1. Do you have sufficient time to create software & apps?
Let's be honest! Creating software and mobile apps involves a long and complicated procedure and there's no shortcut to creating a good and stable product where you can merely:
• Not set a time to give details about your ideas to vendors and discuss your requirements with them
• Eliminate QA cycles
• Seek the services of junior web developers
• Not set a budget for project management
• Not set a time for setting up business, administration and finance
• Not set a time for Marketing
"Ideas Are Easy, Implementation Is Hard"
And while everyone can come up with a great idea it is the implementation that is the most important aspect. Nothing will move forward without implementation and to implement your idea you will need commitment and time. Creating a new app will require lot of thinking, brainstorming and brushing up on ideas and finding competition which requires your time. It's always to good think about the app idea, features you want to include, competition, financials, running costs, user experiences, app marketing, supporting app and other details before you start on the actual development.
Finalising these details requires lots of time and research and you should ensure that you allocate sufficient time. After you start development of your app, you will also need to have sufficient time to provide details about your idea to the developer, provide feedback and check work as it progresses. After app is developed you should allocate sufficient time to market the app to your target audience.
"56-82B estimated number of App downloads in 2013"
2. Does your Vendor specialise in Mobile App Development?
Web software and operating system software are two distinct things. The process, discipline and requirements for one are different from the other. For the past 15 years, most companies have been dependent on web technologies. An operating system requires a different software specific for its use and due to insufficient established libraries, developers have had to create native software for this purpose.
Now, there are a lot of agencies that are experts in web design. However, only a few really specialise in mobile app development. Make sure to hire a vendor that specialises in the field.
Mobile development has made such a huge impact on today's modern society. For this reason, thousands of companies are including it in their marketing plans to boost business. Rightfully so, and this is because of the ever increasing number of people becoming dependent on various mobile apps.
3. Prepare to invest an average of $10, 000 for an initial project
If you want a high quality and stable application, be prepared to invest in it. A mobile application costs thousands of dollars to build from a single platform alone, like Blackberry, Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, etc. Developers need to essentially start from nothing when writing an app code that will function on multiple operating systems. Thorough knowledge on various application development languages (i.e. Objective C, Java and C++) is a must.
Experienced developers can make up to $150/hr or more, inclusive of company overhead expenses. Now, with a $25,000 project going at a $150/hr developer's rate, this equals to more than a month's worth of work. Building mobile applications involves absolute attention to detail and includes the following processes:
• Systems Specification Requirements
• Application Development
• Advertising and Analytics
• Quality Testing
• Project Management
• Remember, this is just for Version 1 of the app if you succeed. Expect to spend on higher versions if you are required to upgrade in the future.
4. Be realistic don't turn into a victim of App Hype
The success of the iPhone is phenomenal. As a result, many developers want to take advantage of its success and join the iPhone bandwagon. You've probably heard of a number of developers who became millionaires overnight because of an iPhone application.
Companies are now developing their own applications. Surely, your competitors are also doing it. Now, with all the hype going on, you might want to think first and reconsider your options before you decide to create one. Your apps should be used for the following objectives:
• New client revenue
• New existing customer revenue
• Market research
• Customer satisfaction
• Improved productivity
5. Do you know the requirements for your business? If so, how do you intent to evaluate success?
Are you aiming to boost new customer revenue? If so, by how much? Which channels will profits come from subscriptions, in-app content purchases, iTunes application sales or advertising?
In-app Content Purchases
If you are focusing on gaining profits from in-app purchases, Apple usually takes 30% from the sales. Does that work for you?
iTunes Application Sales
If you plan to boost your profit through application sales, do you think you will be able to get a return of investment, from $25,000 - $50,000, the amount you spent to create a mobile app? Now, based on the metrics of Apple, the average return of every paid application averages below $3,000/year.
If you want to concentrate on advertising to increase revenue, where do you plan to advertise your products? There are many advertising networks available out there, like Google AdMob and Apple iAd.
