So, you want to get an app made? But, you also have no internal development staff and no idea of where it is that you should start? Well, that’s where we are here to help.
App design and development can be a very long and daunting process, especially if you have no technical expertise in the area, or indeed at all. Clients we work with often have no software development expertise at all and very little technical knowledge to draw from.
The first hurdle to overcome then, is communication. Sometimes, large software projects have to have frequent and detailed meetings with stakeholders whilst development is ongoing to ensure that the project is still on track. These can get bogged down in technical details, the development team coming up with excuses for why a certain feature is delayed that can’t be verified and the meeting finishes on the conclusion that the initial estimate was way off and the project is going to overrun, costing time and money. At Evolyst, we utilise many different methods to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Firstly, we get to know our clients thoroughly and try to get a full understanding of the problem they are trying to solve before even putting together a plan or doing a single sketch. This involves meetings with the key stakeholders; normally the technical lead, project lead, design lead and the clients to hash it out until all sides are happy that they are reading from the same page of the same book. This can take time, but it’s better to invest the time up front in this way than face constant delays once the project begins due to misunderstandings or unclear requirements.
Scoping & Design
Next, once the problem has been fully identified, the product delivery team will form a scope of the requested features. This typically takes the form of a high-level list of brief descriptions of the main areas of functionality defined as ‘User Stories’ called the 'Product Backlog'. This will outline a rough estimate of what the delivery team believe to be how complex each piece of functionality is as well as an outline time estimate for the project as a whole based on this. At this stage, any required design work will also take place. We have a team of in-house designers that will provide a full design specification for the project as well as initial screen designs at this stage too.
The Development Cycle
All of this gets sent to the client to make sure that everyone is still on the same page. When this gets signed off, the proper work can begin! To make sure that the project has constant progress and the client has a constant grasp of the features being developed and completed, at Evolyst we work in 2-week iterations called sprints. The aim of this is that at the end of each sprint, we can deliver a working piece of software to the client that is a step forward from the previous release and which is fully tested to make sure none of the previous features have been impacted by the new developments. This release doesn’t necessarily have to go live, but it is intended to be in a state where if the client chose, it could potentially go live without causing any instability or issues to existing systems if the client wanted to.
At the end of every sprint, the new version of the software is demonstrated to the client as well as an outline of the features that were completed during the sprint. There will also be a discussion about the overall state of the backlog of work still remaining to make sure that the priority of items is still correct and see if any new features need to be added. This will eventually lead to a stable and functionally complete product.
This process continues in a cycle to make sure that all the functionality is completed to a standard that the client is happy with, without having lengthy delays or rewrites of the software, whilst still keeping the client completely in the loop on all areas and aspects of the project.