In 2018, app user retention rates were at 38%. In 2019, they declined to 32%.
40% of users stated that the main reason for uninstalling an app was that it did not fulfill their expectations.
For companies planning to build their own app, outlining the app development process to a “T” can help avoid poor retention rate outcomes.
In this article, we will establish the 8 steps in the mobile app development process and the roles and responsibilities of the app development manager.
Finally, we will look at some actionable tips for successful app development management.
Let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
Mobile App Development Process Outline: 8 Key Steps From Planning To Launch
The app development process may vary to some extent, but it should always consist of these obligatory eight steps:
Step #1: Dwelling/Market Research
Refining a mobile app idea into a basis for an actual app product begins with analysis and research.
This will help to convey clarity to your company, your app stakeholders and prospective agency partners.
This analysis should be a very broad one and should include elements like:
- Key demographics
- Buyer persona
- Buyer motivations
- Buyer behavior patterns
- App goals
Once you have pinned down the specific characteristics of your market as well as your target audience, be sure to keep the lifecycles of your end-users in mind during each stage of the app development process.
You need to acquire, convert and retain your consumers and nurture their loyalty. Understanding how the customer will use your app plays an important role in user retention.
Brainstorm and make the initial image of the app before moving on to the next stage. Research apps by competitors l to help you figure out what features they lack, so you can include them in your app product.
Step #2: Sketching And Wireframing
In the second step of the app development process, it is important to document and wireframe your future app in order to get a better overview of its functionalities.
Before the actual wireframing takes place, it helps to sketch your vision of the app product, in detail. This can help you discover certain usability issues and trace your steps in the development process. It is also a very powerful tool of collaboration between teams.
Wireframing the sketched idea will refine it and arrange the components of the design in a way that can help you overcome technical limitations in the development process.
Besides wireframing the app, you can also come up with a roadmap during this stage, to help define the relationship between each of the app’s screens and pinpoint how the users will navigate through them.
Don’t forget to focus on user experience and remember to incorporate your brand visual elements on these pages.
This stage should result in a better understanding of how your app’s features come together to form a functional app.
Step #3: Technical Feasibility Assessment
After getting a better understanding of the app’s visuals, it’s time to establish whether the backend systems can support the app’s functionality.
Depending on the app format and platform you use, your app will have different requirements. Sourcing public APIs will give you access to public data and help you determine whether your app idea is technically feasible.
Step #4: Prototyping
You cannot truly comprehend the app user experience until you use the app and evaluate its performance. This is where building an app prototype can help.
Building a rapid prototype will provide insight into how the app might work in real-life situations.
At this phase, a rapid prototype means using rough wireframes that can help you determine if the app development process is heading in the right direction. It’s also advisable to include all of your stakeholders during the prototyping process.
Stakeholders using the prototype will provide valuable feedback that you can implement into your final design.
Looking at the prototype helps validate the gathered requirements and it’s easier to establish if they’ve all been taken into account.
Step #5: Design
Coding the design of your app usually consists of two basic elements:
- The user experience (UX), for which the UX designer creates the interaction between elements
- The user interface (UI), for which the UI designer builds the feel and the look of the app
This stage of the app development process may contain multiple steps in itself, and should result in blueprints and a visual direction that will inform the app developers and engineers of the final product’s appearance.
It should also inform developers about the way the app will feel and flow.
Depending on the scope of the project, as well as your app budget, the design stage could take hours or days.
Your designers should create different screen variations by playing around with a navigation layout and other visual elements. The UX will be more original if your app design varies more than the others on the market.
Step #6: Development
As the app idea matures, your development team should create a working prototype to validate the functionality of the app and provide an insight into the scope of the project.
The app will go through a set of different stages as the development advances. In the beginning development phases, the core functionality may not be tested yet and the non-core functionalities do not exist yet.
In the stage that follows, many functionalities are incorporated - the app has, presumably, gone through testing and bug fixing. At this stage, the app can be released to a group of external users that would test it.
After the bugs have been fixed in this second stage, the app will move forward to the deployment phase.
The app development process can benefit from the agile development methodology which is helpful with flexibility and changes of plans, progressive development, early deployment and constant improvements.
Step #7: Testing
Testing your app should happen often and, if possible, during every stage of the development process. Frequent testing increases the chances of catching a severe error or a bug that can help with keeping final costs low.
It is a common mistake to think that the app should be tested only once it’s finished. The deeper you are in the development process, the more vital it is to fix the bugs which you can only detect if you test what you have at each stage.
Your company team, as well as the development agency team that actually builds the app, should test all the important facets of your app, such as:
- Platform compatibility
User acceptance testing, which consists of giving the app to select people in your target audience and asking them relevant questions about it, will help you discover whether your mobile app works for its intended users.
Through the enrollment of identified user groups or participant solicitation, make your app available for a beta test. Beta users can provide feedback about the app’s functions and how they operate in real life.
Step #8: Release
At the launch stage, choose your release date carefully and try to find a date that won’t coincide with the release of a similar app by a more well-known brand, because this may reduce the visibility of your app release.
Different app stores have different launch policies so be sure you are familiar with your store’s terms and conditions.
With the release, the app development process doesn’t truly end: the development cycle begins again!
As the app is launched, first user reviews will start to pour in. Keep an eye out for negative reviews regarding the UI, UX or general functionalities, so you can incorporate this feedback into the future versions of the app.
What Is Included In App Development Project Management?
App project management’s guiding process is the flow of the following phases that lend a workflow to app development:
- Initiating: The idea or the concept of the app comes to life and stakeholders outline the requirements.
- Planning: Specifications from the initiating phase are taken and project managers plan how they will develop the app in terms of scope, budget, resources and schedule. The majority of management work happens at this stage.
