We see (and write!) a lot of articles about why you should create custom software applications, how to come up with app ideas, and the cost of developing software. But then when we think about how we interact with clients, the first thing we do is check if they should not be creating the app.
Yes, we are aware of the contradiction! However, as you know we are all about creating leverage, and despite acknowledging custom software is the ultimate way to gain competitive advantage, if results are not generated as expected it can quickly turn into a pit of wasted resources.
To make sure you've thought through your idea, here are instances where we suggest NOT to pursue custom software development:
1. Is it novel?
Before you begin development, it's important to do your research and see what else is on the market. Is this application a solution to a problem someone has already solved? If it is and you're wanting to add a new feature(s), how much value do these add?
Also, how salient is the problem you aim to solve, is it some's number one problem, or is it their tenth? The bigger the problem is, the more impact the solution (your application) will be, leading to wider adoption.
2. Is it profitable?
Creating a custom application is an expensive exercise, so it's important that you have researched the value this application will bring to your business (or market). For example, putting a dollar value to the time your application will save. If the proposed expense is greater than what you will get in return, it might not be worth developing.
3. Can you update it?
Once you build a custom piece of software, it's not a set and forget deal. Can you keep up with software updates to keep your application relevant (and working!)? If not, it might be best to let someone else handle that for you, through third party software.
Hit play and watch our interview with our General Manager, Waruna,on when not to write custom software.
4. Can you create an MVP?
Can you get by with a minimum viable product (MVP) before launching a full feature product?
This will allow you to launch fast and minimise the cost of development, allowing you to see if it's viable before incurring the full expense. It may be hard to verify whether the application will meet the expectations, this approach gives you the agility you need to make adjustments, or cut the losses while you're ahead.
Figure: MVP ideology
5. Have you got a development process?
An important element of developing a customised software application is to have a clear vision of the apps functionalities and benefits.Knowing what you don't want it to do can be equally as important as knowing what it will do - it gives the project scope. It prevents both over and under engineering.
The most effective way to do this is to pull out a pen and paper, and leverage the working backwards theory. This is when you create content (such as press releases, FAQ's etc.) as though have already developed your application.
The bottom line is: If you think you know what you're about to build, but can't document it, then you shouldn't develop it.
Often it can be difficult to see the realities of an idea. It's all too easy to get tunnel vision, and colleagues often resounding your confidence with group think. These 5 steps will hopefully be able provide you better clarity to whether or not progressing your app idea is the best move.
If you feel you are ready to take your application idea to the next level, or you want to discuss it further with experts, get in touch! Our initial consultation is free, book here.