Overcoming development problems one step at a time

Identifying and overcoming app development challenges that affect your business

Mark Wiggins
© Shutterstock / RoryDesign

A recent survey by GetApp asked 150 small businesses about the troubles their developers face in app production. In this article, you will learn how to overcome the most common challenges that come along with app development. Let Mark Wiggins walk you through the steps and help get your team back on track and developing great apps.

It’s almost impossible to breeze through the development of an app without facing some challenges along the way. It happens in every business, and it’s nothing out of the ordinary. But what are the most common challenges currently facing app developers, and how can your business better prepare itself to overcome them?

The business app specialists at GetApp recently surveyed 150 North American small business professionals, all of whom had close involvement in the development of apps, seeking to discover some of the most common app development challenges.

Rework after delivery is the biggest challenge

From the GetApp research, it was clear that reworking apps after delivery was one of the most common challenges a developer could face. 84% of respondents said that this was a regular occurrence, and 39% of businesses reported that up to one quarter of the apps they developed in 2017 needed rework.

Post-development updates are often a planned and critical part of the development process, so aren’t necessarily a bad thing. However, last minute changes, mistakes during development and changing client expectations can be the real frustration. Reworking apps they’ve already spent time and resources developing can make developers feel like they’re doing work they’ve already done.

How do we overcome this?

Rework of apps can’t always be completely avoided, but there are things that any business can do to decrease the amount of time spent on this. Communication is key here. Ensure that you maintain a constant and effective line of communication between developers and businesses. The importance of keeping everyone on the same page can’t be understated.

On top of this, setting clear expectations from the get-go can help to avoid time-consuming issues further down the line. If all parties fully understand the goals of a project, there’s less chance for mistakes.

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Over time and over budget

They say time is money, and that rings true when it comes to app development. 74% of people who responded to the research had experienced an app development project that came in late. Racing to complete projects can lead to costly errors, a decrease in brand authenticity and has a knock-on effect on other projects. This all costs your business money.

It may come as no surprise, then, that 70% of respondents to the GetApp research said their app development projects had come in over budget in the past year, with 11% of organizations reporting that over 50% of the past year’s projects were over budget. This shows what a large and common issue the exceeding of budgets is.

How do we overcome this?

Collaboration throughout your entire business is vitally important here. If your sales team are making unrealistic promises to customers, you’re already on the back foot when it comes to hitting targets that may be beyond your capabilities. Ensuring that you have a project manager in place to control all aspects of development could make a huge difference in helping you stay on schedule and within budget.

Customers sometimes have a habit of asking for unrealistic changes halfway through a project, and this can be damaging. Having someone with the ability to set expectations and say “no” when necessary is important.

Backlog problems

As we’ve discussed, for app developers there’s more to think about than just the creation and delivery of apps. Maintenance and upkeep of live apps takes a lot of time and needs to be factored into your team’s workload. It’s perhaps no surprise that 41% of businesses told GetApp that they have a backlog of 6-20 apps, with 6% even saying they have backlogs of over 20 apps.

For small businesses, app development can be a long and labor-intensive process, full of trial and error. In fact, 32% of respondents said it takes 3-5 months to create a business app, with 10% saying it can take over a year.

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How do we overcome this?

These backlog problems are often symptomatic of an under resourced development team. Developing apps is a highly skilled job, which can lead to a couple of potential problems for businesses. One is finding enough staff with the right skillset; the other is that skilled and experienced developers have a high attrition rate, potentially due to the morale-breaking nature of workgeing in a team without enough resources.

Cloud-based app building software, otherwise known as Application Platform as a Service (aPaaS), could help you deliver apps without the need for technical coding knowledge. This can open the pool of developer talent and make it easier to keep your team fully staffed, coping with the demand of development requests.

App development is challenging, and it’s unlikely that it will ever be a completely straightforward process. Ensuring that you’re aware of the potential issues faced is the first step to minimizing the long-term problems that they can cause for your business. The unpredictability of app development means that being prepared to react quickly to setbacks and changes will help you continue to meet customer’s expectations and perform efficiently.


Mark Wiggins

Mark Wiggins is a UK-based writer and contributing writer for GetApp. with experience in writing about a broad array of subjects, including the technology industry. He has produced several articles about app development and advances in app building technology. Follow him on Twitter @markjwiggins.

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