Planning app development requires quite a bit of up-front planning but is much easier than realized. Often, business leaders and developers want to get right into construction. They’ll justify this by stating they will “iterate” during development to “refine” the design. Developers are not good designers. Business leaders are not good a making technical decisions. The result is a poor UI with likely an over-engineered solution which prevents the product from being malleable. Also, because there was never any design phase development continues without any guide as to what is complete, what is next, and how much is left. Lastly, due the lack of vision as to the product delivery requirements, in it’s impossible to know when the product is finished.
Instead, it’s better to heavily iterate over the design before starting implementation. The results are three work products which result in a much smoother implementation phase.
Each of these items is important because they let the business explore, experience, and iterate over the business idea without the cost of software development or risk of building the wrong product.
You need three core items before starting your store-based app development:
- Project Plan
The visual elements, workflow, and navigation is what your user will experience each time they use your app. Getting these right is critical to keeping your app on the user’s devices. You need both an experienced technical manager and designer to create these. During this phase, the designer and manager will be helping you consider the user and the cost of construction. They will give guidance on what is critical and what is less so. This is the most interactive part of product development usually requiring quite a bit of input for various stakeholders. For startup companies, this is usually where their business idea is actually “fleshed out”.
Backlog of work items
Often called “stories”, this list of items to be worked is written for a developer to implement. As such, these are created by someone with a strong technical or product development background. The stories require implementation-level detail and have clear criteria for acceptance. This is the most valuable of the three asset to be produced. The backlog allows the business to estimate time and budget for the project. In turn, this enables the business to assess to make adjustments to the cost of the project depending on timeline and features.
The backlog, along with the budget and timeline from the business results in a project plan. The project plan is the team playbook used during implementation. You’re ready to start developing, once you have a story-centric project plan written down. Use an experienced technical project manager to execute the project plan. They will stick to the plan as much and aggressively as possible. They will make adjustment only when it’s absolutely critical.