1. Do you plan to promote branded sponsorships?
2. What type of ads do you want to advertise interstitial, banner?
3. For branding or for revenue which one is your primary goal?
If your objective is branding, answer the following questions:
• How do you intend to implement success through application surveys or via iTunes feedback using iPad and iPhone applications?
• What will be the metrics?
• How do you intend to measure downloads?
• How can you be certain clients will use your application once they have downloaded it?
If your objective is revenue, answer the following questions:
• Will the mobile app directly pay for itself?
• If yes, what is your timeframe for return of investment?
• If no, will it be part of a bigger plan?
6. Have you done sufficient and thorough research?
Have you conducted thorough research on what you will use the app for? And who will mainly use it? If your competitors are using apps to boost their business, no doubt, it's tempting to follow suit. If you want to build an app, make sure that it matches the profile of your target market. This way, it will be easier for you to reach your objectives accordingly. Also think of other platforms you can use as an alternative.
Do you plan to create apps for iPod Touch or iPhone? Listed below are useful studies between the two:
The users of iPod Touch are younger compared to the users of iPhone.
According to research, people between 13-24 age ranges comprise 69% of iPod Touch users. On the other hand, 26% make up iPhone users.
Studies show that users of iPhone have higher incomes, and higher probability to have children.
With the older people comprising the demographic majority of the iPhone users demographic, they are also the ones with higher incomes. iPhone users have 78% ratio earning an average of $25,000 per year; iPod Touch users only have 66%.
Users have higher chances to use mobiles over other forms of media.
Studies show that out of 10 users of both iPod Touch and iPhone5 prefer to use the mobile to catch up with current events, listen to radio, access social media, do business transactions and surf the web.
7. How do you intend to promote your Mobile App?
In order for your mobile app to click, you need to plan out a proper strategy to promote it. It is also very important to set a marketing budget. Are you planning to build applications for iPad or iPhone? Are you depending on downloads to accomplish your objective? If so, part of your strategy must include having your app listed among the top 25 iPhone mobile apps. How will you achieve this? Listed below are a few important strategies you can apply:
Get listed in the App Store.
Choose a catchy name, make it unique. Your main goal here is to get prospect clients to notice your app immediately. Put your brand name wherever appropriate. Include keywords in your app name. It is also a good idea to check the apps store and observe your competitors.
Take advantage of app review sites.
Review sites are another way to boost a business online; this is the same for mobile apps. Submit yours for review. Give promo codes so that your apps can be reviewed by the editorial team for free.
Listed below are top review sites you can submit to:
• Apps Safari
• Apple iPhone School
Create customised business postage stamps.
Use the icon design of your new app for customised business postage stamps. This is a very effective method of advertising and product promotion.
Conduct ad promotions within other mobile apps.
Take advantage of interactive ads found in other iPhone apps. Promoting apps this way presents great levels of engagement, like click to the app store, click to video and click to call. A lot of ad networks are now offering fantastic options for in-app advertising. You might want to check out the following companies:
• Apple iAD
• Google AdMob
Choose the right advertising channels.
• When it comes to advertising outlets, choose wisely. Ask yourself the following:
• Who will be my top customers?
• What will be their demographic?
• What are their lifestyle qualities?
• How do they use media?
• Where do they hang out?
• What do they usually watch, read and listen to?
• Where else can I advertise to catch my mobile audiences' attention restaurants, cafes, train stations, airports, bus stops, checkout lanes, amusement parks, college campuses, hotels, on podcasts, within other apps, social media, etc.?
• What are the best analytical tools I can use to evaluate the success of each location?
There are hundreds of strategies you can apply to your business. Do your research. Keep in mind, no matter how perfect your marketing plan is, it will be useless if your app is uninteresting, unremarkable and ridden with bugs. On the other hand, despite the fact that you have the most compelling and well-designed app, all will be put to waste if it is not supported by a good marketing strategy. Therefore, you need to create the right balance between the two and have one complement the other.
