The Technical Specification for the Mobile App Has Been Approved, so What's Next?
From the moment you have uncovered and captured your startup idea in a technical specification, a new uncertainty opens up in front of you. If your funding is limited or you have yet to attract new investors, you need a cost-effective next step. For example, Y Combinator offers participants a range of tools and, if the idea has proven viable, an investment of up to $150,000.
The main message that Y Combinator's leaders convey to participants is that there are no identical paths. Each idea requires a unique set of tools, which you can pick up yourself or with the help of the latest technology, and get tremendous growth in the first few months of work.
What do you need to do after drafting a technical specification?
Focus on your product to figure out how to show people and understand its value without high costs. Your tools could be hypothesis testing, AI tools, creating a landing page, a Telegram group, or a FB page if you want to sell an information resource. You can tell your friends and already get minimal feedback. Each of these approaches will add more useful features to the product and remove unneeded ones.
If you want to realise your IT idea through an app, a cost-effective next step could be an MVP. An MVP is a stripped-down version of your application that includes the core features needed to meet the basic needs of your users. It is a pragmatic approach that provides rapid development, early user feedback and cost optimisation.
How Does MVP Work?
If you have an idea with a high potential to benefit people, it will germinate without much investment. The story of Facebook is proof of this. In 2004, it was hard even to call it a social network. Facebook started as a minimum viable product (MVP) with a small set of features so that Harvard students could communicate with each other and see a bulletin board. And as demand for the network grew, the creators continued to improve and expand it.
An MVP is a great way to get your idea in front of customers before you build a complete software product. Let's make an analogy to fully understand the difference between an MVP and a finished application.
Let's say you have an idea to remotely control a drone via an app and fly with birds in different parts of the world. The app will synchronise multiple devices, clients and drone operators, assuming unpredictable situations. You contact the developers, include the features you need in the TC, and expect a complex, unique product for three months. However, with the first users, unflattering reviews appear. Your customers need help finding out in advance where in the world they will get a quick response from the operator; they have to spend a long time looking for an immediate answer in the list. This wastes time and reduces the value of the idea. It turns out that you need another feature, filter by operator response time. A lot of time and money has been spent, and the idea is about to fail.
It's normal for your idea to be tweaked regarding something as complex as human behaviour. Even an online store application needs refinement to meet the target audience's needs. What does MVP offer? It is a complete mobile app with a minimum set of features to meet the essential criteria of your business. Using the drone example with an MVP, you can first add 4-5 locations, the ability to fly online with an experienced operator, and later run ads for the remote control feature that will soon be added. The idea remains unique, feedback is gathered, and weaknesses are addressed during development.
An MVP increases a project's chances of success in several ways.
- Testing the idea. You can test whether people need your concept at a minimal cost.
- Speed to market. MVPs accelerate time to market, which is critical in a fast-paced digital environment. Statistically, Ptolemay releases a pilot version of a product 2.5 times faster than a full version.
- Cost-effectiveness. MVPs save resources by focusing on core feature development.
- Only some of the flashy features at once. You can fuel customer demand by waiting for new features in your app.
- Optimum quality. The simplified version of the product loads instantly thanks to its lightweight. It responds quickly to the user's actions, giving a positive first impression. At the same time, the design is fully compliant with TC requirements.
- Better full-featured results. By getting customer feedback during development, you can change the TC by removing unnecessary features or adding more useful ones.
However, is it reasonable to change the technical specification after set deadlines and development has started? Let's go through the stages of creating a mobile app in order, so that you have a clear idea and confidence when communicating with your developers.
Stage 1: Technical Specification
Before we get started, let's define the crucial role of the technical specification. This document outlines the purpose, features and technical requirements of your application. One of the most important criteria for a good specification is flexibility. It is complicated to assess the usefulness and optimal feature set until the MVP is released. Therefore, the TC can change during the development process, and this is an excellent opportunity to make the finished mobile app more valuable and unique.
A classic example is Dropbox, which started as an MVP and was a simple file-sharing and storage solution. It quickly gained a user base and expanded features based on customer feedback.
Stage 2: Design
Some companies come to the developers with a finished interface design before the technical specification has been written. It always leads to extra work for the designers. Before the TC is developed, it isn't easy to understand which functions and in which order will best help the user. As a result, the design often has to be redesigned.
In addition, not all in-house designers are familiar with UX/UI design for mobile applications. It is a process of creating a memorable, user-friendly, and understandable user interface that consists of several steps.
- Business analysis. Business analysts interview the business owner, ask their customers and analyse the market. Competitors' strengths and weaknesses are taken into account. The project manager and the designer create a detailed psychological portrait of typical representatives of the target audience and analise life priorities, hobbies, clothing, professional activities and much more. Based on the data collected, the team creates mood boards and formulates criteria for the optimal interface to evoke positive emotions in the customer.
- Creation of customer scenarios. Considering the technical capabilities specified in the TC, managers and designers build a sequence of actions for real users. Where they will go and what they will look for in the application are illustrated by customer requirement maps. At this stage, new features may become necessary, and the value of existing features may decrease. Any changes are made in the technical specification.
- Creation of wireframes. Designers assemble pages from simple blocks and determine where content, buttons, scrolling, etc. should go. The optimum number of pages and links between them are being determined.
- Creation of sketches. At this stage you can already see what the pages will look like, but without colour features for now. Simple wireframes can be easily animated and tested using InVision or Marvel tools to make improvements before the final design.
- Final design. Once the layout is approved and optimised, the designer designs all the pages as they will appear in the finished app. The specialist is guided by the company's style, colour scheme and the preferences of real users. The finished design is accompanied by a description of the rules and patterns, so that the elements of the application maintain a consistent style at all subsequent stages.
