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How to avoid wasting time in a mobile app development project

A tedious, drawn-out app development process can frustrate everyone involved. Follow these five tips and tricks to ensure that developers don't waste time.

Developers always aim to complete a mobile app development project on time, but there are missteps that can get in the way of hitting the deadline.

There are a few ways that developers can waste valuable time during a mobile app development project. These pitfalls generally fit into five categories: development environment, project focus, coding practices, user experience (UX) and quality assurance (QA).

Top five tips to stop wasting time

Development environment. The development environment includes everything necessary to build and deploy an app, from the coding language to the development and deployment tools. The organization should ensure that the development environment is the best fit for its team. For example, if most of the team's developers are strong in Objective-C, they should use that language for iOS apps until they're more familiar with Swift.

Without a proper infrastructure in place before development, developers may have to redo tasks or perform them manually.

The development team should also determine the best way to implement such processes as automated builds and continuous integration to promote efficiency and productivity. Without a proper infrastructure in place before development, developers may have to redo tasks or perform them manually.

Project focus. A lack of a clear focus can also result in wasted time. Everyone needs to understand why they're creating the app and which problems they're trying to solve. Prototyping can clarify an app's focus and facilitate communication between participants.

Throughout the project, developers must carefully balance agility with rigidity. If the project is too agile or open-ended, the team can miss important details and end up with an app with too many features or useless features. The app might also be incapable of integrating with essential systems or might not be secure enough. These mistakes can result in developers having to redo work.

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On the other hand, if the project follows too strict a regimen, the organization can end up with a process-intensive quagmire that slows the project down to a standstill, with little to show for everyone's efforts except for a lot of wasted time and perhaps an 800-page functional spec.

Coding practices. Coding practices can also lead to wasted time in a mobile app development project. For example, if the development team fails to initially abstract the code, they may have to modify the business logic if an API, database or other dependent component changes -- which can occur quite frequently during an application's lifecycle.

Developers also waste time by rewriting code that already exists for common features such as JSON parsing or network calls. Although code reviews initially call for a greater investment in time, they can save time in the long term by identifying issues earlier in the development process.

User experience. When developers don't take the user into account during a mobile app development project, they can waste a lot of time.

A poor UX can decrease user performance and productivity and cause the user to give up on the app altogether. If the app is inconsistent, unresponsive, too complex or difficult to navigate, developers will have to fix or replace it, resulting in duplicated and wasted efforts.

Developers can also waste time if they don't account for the differences between mobile platforms and form factors, which can lead to the same outcome as a poorly designed user interface.

Quality assurance. A lack of proper QA can also result in wasted time, even though it calls for a significant upfront investment. The sooner developers can identify and correct bugs and other issues, the more successful the deployment and the shorter the development process will be.

Developers should rigorously test and review each app using manual and automated UI testing as appropriate. Developers should also heed user feedback whenever it is available.

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What were the biggest time-wasters during your mobile app development process?
It really helps developers community to keep track on the mobile app development and make their projects a success within a given time frame.
Excellent point. Perhaps this would fall into the category of Project Focus, but wherever it lands, tracking progress, defining milestones, and having a clear timeframe are all important. Thanks for pointing this out.
A key part of "not wasting" is, ironically spending the time upfront to define the scope of the project and the requirements in detail.

This is key, because when business units think they have described the requirement clearly and yet developers walk away from meetings (with business unit people,) with a different understanding, you have a perfect recipe for wasting time (because there will have to be "re work".)

Another option to speeding up mobile app development (which is implicit in the question of avoiding time wasting,) is to consider the no-code platforms out there. In some cases they MAY be a solution. The one caveat to be mindful of is to be sure to pick a no code platform that is powerful and that does not run the risk of running out of power before the job is done.

For example if you are building mobile data capture/dispatch applications and you want to consider using a no code platform or suggesting to a business unit that they build the app themselves with such a platform,  you should ensure that the platform can handle things like:

  • You have workers servicing boilers and you want to send SMS's or emails to home office
    alerting the appropriate team to  danger conditions determined by information collected in one or more fields
  • You have field workers operating in a "no signal" location, repairing equipment that is identified by QR codes. To be able to do their jobs effectively. Your field people need to be able to scan the code, lookup the type of equipment they must repair and then be able to display repair instructions or videos for that piece of equipment
  • You want to be able to create dynamic dispatch applications where customer information and history is retrieved from a system of record
  • You want the data capture form/app  to adjust or vary the questions on the fly based on any kind of calculation or validation performed on previous fields
  • You want to be able to use a web service to check a VIN number on a car against a database of stolen cars and initiate a workflow based on the result
  • You  want to record sounds, take an unlimited number of pictures and annotate them and also be able to use "voice to text" for taking notes in the app
  • You want to make your workers more efficient by taking advantage of filtered or cascading pick lists
  • You want to display each record collected in any layout or summarize the data collected in a management report