How to draw up development requirements that support a speedy, efficient process

Can you build an engine, put together a bookshelf or erect a building without some sort of blueprint? Sure. It’s been done before, and for the “I don’t need instructions” crowd, it will be done again. But why do it?

Like everything created from scratch, those projects would be exponentially easier with a plan, an outline of steps, and some level of detailed instruction. The more complex the project, the more necessary those plans become. Can you imagine winging it on a 20-story building, deciding as you go where to drop in some ductwork or windows? No.

It’s the same idea when it comes to your mobile app development requirements. While agility and flexibility are essential, a solid plan helps to ensure a successful product. We don’t need to remind you that app development can be time-consuming and expensive, and detailed specifications keep everyone on track and provide a clear scope of work. Why is that important? Because vetted, documented development requirements:

  • Provide enough detail so that the developers on the team can create the product you intend, with all the features and functionality you expect
  • Leave little room for doubt about what you want from the development process
  • Reduce delays, technical debt and added costs
  • Enable the development team to be able to better estimate the time required for the overall effort

Beyond that, it forces you to map out all the business and technical requirements necessary to take your concept to market, and that can be pretty eye-opening, as you consider everything that needs to be built and done to bring an app to market, so it prepares you for what’s to come.

Prepare for development with 5 critical actions

Before you begin development, you must have a solid understanding of the user. At Rocket Farm Studios, we nail that down during our Discovery process. That requires talking to users, conducting surveys, looking at competitors and more to create in-depth user personas.
In addition to that, we work with clients to help them build their brand story, including developing the mission and vision for the product and exploring the relationship between the brand and users, vendors, partners and competitors. We even start thinking about design architecture, including logo, iconography, colors, images and fonts.

In order to move forward with design and, ultimately, development, you need to have that branding strategy in place and a clear understanding of your audience. (If you aren’t quite there, we can help. Contact us to learn more.)

Then you can build out your development requirements following these guidelines:

Be clear about your goals

As with every project, it is critical to lay out your goals for the application. Doing so helps you to understand what your requirements will be. Is your primary goal to develop a Mimimum Viable Product (MVP)? Is it to capture a specific market segment? Once you establish your business goals for the application, you can map out what are the must-have and nice-to-have features for the application.

Additionally, outline the stakeholders, or rather those people who will be integral in bringing the concept to market, the role they will play, and their individual goals for the project.

Summarize the product concept, core features and benefits to the user

  • Outline the objectives of the application. What problem does it solve? How does it bring value to customers?
  • Describe your vision. What is your expectation for both development and the end result of the product?
  • Layout your monetization model, if any. Will you use advertising, pay-per-download, in-app purchases, freemium or subscriptions?
  • Confirm your distribution model. What channels will you leverage to reach users? What kind of sales approach will you use for each channel?

Outline the requirements

At Rocket Farm Studios, when we draw up app development requirements, we focus on these core areas:

  • Job and business requirements. What is necessary to finish the job and meet your business goals?
  • Functional requirements. How will the app run and what features are needed?
  • System requirements. Which platforms, devices and operating systems are supported? What is needed for testing?
  • User interface (UI) requirements. What are all the actions the user will need to perform?

Define the system architecture

List the specifications of how the system will work:

  • Define and describe the data architecture
  • Show key components and data and messaging flow
  • Select third-party vendors or libraries you will use
  • Determine what is needed to ensure scalability, reliability and security
  • Decide which maintenance and upgrade requirements are needed for the tech and marketing stacks

Describe the user experience

Outline the user journey, detailing every step of using the app, from registration to realizing the benefits:

  • Focus on actions the app enables users to do
  • Include base features (e.g., password protection)
  • Include features from other apps you want to see replicated or avoided
  • Prioritize features into must-haves (non-negotiable), should-haves (important and add value, but no vital), could-haves (nice, but can be left out), and will not-haves (features that aren’t a priority at this time).
  • List what the user can do from his/her own perspective (and why he/she would want to do it)

As you layout the user experience, also think about and incorporate visual elements into the document to help the team of developers fully understand how you want the app to function:

  • Use base-level wireframes and pixel perfect visual designs
  • If sound and motion are part of the experience, include that too
  • Share examples from other products, detailing specifically what you like about the design and why

Layout potential limitations

List challenges the team will need to keep in mind, including:

  • Deadline
  • Timeframe
  • Resources
  • Tech and marketing stack
  • Budget

With that process documented, your development team will be ready to jump in with a firm understanding of the project and the tools necessary to move forward.

It’s a lot, but it’s vitally important to a successful app development project.

So, if you don’t know where to get started with a blueprint for your app, Rocket Farm Studios can take the pressure off. Schedule a consultation today.