8. Once the Mobile App is built, how do you intent to support it?
Who will be the main person responsible for the application support? What will be the process he/she will use? To get a clear picture, know who will conduct the following tasks:
• Handle the analytics you will generate for the likes of Google Analytics, Omniture or Flurry
• Review the crash logs of the application
• Review user comments of the application
• Manage testing to make sure that the usability of the application is up to par and taken full advantage of.
• Ensure that your app will stay updated with new releases of the platform and decide whether or not it will run with the new release. Remember, the operating system (OS) of most users will be updated by Google or Apple. It is vital that your application works with the two.
9. Who will be the Project Manager for the project?
Know the importance of a project manager. When it comes to hiring a 3rd party vendor to build software, proper project management is a very important factor for both you and the vendor.
Is your Project Manager always available to answer your calls and enquiries?
Communication is vital in the success of your project. The project manager must always be available to guide their team accordingly and be able to answer questions. Time is of essence here, the amount of time they spends coordinating with the team will have an impact on the amount of time it will take to finish the task.
Talk rather than Email.
Direct communication is always the better preference compared to email. It enables you to perform tasks faster when you receive immediate feedback on a particular issue. As such, you can bring up an important subject that suddenly came up and have a direct answer without further delays.
Your vendor must have a qualified project manager to create and set-up software specification requirements. Other tasks of the project manager include:
• Gathering of requirements
• Ensure the availability of data
• Create wireframes
• Create a chart for accountability, schedule and delivery
• Identify risks and back-up plans
As a client, you must have your own project manager who will handle your team and ensure that they receive the following:
• Data access
• Design input and approval
10. Important details you should request from your vendor before hiring them
• The number of native applications they have built using your desired mobile platform. Ask for samples.
• The background, experience and expertise of the vendor’s project manager.
• Companies related to your industry they have built applications for;
• Request for references (if available);
• Request for design and UX work samples of your required mobile platform;
• Inquire for the tester name of the QA application and testing methodology that will be used;• Ask for the 3rd party products that will be used;
• Amount of offshore work that will be utilised;
• Ask, if applicable, if onshore work will be required for the completion of architecture;
• Ask if onshore work will be required for the project management completion.
• Ask if your vendor provides App Marketing services and guidance for app marketing
• What is your most successful app you have developed? What post development services do you provide?
• How do updates and subsequent versions work?
• How do you make sure that app’s performance will be good even it’s being used by many users?
• What will be the ongoing cost?
When to worry...
• Your vendor is not asking you to sign off on the SRS before moving forward with pixel perfect graphics from the designer;
• Your vendor is not asking you to sign off on the pixel perfect designs before moving forward with coding the application;
• You asked for a change to the application after the SRS and designs have been signed off on and your vendor is not asking you for a change order;
• You are not getting weekly updates on where the project is in regards to hours used versus total hours allotted , as well as risks and mitigation plans with the names of the people responsible;
• You are not getting advice on app promotion, app submission and UI suggestions.
11. Know which contract type is more suitable for your business
This type of contract requires a client to pay a specific negotiated rate to the supplier when a project is completed. With a Time and Materials Contract, risk is placed primarily on the client's part. In general, its price is lower compared to its counterpart, the Fixed Price Contract.
Fixed Price Contract
With this type of contract, a supplier is required to provide a particular product as defined by the client at a set rate. A Fixed Price Contract puts most, if not all, risks and management burden from a client to the supplier. In general, it is more expensive compared to its counterpart, Time and Materials Contract.
So, how do you determine which contract to choose? Should it be Time and Materials Contract or Fixed Price Contract? Consultants with insufficient knowledge on direct client billing would benefit from a T&M Contract; that is, until they learn how to do proper fixed price quotations.
As a client, if you want the possibility of a lower bill after the successful completion of a project, then T&M Contract is for you. But, if you want certainty, then go for the other alternative. The main difference between the two contracts is who will shoulder the risk should the estimate exceed the agreed terms. As such, it is very important for both the client and vendor to conduct an open discussion in order to reach an amicable agreement that works best for both parties.