Just like any business process, web and mobile development involve a number of risks. Sometimes it can seem so overwhelming that you begin to wonder if it’s even worth the effort. Each risk, whether it relates to custom mobile or web development, can be backed up and managed. If it is not eliminated, it can still be turned into a “positive risk” that is bringing value to your development process rather than having an opposite effect.
At GBKSOFT, we have developed an extensive risk management system applicable for different types of custom software projects. Here are some risks you may want to consider and the efficient solutions that we can provide to your custom software development.
Importance of having a risk management plan
Having a risk management plan in place is a must for any type of custom software development. Of course, depending on the project`s requirements some risks are uncertain, unexpected, and cannot be 100% predictable. However, having your decisions be driven by a risk management strategy minimizes the potential risks and mitigates their harm to the development process. The risk management policy mostly depends on the company’s culture and customs of how it typically works on projects.
To say a few words about the benefits of really considering the potential threats and risks for your software project, at GBKSOFT we follow such steps:
- Provide a secure IT environment for the software development team and client as well;
- Ensure stable and transparent processes during development;
- Protect the development team from harmful actions that can lead to losing resources and money;
- As a client, you know what to expect at the end of the cooperation with the software development team.
Development Risk #1: What Do I Want?
The first thing you should do as a client is to understand what kind of custom business app you want to be developed. The risk grows and the chances of the app becoming successful drop to a minimum if you don’t know your business goals, and needs that will be fulfilled with the custom software solution. You have to know what final results you want to see from the cooperation with your tech provider and what benefits it will introduce for your company.
What do I do if I have this risk?
The risk of not knowing what you want is one that can easily be resolved. You can turn to GBKSOFT to help you prepare the specifications and describe the whole idea of your application from scratch during the discovery stage.
Or you can try doing some homework before turning to our development company and define the main requirements for the software before our first meeting. Utilizing this small tip first will help you to answer and form the following ideas:
- Define the main purpose that your app should serve.
- Define 5 other business issues that your app should resolve.
- Define the prospective target audience for your app.
- Analyze your target audience: Decide if you want to target users of Android, iOS, web, or everything, if they are female or male, their age range, etc.
- Find apps that are similar to your idea and determine if they are similar or identical to what you envision.
- Look at the number of downloads your competitors receive to determine if their app is popular.
- Take a look at your competitor’s reviews: search for what people want to change in their app and discover what they like or don’t like.
- Define how your app will be different from existing competition to separate and distinguish yourself. Write down the features that your competitors already have and see what you can add to potentially improve the experience.
- Write down the features that you would like to add.
- How will you make money from it?
- Will users pay for what you are going to sell?
By answering those questions, you will form a vision of your app and what profits it will bring to your business processes. And when answering all other questions posed by our development team, keep in mind those goals that you defined. Any decisions you make should be based on those business goals.
Development Risk #2: Technical Specifications
Your idea needs to be put into technical wording in specification documents that would be clear to developers. Development without specifications is not a risk that our team takes, and we don’t recommend that anyone attempt it. If you are working based on the “Time & Material” compensation model, you will spend lots of money on redoing what was already done previously. If you are working off of a fixed price, it’s only a matter of time before you exceed your budget.
Technical specifications allow us to understand the scope of the whole project at once, bringing proper architecture of the solution. Nevertheless, these tech documents do not fully eliminate the need for changes during the development.
If you want to draw the wireframes yourself, it’s also a risk unless you have experience doing it because wireframes should be designed in a way that keeps the application both user-friendly and comfortable to use. Some tools that would be helpful for wireframing include:
- Axure: This is the tool we use at GBKSOFT for wireframing. With it, you can make an interactive prototype with its sharing option and numerous widgets.
- Balsamiq: This is a paid service that claims to give “rough” interfaces to encourage and provide lots of feedback.
- Justinmind: This is a popular, paid solution for beginners.
What do I do if I have this risk?
We would recommend that you turn to a team of professional app developers. In our company, the client is involved in this stage too, simply by working through each screen with us. We also have regular meetings where we provide suggestions and help the client come up with a final decision.
Entrust your app idea development to GBKSOFT.
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Development Risk #3: Resources/Budget/Deadlines
Have you gotten acquainted with the famous triangle depicted in the diagram below?
