December 23, 2013
You have a brilliant idea that can change the world. Hypothetically, your idea is going to challenge very big names in the world such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram, to name a few. I chose that as a hypothesis to point out that your project is substantially large. I am sure you are very excited to get things done as quickly as possible to be the first in the market.
You’ve carefully chosen a niche team and have planned to outsource the software development bit of it to the thoughtfully identified software vendor. Your application is big, and you have modularized it so that you can roll it out in phases, and you are about to get started. I understand that you want the first module, your MVP, out in the market yesterday. However, you have to understand what it takes to build a winning project. You cannot deliver a baby in one month with nine women working on it :-).
It is important to understand why it takes time to build even the simplest application and why should you give it the required time. To do so, let’s analyze a few vital, time consuming, and sequential tasks in your project development:
USER EXPERIENCE DESIGN & WORK FLOW
Once you finalize the requirements for the module you want to roll out first, you’ll want to get the right look and feel for your application. User experience is not just about color. It is about understanding the users. One-hundred percent of your visitors will be skeptical when they see your application for the first time. Also, they are certainly not ready to give up Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube before trusting your value proposition.
The user experience team generally creates personas of people you expect will be using the application. Based on that, they will then create a workflow and experience of your application that will make the user comfortable while using it. A good UX team will understand what actions they want the users to take in the right sequence and subtly urge them to do that with their designs.
Understand design itself is the very first step, and nothing can actually begin before you get the designs and workflow done. You might be able to speed things up by designing the “getting started” features first and starting the development for those in parallel. A good design agency, would take 4-6 weeks or more just to design a basic version of LinkedIn. You can certainly decide not to go that far, however. Understand that design and content are the two most vital parts of your application. That is what your potential customer is going to see, and you want to give enough time to this to get it done right.
ARCHITECTURE OF APPLICATION
Now that you are envisioning a huge application, how can you afford to get your architecture wrong? Spending time on architecting the application correctly the first time will speed things up later in the game when you roll out new modules. At this point, your application will have ample traction, and you cannot afford to slow down. You will want to release a new module based on your user feedback ASAP. This is when a well architected solution pays off.
SEQUENTIAL VS PARALLEL FEATURES
You would think that you could roll out faster with more people on the project. However, how can the development team build anything without the user registration in place? You have to understand that any project, when started afresh, needs a ramp-up time to get the machinery in place. Once the basic infrastructure — such as deployment scripts, base models, design, architecture, email infrastructure, messaging technology for asynchronous tasks, etc. — is set, you can get much more momentum. Most projects start slow with designers, and only a couple of developers come in to begin the work. Once the initial nuts and bolts are in place, you can add a few more developers to build features in parallel. Ideally, you can expect momentum in 3-4 weeks after the initial designs are finalized.
Now that you understand why things take time and why should they be done right, you must emphasize building it right, then building it quick. In fact, I can recommend throwing in a substantial bonus if things work out well and your customers react positively to your application. That will motivate them even further.
EMPHASIZING SPEED CAN BITE BACK
Since you are emphasizing speed as the most important thing, a less conscious vendor will be forced to commit due to their low sales pipelines. However, a conscious vendor would have still given you the clear picture and let you take the final call. You must look out for the latter if you are investing your time and money with anyone. A conscience vendor is more suited as a technical partner than a vendor who performs a code-to-cash barter.
Hope this blog helps you focus on the right things while pursuing your tech startup.
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