re looking to buy from. But, price is only one part of the equation. Your technical partner can bring a whole host of things to the table – strategy, access to network, resilience, infrastructure, and sector expertise, among other things.
These offerings need to be evaluated alongside price to help you make the best decision for your business.
When you choose an agency like CookiesHQ, you’re not in bed with them for the next 3 months – it’s more like the next 3 years. Having the right chemistry is vital, and paying that bit more to go with the agency that feels right will likely pay off in the long term, and help you drive your product further.
Mistake #4 – Dissociating strategy, UX, design and development
Each discipline is independent in its own right, but to be efficient in building your product, all of these components will need to feed from one another.
Everyone involved needs an idea of the budget, so they know what is possible within it. Your UX person needs to understand the strategy. Your designer needs to understand if their designs follow the UX. Your developers need to prepare the infrastructure to facilitate what the designers and UXers are doing.
This is not to say that you need to ‘UX by committee’ – just that each team will need to talk to one another. You can still have leaders in their own sections, you can even use separate companies for each component, but ensure there is some synchronicity and willingness to collaborate from all sides.
Mistake #5 – Getting caught up in features alone
We love features! They’re exciting, innovative, and fun to build and can delight your end-users. But, the reality is that building a feature costs money.
What agencies like us are listening for goes back to the problem you are solving for your users, rather than the features you want to implement.
If you start with the feature, it’s too easy to get excited about having something new and shiny on the site. More often than not, this new snazzy thing will not meaningfully solve the problem for your end-user. Start with the issue at hand and let that drive your feature selection rather than reverse engineering this to shoehorn a feature you really want as a way of solving the problem.
Mistake #6 – Avoiding the difficult questions
You will have had a conversation about the cost of building your product, but you must know exactly how your relationship with your technical partner will work once your app is out in the world.
You’ll need to know the answers to questions like:
- How much will it cost to support app once it goes live?
- How much will it cost to fix a bug?
- Where will the app be hosted? How much does hosting cost?
- What happens if something goes wrong at the weekend?
- When will my app need an upgrade?
These will all help inform your business plan moving forward.
Mistake #7 – Forgetting that the end is only the start
We talk about app development in terms of sprints, but building a business around an app is a marathon. With so much emphasis on the launch, it’s easy to forget that when the build ends the hard work is only just beginning.
You are in charge of the success of your product. The company you choose to build your product will bring their development expertise to the table, and help you get your product to market but scaling your business is down to you.
Start building your connections sooner rather than later and start marketing your product before it exists. You might not know exactly where you’re going next, but you always need to have your eyes on the next step of your journey.
When’s the next session?
The next Smart Cookies Breakfast Club session will be 8:30 am on Friday 26th February – we’ll be joined by coach, strategist and all-round content superstar Sonja Nisson for How to get your message across in a way that connects.