What risks can you expect during an app development and how to prepare for them
Table of content
  1. What can go wrong during the development of the application?
  2. Why is it important to have a risk management plan?
  3. Your idea vs customer’s expectations
  4. How to set your goals
  5. Can a good app be cheap and delivered quickly?
  6. Communication with your developer
  7. Should you go for multiple platforms
  8. Once development is finished, can anything more go wrong?
  9. How to deal with app development risk

Any endeavour is somewhat risky. You put your time, money and involve your crew in what might turn out to be a waste of resources. Software development projects are not different. There are some specific user-related and technical risks they often encounter. Hence, the importance of a proper risk analysis. How to recognize the troubles, should you encounter any? What preparations should you make so that the problems do not slow you down?

Risks in software projects are numerous. You need to know exactly what app you want and can make. But the end users have their expectations as well that might not be perfectly aligned with yours. Even a release of a finished product is not guaranteed, as marketplaces have their own requirements. Software development risks are then both internal and external issues that you might or might not encounter, but you should be ready to come across and know exactly how to minimize their impact on the entire project. Significant risks in software development, if overlooked, can even make the whole endeavour a failure. This article will help you prepare for those that occur most commonly.

What can go wrong during the development of the application?

The software development process involves a lot of people and requires loads of time and money. Your end users are scattered around the world – they might have different habits, expectations, and tastes. Some software risks are indeed connected to those matters. You need to identify your target group and prepare an app that is attractive in the sense that it both solves a real problem and is user-friendly, with intuitive and aesthetic design. This should be accounted for from the start of your projects.

There are, however, numerous problems that you might encounter earlier, that are connected with software engineering itself. You need to choose a platform for your app and be ready to handle its specifics in requirements and possibilities. Software project development might be too costly or time-consuming for your own team. In such a case, you can go for outsourcing. Such cooperation might also be connected with a slight risk – check our article on onshore, nearshore and offshore for more information. What else should you have in mind during app development?

Why is it important to have a risk management plan?

One of the best ways to mitigate risks in software development is a formulation of a risk management plan. It is usually regarded as a very important stage in the preparation of a project, irrespective of whether you do it independently or plan to use outsourcing. Of course, some risks are unseen, unexpected, and unpredictable. However, an appropriate risk management strategy is able to minimize the potential risk and the damage caused by the occurrence of the factors it includes.

A risk management plan is a document that helps you identify, assess, and resolve potential problems that may arise during the course of a project. It can be compared to a map that shows all the obstacles you expect to encounter on your way. Thanks to the risk planning, you are able to identify the risks more easily, avoid them or even change the route if necessary. Therefore, managers formulate a risk management plan to identify potential threats to a project, assess their impact and likelihood of occurrence, and then define how to respond to them.

Remember, however, that risk in itself is not always a bad thing, and it does not necessarily mean that the occurrence of the problems is inevitable. Risk is just uncertainty. It is impossible to predict in advance what exactly will happen. The software project risks included in the plan may be related to scope, schedule, cost or quality. Therefore, the purpose of creating a risk management plan is to identify these factors and create a system that correctly recognizes them and works effectively, mitigating any negative effects.

Your idea vs customer’s expectations

One of the biggest risks in software development is creating an application that does not meet the real needs – so the users will not use it.  In such a case, project success is virtually unachievable, even if its individual parts were made properly. Usability risk assessment is therefore associated with proper planning and asking yourself key questions about the project scope, the target audience and their expectations or how can you beat what the competition offers. A good practice is to concentrate on Minimum Viable Product – MVP. Check out our article about it.

The usability risk of a software development project is one of the common risks – it means that users will not be able to understand how to use your application. Designing the interface as the first step in the development process can either make your application stronger or ruin it. The technical risks here depend on what functions are added later and how will they fit the UX. Therefore, applications that do not fulfil their intended purpose, for example, because they are frustrating to navigate and suffer from an inadequate or poorly made interface. Hence, a good designer and marketing expert are key team members that help you make sure your application will succeed. This is exactly what we do to achieve the best results possible.

The last risk comes from the way you perceive your app. Many companies believe in feature-rich applications because the users are expected to treat them as superior. However, adding numerous features that are rarely used can slow down your app and make the project costs go way too high. Too many features make the app confusing and clunky, and require additional resources in terms of project management, investment, time and development. Therefore, make sure the application is as simple as possible and only includes features that are really necessary and attractive to users.