Considering this formula, you need to select the part of the triangle that would best align with your business goals:
- If it’s a small prototype, it makes sense to aim for a solution that’s “Cheap” and “Good”, and then invest more into the project once you verified your idea with users.
- If you just need a presentation for investors in order to tap into some financing, it makes sense to go for a solution that’s “Fast” and “Cheap”.
- If you are looking for a high-quality application that will last you for a long time, you need to be patient and go with “Expensive” and “Good”, and definitely not fast.
What do I do if I have this risk?
When you get a quote from the development team, check it against this drawing and make sure that you critically execute on:
- Your deadline
- The budget you are willing to allocate
- Diligent with the selection of which development team to hire.
App Development Deadlines
Find out what timelines the development team is comfortable with and see if it’s better to agree to those timelines rather than what you had hoped, but get better quality results. Come to an agreement on the deadline together with the team, instead of pushing for tight deadlines that can have a negative impact on the solution’s quality.
App Development Resources
Use the following resources when searching for your app dev team:
- See the reviews of the team you plan on working with (Clutch is a reliable resource for it). Ask for references and a portfolio.
- Get familiar with the domain and technical expertise your potential technical vendor offers, it shows if the development team is aware of the most relevant innovative technologies that need to be implemented for your custom business app development. We are constantly working to extend the range of our service and be proficient in the latest tech trends to deliver top-notch software solutions for our clients and always meet their business needs to help them satisfy their business objectives.
- Check if they provide a discovery stage (all top-notch companies like GBKSOFT offer it). If they don’t, see Risk #2.
- Ask them to tell you about their process of development by asking the following questions:
- Will I have access to the code? It’s better if they do provide it so that if anything goes wrong, you have the code that you paid for.
- Will they provide test apps and links? It’s better if they do so that you can track the progress.
- Will you have a dedicated team? It’s better this way because developers won’t be distracted by other projects and will keep to the timelines they have promised.
- How will the process of reporting and communications go? It’s better if they provide a dedicated project manager who will keep you up to date and communicate with you while the whole team is working.
- Do you have experience developing similar apps? It’s better if they do, but a history of working with the features that you want in your app is good enough.
If you are satisfied with their answers, feel free to negotiate the quote. Remember that a reliable team with proven experience will usually cost more because they have a transparent cooperation process in place like that of GBKSOFT. Turning to a freelancer or an unreliable company without references, reviews, or even a portfolio would carry risks because the company could disappear when it feels that it can’t meet the terms you agreed to.
App Development Costs
Compare the timelines that you envisioned compared to the timeline that the developers foresee, as well as the number of features you got from the expenses. If the cost is not what you expected, it’s not the end and not a reason to start panicking. You can still work with the budget. See our blog article on managing software development costs.
When you are reviewing the quote, make sure that the development team didn’t miss any functionality that both of you agreed to include in the app. At GBKSOFT, we are open to suggestions from our clients and ready to adjust to their timelines and budget in order to deliver high-grade custom software satisfying their business needs and requirements.
Development Risk #4: Changes are inevitable
Even though agile development is very flexible in terms of being able to implement changes along the way, it still has some limitations and can use amendments. All changes are discussed with the client, re-estimated, and planned for the next milestone, sprint, or whatever you call it and are not introduced spontaneously or chaotically right then and thereupon inception of the idea.
What do I do if I have this risk?
Assess the number of changes you are burdening the team with, including the following:
- Do you evaluate those changes against business goals before their approval?
- Assess how important they are on the scale of 1-10, where 10 ranks an issue as being extremely important. If they rank more than 7 points, make sure to request an estimate of how much the change will cost.
- Make sure that the team estimates the changes and lets you know how the change affects the architecture of the app. Assess if the app needs it now on the same scale of 1-10 when you know how much the change would cost and how much effort it would take. If they rank more than 7 points, plan to roll out this change for the next development milestone or release.
Development Risk #5: Communication with the team
One of the biggest risks with app development is when the decision-maker is unavailable/cannot be reached. This is especially true for clients who are busy with their regular business and are ordering the application as their second option for revenue.
GBKSOFT team takes the major part of the work and is always ready to make recommendations, but if there’s no person to make a decision, answer questions, make a payment, review the ready part, etc.; the risk of the app becoming something they didn’t intend it to be is very high.
