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Top 5 Risks in App Development to Сonsider

  • 13-14 min read
  • September 03, 2021
  • 👍 Rating — 5 (20 votes)

Just like any business process, web and mobile development involve a number of risks. Sometimes, the number gets so big that you begin to wonder if it’s even worth the effort. Each risk, whether it relates to mobile or web development, can be backed up and managed. If it is not eliminated, it can still be turned into a “positive risk” (positive risks meaning). At GBKSOFT, we have developed an intensive risk management system. Here are some risks you may want to consider and some solutions that we can provide to you.

Importance of risk management

A mobile app development risk management plan is a must for any type of software project. Of course, depending on the project`s specifics some risks are uncertain, unexpected, and cannot be 100% predictable. However, risk management plans minimize the potential risks and mitigate their harm to the development process. The policy of risk management mostly depends on the company’s culture and attitude towards clients. Talking about the beneficial sides of thinking about risks in terms of engaging in app development, we would like to mention: 

  • Providing secure IT environment for the software development team and client as well;
  • Ensuring a stable process during development;
  • Protecting the development team from harmful actions that can lead to losing resources and money;
  • As a client, you know what to expect at the end of the cooperation with the software development team.

Development Risk #1: What Do I Want?

The first thing you should do is understand what you want to develop. The risk grows and the chances of the app becoming successful drop to a minimum if you don’t know what you want to receive in the end, why you even need it, or how you will benefit from it.

What do I do if I have this risk?

The risk of not knowing what you want is one that can easily be resolved. You can turn to GBKSOFT to help you prepare the specifications and describe the whole idea, or you can try doing some homework before turning to our development company. Utilizing this small tip first will help you to answer and form the following ideas:

  • Define the main purpose that your app should serve.
  • Define 5 other business issues that your app should resolve.
  • Define the prospective target audience for your app.
  • Analyze your target audience: Decide if you want to target users of Android, iOS, WEB, or everything, if they are female or male, their age range, etc.
  • Find apps similar to your idea and determine if they are similar or identical.
  • Look at the number of downloads your competitors receive to determine if it is popular.
  • Take a look at your competitor’s reviews: search for what people want to change in their app and discover what they like or don’t like.
  • Define how your app will be different from existing competitors. Write down the features that your competitors have and determine what you and their users like.
  • Write down the features that you would like to add.
  • How will you make money from it?
  • Will users pay for what you are going to sell?

By answering those questions, you will form a vision of your app. And when answering all other questions from our development team, keep in mind those goals that you defined. Any decisions you make should be based on those business goals.

Development Risk #2: Technical Specifications

Your idea needs to be fine-tuned into specifications that would be clear to developers. Development without specifications is not a risk that our team takes, nor do we suggest it to you. If you are working on “Time & Material,” you will spend lots of money by redoing what was already done. If you are working off a fixed price, it’s only a matter of time before you exceed your budget. Technical specifications allow us to understand the scope of the whole project at once, bringing proper architecture.

If you want to draw the wireframes yourself, it’s also a risk unless you have experience doing it because wireframes should be designed in a way that keeps the application both user-friendly and comfortable to use. Some tools that would be helpful for wireframing include:

Axure: This is the tool we use at GBKSOFT for wireframing. With it, you can make an interactive prototype with its sharing option and numerous widgets.

Balsamiq: This is a paid service that claims to give “rough” interfaces to encourage and provide lots of feedback.

Justinmind: This is a popular, paid solution for beginners.

What do I do if I have this risk?

We would recommend that you turn to a team of developers. In our company, the client is involved in this stage too, simply by working through each screen with us. We also have regular meetings where we provide suggestions and help the client come up with a final decision.

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Development Risk #3: Resources/Budget/Deadlines

Do you remember a famous triangle?

With that in mind, you need to select the part of the triangle that would best align with your business goals:

  • If it’s a small prototype, it makes sense to select “Cheap” and “Good,” and then invest more into the project once you verified your idea with users.
  • If you just need a presentation for investors in order to acquire funding, it makes sense to get “Fast” and “Cheap”.
  • If you are looking for a high-quality application, you need to be patient and go with “Expensive” and “Good”, and definitely not fast.

