5 Ways to Avoid Mobile App Development Failure

Businesses are moving fast to address the demand for both employee- and customer-facing mobile apps. However, there is a danger in rushing. Here are five ways to avoid pushing out a mobile app too soon.

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Tue, March 19, 2013

CIO

mobile apps
Workers and consumers are constantly on their smartphones and tablets these days, so it's no surprise that companies are rushing to put out mobile apps to better serve their employees and customers.

[Ebook: Strategic Guide to Enterprise Mobile Applications]

Some companies fail because they produce an app too quickly, which forces them to then make updates along the way based on feedback and functionality. To avoid pushing out a mobile app prematurely, here's a laundry list of things you need to do and do right.

[Related: The Enterprise App Store: 10 Must-Have Features ]

[Slideshow: 10 Top Mobile Application Development Platforms ]

1. Develop a Mobile App Roadmap

Before rolling out a mobile app, you must have precise plans in place. Decide on the overall goal of the app, how you will measure its success and how it will make users' lives easier. "The biggest problem for most companies is that they don't have a good definition for what they really want," says Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates.

Gold says companies need to put together a detailed roadmap of what steps need to take place when and how much each will cost. Design and development costs, on average, range from $200,000 to $350,000, according to Forrester so each dollar needs to be carefully spent. Also, make sure to build padding into the timeline of the roadmap. "Assume it will take longer than you think it will and it will cost more than you think it will," Gold says.

For each step, collect deep research about users and their habits because ultimately they will be the ones using, and hopefully benefitting, from the app. "Do your homework, define what you want and get feedback from customers," Gold says. "Do it right the first time if you can and understand what it is you're trying to build, then program it. Don't just do it because competitors are doing it."

2. Choose Between an Outside Agency or Full-Time Mobile App Developers

You should carefully evaluate whether development should stay in-house or be contracted to an agency or freelance developers. Large companies tend to have the resources for full-time in-house developers because they have larger IT staffs. "If it's a larger company with a very robust online presence and lots of mobile apps, they might have a full-time person," says John Reed, senior executive director at Robert Half Technology.

Michael Facemire, senior analyst at Forrester Research, says nominating an internal IT person for a mobile app project requires some questions. "It depends on [more than] how much software work you've done in the past," he says. "People that have done tons of software [work] say mobile is different."

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