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Developing apps is costly – beware of in-house/contracting

Posted by: Ruby
Category: Business, Technology

Developing apps is costly – beware of in-house/contracting, choose mpro5.

Mobile apps are everywhere. Searching on the Play Store or the App Store returns thousands of results. You’ll find everything from mindless games to mobile banking apps. Many of us use these consumer apps every single day and business chiefs or innovation specialists are now looking at how an app could ditigise their company’s processes. Seems simple enough right? Maybe you’ll build it in-house, or contract a software house to do it for you. Unfortunately, developing apps is costly; both of these options often are a massive time and money drain.

The In-House Nightmare

Apps are incredibly complex – not for people like you and me to use, but to develop. As a business, it is difficult to find the time and money to develop an app for your own use. You’ll need to hire experienced developers, buy them equipment and pay for infrastructure (cloud services, data storage, software suites). Development won’t start the second this is all in place – they’ll need to write specifications, research the best mobile technologies and set up all their coding resources.

As this research explains, 40% of business apps take longer than six months to develop. Furthermore, changing requirements plus changing staff plus technical challenges often mean that it takes even longer than this. As deadlines creep up, adding budget and adding people often doesn’t help. Fred Brook’s Mythical Man Month explains that “adding manpower to a late software project, makes it later”. The rush to meet the deadline often results in delivering a sub-par solution. Brooks explains this with an omelette analogy:

“An omelette, promised in two minutes, may appear to be progressing nicely. But when it has not set in two minutes, the customer has two choices: wait or eat it raw. Software customers have had the same choices. The cook has another choice; he can turn up the heat. The result is often an omelette nothing can save: burned in one part, raw in another.”

Releasing an app to users in a fragile state means user acceptance is unlikely. Crashing apps mean lost work. If user experience is not intuitive, it leads to frustration and time wasted. Suddenly, paper forms seem more appealing again. Once the app is up and running there are costs for support and keeping it up to date. According to an AnyPresence survey, 30% of apps need to be updated once a month or more. These bumps in the road cost more time and yes, more money. The Enterprise Mobility Exchange surveyed 300 mobile practitioners and found total app development to cost between $250,000 and $500,000. Pricey!

Even after the development cycle to get the app released, you’ll face lots more for each new feature to introduced. Say your app lets your users complete Vehicle Inspections… what if you now need a solution for letting them complete Leave Requests? Sounds simple, but that’s a whole set of new code to be written, tested, documented and so on.

The £££ Development Companies

So then, another option… getting a software house to build you your own app from scratch. The bigger software houses have built hundreds of apps before, so they’ll have more experience in the development life cycle. Development companies will take the workload off you – you won’t have to employ your own staff or worry about the quirks in the development process. But, this comes with a hefty price tag. Large app companies charge anywhere between $500,000 and $1,000,000. There goes your yearly budget! Getting company approval and sign-off for this much money is going to take a lot of time and effort. Besides, committing that amount of money up front is a massive business risk. You’ll face a time lag before any code is written, while you spend ages clearly specifying your requirements. The value you will get in return will take months and months to realise.

When the app is finally delivered, you can often be left with no aftercare or support. Who are your users going to call when they run into an issue? Software houses don’t necessarily provide support lines. That means you’re still going to have to hire a team to do so, or pay a separate company.

Apps always need updating to move with Operating System (Android or iOS) updates, or to include fixes/features. The ugly truth is that anything you want to change is going to cost even more money. So not only did you have your initial outlay, you’ll then be facing irregular, surprise costs throughout the lifetime of the app. What a headache!

The Smart Choice

One of the big reasons we know so much about all of this is because at mpro5 we used to (many years ago) develop custom apps. It didn’t take us long to realise that this process was very time consuming, but also very repetitive. So, we built a platform that is agnostic to the use case and uses a whole load of configuration settings to achieve the requirements.

When a business (like Tesco or Arriva Rail Northern) needs an app for x or y, our team simply change the settings and configuration to suit their needs. The app itself is instantly available on the Play Store or App Store, and can be configured to show your business’ logo on it.

Our customers are then up and running within 30 days – no development work (coding) needed! mpro5 is Software as a Service! The service includes ongoing support and as many changes to your system as you need – it’s all included. There are no hidden fees and there’s no complications or hassle. For just one monthly subscription our Customer Service team will support you every step of the way and help you customise mpro5 to work for you and your team.



Mo – Comms Captain