get started

6 Mistakes Companies Make When Buying Custom App Development

Having an application custom-developed makes it possible to get exactly what you need, and nothing more, without compromise.  It’s an exciting path to take, but can be a complicated and confusing purchase.

I talk to buyers all the time, and there are a few mistakes I see companies making in their approach to buying custom app development. To help you avoid this, here are five of the most common mistakes I see.

1. You Don’t Have it in Writing that You Own the Source Code

Every app has unique source code – the instructions and commands behind the app that make it do what it does.

Before you hire a developer, know their policy on this source code. Are you buying the finished product, or are you buying the recipe with which that product is created?

Without a copy of the full source code, you could be tethered to your developer whenever a change or update is needed. And, if you don’t receive ownership, your developer could resell part, or all, of the code for your app to other companies.

It is very important to understand who owns your source code – and ensure it’s covered by the contract you sign before you start the project.

2. Expecting a Price Quote before Having a Plan

“How much will it cost?” is a popular question we hear in most first conversations.

It’s kind of like proposing marriage on the first date. You’re moving too fast.

Until a developer knows exactly what they are building for you, the best you can expect is general price ranges for custom development. Not the kind of answers you should take to the bank.

Just as there are a series of stages you go through when moving from first date to marriage proposal, there are a series of stages you’ll go through when moving your developer from “Nice to meet you” to “This is what it will cost.”

3. Setting a Launch Date Before Talking to Developers

I’m amused when prospective clients contact us about having a custom application developed…and include a hard deadline for the work. A deadline that is usually less than three months away.

Unless you’re prepared to trim back your feature list if necessary, please do not set launch dates and hard deadlines before talking to developers!

4. Overlooking the Long-Term Costs of Maintaining a Custom App

Initial development on a custom app is only a fraction of the total cost of ownership.

There are feature enhancements needed to keep the app relevant. Maintenance will be required whenever new versions of the Android or iOS operating systems are released.

And of course, there is user support.

When building your plan with your developer, make sure to include these costs as many of them are recurring.

For more on this topic read this article: What Are the Ongoing Costs of Maintaining a Custom App

5. Over-Developing Version One

Trying to pack too many features into the first version is one of the biggest mistakes I see companies make in their approach to custom app development.

The amount of time you can spend “building the ship” is limitless, at some point you just need to launch.

Our team puts a lot of heart into helping our clients avoid the mistake of over-developing. We care a lot! Starting smaller is one of the best ways for your company to reduce risks, and keep your upfront costs lower. You’ll also get a working product to your users faster, and benefit from their feedback as you build out more features, and functionality.

For more on this topic read this article: Start with the MVP

6. Having an Inappropriate Expectation of Cost

By inappropriate, I mean inappropriately low. I’ve written several articles about how much it costs to develop a custom mobile app. Have a look so that you go into your buyer’s journey with the right set of expectations.


The High Value of Custom App Development

There is very real value to be had in custom app development. A custom mobile app can dramatically improve the productivity of your field team, reduce errors, capture and provide insight into key data in your organization.

But you need to be prepared for the realities of the custom process. You should have a plan in place, an understanding of the factors that influence both cost and timeline, and a plan for what to do when the app is completed.

Your business can benefit for years to come from a solution made just for you.

Share on Social:Share on LinkedIn
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on Facebook
Sara @ Big Fish

Sara @ Big Fish

Sara MacQueen is the Founder and President of Big Fish - a custom software design and development studio in Florida and North Carolina. She was named one of "25 Mobile Women to Watch" and has been interviewed by local and national media for her expertise in mobile technology and business.