Once the concept of an app is floated, the idea can sometimes take on a life of its own. If you’re not careful, you wake up one day and realise that you’ve created a monster and it’s out of control – crashing around the office like Appzilla munching up time and money like there’s no tomorrow.

To avoid this nightmare scenario, we advise a period of calm reflexion so that you can answer the most fundamental question of any app project.

Do we actually need an app?

When a client comes to us with a new project, we have a discovery process we go through which addresses this very point. It’s a great way to avoid costly mistakes and it gets everyone aligned so that your project goes forward more smoothly.

Like any company, your app should have an operating model and a business strategy. You should have planned for inputs and outputs, identified drivers and KPIs, and created an appropriate team structure to manage the app.

Having a strategy in place will help you keep your costs under control, deliver your project on time, and ultimately produce a better product.

4 Tests To Decide If Your App Project Should Go Ahead 

Let’s look at the four main areas that we would consider when stress-testing any app idea.

1) Is There A Valid Business Case For This App? 

There should always be a strong business case for an app. Be tough with yourself and analyse this impartially. The marketing team asked for it is not a business case. Neither is the fact that there isn’t anything else out there like the idea you’ve had. Maybe there’s a good reason no app like this exists? Just because an app CAN be made, that doesn’t mean it SHOULD be made! You must be able to identify real need for the app; for instance, if your customer service team regularly gets calls along the lines of Why can’t I do this through an app?

Part of assessing your business case should include assessing the business itself. Are you in a strong position in your market? Will you find it relatively easy to acquire users? Will associating your app with the business be a positive branding exercise? A great way to know if you have a solid business case is to ask the simple question What happens if we do nothing? If you don’t get answers such as We’ll lose customers, or Our competitors will gain market share, or Our profits will go down, then it’s likely an app is not what you need.

2) Which Channel/Technology Will Best Deliver The Solution? 

You’ve identified that there is a real need, or several needs, within the business that requires a solution. But is that solution necessarily an app? There are multiple channels and different technologies that could potentially provide the platform for your solution. The first thing to look at is technology. If 80% of your users access your services using a laptop or desktop computer, there is a good chance you’ll find it hard to get buy-in for a mobile app. You’re probably better off offering the solution through your existing website or a web app.

Even if you have looked at the data and established that you have a wide user base that is on a smartphone, is a separate app on their phone still the best solution? Are you going to offer real value in functionality, or could it be delivered through an existing service? You might decide it’s simpler to piggyback off another service already on the phone or build a mobile version of your website. Remember that for many functionalities, you’re going to need to provide backend support for the app. Is your existing API infrastructure fit for purpose, or will you also need to invest in that?

3) Will There Be A Return On Investment From Your App? 

It’s important to know if you will get value from your investment in an app. Developing a robust, quality app is not cheap. As a rule of thumb, you’re looking at a budget of roughly €20,000 per operating system (iOS, for example). If you need to add a different system (for instance, if you need an app for both iOS and Android) your costs will double. Not only do different operating systems use different code and have different requirements, but user behaviour also changes from platform to platform and this needs to be taken into consideration during design and development.

One of the questions you may ask when considering if you will get ROI from your app is assessing whether you will be able to recoup your investment. Will you be able to sell your app and, if so, are you going to get enough users to pay for the development costs as well as maintenance costs (just like websites, apps need to be kept up to date). If revenue isn’t the goal of the app, what other business benefits might it bring? You should decide in advance what success will look like so that you can measure ROI. Some examples are:

• reduced demand on the customer services team

• efficiencies within the business that increased profitability

• improved customer satisfaction leading to lower churn rates

• higher buy-in and compliance from users

• better cross-selling and repeat purchases

4) Is Your Business Ready To Take On An App Project? 

While the impetus for the app may be coming from one particular area of the business, it’s important to understand that creating an app is a business-wide concern. If the plan is Build it and they will come, your app risks becoming a dusty and forgotten relic before you know it. So, is the business set up to support and promote the app once it comes to market? Are there changes required to the website to ensure cross-functionality? Is there a marketing strategy in place to make sure that existing customers and prospects are aware of the app? How will you make sure that people keep engaging with the app once it’s downloaded? There is a host of technical, advertising, PR, marketing, communications, and other actions to take to ensure a long and fruitful life for your app.

Even if you’re outsourcing production, the process of designing and developing the app will need your attention too. From the initial discovery session right through to launch, you will need to give prompt, regular, and comprehensive feedback to the app team. This includes reviewing wireframes, approving designs, providing content, and testing the app internally. You may need to collect approvals from different departments or there may be a hierarchy to respect. Whatever your internal structure, resources need to be earmarked, which may mean freeing up workloads from certain team members to ensure that they have availability. Can the business cope with the knock-on effect of this redistribution of tasks?

If the business is taking on another big project at the same time – perhaps you’re redesigning your website or bringing a new product to market – can you ensure that the app will get the attention it requires?

Make sure the business is ready for what’s involved in building an app (before, during, and after) in terms of timing, finances, other priorities, human resources, and infrastructure. Projects that aren’t managed properly tend to go over budget and miss deadlines.

Put Your App Idea Through A Tapadoo Workshop! 

Reaching a go/no go decision is arguably the most crucial stage of a project. It’s at this point that you get to clarify your goals, identify any potential obstacles, and position your venture for success. During our discovery workshop, we look at your project from every angle so that you can be confident you’re moving forward with a viable plan.

If you’d like to book a session with our experienced team, get in touch or call us on 01 555 2224.

Thanks for reading the Tapadoo blog. We've been building iOS and Android Apps since 2009. If your business needs an App, or you want advice on anything mobile, please get in touch