It's understandable that we see some clients rush to design and develop a new web application. Often, this new solution is needed to address current pain points or position for rapid organizational growth. Unfortunately, this rush to produce often creates confusion, costs more money, and ultimately takes additional time to implement. While the variables causing these conditions are numerous, we'll focus this article on one in particular – a lack product vision.
3 Reasons Why It’s Important to Develop a Clear Vision of Your App
Before starting your application project, you need a clear vision. Without it, the development of your application may appear to be initially progressing on pace, but soon issues almost certainly emerge. They can include:
Expanded delivery timelines
Without a clear and documented product vision, delivery teams will be forced to make assumptions. It is not until you’re deep into the functional design process or, worse yet, in user acceptance testing, that you first begin to see this deviation. Inevitably, this will translate in part to spending more time during delivery to rework design and code. The timeline gains experienced at the outset of the project are now gone.
Inaccurate 3rd party system investment
It is rare that a custom development solution does not rely on a 3rd party system or service. These systems can range in their scope and cost to implement and maintain. Without a clear vision defined, decision-makers charged with introducing new systems and determining viability of existing systems run the risk of selecting a tool that ultimately does not meet their own needs. Requirements and needs may be confusing, inaccurate, or just missing. This forces decision-makers to make assumptions that, even in the most tightly coordinated project teams, can produce decisions on 3rd party solutions that won't work as desired, or at all. This issue is often compounded with the fact that any technology purchase is likely going to lock in the organization for a year’s worth of costs until renewal. A clearly defined and articulated vision helps enable these decision-makers by giving them clear direction and more accurate requirements.
Finally, a lack of or poorly defined vision will foster uncertainty and doubt amongst project team members and organizational stakeholders. Project teams will find themselves debating what they think the vision is or will present differing unofficial visions they have heard from different leaders. Conversely, organizational leadership will develop frustrations around the lack of progress as well as the product produced for their sign-off.
A properly defined and communicated vision, while not a silver bullet, is a vital first phase in any application development project. The vision takes into account the current pain points of the organization, where the organization sees itself in the future, and should ensure any compliance needs are met. Those creating the vision for an application development project should seek feedback and validate the vision as time passes to ensure its relevancy and buy-in. It’s important to take the initial time investment to document your vision in order to provide a needed guard rail for everyone from the coder to the CEO.