One of the most difficult decisions when hiring an agile development studio is going through their initial process. This is admittedly the most difficult period with our clients because there is still a lack of trust. The agile process that we run requires some level of trust initially, because we don’t charge on a project basis but based on the time we’re working. We’ll lay out in a later blog post why this has proven to be hugely beneficial for both parties and how over time this is a more transparent process.
We know better than anyone that we constantly need to redefine our process and that we are still learning. We have already tweaked our process dozens of times and this is what we believe is the best process for a typical mobile app startup engagement.
To start off we begin with “Discovery”. Everyone defines this as something different but for us, this is a one full day in person meeting (typically either in our office or in the client’s office) where we meet the team, learn more about the product, figure out the problems that the client is trying to solve, and start the user flow.
The next 3-6 weeks (or more) is spent on what we call “design sprints”. These are done in increments of one week. Project managers start the beginning of the week working with clients to define what the goals are for the week and at the end of the week they show the clients the progress that we made that week.
Every client has a different objective for the design sprints which is why we leave this open ended. Some clients want to get a development budget as soon as possible, and other clients want a fully fleshed out prototype to show investors.
The minimum we need to get to a development estimate is user flow, a style guide, a feature list, and UX and this typically takes about 3 weeks to complete (see blog on development definitions if none of that makes sense here). We try to push for the minimum time investment initially in order to save our clients money and so that we can start building as soon as possible and push out product and test it sooner. In this case, designers join the development team and prepare designs during each of the development sprints based off of what screens the engineers need.
When the client is ready, we scope out the designs and provide a cost estimate. Our recommended development timeline is between 3 and 6 months and this usually includes eliminating non-core features in order to start with an app that is manageable.
I hope this clears up some confusion and mystery around the initial process. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about this as it can be a daunting process to kick off a software project.