Our clients often ask how they can contribute while we’re building them a custom web or mobile application. It’s a natural question because of the nature of software development and how it differs from other parts of our process.
Our process starts with examining and envisioning a company’s situation and needs so we can create a custom web or mobile application that will solve a particular challenge or seize a valuable opportunity for the business.
During these early stages, and even during the Design and Content phase, our clients see progress frequently. This allows us to stay on the same page with our clients, while giving them a clear picture of how the project is coming together.
But once we enter into the Software Development step in our process, our clients see tangible progress less frequently. That’s because we must pass multiple milestones before we have working pieces of software to show our clients.
We provide our clients weekly updates during this stage so they know what we’re building in their software. Still, we’re aware these updates can be hard to conceptualize for people creating a web or mobile application for the first time.
History shows us that our clients contribute in important ways during the software build. Here are four things we ask our clients to do to stay educated and engaged throughout development, to ensure a successful outcome:
Understand the plan
It’s important for a company to understand the plan for any software project so the client and developers are on the same page.
The reason this is vital is that creating software requires a series of decisions. Each decision contributes to the foundation of the project, and sets the course for future decisions.
The Worthwhile team makes recommendations about many of these decisions, based on our expertise and best practices. Sometimes, we will call out decisions and share options so our clients can make the best decision to match their business goals, processes, and constraints.
Regardless of how the decision is made, both clients and developers need to understand each decision point and how it’s resolved. When this happens, everyone has the knowledge base to help accomplish the plan.
Key decisions in software projects can include:
- What development framework to use
- What features to include in an MVP
- When to avoid complexity, and when to solve it
Ask questions when you have them
As clients digest the plan for their web or mobile application, they will undoubtedly have questions. That’s a good thing. It means the client is thinking about how users will interact with the software, and about how the application will interact with their larger business processes. So when question arise, ask.
Often, questions that clients ask us are things our Worthwhile team has thought through beforehand. These points of discussion serve to reassure our clients about the plan and direction of the web or mobile app.
Of course, some questions break new ground, and we need to think through them together with our clients. They may uncover a feature or connection that needs to be added, or a reason the plan needs to change. This is a good thing, because it lets us update the development plan at an early point, saving wasted effort and assuring the final product will serve the client’s business as effectively as possible.
Know when to adjust
Effective software development projects require both a solid plan of attack and a willingness to be flexible during development.
Being flexible allows you to:
- Take advantage of new technologies that become available
- React to changes by third-party companies your software needs to interact with
- Strategically adapt to changing business situations
A good development team will naturally adjust when necessary, and explain both the reason and the execution of the adjustment. Clients need to know these adjustments are a normal part of pursuing the best business solution.
Test pieces as they’re developed
One thing companies can do to keep a software project moving, and to address potential problems as soon as possible, is to test pieces of software as they’re developed.
This takes discipline and imagination. These pieces of software typically demonstrate one particular function of the software, and the client needs to focus on that particular function and not the whole project. That takes discipline. At the same time, the client needs to be able to imagine how this function will work as part of a larger system, in order to give the most helpful feedback.
While this can be a stretch for non-developers, this testing is a valuable contribution. Knowing that pieces work like they’re supposed to — or how they may need to change — keeps a project on track and assures it has a solid foundation.
We invite our clients to participate in the web and mobile application development process through these steps, and we believe any company can benefit from them as well.
These contributions keep a company engaged during the development process, and educates them about what’s actually being built. The result is a co-creative process that results in the best possible web or mobile application at the end.