A couple of months ago, I was at a bar chilling with my colleagues somewhere around Ikeja. We spoke about several things including Tech in Nigeria and how it has changed many business models.
Just as we were all bringing in our analysis skills to the table, Rhoda said the most disappointing thing that evening. Something along the lines of -” Many tech guys in Nigeria don’t deliver on their promises, you tell them this and they do something entirely different”.
Then the punchline came “Nigerians and their mediocre way of doing things. You ask for a website, they give you a cobweb, you ask for a mobile app, you get nothing but stories.”
Then she went ahead to say, “next time someone comes to me to recommend an app developer, I will just tell them to go to India, or look for a foreign app development agency abroad. At least they’d get their money’s worth.”
I hate generalising statements and was going to interject in between, but her assertions were so resolute. Anyway, we had a little back and forth and moved on to other topics, but after I left the bar, the conversations had me thinking, and these questions came to mind:
Do developers in Nigeria have a reputation for being unreliable?
What are the likely reasons a developer won’t finish up a client’s project?
What can be done to change this notion about Nigerian developers?
As with every problem, we have to go back to the beginning.
WHO DO YOU APPROACH WHEN YOU NEED AN APP? If you said a Mobile App Developer, then your project has failed before it even began. I hate to do this but the answer is the Business Analyst. Yes, you read that right. You are supposed to approach a Business Analyst and NOT a Developer. It is kind of the same way you are supposed to approach an Architect, not a Bricklayer, when you need to build a house.
Every development team must have 3 roles at the barest minimum.
The Business Analyst
You see, a developer is an Engineer – a Software Engineer. And like all Engineers, they are not equiped to really listen to you and fully grasp your business requirements. Engineers work with objects and things, so it is only natural they are poor at dealing with people. Working with clients is simply not part of the Engineer’s training.
Okay now that that is cleared. Let us go deeper and become more informed. Here are SIX (6) OTHER REASONS WHY APP PROJECTS FAIL.
1. You Approached your App like an Intangible Object
Just because it is software doesn’t mean it should be played down. Look at apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp and many others. How do you think they were built? They were built with the end in mind, with a lot of financial and emotional investment.
Yes you want to solve a problem with technology, and you have decided to build an app. But what is the value of the problem? When you hear apps are valued at XXX billion dollars, what do you imagine is responsible for that value? And how much effort do you think went into creating that value?
2. App Building Is Like Building A House.
Like i said earlier. You approach it from the right perspective. Who do you talk to when you want to expand your business? A business analyst. How about when you want to build your house? You call a surveyor and an architect or do you call a bricklayer first?
Let me explain the app process. An app is a technology platform to solve certain business problem(s) at scale. A developer in app world is the bricklayer, you do not expect him to decide how the app should solve business problems, the user experience, the app features etc. This is the job of a business analyst. The analyst works with the designer and developer. The primary communication should happen between the analyst and the client.
In app developing, you need an analyst to analyse your market and app users. You need graphic designers, UI/UX experts, software engineers/programmers, and afterwards, you need digital marketers to help you reach your market.
Most people in Nigeria leave app development to a developer. It is like leaving the house construction to the bricklayers. He will build without understanding your perspective or your market needs. And you are surprised you are not happy with the outcome?
3. Research The Company
Many a time, the clients are not knowledgeable on the mobile app building industry that they are easily sweet talked. Developers know this. They sound convincing. Enough to make you pay them for a project that will never see light of day.
You must ensure the company has a team in place who will guarantee your app is custom made for your business, market and audience. The app should reflect your company culture, personality and business objectives.
4. Look Out For Companies That Give You A Prototype Before the Real App.
Now that your app project is handled by a team of programmers, business analysts, graphic designers, UI/UX experts, ensure they prioritise PROTOTYPING as part of their app delivery process.
WHY? Because you absolutely need to do a market test. You want to ensure the app you get is exactly what you had in mind. With a Prototype in hand, you can gather valuable feedback from potential customers and even investors.
A lot of times, I have seen App builders tell you your prototype is 80 percent of the app cost. How does that even make sense? The PROTOTYPE is supposed to save me from mistakes, help me recheck my app decisions, understand my market. If it is 80% of the full cost then, how does that even save me money?
Look for a company that provides you with a prototype for just about 50% – 60% of the total cost of your app.
5. Great apps are not cheap, but can be affordable
Engaging an app development company will not be cheap. This is understandable considering the team of specialists that has to be in place. Remember what I said earlier about great apps, they are well valued and can be the difference between business success or failure. So it depends on the value you place on your app.
However, you can look out for app building companies that have the previous points in check and also understand your pocket. They might offer you payment plans that are convenient, some might appreciate your ideas and help you source for investors if they can. It all boils down to how human they are. You want your app building company to have a human feeling towards you like your Doctor will.
What I am trying to say is, you always get what you pay for. No professional service outlet offers great service at cheap cost. Ask your app building company for their payment plan options and decide which plan is convenient for you.
6. Post Development Support
Ensure you choose an app building company that will always be there for you. They will support your app even after building it. They will give you full access to it because it is your property and they will always advise you.
Basically you want your app building company to always give you technical support beyond your mobile app development and act as your Chief Technical Officer.
Just because I care about you, I won’t leave you without additional emphasis.
Please Do not Fall For Developers That Promise To Deliver At Low Cost And in Little Time.
Remember all I said earlier. They already know the actual time and cost. However, in a bid to make clients see them as affordable and fast, they undercharge their clients and eventually abandon the project when the money you have paid is exhausted from their bank account.
They do not care for your business or your vision. They build you an app with ready made templates. If you are lucky, what you get is an app that does not connect with your clients. If you are unlucky, you get NO APP AT ALL and you become part of the “my developer failed me” bandwagon.
Other Things To Consider in outsourcing your Mobile App Development Project:
Would you fly to India or America when your app building company messes up? For those that will still outsource to a DEVELOPER in another land “Be Ready” for disappointments but hey you get to learn.
When your app is down, will your app developer/developing company be ready to fix the issue as soon as possible?
What is the maintenance/support plan for your app?
Will you be needing a hand holding experience? More like a acting CTO?
Remember to always do an extensive background check. Whether in India or America or Nigeria, the ingredients for app development is the same. If you leave it to just a developer/programmer you will get the same result.
More importantly, ensure you are going to be given a PROTOTYPE first, before paying for the full app.