How to set your goals

Your first step, defining the direction in which the entire project will go, is to decide what kind of application you want to develop. If you do not have clear business goals and do not know the needs that your product can meet, you have already encountered one of the major risks in software projects. However, the mere uncertainty of what exactly you expect is not yet a problem. An experienced outsourcing partner such as our company will help you prepare specifications (these don’t have to be such elaborate documentation processes, but many business owners fear them), describe and refine the idea behind ​​your application, keep your project schedule, as well as help you successfully release your app to the market.

Alternatively, you can define your main software development requirements by yourself, before signing up for a partner. Clearly defined expectations help to estimate how much effort should be involved, with what budget and for how long the project needs to be successfully completed. For this purpose, it is worth reflecting on some key issues. These include, among others certain project details:

  • the main purpose of the application,
  • the target group and its analysis in terms of the systems used, habits or expectations,
  • comparison with competing products and identification of the areas in which your idea is superior. It is also worth checking out the user reviews and the number of downloads, which will help you determine the expectations of your target group and its size.

By answering these and similar questions, you will create a clear vision of your application and find out what benefits it will bring to your company and recipients. Your partner or project manager can ask even more of them to build a detailed project scope. When responding, remember the goals you define. All the decisions you make should be based on them. After all, the most important thing for you is the destination, the outsourcing partner will take care of the way and take on software development risk. If you would like to know more about this, check our guide to writing software requirements specification.

Can a good app be cheap and delivered quickly?

Surely you are familiar with this famous diagram which shows that a product can only fulfil two of the three goals at a time – good, fast or cheap. You decide which combination is best for your software project at the very moment. If done quickly and cheaply, almost certainly it will not be good. Due to such a development process, its functionality will be limited, some solutions underdeveloped, and serious bugs may appear. However, this kind of prototype is a good way to check the interest of recipients and investors.

The application done well and quickly, in turn, will not be cheap. A project conducted in such a way requires the involvement of a large team, excellent coordination by skilled project managers and a well-developed plan. You may choose to take this kind of financial software development risk to stay ahead of the competition.

Finally, a good and cheap application is certainly not being done quickly. Sometimes, however, you may find out that the best results are achieved by focusing only on one of the three goals. For example, when creating a large commercial project, you need to focus on its quality. It definitely can’t be done either quickly or cheaply, but the potential profit on product success is often worth the risk.

However, there is an exception to the rule, which is outsourcing. If you are a resident of the USA, Canada or Germany, hiring an experienced contractor, e.g. from Eastern Europe, is a good way to quickly create a good application at a lower cost than it would take to develop it in your country. Professional software project management is in this case combined with mitigation of any technical, financial or schedule risks. An experienced and open-minded partner, such as TeaCode, is able to help you achieve the perfect balance of your project goals and opt for the reduction of operational risks.

Communication with your developer

Once you’ve established your project assumptions, milestones, deadline and budget, it’s really easy to assume that the program will be built exactly the way you want it to be. Unfortunately, in practice, it may sometimes turn out that the assumptions of the software development team may not exactly match yours without consistent and regular communication. Differences in interpreting the guidelines are a sign of poor management and lead to unexpected changes in the performance or appearance of the product. Your team may then be wasting time going in the wrong direction and stepping back to solve growing problems.

A good way to avoid misunderstandings is to create clear communication channels and habits of reporting on progress, problems and solutions. For example, if your software development project team uses Agile and Scrum, take part in sprint reviews and project status reports, which typically take place every two weeks. Their goal is to monitor the project in terms of compliance with the requirements, but also to eliminate surprises for contributors not belonging to the programming team, such as marketers or designers.

When preparing to cooperate with an external software development team, remember about the most important good practices:

  • Avoid micromanagement – it often leads to a reduction in team productivity and product quality.
  • Build trust and motivate your software development team so that they can achieve optimal performance and be willing to share their insights.
  • Be clear about the role and responsibility of the liaison between your partner’s team and yours.
  • Be transparent – hiding seemingly insignificant problems can cause more serious problems in the future.
  • Eliminate mental shortcuts in communication. Assuming people are able to guess what you want leads to significant technical risks – mistakes, bugs and general ineffectiveness.

