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Part One: Preparing to work with a development firm

Web & Mobile

Joshua Davidson wrote this article

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For the majority of our clients here at Chop Dawg, this is their first time working with a company like us to build their mobile apps, web apps, brands, user interface designs, etc.

If you haven’t worked with a company like us before, it can feel a bit overwhelming.

How do you plan to approach a company like us at Chop Dawg?

What does the proposal process in detail?

What are the questions that you should be asking and what information should have before getting into a working arrangement with a company like us?

What does a project with a company like us look like? How would things go?

What should you expect after your application has been completed and launch?

We try our best to walk-through all of our potential customers what to expect, but after years of doing this, we realized, the internet does a poor job helping people prepare to even get to that point. We haven’t done our jobs either in covering topics like these ahead of time so that you can feel prepared.

We have decided to change that.

Over the next four days, we will be writing and sharing four different blog posts which will be covering the following topics.

1) Preparing to work with a development firm
2) What to expect when planning an app development project
3) What to expect when working with a development firm
4) What happens after your application has launched

Of course, we should include a disclaimer before jumping into this blog post. We are writing this from our perspectives here at Chop Dawg and the way we do things. Another development firm may treat things differently or work in a different manner. That is okay. For the most part, 90% of what we cover will still be universal, can relate to any development firm, design agency, freelancer or anything in-between.

Now that we have covered the foundation of this blog post series, let’s hit with part one, preparing to work with a development firm.

So you have that app idea stuck in your head, to the point that you know, you need this to exist. It is the next great business idea of yours. It’s the next big app that will impact hundreds of thousands of people. It has the possibility to change an industry, forever.

You’re excited. You’re ready to go.

Now, what?

The first thing most people will do is begin researching all of the development firms on the planet who can help build your app. We’ve covered this topic intensively before on our blog, which you can read here, oh and here too.

For this example, let’s say you already have picked out a development firm that you plan, at least on paper, to work with. Again, since we are biased here, let’s say that this company is us (which by the way, it can be, reach out to us for a free proposal here!).

What should you do to prepare for potential next steps?

For starters, document your idea on paper.

The hiccup a lot of development firms have early-on is that you understand your idea intimately. It is your baby after all.

Though you absolutely can explain to us the macro-vision, that 30,000ft view of your app idea, you have a lot of micro-details that you already know and may struggle to communicate with us. Though it is our jobs to get these details out of you to help assist and provide you value, you can easily save time and more importantly, go through a very good exercise to ensure you have flushed out your idea thoroughly.

Document your vision.

Open up a Google Docs spreadsheet, and begin writing down, as detailed as you can, every single piece of your application, from user registration, to the way it functions, to logging out, to even the tools that you know you will need in order to run this new business.

The most important thing is to be as detailed as possible. One of the examples we give all of our new clients here at Chop Dawg is to write this as if we didn’t know what a web app or mobile app is. This is your book of Genesis. You need to define everything as basic, detailed and to the point as possible.

Leaving room for interpretation can cause confusion and is something you want to avoid, especially at this stage of the project planning process when you’re trying to find a partner to work with you for the next several months. These are big investments in time and costs, after-all.

Don’t half-ass it.

As mentioned before, this is a great time to go through an internal exercise too. As you begin listing every single detail out, begin asking yourself, over and over, is what you are writing truly necessary? Remember that the more you give a company like us at Chop Dawg to work on, the more your costs and timeframe will grow.

Better yet, remember that you need to validate your app idea once it is released to the public. You don’t want to overwhelm your early adopters, you want to win them over, collect data, see what they love, what they dislike, where you can improve. You do too much too early, you aren’t going to give yourself that chance.

As well, another thing to consider during this exercise, the timing of features.

Sometimes, you may have a great idea for your app, but you realize if you introduce a feature too early, will it truly give value to your users? If not, do you think it could turn people away from using that feature, giving them a negative first impression, losing any opportunity it could bring once it can become fully utilized? A lot of times, this happens with features depending on months, if not years of data collection prior. Again, remember, this should be your first version, the entry level concept of your product. You do not need to be the size of Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram day-one. They weren’t that big when they opened their doors either.

Perhaps the biggest thing throughout this entire process when preparing to work with a development firm like us here at Chop Dawg is figuring out your budget and timeframe goals. Companies like us do not want to put you through bankruptcy. We want to work on your risk tolerance, investment goals and of course, realistic assets to leverage to bring your app to life. Though you want to have a realistic budget, don’t be afraid to tell companies like us right at the get-go, you have a $75,000.00 budget and want to be up in the marketplace within ten months.

Why is this a big deal? If by chance we can’t work your budget or timeframe goals, a company like us will tell you. We will try to figure out solutions to make it work. If our expectations for time and money are too far apart, we can identify early we aren’t the right fit, and hey, that is okay. Companies like us recommend work to other companies all the time that may be a better fit for you. Utilize your time and the people who are helping you, but be respectful about everyone else’s time. Time is our most precious resource!

Speaking of the topic of budgets, more often than not, the question is asked how much it would take to build an app idea because it is truly difficult to guess if you don’t know the industry. Fortunately for you all, this is a topic we have also covered in the past on our blog. Read here to see what to expect when it comes to realistic budget goals and as well, examples of how budgets are determined. Great to think about when writing your book of Genesis!

One thing, of course, you can also consider if you truly have a handicapped budget, is to build a non-functioning prototype of your app. Though you still need to make an investment, you can have a lot to leverage when trying to raise investor capital, ability at a lower cost to validate your app idea, and keep your idea moving since it is the same design process you would experience when building out your app anyways. More often than not, you only need a budget of $15,000.00 to $30,000.00 to bring your prototype to life. Something to consider when having a $100,000.00 budget just isn’t realistic enough for you at the start, which is perfectly understandable for many!

So it has finally happened. You have your feature list for day one nailed down. You have an ideal budget range and timeframe goal to start working. You have a development firm picked out and ready to partner with them.

It’s time to get a proposal done and an agreement in place.

This brings us to part two.

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