One story that I frequently hear from our customers is that they have had some problems getting their ideas quickly and efficiently turned into new applications or services. Oftentimes they have had a previous attempt at building the application, only to give up on the project part way through.
It is gratifying that they come to us to try to resolve these issues but there are some simple steps that you can take in order to improve your chances of a good development cycle the first time.
I’ll show the 5 steps that I believe can be used to best nurture your ideas and give you the best possible chance of ending up with a useful, market pleasing and hopefully, money earning app at the lowest risk.
The whole process looks like the diagram below, created by the guys at SkoreApp, which you can see in more detail at this link
It’s really important to eke out a little time for thinking during your day. A little time out from the grind can often help you to de-stress, to remember why you work so hard. Often you will subconsciously enhance your idea without concentrating on it.
It helps to find tools to help you to record your valuable thoughts. I use a combination of Trello and Evernote to capture notes, speech and scans of everything that I think might be useful later.
Once you have had some ideas and recorded them then you can approach the first checkpoint in our 5 step plan.
Can I coherently and concisely talk to other people for a couple of minutes about my idea?
If the answer is yes and you can talk about simple things like “Who is going to benefit from my idea?” or “How will my idea pay for itself?” then you are ready to move to step 2.
This doesn’t have to be a formal workshop session with paid consultants picking apart your ideas. You can start with a simple conversation with your family, friends and business associates about your great ideas. The key is to get your thoughts in front of a diverse group of people so that you can hear various different user groups talk about how they might use your idea, product or service.
It can however be highly cost effective to get the thoughts of experienced people at this early stage. It may be that by spending a little money now, you save yourself a whole lot of money and pain at a later date. They may also be able to suggest ways to optimise your eventual development process and reduce the costs that you are likely to incur along the way. A good workshop should tease out those nuggets that show there is valuable competitive advantage in your idea.
Our workshops have been very popular with our customers so far and provide a robust roadmap for future development once the project is complete.
Once you have a broad outline for how your idea will function then you can consider the next checkpoint question.
Do my potential users see the benefits of using my app?
If the answer is yes and you can believe that it is possible to monetise the use of your app then you can move to….
If there is one step that many entrepreneurs seem to skip then it is this one. You cannot underestimate the value of a properly architected solution for most web and mobile applications. Whether you are hoping to develop yourself or to pass to a third party developer, a proper architecture allows you the freedom to change your development resources in the future with minimal pain. It will help you to efficiently plan your resources, whether that be human resource or money. More than half of my company’s customers have come to us after another developer has failed to complete the project and the previous developers have always failed to create a proper architecture in each one of those instances.
A system architecture will also enable you to roadmap the development both for that crucial MVP (minimal viable product) and for future releases. It should provide you with distinct work packages that you can assign to others, along with a cost and the expected outcomes for your use cases. There are several system architect software solutions available available to help you in this process. My company is enjoying using this one from Corso.
Once you have an architected solution and the work divided into packages for you or your development team you can ask the checkpoint question
Do we have a plan that will get us to a MVP?
If temporarily stop development to release that MVP then we can proceed to…
The question of whether you develop an application yourself or instead use a third party developer will often rest with whether you have your own code skills. Some organisations like ours actually use both in-house and external freelance workers to develop the apps (we use Upwork)
Many of the development environments these days are free to use. Whether you want to get to grips with Xcode for iOS development or use one of the growing number of ‘easy’ app-building platforms there is a plethora of options available. There is a good guide to the build packages available in 2016 in this article on Techworld.
Here at KnowNow we use Xcode for iOS development, .net/visual studio for most of our server-side, and wherever we can we use IBM Cloud Services to create new applications as rapidly as possible.
Once you have something that works then you are ready to ask yourself the question
Does my MVP provide at least a little value to the potential users?
If you can answer yes and believe that this will create an impelling reason for them to come back for more then you can move on to the 5th and final step
It is crucial that your idea, hopefully now an actual app, can be tested in its MVP form against a variety of users and devices. You can do this by showing it to friends and family or there are numerous organisations that can do this for you. This testing will help you to work out how your users are interacting with your app and hopefully find the snags before customers do.
The important thing however is to remember that it isn’t the end of the process instead it is the start of the next iteration. Providing you with ideas to improve and augment the capabilities of that first version before starting this whole process all over again.
Once you are happy with the testing you can launch. Then there is only one question that you need to ask
Have my ideas actually made any money?
If you have an idea for an app but haven’t yet thought about how to get it delivered then I’d be more than happy to talk to you about it. KnowNow Information can provide all of the services that we’ve spoken about here but we’d always recommend starting with an Innovation Workshop to capture and expand upon your ideas. You can learn more about our workshops by giving us a call at 02392 160640.
What steps do you take to realise your ideas? Leave any stories about your experiences, good or bad in the comments below!
It’s your nit-picking dad here. Under the heading 3. Architect you have the word available twice in paragraph two. Otherwise an excellent article.
#6 Partner. After you’ve workshopped you need to find prospective clients who are archetypes for your market and continually iterate with them well ahead of completing development. That way they’ll tell you that you’ve delivered enough value for MVP and you won’t need to guess.
Completely agree on the others!