What do I do if I have this risk?

When you get a quote from the development team, check it against this drawing and make sure that you are critical to:

  • Your deadline
  • The budget you are willing to allocate
  • The development team you are hiring.

App Development Deadlines

Find out what timelines the development team is comfortable with and see if it’s better to agree to those timelines, but get better quality. Come to an agreement on the deadline together with the team, instead of pushing for tight deadlines that can negatively affect the resulting level of quality of the solution.

App Development Resources

Use the following resources when searching for your app dev team:

  • See the reviews of the team you plan on working with (Clutch is a reliable resource for it). Ask for references and a portfolio.
  • Check if they provide a discovery stage (all good companies provide it). If they don’t, see Risk #2.
  • Ask them to tell you about their process of development with the following questions:
    • Will I have access to the code? It’s better if they do provide it so that if anything goes wrong, you have the code you paid for.
    • Will they provide test apps and links? It’s better if they do so that you can track the progress.
    • Will you have a dedicated team? It’s better if they do because they won’t be distracted by other projects and will keep to the timelines they have promised.
    • How will the process of reporting and communications go? It’s better if they provide a dedicated project manager who will keep you up to date and communicate with you while the whole team is working.
    • Do you have experience in the development of similar apps? It’s better if they do, but a history of working with the features that you want in your app is good enough.

If you are satisfied with their answers, feel free to negotiate the quote. Remember that a reliable team with proven experience will usually cost more because they have a process in place. Turning to a freelancer or an unreliable company without references, reviews, or even a portfolio would have risks because the company could disappear when it feels that it can’t meet the terms you agreed to.

App Development Costs

Compare the timelines that you developed compared to the developer’s timeline, as well as the number of features you got from the expenses. If the cost is not what you expected, it’s not the end. You can still work with the budget. When you are reviewing the quote, make sure that the development team didn’t miss any functionality that both of you agreed to include in the app.

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App development cost
See our blog article on managing software development costs.

Development Risk #4: The Wind of Change

Even though agile development is very “agile” about the changes, it still has its limitations. All changes are re-estimated and planned for the next milestone, sprint, or whatever you call it and are not introduced spontaneously or chaotically right there and now.

What do I do if I have this risk?

Assess the number of changes you are giving to the team, including the following:

  • Do you evaluate those changes against business goals before their approval?
  • Assess how important they are on the scale of 1-10, where 10 ranks as extremely important. If they rank more than 7 points, request the estimate of change.
  • Make sure that the team estimates the changes and lets you know how the change affects the architecture of the app. Assess if the app needs it now on the same scale of 1-10 when you know how much the change would cost and how much effort it would take. If they rank more than 7 points, plan this change for the next milestone or release.

Development Risk #5: Communication

One of the biggest risks with app development is when the decision-maker is unavailable. This is especially true for clients who are busy with their regular business and are ordering the application as their second option for revenue.

Our team takes the major part of the work and is always ready to make recommendations, but if there’s no person to make a decision, answer questions, make a payment, review the ready part, etc.; the risk of the app becoming something they didn’t intend it to be is very high. Therefore, communication is a risk factor that needs to be accounted for.

At the stage of specifications, the application’s development would take 50% of your time. The more time you allocate to it, the quicker this stage goes. Once the stage is over, we will need less of your attention. The release stage is another heavy stage that requires your involvement, since it will include lots of preparations, legal documentation, purchasing of services, etc.

What do I do if I have this risk?

In relation to the risk of not being available or having a lack of communication on the app development, follow these suggestions:

  • Make sure you indicate the time when you are free for meetings with the project manager or the team.
  • Make sure you check emails regularly and provide answers to the team in time.
  • If you are not available or are going on a business trip, please provide a person of contact that can make decisions while you are away.

We also provided you with the GBKSOFT project risk template which you can check out by entering your email in the graph below.

Enter your name and email to download the file.

How we manage risks in GBKSOFT: Use Case

Risk management should become a satellite of your project from the idea to the maintenance period and further. Ignorance of this procedure sooner or later would lead to issues with the budget, increase in the cost of the features’ development, changes in delivery dates, limitations in development due to the architecture limitations, or even more it could turn into a blocker that would kill the whole project.

