Building a Timeline for Your App Development Project
This post is part of a blog series on “Building Mobile into your Business” and covers things to know before starting a mobile app project for your business. Click here to read the rest of the posts in the series.
Assuming that your company is looking to build multiple apps, it can be helpful to understand the development process and to build a project timeline. An outline of an example timeline is provided below.
- Hold strategy meetings with all concerned parties and departments to determine the approximate number of apps to be created (if there are more than one) and to create the high level strategy document.
- Review the strategy document to ensure that needs are properly represented
- Use the document to create high level requirements for the development team. Over time you may customize the strategy document based on past experience and domain expertise, and you should keep the document updated as a working document going forward for future years.
- If applicable, review your app plans with your IT department to determine Web Services features and their timeline constraints even if they are not doing the development. In most cases, IT will be needed to assist if there are any website or systems integration into existing systems. They will also be able to help determine if Web Services will be written internally or externally. Given that IT departments are usually already functioning at full capacity, Web Services may have to be written externally by your app developer.
It is also important to determine the security model and hosting at this point, if applicable. If intermediate solutions will be put in place, apps can always be updated to adapt to new infrastructure realities when they occur.
- If you are developing multiple apps, receive an estimate on all ‘A’ priority applications, and begin to schedule all ‘A’ priority applications. Depending on your need, it may be beneficial to start kickoffs about once a month rather than pushing everything through at once. It is okay if subsequent apps start before previous apps are complete, but often times things can become confused if too many projects are launched simultaneously. Most apps take between two and four months to complete, but that time obviously varies according to the app.
- Once ‘A’ priority apps are completed determine if second versions are more important than beginning the same process for ‘B’ and ‘C’ level apps. Either schedule 2nd versions of the ‘A’ priority apps or schedule first versions of ‘B’ priority apps. Regardless, slot the kickoffs and then determine apps rather than determining apps and then slotting the kickoffs. Otherwise slippage in timelines will deter the ability to develop apps on this aggressive of a timeline.
- Where possible, apps should be extensively tested internally first, before being deployed to the sales force or general public. This, of course, depends on the type of app and the timeline requirements. Usually one week should be enough time to move from one testing group to another and receive adequate feedback.
Subsequent versions usually are easier in terms of time required and it is usually easier to add features or make tweaks once the app has some form. In general, half of the apps will require a second version within 6 months of completion. A retainer can be put in place to handle small revisions once the initial app has been developed.
Also, yearly strategy meetings should be scheduled to allow for app strategy to be aligned with company strategy. This meeting should correlate with other corporate strategy meetings.
Once this basic plan has been approved, mobile projects should also be synced with other IT projects currently under consideration. This is especially important for backend systems and Web Services requirements so that the app development team and the IT team can cooperate properly on the development.
Finally, be sure to communicate your timelines and needs to your app developer, especially if using a third party app development company. They can work with you to help determine timelines, deadlines and milestones throughout your projects.