The following is a guest post by ChopDawg.com, an award-winning app development company that has worked with over 180+ startups and companies from all around the globe, helping them bring their web apps, mobile apps, wearable apps and software ideas to life.
Follow ChopDawg.com on Twitter at @ChopDawgStudios.
Odds are, if you’re reading this post, you are in the market looking to hire an app agency such as us here at Chop Dawg, or considering hiring your in-house development team.
Fortunately, you’re intelligent.
You’re not just going to jump right in without doing your homework carefully.
You want to understand what to do, what not to do, and how you can mitigate your investment risk, so you have a statistically better chance at succeeding.
You’ve probably read about what makes an excellent idea? How to A/B test? What kind of programming languages should you consider? How to select the best app development firm? What type of questions to ask?
All of this sound like you, doesn’t it?
You’ve probably also read about scope creep, and think nothing of it.
Don’t be shy.
This is for your greater good, I promise.
Scope creep is the not-so-secret killer to almost all app development projects out there.
The scariest part, everyone assumed that scope creep wouldn’t happen to them.
That they have a better grasp of project management, managing theirs and others’ expectations, being able to think long-term, etc.
That is what makes scope creep so scary.
It doesn’t happen gradually.
It isn’t until you are out of money, have a team frustrated with you, and realize you’ve put yourself into a hole that you cannot get out of; how much you let it get the best of you.
Functionality requirements are what is needed for an app to function, and to get to the end-goal. As you can imagine, building and growing an app is never done, so a defined “scope of work” is what the end-goal is defined to be for a particular project.
Now, what is scope creep exactly?
In the simplest explanation we can give, it is this; it is when the functional requirements (scope of work) for a project such an iPhone app continues to grow and grow, therefore a project is never really completed.
This doesn’t just happen, either.
In full transparency, almost everyone begins level-headed. They have an idea of what the final result needs to be, at a bare minimum, to get their products into the market, to generate revenue and to validate itself.
It is when you’re seven months in, have committed thousands of dollars, hundred of hours in time; and you feel what was once good enough no longer is.
You need to keep raising the bar of expectations.
Slowly it keeps rising as you get closer to that finish line.
Slowly the finish line keeps moving back from you.
The next thing you know, you’ve added thousands to your expenses, and have a clunky, large, unnecessary app to show for it, if you even get there.
The reason for all of this, why expectations change, is often due to the ego. Entrepreneurs and executives need to find an excuse why something isn’t good enough.
There is no way after all of this hard work; it is ready for prime time, right?
You said so yourself, back when you began embarking on your journey to bring your app to life.
This is why it is critical for anyone, especially first timers in the app and software development world, focus on ensuring their expectations are set before a project begins, and don’t budge.
No matter how tempting it might be, do not budge.
Your first instincts were right.
So, we’ve covered what scope creep is, how it ends up crippling projects, delaying the inevitable while driving up costs and time… but how to solve this, to begin with?
How do you nail down your expectations at the start, to prevent the worst from happening?
If you’re hiring an agency such as Chop Dawg, ask to be billed set rate by the scope of work.
In plain English, this means to define the entire product (scope of work) from start to finish without room for interpretation and receive an exact budget for what will be needed to get it to that point.
The hourly and weekly billing structure incentivize you to go back and forth on features, continue to add more throughout the project, and quickly turn into an environment where scope creep can flourish.
Not only does the set-rate model define to a tee what the result will be before you begin; you also protect yourself by knowing the exact amount of investment you’ll be making for that result. It’s a win-win.
The set rate model also doesn’t mean you can’t add more to your product later.
In fact, if something is found critical needed to be added into an app, it is a methodical, well-calculated decision since it adds more costs and time that you can visually see.
This prevents the impulse of sending a quick email to a development team to reconsider a feature or add more in because you don’t see the direct consequences of your actions immediately. Set rate forces you to think long-term, which works to your benefit, short-term and long-term.
Another solution to implement; focusing on building a minimum viable product from the get-go. This means the least amount of features needed to get the product out the door at the highest quality possible, in order to validate it will work (and generate revenue or retain users… whichever is your primary objective).
When you force yourself to look through this exact lens from start to finish on an app or software development project, it keeps you focused on constraints and the essentials only. Again, this is critical to prevent scope creep. You’re not going to feel impulsive, but you are giving yourself the opportunity, if need be, to add if it fits the minimum viable product rule of thumb.
It doesn’t matter how hard you plan early, how excited you are, how much you believe in your internal project management skills or ability to maintain expectations. You need to give yourself a framework to ensure you avoid the dreaded scope creep.
Treat scope creep as a virus. Once it is in your system, it is incredibly hard to get out.