before-you-hire-an-app-developerYou are an entrepreneur with a great idea for an app, but no tech skills.  What do you do?  Hire a developer, of course! But before you get started hiring, here are some tips to make sure your app development project is successful.

1.    Define your scope of work

The best way to ensure a successful project is to clearly define your scope of work. Before you contact any developer you should have very detailed *written* information about your project, including:

  • application functions
  • application workflows
  • screen by screen field lists / functions /etc.

Be as thorough as possible in your written plans! Developers will bid on your written scope of work and any additional item outside of the “scope of work” you define up front will be considered “out of scope”. Any “out of scope” work will either be declined or done at an additional cost. Some firms charge a higher rate for change work, so make sure you understand the base rate and change rate that applies to “out of scope” requests before you select a developer.

2.    Understand the jargon

In order to select and manage a programmer for your application, you will want to understand some basic technology terms and at a basic level how applications work.

If you enjoy learning about technology, you should pick up a book or two about application development and search online for application developer forums specifically looking for information about application development.

If you are not technical, you will want to enlist help. Turn to a trusted friend with IT experience or hire an outside consultant to be a neutral party that vets technical resources and development plans.

3.    Structure your project

How you structure the app development project will impact the budget and success of your project. Generally speaking, if you have a comprehensive scope of work, hiring a developer at a fixed project price instead of at an hourly rate is the best way to keep your project within budget.  Choosing this approach means developers will take your written plans and provide a flat cost for the entire project.

It is common for developers to handle multiple projects at one time, so to make sure your project is delivered in a timely fashion you should structure your project so that payments to developers are tied to project milestones and the project milestones have fixed deadlines. For example, a milestone could be a finished and working login feature or finished screen layouts due two weeks from the project start.

4.    Calculate long-term costs

If you are building an app to make a profit, don’t forget to calculate all of your technology costs and work those costs into your business model.  Some often overlooked costs are hardware and server infrastructure needed to run the application, and the ongoing services necessary to maintain the technology environment. Most applications will need to store data and talk back to a central server in order for it to run and work in the real world.  The data storage and server services have real costs that will grow as data and users are added.  You will likely need someone to install, configure, and manage these services initially and to provide ongoing support and maintenance.  These are some sample costs you may run into after development is complete that should be factored into your long-term cost model.