- Executing: The app enters development.
- Monitoring: Project manager monitors the progress of the app development and controls risks.
- Closing: Project manager closes out the project when the product is deployed and creates a report of what could have been done differently and what went wrong along the way.
After the closing stage, or sometimes even during it, the manager can discuss the strategies for the next app development or maintenance stage with his team.
These five phases ensure the app travels from a point of ideation to fruition in a realistic order.
What Are App Development Process Manager's Roles And Responsibilities?
When you reach out to an app development company you are about to begin working with and pitch them your ideas, the project management process begins.
A project manager does much more than simply provide communication channels between your enterprise and the team of designers and developers.
Responsibilities of a project manager include:
- Defining the users’ problem that the app will solve for them
- Establishing the exact solution to the said problem the app should deliver
- Roadmapping the software development process
- Figuring out how to finish the app development project on time and within the budget
As for the project manager’s roles, they can be summed up as follows:
- Planning: Planning the app means establishing the right time and the right category for the launch. It also conveys planning the stages in which the app creation will happen, as well as putting together the team for each of those stages. Project managers analyze the market, idea validation, user story mapping and complexity of every development stage before making any plans. It’s important to execute the planning well, because poor planning results in higher costs and missed deadlines.
- Communication: Project managers pass along your app requirements to the agency’s designers and developers. They make sure that the end result matches the requirements to the last detail by keeping in touch with the agency partners and their team. Project managers relay your company’s messages to them and vice versa and help with finding the common language between the two entities.
- Making changes to the process: The sudden ideas and realizations, a shift in the market, a new technology release, unexpected testing results… all of these factors could lead to the change of development plans. Project managers need to introduce these changes to the team and alter the plan accordingly, while keeping the project disruptions and rising costs minimal.
- Controlling the process: An app development managers should control the project at every stage by managing unexpected issues and implementing changes without missing deadlines. Maintaining control helps ensure the resulting app is the best it can be. However, the control should not stifle the balance and creativity of the project. Micromanaging the developer team can be counterproductive. A good PM knows to trust the team and understands the importance of flexibility in the IT business.
7 Tips For Successful App Development Management
For successful app development management, make sure your team and your project manager apply these seven steps when developing an app.
Tip #1: Evaluate Your Platform Guidelines
App development project managers should first review the guidelines for the app’s platform, before executing the project.
Android and iOS platforms have different guidelines for the apps in their stores. It is very important for the developer to adhere to these guidelines. Not doing so can result in application rejection.
Project managers should know about these guidelines in advance in order to avoid having to make revisions. These revisions can incur additional costs for the app development project.
Tip #2: Create The App Requirements Document
Your app requirements should exist in the form of written output. Creating the app requirements document helps all parties, sectors and teams to be on the same page as the development project advances.
The app development project manager should request this document from his company or partake in making one. This formal document should contain all the customer requirements regarding the application, such as functionalities, features and interface elements.
This will help with task management during the execution phase. Communicating this via a document instead of verbally will reduce confusion in the process.
Tip #3: Team Up With The Stakeholders
During the application development process, cooperating with app stakeholders is a very important step.
To team up with your future customers, management, employees, sponsors and the other stakeholders, your business can use reliable project management and collaboration software.
These programs can ensure that interaction runs smoothly and can prove priceless in drawing a project to a close successfully.
Tip #4: Find Customers For Quality Assurance Tests
App development process managers should also think about identifying and attracting potential customers as a test base for the quality assurance procedure.
This step ensures that the quality tests and the app itself are aligned with customers’ exact requirements. This customer testing input is your direct insight into what the general mood towards your app might be when it’s launched
Customer test cases can also contribute to the quick and successful closure of the project.
Tip #5: Encourage The Use Of Latest SDKs To Ensure Compatibility With OS Versions
Mobile devices’ operating systems change and are updated frequently. Android and iOS regularly receive new software development kits (SDKs) that have improved function calls and other upgrades.
Project managers should acquire and share stats with their team regarding the latest SDK for mobile app development. Using these SDKs ensures the app will run smoothly on the latest platforms and operating systems.
Tip #6: Make The App Compatible With Different Devices
Building an app for Android devices comes with more complications than developing one for iOS, which only comes with one phone type.
Android devices have different capabilities and phone resolutions. Your team should consult with the customers regarding the compatibility of the app for different Android devices and should ensure that the QA team uses all the relevant devices when testing the application.
Tip #7: Use The Helpful Project Management Tools
Mobile app development management can benefit greatly from the use of the right project management software.
Every project manager knows the unique requirements of each app project. All of the tips we have listed so far can make sure that the app is delivered successfully and that the end result is an app of high quality.
Project managers should encourage their teams to use appropriate project management software along the way to complete the development process efficiently and reduce the number of mistakes.
Helpful project management tools include:
- Trello: A tool for visually accessing the workflow and customizing each process within the project with drag and drop functions that configure the board according to your development’s tasks.
- Asana: A task management program for easily organizing all the aspects of a project. A tool that helps teams organize, move, track and assign different tasks.
- Teamwork: A robust tool that allows the creation of tasks and subtasks, tracking of time spent on any project, assignment of different roles and attachment of work files.
- Basecamp: A project management tool that handles multiple projects with messaging threads, charts, calendars and other elements.
Takeaways On App Development Process
The app development process consists of these eight stages:
- Dwelling/market research
- Sketching and wireframing
- Technical feasibility assessment
The management of the app development project entails:
- Monitoring and closing
Role and responsibilities of app development project managers include:
- Planning the project
- Timely and efficient communications
- Making changes to the process and ensuring they do not compromise the project
- Controlling all aspects of the process