Can you imagine a project that has been almost finished and which could have never been released if only proper risk management was not done from the project initiation stage? 

That was exactly a case we were dealing with on one of our projects.

We were working on an IoT project for an American company (CTRL Golf – https://gbksoft.com/cases/golf/). In order to be able to perform development and testing, we required physical devices. The device was sent out to us but it was only one set of sensors, those sensors were only the prototypes and, moreover, this was a period of the COVID-19 lockdown when everyone had to work remotely.

The very first thing we did as a team prepared the risk register. We brainstormed in the following directions:

  1. How to perform development and testing with minimized or no gaps when everybody requires this set of sensors to get work done?
  2. How to share the sensors between team members in a period of lockdown?
  3. What if one of the sensors breaks?
  4. What if the second pair of sensors are sent out and there are delays in delivery due to COVID-19?
  5. What should we do if the issue is not in the code but in the sensors themselves?

These are only a couple of questions we asked during that meeting. Our next step was to sort out all the risks and to come to the points of how to mitigate them.

Once the document was ready, we scheduled a call with our stakeholders to go through the risk register and to discuss literally every point. This conversation helped us to discover even more potential issues and to agree on the immediate actions to take that helped us avoid the negative effects. Last but not least, we came to one (common) vision on the project budget and what would influence it, on limitations and timelines taking into account those risks and mitigation plans. 

Our goal was not to prepare a list of ‘disclaimers’ (and to forget about it until a disaster takes hold) but to build up a list of contingency plans “B, C, D, …” to deliver the project in the shortest possible period of time and within the given budget. Therefore, we were constantly getting back to that document with the team and stakeholders, discussing and updating it.

In the end, we faced limitations of lockdown, issues with sensors, delays in delivery of the new pair of sensors, difficulties with work planning when both developers and QA engineers required sensors at the same time, and many other issues. A question ‘Can we finish this project?’ could have been raised at literally any stage during the development cycle, the project could have turned into losses and never met customers. 

But the fact that the risk management processes were in place, supporting the project at every stage and every day, the project was delivered successfully, with no gaps in the development process and within the agreed scope of work and budget.  Deal not with the issues but with risks, be proactive instead of reactive. It’s always better to spend some time and budget on proper risk management on a regular basis than to deal with the issues when it could already be too late or too unprofitable.

FAQ

The most widespread mobile app risks are related to going beyond budgets and being focused on project deadlines. The range of risk is pretty large, however, experienced software development teams are able to devise an appropriate risk management plan for your particular project.
Risks in app development require quick reactions, flexibility, and urgent actions. Due to the Scrum methodology that we follow here at GBKSOFT, we are ready to adjust to any changes during the development, even completely unpredictable ones. We will surely build the risk management plan before the development starts in order to consider all potential threats and find ways of how to avoid their appearance. You can also check out the risk tables that our specialists fill for each project in the article.

In conclusion

Software product production is a complicated process with plenty of details to take into account. App development risk management is tasked with making this process smoother and predictable as much as possible. The risk management plan actually shows developers what to do and what it is better to avoid. Despite the management, the risks in mobile application development demand some spendings, this money is definitely worth investing in order to successfully build and deploy your software product.

Schedule a consultation with our team to discuss your project specifics including project risks in your app development.

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Creator

Due to my Master`s Degree in journalism, I focus on the details while doing the research on the topic. My particular curiosity is about the latest mobile app developments that start in 2015 that make life easier and save much time to spend it more productive. I am an expert in reviewing and consulting web projects related to web applications, especially if they are connected with wearables.
Valeriia Dukhan

Expert

The project manager who is not afraid of challenges and is absolutely sure that the only way to success is actions. Experience of work with complex and high-loaded projects proved that impossible is nothing. So let's make your dream come true together!
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Comments (2)

Concetta
Oct 27, 2017 at 3:49 AM

This article is a good example of how the author focuses in on the subject matter of which he/she has a real good grasp!

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Trudi Nielson
Dec 26, 2016 at 6:11 PM

I’m gone to inform my little brother, that he should also visit this blog on regular basis to take updated from most recent information.

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