Should you go for multiple platforms

Choosing a platform is one of the key decisions when planning a software development project. This often has a huge impact on the features and functionality of your application. Hence, it also comes with risks in software development. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all choice that will ensure your success. Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages, which you should keep in mind for risk mitigation. When deciding which one is best for you, consider your user group management needs, the resources you want to access, security requirements and the choice between native and cross-platform. If you are unsure, ask your development team for information on the best platform for your project. Find the one that is best suited to its development.

In order to avoid project failure when deciding to develop on one platform, you must take into account its specificity, which generates some external risks for your project. For example, iOS is very closed. Apple has specific requirements that all applications must meet. You should also be ready to update regularly with the latest iOS. In return, you get access to a huge user base and the chance to make big profits. An alternative in the mobile market is Android. A large pool of users is also available here, and the platform is more flexible than iOS, but you have to deal with a lot of competition. There are also desktop and web applications to choose from. This gives you several options to select from, based on the specific requirements your project should meet. Programming for one platform is worth considering if the project is particularly difficult, if you need to develop non-standard solutions or want to reduce costs.

Thanks to advanced technology, cross-platform software development projects have the advantage of running anywhere, so you only need to write them once. However, it also has its drawbacks. Compatibility is not uniform on all platforms, hence there are some potential risks. Cross-platform applications might not look in the same aesthetically pleasing way on all platforms and not always be optimized for any single platform, so their performance may be worse than native ones – unless they are prepared by an experienced and skilful team. Usually, a cross-platform application is also a bit more difficult and time-consuming to make. However, it is worth considering this solution if you want to maximize your audience base, you do not need to use platform-specific solutions, or you do not need to optimize computing power.

Once development is finished, can anything more go wrong?

Risk factors in software development do not end the moment coding is finished. Quite the contrary – you and your project manager should be aware that specific requirements of platforms’ marketplaces must be met. The best way is to make sure they are being accounted for from the start of your project. They might, however, be changing in time, which is one of the external risks encountered in the mobile software development process.

An app can be rejected by Google Play or App Store if their rules are not met. Risk management in such a case should recognize the reason for rejection as the highest priority and the team effort should be then directed at addressing it. Delays in the release of the app mean you get your cash late. Also, you might upset your users if you specified the date earlier on. Similar risks in software development are the long review period and bugs found by the end user. The first makes a significant impact on the release date, so you should send your product for review possibly early. The second one frustrates the users, whose opinions discourage others. Hence, extensive tests should always be performed before the release. That’s why we have QA engineers that ensure the smooth running of the application and reduce some of the risks in software development.

How to deal with app development risk

Starting any software development process, you must be able to assess the project risk. This means recognition of possible (but not sure to appear!) problems and ways to handle them. If properly accounted for, risks in software development are mostly easy to spot and their effects are possible to be mitigated quickly. A lot of problems can be avoided even before the project starts. A clear scope, well-defined target group, intuitive and nice-looking interface are important factors of your success.

To avoid troubles with over-budget and missed deadlines you can also decide to use outsourcing. By choosing an experienced and skilful external development team like TeaCode, you can further mitigate significant risk in software development regarding the technical side of your project, guaranteeing the best results possible. It is important to note, that while most of the risk management remains your responsibility, we are able to help you prepare the plan and specify all the requirements and potential problems of your software development projects. This way, all you need is a great idea for an app!

Lead Project Manager at TeaCode

Gabriela is a lead project manager and keeps in mind that the crucial thing in project management is always seeing the business objectives. She takes care of clients' business outcomes, and that's why clients usually give her a lot of independence.

As a web developer, she understands teammates, which is an asset in project management. UX designer background is handy when clients ask her for advice or consult their app ideas. Having this knowledge, she can address their confusedness or curiosity.

Data analysis and research have no secrets from her as she's a physicist. She knows how to discover data patterns and dependencies, which brings additional value to her everyday work.

Gabriela Jarzębska
Gabriela Jarzębska

Gabriela is a lead project manager and keeps in mind that the crucial thing in project management is always seeing the business objectives. She takes care of clients' business outcomes, and that's why clients usually give her a lot of independence. As a web developer, she understands teammates, which is an asset in project management. UX designer background is handy when clients ask her for advice or consult their app ideas. Having this knowledge, she can address their confusedness or curiosity. Data analysis and research have no secrets from her as she's a physicist. She knows how to discover data patterns and dependencies, which brings additional value to her everyday work.