It doesn’t take a crystal ball to determine how long it will take you to get an app to market. What it does take is proactive decision-making, a clearly-defined development process, and strong project management to keep it on track. Here’s what you need to know about the factors influencing the time it takes to get an app to market and how you can speed up the process.
5 Factors that Affect Development Time
A number of factors affect an app’s time to market. Here are the ones that have the biggest impact and are within your control to manage.
In your V1, it’s a good idea to focus on the core requirements needed to meet your users’ pain point(s). By focusing on a minimum viable product (MVP) for your first app build, you are making sure you meet your user’s needs while getting an app out to the market more quickly. This approach also allows you to gain valuable knowledge as your customers are using the app, which will inform the iteration of future releases.
A “go big or go home” approach will take longer to build. And you run the risk of throwing additional functionality into your app that hasn’t been fully validated by users. The more functionality you build into the app, the more time it will take to get it to market.
2. Strategic Development Process
Following a strategic development process is critical for the timely release of your app. Having a development process in place not only serves to keep people on track, but it allows creativity to flourish. This structure also better ensures that the up-front planning that is required for a successful app is completed.
3. Skills and Expertise
It may go without saying, but to bring an app to market, you need people with the right skills and experience. If you don’t have them, it will take longer to release your app — if you are able to at all. Trying to tackle work outside your experience takes longer.
4. Limit Scope Creep
Scope creep will kill your release timeline. Limit scope creep by staying focused on the app’s core functionality for your MVP. Make notes on ideas and features you want to build out in the future.
Scope, timeline, and budget are the trifecta for any app development project as they are so closely intertwined. A change to any of the three has an impact on the others. If you’re looking to nail your timeline to release an app, you need to evaluate the budget. Understand how much runway you have with your budget and how long it will fund your app. If you need to adjust, you either need to reduce scope or push out the timeline. Taking a look at scope, timeline, and budget together helps you recognize the impacts each have on your project and help you to prioritize what is most important.
General Guidelines for How Long it Takes to Build an App
The most honest answer to the question of how long it takes to build an app is “it depends.” There are a lot of factors that come into play for determining how long it will take to build an app. But, with some generalizations, building an app typically takes 4 – 6 months to bring an MVP to market. This will depend on the factors above that can cause a wide swing in timing. But, if you plan out your scope, budget, and timeline and are committed to sticking with it, you can absolutely manage the time timeline you choose with continuous project management.
Once you have your new app scoped out and commitments for resources, budget, and timeline, it’s a good idea to shift your thoughts to launch planning. You have a big choice to make when it comes to bringing an app to market — a hard launch or a soft launch. A hard launch is defined as releasing a completely ready-to-go product to a wide audience where your goal is making a splash. A soft launch refers to releasing your almost-ready app to a smaller market to collect feedback and performance data that will help you make final iterations.
A hard launch has a much more extensive marketing effort that takes time and budget, which is why you’ll want to plan it out early on — it will factor into when you can be ready to release your app to the market and the budget you will have for development. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, and the decision may depend on the time you have, the budget, and your development approach. If you are developing an MVP, you may want to focus on a soft launch.
There are a lot of factors that go into calculating how long it takes to bring an app to market. Make sure you are familiar with them and take control to improve your chances of releasing your app on time and on budget.
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