Our team provides feedback using a handy loop tool in all design stages. The specialists publish a daily report of the work done. The client can see where the project is at any time and comment on interim results.
Stage 3: Development and Testing
Ideally, a team of experienced developers will take your project from idea and technical specification to supporting and improving the finished application. But if it's only at this stage that you decide to find an outsourcing company or are thinking of hiring in-house developers, there are a few things to consider. For example, a common misconception is that large teams guarantee success. Success depends on the synergy and competence of the team members. The company you hire should include the following key positions.
- Project Manager: oversees the project, ensuring deadlines are met, tasks are completed according to technical specifications, and client changes are made promptly.
- Server-side and client-side developers constantly work together to bring your application to life.
- Designers are responsible for the application's user interface and user interaction.
You can hire your technical team. In-house staff give you more control. This is useful for long-term projects or sensitive data. However, you need highly specialised specialists with experience in native (Android, iOS) and cross-platform (Flutter, Ionic, React Native, etc.) development. Experienced developers have high salaries and good benefits and are in demand in the job market. You also must hire a specialist to lead the project and understand different niche issues.When you hire an outsourcing company, you work with a team of narrowly focused specialists. Once a week, a meeting is organised with the client in Slak, where the professionals share their thoughts on improving the product and updates that appear on the market and the possibility of implementing them in the product. A project manager, a designer for minor changes, backend and frontend developers, and a tester are usually involved in the project.Meetings are held every two weeks or a month if the client is busy. While communicating with the specialists, you discuss and sometimes test release versions of the product together. When the product is bug-free, and you think it has all the essential features, you approve the release of the first MVP. From then on, real customers will evaluate all parts, and you will be able to attract more investors.
In this case, outsourcing offers many advantages. Firstly, it provides access to a vast talent pool with diverse skills. These professionals are well-versed in advanced technologies, ensuring the development of high-quality, innovative solutions. Outsourcing eliminates the need for in-house infrastructure, significantly reducing operating costs.Time-to-market is accelerated as fine-tuned processes and resources allow projects to be initiated and implemented more quickly. You may also want to consider outsourcing staff augmentation and training. This approach combines the strengths of both internal and external talent, ultimately strengthening your team.
Agile Development and Systematic Feedback
Modern applications are developed using the Agile methodology, allowing flexibility and continuous product improvement even before release. All work is divided into phases, and debugged functionality is tested at the end of each stage. Regular feedback allows the project to meet your expectations.
At this phase, stakeholders discuss what the MVP should look like so that customers can evaluate your application as soon as possible and the development team can identify and fix any weaknesses. The entire process at this stage is divided into backend and frontend development. Backend development focuses on backend functionality and data processing, while frontend developers are responsible for the user interface and successful user experience.
At this stage, the application undergoes rigorous testing to ensure functionality, performance and security. The testing team checks usability and identifies bugs and issues. Testing is performed on various devices and environments, both actual and simulated. The result of this process is the release of a stable and bug-free application, and ongoing post-launch monitoring helps to maintain its quality and user satisfaction.
Customer Communication and Transparency
Effective communication with the client is essential. From the start of the collaboration, company Ptolemay provides access to a Slack group for instant messaging and a time-tracking system to track progress.
The project cost is entirely transparent and is based on the number of hours, depending on the complexity and scope of the work. With a clear TC and fixed rates, you can estimate the final price of the application yourself. On the other hand, if there are changes at different stages of production, the project's cost will also vary. This is why we do not quote a single charge but an acceptable price range.This method is called time and materials (T&M), which is much more convenient than a fixed-price contract when developing MVP. If, after release, you need to add new features that were not in the technical specifications, it's enough to pay extra for the hours spent. A fixed price will require a new contract, which leads to additional costs.
Timelines are also set at the specification stage. We produce an optimised schedule, the progress of which is monitored by the project manager and monthly reports are sent to the client. Although, in some cases, the application can be ready in a few days, it often takes several months to develop. Timing depends on the scope and complexity of the idea.
Stage 4: Maintenance
Outsourcing companies offer service-level agreements as part of the post-launch maintenance of an application. These agreements ensure ongoing support, security and optimisation to promote a positive user experience and the long-term success of the application in a competitive market.A standard service agreement option defines the scope of ongoing tasks, such as bug fixes, performance enhancements and security updates, and includes a fixed price. These contracts can be tailored to meet your specific needs.
Ptolemay guarantees the long-term maintenance of the product on favourable terms for the company. At the end of the project, we sign a retainer agreement. This is a T&M contract with an additional condition of a minimum number of hours to the monthly payment. As a result, the team that worked on the project is fixed for the client to provide technical support. You will always be able to get professional advice and quick resolution of problems with the application.
In conclusion, the mobile application development phase is a challenging journey that requires careful planning, teamwork and communication. By choosing the right development partner, understanding the roles of your team, applying agile methodologies and maintaining transparent communication, you can confidently navigate this journey and increase your chances of a successful mobile app launch. Ranked by Clutch.co as a top 1 app development company, Ptolemay will might be your trusted full-service application partner and guide for your project in the digital world.
The Ptolemay team offers favourable conditions for long-term cooperation. This is needed when your application is regularly updated with new and improved features. Besides, the world of IT technologies is constantly changing, and digital innovations appear, which often play a vital role in the highly competitive market. At the same time, there is no need to maintain a team of developers. We enter into a contract with you where you pay for a minimum number of hours. In this way, you reserve a place in our overall workflow. This gives you the guarantee that we will manage your product and make any necessary changes at any time.