As we all know, developing mobile apps is not a cheap endeavor. Entrepreneurs are always trying to figure out how to reduce app development cost while at the same time not sacrificing the quality of the end product.
Therefore, we decided to write a detailed response to this question to help not only to our clients but also all those who are interested in app development.
Unfortunately, there are not many options available, since in reality developing a fully-fledged application takes a lot of time, effort, skill, patience, and money.
1. It's All About the Requirements
A focused, detailed business requirements analysis is crucial to the success of any project. Any lack of this can lead to numerous project changes during the development due to inconsistencies between business needs and the work of the development team. This will lead to project delays and to an increase in costs. Gathering the requirements and putting them in the form of documentation allows the development team to have a clear picture of the client’s business purposes. Changes and mistakes are inevitable during development, but with clear, detailed documentation, they will be kept to a minimum.
Always give preference to those agencies who pay attention, in particular to requirements analysis. Experienced subject matter experts and business analysts will help you define what you want and correctly formulate your requirements so that they are consistent throughout the SDLC. Even the slightest detail is not overlooked. These business requirements will then be translated into tech requirements for the developers to work on, making sure there’s no misinterpretation between what they will design and what is actually needed.
2. Save Money on Development, Not on Developers
The first thing that comes to mind when it concerns cost savings and mobile app development is to hire the cheapest development agency out there.
As practice shows, agencies that offer their services at suspiciously low prices have either little or no experience and thus are trying to win their first clients and “get into the business.” Often, for such agencies, you are the first or one of their first client's customers.
Such agencies do not have well-established business processes and are usually understaffed. They will experiment more on your product than actually developing it, and therefore will spend far more time getting the job done than you would expect them to. In addition, there’s no guarantee they will even finish it at all! So, what then? Eventually, you’ll be forced to hire another more experienced development team to finish it or even start from scratch.
You may find yourself in a similar situation working with freelancers. There are even fewer guarantees of getting the job done correctly, on time, and within budget, not to mention a whole bunch of legal risks such as the absence of the employment contract, disclosure issues, and payment issues (there’s no assurance that the job for which you are paying for is being carried out).
Saving Costs Without Losing the Quality
There’s only one way to reduce development costs without sacrificing quality, and that is through offshore and nearshore outsourcing firms. Offshoring and nearshoring are advantageous because you can hire a reputed and ethical software development firm with well-established business processes in another country where hourly rates to be are lower. They can offer a team of experienced and highly skilled dedicated developers who will work exclusively on your project and provide all the necessary guarantees.
There are other more effective ways of reducing mobile app development costs besides taking the “cheap” route with developers.
A win-win approach would be to hire an offshore outsourcing provider with experience in developing similar products and asking them what development practices and techniques they can suggest on their behalf to reduce costs. That’s what we’re going to cover next.
3. Iterative Development
Traditional methodology implies developing all planned features first, then testing your app and optimizing it for the market. Even if some features are not so vital for your app or even should be rejected at the testing stage, you’ll spend a great deal of time implementing them. The Agile methodology is considered to be a much better solution as regards to reducing risks and expenses.
We recommend to creating a long-term vision, splitting an entire project into small stages (iterations), and gradually adding new features with each new iteration. With Agile methodology, the entire project is split up into smaller, more easily manageable sets of features. Each set will be developed, tested, and deployed through iterative cycles known as Sprints. When there’s a need to change or add something to the project, the team can respond and adapt quickly and efficiently without replanning and restructuring the entire project to fit it in, thus saving time and money.
It’s reasonable to launch the first version of your product with minimum functionality, simply implement the core idea, and leave the development of secondary features for a later date. This technique allows you to evaluate the market demand for your product and determine whether or not customers are willing to pay for it. You can start adding all those secondary features once you verify that the demand exists and you start receiving revenues. Actually, MVP goes hand in hand with agile methodology. It not just to reduces costs but also ensures against possible failure.
5. Cross-Platform Development
Cross-platform development can be a great cost saver. This is true, however, only if your app is not very complex, if it doesn’t use native interfaces, and if it doesn’t require hardware integration. Otherwise, it may affect its performance. In many cases, cross-platform development may help you reduce development costs.
Ask your development team the following questions: Can my app be implemented using cross-platform development? Will performance suffer?
If the odds are in favor of cross-platform development, then go for it!
6. Use Ready-Made Solutions
Why reinvent the wheel? Some UI features could be implemented using pre-built templates that only need to be customized. There are also many third party WaaS (Whatever as a Service) providers, from SaaS (Software as a Service) to BaaS (Backup as a Service) that offer ready-to-use solutions for a monthly subscription fee or even free of charge. Among the most popular are mapping and payment services.
Instead of developing your own custom push notification functionality, you may use Puship, a third-party push notification plugin for iOS and Android.
Or, you could use Google Cloud Platform (PaaS), which will provide you with backend services like sharing and processing data from multiple users, synchronizing data across devices, user authentication, Memcache, sending notifications and messages, automatically scaling your app, etc.
However, you should take into account that a lot of such services integrated into an application may cause problems like instability and bad scalability. That’s why they should be used wisely and within reasonable limits. If you are working with an experienced development team, they already know which solutions can be used and to what extent.
7. Constant Supervision
Constantly communicate with your development team, and don’t put all of your faith into you project managers. They, too, can make mistakes or overlook some important issues. Test every new build of your application for yourself, as there may be some slight deviations from the original objectives. It will be much cheaper to address those issues while they are “fresh” rather than noticing and fixing them after the app has been released.