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One Simple Way to Save Time Working with an App Agency

Operations & Management

Mason Carter wrote this article


Whenever the Chop Dawg team partners with a business to scope out their future app, one question always comes up:

How long will it take for the app to go from an idea to fully-functioning product? And what about design vs. programming?

While every app is different and comes with its own unique set of needs based on features, in our experience we can predict that an average-sized app will take about 2-3 months to design and 4-5 months to program.

But we also have the potential to lower this estimated design and development timeline for you. Much, much lower in some cases.

Let’s assume that the time it takes to build your app falls exactly within the aforementioned range.

So, how can you save even more of your valuable time while working with an app agency?

It’s all about the quality and frequency of the feedback you give as the client

While we’ve estimated that the average app takes 2-3 months to design and 4-5 months to program, what we are actually doing is creating a realistic buffer based on our previous experience working with clients building similar apps.

High-quality and high-frequency of feedback from clients is the ultimate way to speed things up during the app development process.

Believe me, in theory, every client wants to be the one to give quick, reliable feedback.

In reality, even for the most well-meaning clients out there, this doesn’t often happen in practice.

But set-rate app development agencies like Chop Dawg are inherently incentivized to work efficiently.

We’re set-rate and you do not pay us hourly, you see.

This means we operate 110% off of the scope of work as defined during our discovery process. Every project is broken down into payment installments right from our initial proposal, and that quote is honored throughout the project duration.

If we run into any issues that are our fault during your project duration, we’ll delay your payments. And if we’re running ahead of schedule, that simply means that we get paid the same amount faster; nothing more, nothing less.

But running ahead of your project’s schedule gives our team some much-needed flexibility in case we do run into issues down the road.

Being that it’s software development, if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that we will run into something, somewhere.

Our team loves being ahead of schedule so we can be flexible when any issues do arise.

So, the more specific and quick you can be with your feedback, the quicker we can offer a solution for whatever comes our way.

Offering quick, in-depth feedback can add up. But consistency is key

And that’s where the majority of agency clients can falter.

They may be quick to give their initial feedback for the first month or two of a project, but then their engagement may shift elsewhere.

This is totally natural, and frankly, it’s one of the many reasons why we make sure to bake so much buffer into any given project timeline estimate.

But it won’t help with getting your app out of the gate any earlier.

If you can be quick, specific, and consistent with your feedback, your design time can potentially be shaved down by as much as 1-2 months. Same goes for your app’s development duration.

Think about it like this:

On average, it takes a client 3-5 days to give us feedback on any one particular item needing approval.

But this can add up quickly. There are many potential moments that we will need feedback throughout a project, especially during the design phase as we lock in your app’s color scheme and overall aesthetic.

The desired outcome of the design process is to give our development team the best possible blueprint for programming. If you can give precise feedback quickly during wire-framing, high-fidelities, and most importantly, the product flow, there will be no questions left unanswered.

Now, imagine you are super-client who gives feedback one day after we ask for it throughout the whole app design duration.

You’ve just sped up your app’s design by at least a month! Amazing, right?

Quick feedback can also give us more buffer to expect the unexpected

Even if we are ahead of schedule, there is one caveat that we will always plan for: Quality assurance testing.

Before launch, we’ll put your application through the wringer to make sure that it can handle the stress of multiple users in a real-world environment.

Our programmers will also be testing throughout the app development process, so while many issues will be addressed by the time we hit QA, if we run into any time-consuming bugs in the eleventh hour, we now have that extra buffer.

While in this scenario, we may not finish your app early, it won’t be finished late, either.

Speaking of buffer: keep in mind to give yourself lots of it when it comes time to submit your app to the App Store. You’ll thank us later.

Sometimes, Apple may even deny you initially, as they have questions you need to answer or modifications your app needs before you’re approved to be on the App Store.

I will explain more about this in a future post, but just think of Apple as being a lot like your parents growing up: “My house, my rules.

Make sure you run a beta test while you are working with us

During the last phase of our quality assurance testing, we assess whether or not your application is ready for app launch.

We test your product both internally and externally so we can help you run your beta test.

Beta testing is so essential for getting real feedback and so that we can address any final concerns with usability.

It’s also a way to have an “early launch”, so to speak.

It’ll allow you to generate more feedback for us quickly, which will only speed up our own QA process and get you to launch that much quicker.

What I also like about you running a beta test for your app is that you can start gaining inertia and in-app familiarity while working with us instead of after.

A good agency will never rush an app out the door

Too many apps don’t make it because they aren’t at the quality the market demands.

While you are comparing app development companies, if you come across one that is quoting you for a fraction of the time (or cost) to complete your app, remember the saying, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The exception to this is a small agency that may be able to finish your app more quickly because that is all they are working on. But that also comes with its own pitfalls, because they are also likely to be less experienced, too.

The most important piece of advice I can give when working with an app agency is to know what you want.

I cannot emphasize this enough!

You have the power to know exactly what you want, and that starts during the discovery process before a contract is even signed.

Stay involved during your app’s development and don’t be afraid to speak up if you have feedback.

This is critical to your app’s future success, and why we believe app development should be a collaborative process: Between you, the idea-haver, and us, the idea-maker.

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