What is an App and Applications Development?

Simply put, an app or application is computer software or a program. We deal with a myriad of apps daily – in our personal and working lives. WhatsApp for example, a communication app, or Microsoft Excel, a productivity app, or Monday.com, a project management app.

Apps can be mobile or web-based, or both. They can be purchased off-the-shelf as standalone, or as part of an integrated stack. If you can’t find an app fit for purpose, you might consider building it yourself. This is custom-application development.

Key considerations when building your own app

The truth is that building and maintaining software applications is expensive and time consuming. There are a number of key considerations when deciding to embark on a customer software development project:

  1. Specifications / ScOpe

Perhaps the most important phase of any tech deployment project is scoping. Its essential that you spend as much time as is necessary to properly document your requirements if you are to reap the rewards of a successful implementation:.

  • Start with functional and non-functional requirements:
    • Functional – these are the business process requirements (what the app must do). Think about administrative, transactional, corrective and reporting requirements.
    • Non-functional / technical – consider requirements related to processing time, number of concurrent users the app must be able to support, uptime and ease of use requirements.
  • Next document workflow narratives:
    • Think of these as ‘user stories’ – define how people in different roles will use the application, and prioritise and log who requires what functionality and any inter-departmental integration requirements.
  • Finally, create business process maps:
    • These are diagrams with symbols that map out workflows using standard business process modelling and language. They are designed to express how people in different functions collaborate to get things done.

This will become the backbone of RFPs (Request for Proposals) that you will share with vendors or development houses for comparison.

Your goal here is to define a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – bare-bones but stable, iterative solution that you can fine tune according to actual user feedback.

2. Oftentimes its better to buy than to build

It doesn’t make sense to develop custom apps for core business functions like accounting, payroll, sales tax, inventory, and customer relationship management (CRM), because there are so many off-the-shelf, highly configurable options on the market.

It’s only when you can’t find software that does what you need that you would look to build it yourself. And even then, you need to assess whether there’s a high-value opportunity to seize or a significant efficiency to gain. Indeed, you need to be able to quantify to at least some extent a strong ROI to justify a custom build.

When you are thinking about how to quantify ROI, also consider time-to-value:

3. Development time

The time it takes to develop an app is determined by your needs and wants. With any project, a scope is drawn up to set project goals and realistic timelines and depending on your needs, development can take anywhere from 2 – 12 months. The more complex the capabilities and requirements of the app become, the longer it may take to iron out the kinks.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that custom application development is can be a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ project:

4. Support and maintenance

As with the development time of applications, there are many things to consider when designing an app. The time it takes to develop, hosting options, updates, what storefront costs you may encounter and how many people will be using your app.

These are only some of the issues to consider when maintaining your app, and that’s where application support and maintenance comes in. Quality support for your online applications can be of crucial importance to you and your company. We can create a maintenance plan for you to ensure everything runs smoothly.

5. UX & UI design

Good user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are essential if you want to ensure user adoption and ROI. When selecting a developer, make sure that they have solid UI and UX design knowledge and expertise.

Having taken all of these considerations into account, you can be confident that your decision to build a custom application is the right one. And the hard work can begin. When selecting a partner, they should take time to review your RPFs, have a solid track record and follow an agile approach to application development. They should have an appropriate tech stack to support your requirements, too.

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