Therefore, communication is a risk factor that needs to be accounted for. At the stage of specifications, the application’s development would take 50% of your time. The more time you allocate to it, the quicker and more productive this stage goes. Once the stage is over, we will need less of your attention. The release stage is another heavy stage that requires your involvement, since it will include lots of preparations, legal documentation, purchasing of services, etc.
What do I do if I have this risk?
In relation to the risk of not being available or having a lack of communication on the app development, follow these suggestions:
- Make sure you indicate the time when you are free for meetings with the project manager or the team.
- Make sure you check emails regularly and provide answers to the team in time.
- If you are not available or are going on a business trip, please provide a person of contact that can make decisions while you are away.
We also provided you with the GBKSOFT project risk template which you can check out by entering your email in the graph below.
How we manage risks in GBKSOFT: Use Case
Risk management should become a satellite of your project from the idea inception stage to the maintenance phase and onwards. Ignoring this procedure will sooner or later lead to issues with the budget, increase in the cost of the features’ development, changes in delivery dates, limitations in development due to the architecture limitations, or even more it could turn into a blocker that would kill the whole project.
Can you imagine a project that is about to be released but can only be released with proper risk management built-in since the initiation stage? This is what the reality is today.
That was exactly a case we were dealing with in one of our projects at GBKSOFT.
We were working on an IoT project for an American company (CTRL Golf – /cases/golf/). In order to be able to perform development and testing, we required access to physical devices that they used. A device was sent to us but it was only one set of sensors, those sensors were only prototypes and, not only that, this was at a time of strict COVID-19 lockdowns when everyone could have to work remotely.
The very first thing we did as a team was the preparation of the risk profile. We brainstormed in the following directions:
- How to perform development and testing with minimal-to-no gaps when everybody needs this set of sensors to get work done?
- How to share the sensors between team members during the work-from-home era?
- What if one of the sensors breaks?
- What if the second pair of sensors are mailed out and there are delays in the mailing system delivery during unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic?
- What should we do if the issue is not in the code but in the sensors themselves?
These are only a couple of concerns we raised during that meeting. Our next step was to sort out all the risks and come to an understanding of how to mitigate them.
Once the document was ready, we scheduled a call with our stakeholders to go through the risk register and discuss literally every point. This conversation helped us discover even more potential issues and to agree on the immediate actions to take that helped us mitigate or negate the damages/losses if the risk does come to its head. Last but not least, we came to one (common) vision on the project budget and what would influence it, as well as in regards to its limitations and timelines, taking into account those risks and mitigation plans.
Our goal was not to prepare a list of ‘disclaimers’ (and to forget about it until a disaster takes hold) but to build up a list of contingency plans “B, C, D, …” to deliver the project in the shortest possible period of time and within the budget constraint. Therefore, we were constantly going back to that document with the team and stakeholders, discussing and updating it as needed.
In the end, we faced limitations of lockdown, issues with sensors, delays in delivery of the new pairs of [replacement] sensors, difficulties with planning out work when both developers and QA engineers required sensors at the same time, and many other issues. A question ‘Can we finish this project?’ could have been raised at literally any stage during the development cycle, the project could have turned into losses and never met customers.
But the fact that the risk management processes were in place, supporting the project every day and at every stage, the project was delivered successfully, with no gaps in the development process, providing the agreed-upon scope of functionality, while also satisfying the given budget constraints.
Due to our closely-knit cooperation with our clients, rather than solving issues we deal with the risks, being proactive instead of reactive. It’s always better to spend some time and money on proper risk management on a regular basis than to deal with seemingly unmanageable issues when it could already be too late or too unprofitable.
FAQ: Risks in Software Product Development
Custom software development is a complicated process with plenty of details to take into account like the needs and requirements of our client’s company based on things like the industry they operate in as well as the market position and uniqueness of the particular business. Custom app development risk management is tasked with making this process as smooth and predictable as possible.
The risk management plan actually shows developers what to do and what is better to avoid. That being said, managing these risks does require some spending, this money is definitely worth investing in order to successfully build and implement your software solution that will meet your expectations and requirements. We are ready to build a risk management strategy for your custom app development in order to then deliver a highly functional solution that will greatly benefit your business for years to come, especially if you choose to regularly update your software to take advantage of any newly available improvements.
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We will build the appropriate risk management plan for your project