Appszoom for Developers

How to avoid failure in app development projects

Posted by on 09/24/2016


Many challenges are involved in running a mobile app development project. Defining a finite list of mistakes and pitfalls to avoid is simply impossible. There are too many moving parts, too many differing aspects and too many unexpected turns and twists that can and will come up in the course of developing and releasing your app to be able to predict everything.

Nonetheless, there are some challenges that are common to all types of app development projects. In this post, I will introduce you to some of them and explain how you can avoid or overcome them.


I once worked on a software development project that was supposed to last three months, but ended up stretching well over a year, before being abandoned altogether. One of the major killers for app development projects are delays. While some delay is usually acceptable, you should be able to assess your timeframe and manage your time budget according to the evolving needs and requirements of the project.

One of the main factors that can lead to delayed projects is trying to predict timescales precisely, right off the bat: requirements, budget, schedule, release date… Anyone with a little programming experience will tell you that such a mentality is wishful thinking.

The best way to avoid delays is to use an iterative approach. Iterative development deserves an exclusive post, but to give you the general idea of how it goes, it’s about breaking your development process into smaller phases and iterations, each having a complete cycle of analysis, design, development and testing by itself.

At the end of each iteration, you release an incomplete version of your app which you check with your target audience and end users and get feedback. In the initial phases, you have a vague estimation of the amount of time and effort required for the job, and after each iteration you can refine your estimations and make them more accurate.

This model helps you achieve maximum flexibility, and the correct management of project timing is just one of its benefits.

Playtesting is a fine line:  The Do’s And Don’ts Of Playtesting Your Mobile Game

lack of expertise

There are many cases where firms with prior programming experience in other fields decide to go mobile, and presume that they can use the same developers and QA staff for mobile app development. Although there are one-off cases where this approach works, in general, it is a recipe for disaster since mobile development is a different beast altogether, an entirely different discipline that has its own challenges and intricacies. Web and desktop application developers can learn to program for mobile, and will probably learn quickly, but you can’t assume that since they’ve programmed for Windows, they’re ready to dig into Android.

If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to spend a month or two transitioning your programmers to mobile, then you’ll have to hire talent or outsource your project to a partner. If you decide to outsource and it’s your first time, know that it has its own pitfalls and there are a couple of things you have to consider, aside from project experience.

First, examine their general development process, their prior experience with similar projects and their ability to integrate with your cycle and workflow. You must also take into account that the project will involve change management, maintenance and updates, and you have to make sure the vendor will either take care of those or make sure the knowledge is transferred to your team in a proper manner after the product is delivered.

Considering these different aspects will help you manage time, budget and personnel while also being ready to tackle risks and changes that might come in the development process.

conflicting goals, shifting priorities 

This is an especially challenging aspect of app development projects. If you have stakeholders who shift their priorities or goals during the development process, you should be able to adapt and control. This isn’t feasible within the context of a rigid waterfall process but can be made possible through the iterative approach mentioned earlier.

Flexible methods account for shifts and changes and help you adapt on the fly without losing traction and velocity. Part of the iterative approach is to “embrace change,” which recognizes the fact that stakeholders might not have a clear vision of their requirements at the initial stages of the development process, but will become clearer as the iterations proceed. As a result, you define extension points and flexibility areas at the beginning of the project and your team remains ready to deal with changes without wasting time or resources.

final thoughts

The abovementioned challenges can happen in every app development project. The discussed solutions can help prevent damage and mitigate risks involved in managing app development projects.

How do you deal with app development challenges? Share with us in the comments.

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3 responses to “How to avoid failure in app development projects”

  1. Oleg Demianov says:

    We are developing apps for parents and kids. When we start ro work on the app we put release date and from this day backword write what we need to do to start app at this date. So we know the time and functions that need to be included in the app. When you plan to work on the app from backword you put all task that need to do before reales (test app, prepear marketing materials, review time, and etc). It helps us to run apps and releases on time

  2. Victor Johnson, Sr says:

    I developed a Mobile App for Author / Writers people have marveled over how its set up but few have contacted me. When they find out I charge they are not interested. Now if I offered it free I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. When I first spoke about an Mobile App there were at least 25 + but when I said I charge they stop speaking to me or I have shown how my app works, done workshops, and its been just 2 Apps and then they don’t even speak to me and I did their app they way they wanted it…… I’m at the point where I have mines and that is O.K. with me. Can you give me some advice…….

  3. Diane Morrison says:

    I just had an app developed. The area that I was most disappointed was the lack of questions or “thinking partner” activity. I realize now that the app company was programming exactly what they thought I needed – sometimes deciding this without consulting me first. For many entrepreneurs who are developing apps — its a new adventure, one not done before. Yes, they need a developer but chances are they need a thinking partner as well. For my second app I am going to partner with an app developer that will be more of a thinking partner — someone who will help me think through and talk about how to display my content the best way possible. My advice to app developers is “Be THINKing Partners” and help your clients talk about and think through what they want. This will be your differentiator, the way you do business different from your competitors.