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How Entrepreneurs Can Avoid Hidden App Development Costs

Joe Tuan
Joe Tuan

Building an app for your company doesn't have to be stressful and costly.

If you're looking to have an app created for your business, you have to make sure that you are aware of the processes involved in the app development. Here are some of the best ways on how you can avoid paying unnecessary app development fees.

So you’re a business owner and you badly need an app to be created specifically for your business? Or, you're someone who has an awesome idea for an app and you’re sure it will work, but you lack the expertise and time to hire and manage an in-house development team?

The truth is, custom mobile application development is often expensive and it takes a lot of time, but if you have the budget, you don’t really need to stress yourself and figure everything out on your own. There are reputable app developers who can help turn your idea into a problem-solving and money-making app that is custom built to fit your requirements, your vision and your budget and it’s just a matter of choosing who you’d trust for your project.

Here are some of the ways you can save yourself from having to cough up money for hidden app development costs:

  1. List down all your requirements and document them

As app builders, we’ve seen a lot of business owners who don’t have the technical capability to understand the process of app development. Sure, they're done validating their idea, doing competitor audit and creating a strategy for their app, but still, if they cannot clearly communicate exactly how they envisioned the app to be, then the development process may drag on and the cost of building the app may reach the ceiling.

If you want to maximize your budget, make sure that your chosen team has the capability to deliver the app just how you want it to be. There’s no better way to do that than by creating a detailed document that outlines your mobile application requirements. This document should tell your chosen and would-be contractors about your objective for the app, product & technical specifications, design practices to be used, functionalities and features, your monetization model, technology to be used, maintenance and upgrade requirements and many more. Be very clear with them and ask them upfront if there’s anything in that document that they wouldn’t be able to deliver, this way, you’ll know what you can expect and they can be vocal about the possible challenges that you’ll have down the road.

  1. Find a reputable freelance app developer or app development company

A reputable third-party provider has to have the experience and expertise you need. They need to understand your goals and your business and put themselves into your shoes so they can build the app from your perspective. They should be able to guide you and answer all your queries about the app development process. If you need them to, they should be able to provide you with an overview of the tasks involved for certain functionalities and features you want to see in the app.

If you can, find a local company or a locally-based app developer. They may charge you a bit higher but this guarantees that you are protected through contracts and NDAs. The language barrier and time zone differences could be overwhelming if you’ll opt to hire foreign developers.

Before paying any fees, ask your contractors about their experience building an app similar to what you intend to have them build. Let them narrate some of the challenges they experienced and how they were able to overcome those challenges. Your goal is to make sure that they can go a mile further if things go wrong, and that they are flexible enough to meet your goals and deadlines without going over your budget. Research about their organization and see what people are saying about them. Always remember that if you try to cut corners when choosing a developer, you can end up having to pay more in the long run or worse, having to start from square one.

3. Good communication

If you want to ensure that the project will be completed on time and within budget, you have to communicate well with your contractor. The last thing you’d want to happen is for the project to drag on because you weren’t available to provide feedback or confirm necessary changes. There’s nothing worse than developers making the changes on your behalf because the project is already way past the deadline, but they, unfortunately, made an error and it resulted to more work needing to be done. Be available to them just as how you want them to be available for you.

4. Do the QC and QA

Although you have listed down all the requirements, try to check in from time to time and ask your developers for an update. They should be proactive and shouldn’t give you a hard time when you’re requesting to see what has been done so far. It is also worthy to have someone who can verify if the tasks being are done are necessary and are right.

For instance, you’re requesting an Android app to target a global audience. This could mean that the developers will have to do device fragmentation to make sure that the app is compatible with all devices and OS versions. Tasks like this can impact the cost of the project because they are time-consuming. Having someone who can explain to you what work is involved in each phase of the app development can put you at ease and will alleviate the developers’ stress too.

5. Be prepared for the testing and maintenance costs

Business owners who haven't had an app built for them in the past may think that once the app has been developed, there wouldn't be any other costs anymore apart from the server fees. The truth is, testing, maintenance, and future upgrades may still cost a lot of money, so it's better to prepare yourself and set aside a portion of your entire app development budget or have a separate budget for these processes. You cannot possibly opt out of the necessary upgrades because your app needs to adapt to changing environments.

It's also worth noting that an all-inclusive approach (designing and developing an app that can support as many platforms as possible) is very expensive to maintain.

Having an app built for your business can bring a lot of benefits in terms of branding, customer experience, business operations, sales, and even customer support. Having the right mindset and the right strategy in place can save you from unnecessary expenditures and stress.

Image Credit: Peshkova/Shutterstock
Joe Tuan
Joe Tuan Member
I'm the founder of TopFlight Apps, an award-winning app team of entrepreneurial designers and developers based in Irvine, California. Our clientele include Stanford Medicine, Medable, and Merck. I also founded 2 digital health startups and served as cofounder of a coding academy for teens, sat on the board of directors for patient advocacy groups, and served as a consultant for integrative outpatient clinics.