Creating the next big app or software is all the rage. You just need to look at the huge valuations, stock market listings, and the household names in technology, to understand why so many people want to play in the space.

So, if you’re thinking, ‘Hey, I have an app idea. Now, what?’ then you’ve come to the right place.At Spring Digital, we’re always having conversations about ‘the next step’. Our answer is always the same: getting started with an app or software is no different from starting any other business venture. It starts with business fundamentals. You wouldn’t start a business without a plan, would you? Don’t start developing an app or software without one either.

1. Define Your Goals

If you don’t know your destination, how can you possibly know the direction you need to go in order to get there? Some of the key questions we ask our clients are:

○ What do you hope the project will achieve?
○ When and how will the outcome be achieved?
○ How much will it cost you to do this?

Budgets are important. You can’t achieve your development goals if you can’t afford it. When you’re thinking about the resources you need to achieve your outcome, you need to think about your staffing requirements to test and launch the project– not just how much it’s going to cost to develop the product.

Remember, your project goals should be consistent with your overall business goals. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of different details in the development process, so having these goals will remind you of your primary objectives throughout the project’s lifecycle.

2. Define your personas

A persona is a made – up person that represents your future users. Think ‘Sarah’ the Savvy Internet Shopper or ‘Olivia’ the Avid Gamer and Environmentalist. Defining your person as means getting into the mind of your ideal customer. We suggest coming up with three to five different personas.

Once you’ve got some data about your personas’ behaviour, demographics, pains, gains and currently – used solutions, you can analyse the data and the users according to their unique characteristics and behaviour patterns. Then, ask yourself why the persona would need your product, how they can benefit from it and what problems your product aims to solve for

Through this you’ll realise that your product will need to respond to a bunch of needs for different customers, but you should respond to each customer’s needs, problems and goals differently and uniquely.

3. Define a ‘responsible’ budget

A responsible budget should give you enough capital to create software that starts paying for itself. We use a specific process with our clients, but no matter who you work with, their process can help you put together a responsible budget for your project.

How much is the software worth to you? How much do you hope to earn from it? Building a model requires an understanding of the business and project in detail to get an idea of this. Then, estimate how much the project will cost you. We suggest getting estimates from at least three different development agencies– they’ll all have different processes for their estimation.

At Spring Digital, we’ve been doing this for over 15 years, so we’ve seen just about every type of project and budget out there. Our process involves identifying risks and unknowns and then presenting you with a budget range that we believe will give you enough capital to succeed. The more detailed the agency’s response, the better, because that will give you an idea of the transparency you can expect from them going forward.

The reality of software development is that new ideas are going to keep popping up, and your initial budget might not cover that. Unexpected risks might also pop up that add to the complexity of the project.

Once you’ve got your estimate, aim to secure funding for 150% of that amount – whether it’s from personal capital or external investing. Don’t forget to add internal costs like marketing, ongoing support and executive time.

4. Define your Features

You don’t want to develop an app that has unnecessary features. We can’t stress that enough. It’s one of the biggest reasons why projects end up failing. Story mapping can be helpful for this step, letting you get into the user’s shoes and understand how they will perceive your product. We use the following statement formula as a [certain user], I want to [take action] so that I [benefit]

For example: As a shopper, I want to receive an email after I fill in a signup form to confirm that my account was set up successfully. There you go; that’s one feature you need to work on.

Once you’ve defined these user stories and the functions needed, group them into sections. We call these groups ‘epics’.

For example: Features like ‘forgot password’ or ‘login stories’ might all be grouped into the ‘system access’ epic

If you can get through each of these four steps, you should be able to walk into meetings with potential software and web development agencies in sydney and start working on timelines, budgets, and effort definition. Of course, there still will be some unpacking to do with the agency, but it puts you into a strong position to start work. Software and app development is more than just the code. At Spring Digital, we know how important it is to think holistically and start planning your app or software just like you would any other business venture. Be clear with your vision, goals, pain points and requirements to help you create the best product, with the best chance of success.