Your app project timing plan is the holy grail of an app project. As important as the App Project Briefing and any of the specification documents that tell the app development team what to do, the timing plan is the document/app that dictates the success of the build.
Although arguably more critical in Waterfall method projects which are more tightly controlled, whether it’s a Waterfall or Agile project any slip from the agreed timing plan can be disastrous for you.
The impact on costs
If you have a fixed priced contract with your developer – increasingly rare – then any extra days of development aren’t going to add to your costs.
It’s more likely though that you will have a contract where you will be charged extra for any days of development that are over and above the agreed development timescale.
These days could be due to scope creep or a misunderstanding over the specification, both of which can be significantly reduced by having a clear App Project Brief in place from day one.
The impact on other timings
Even if you do have a fixed priced contract with your app developer, there are other impacts you need to consider.
The biggest of these is the potential disruption to your app marketing campaign.
Building an app is not just about app development. Once it’s built you need to market the application to your intended target audience.
This takes time and, if you are not doing the marketing in-house, it’s likely that you’ll be engaging PR and marketing agencies to publicise the app.
They will have tight deadlines to work to – to keep down your costs and to manage their own time efficiently. They may also have booked advertising campaigns that may come with cancellation costs if media schedules have to be changed.
As well as advertising there may be other tactical dates you need to hit too. If you are releasing a dating app, for example, you need to be out there in time for Christmas, which is a key time for people downloading and joining dating apps. It’s no good if days here and there all add up to making your release date not the original December 20th but March 3rd…
Keep a tight grip on your developer’s timings
Here’s a tip: If the developer hasn’t opened up their project management platform to you, run your own (many don’t, as they won’t want you to see how they operate internally).
There are a number of project management platforms like BaseCamp, Atlassian’s Jira, Teamwork, Wrike and Smartsheet out there. Each has their benefits which we’ll cover elsewhere, but all allow you to create your own account and then mirror the agreed deliverables and milestones dates throughout the project.
Having a project management system in place will show the developer’s project manager (PM) that you are very serious about bringing the project in on time.
You’ll quickly see when key dates are being missed and you can bring this up with the PM in your regular meetings, which should be at least once a week but can be every other day if you are really engaged in the project.
As always, to help the developer create an accurate project timing plan from day one, you need to give them a tight App Project Briefing.
You can download our template here.
Our step-by-step template helps you to marshal your thoughts and ideas into a cohesive project briefing that a developer will easily understand. You don’t have to be technical to complete it, and you don’t need to have expensive designs or wireframes at this stage.