As an entrepreneur, you probably have no problem pitching your ideas to other entrepreneurs. But what about explaining your idea to technical professionals? It is not the same so it requires a different approach. It is easy to just let a software developer take over. However, it is not a great strategy from the long-term perspective, as the final result will frequently be incompatible with the vision.
This article is for those who will discuss their project with developers for the first time and for those who have unsuccessful experiences and would like to avoid increased costs and delays. Here we prepared tips for you to get the most out of your work with developers and finally be satisfied with results.
Software development project goals
Developers should build your app with future plans in mind. So they are able to use the most effective and suitable app development technologies.
Example of goals: CRM integration with a Call Center, that will streamline your sales process. Communicate to developers whether you are planning to scale it up. Otherwise, you might be left with an IT solution that is very expensive or even impossible to upgrade.
It is just an example, but you should tell a developer every detail about the plan of the project, including your business strategy, issues a software solution should cover, and challenges it should address.
User stories: what problems we solve and how
It is your work to come up with user stories. Developers should code, not think about what users will do in the app. It is important that you should NOT TELL, but WRITE DOWN all the stories.
Users stories — is about setting small goals within software, not about particular features. It allows app developers to choose the best way to achieve the goal, employing features you might not have thought of.
The stories may consist of just one sentence that tells about a context users find themselves in, a certain problem they face, an outcome they expect. A standard user story template might be:
For example: when user is driving their car, they would like not to be distracted while driving, so they would choose to avoid interacting with an app manually.
Wireframes are screen sketches of what users will interact with in your future app.
Notion! Wireframes are low-quality representations of how the user interface might look and are not meant to be a model of what the final product will be. They should provide functionalities, interactions and screen flows without explicitly showing you how each component looks or behaves to achieve maximum usability.
It is not necessary to use professional designer tools if you are not familiar with them. Employ something simple — PowerPoint, Keynote, or just draw it on paper with color markers. Prepare a model scheme, do not spend much time on drawing, it is better to focus on detailed explanatory notes.
Go into details
If possible, present software developers with all the references to products, websites that relate to your idea.
Figure out how a developer understands you
Collect everything you have written and drawn about a software project and deliver it to a developer.
However, do not think each developer by default understands you — confirm it. Especially if you work with offshore specialists. For instance, what you might think of as a ‘clean look’ may be very different from his idea of a ‘clean look’, color choices vary from country to country. Anyway — ask them to explain to you and maybe show examples of how they catch your idea.
Software project plan
Create a plan, roadmap, with certain tasks and desired outcomes in cooperation with a software developer. So the developer will know their deadlines and you can control and check up on the process.
Start with MVP
Ask your developer to build a Minimum vital product first — your product with a minimum set of features, only ‘must haves’ your product can’t operate without.
MVP helps you to check if everything is still clear for you both. You, as a non-tech person, will see what is possible to do and how it will work. Probably, you will have new ideas. With this draft-product, you are able to test it on users, check how users perceive it and what to remove or add.
1. Communicate regularly. Using your roadmap, ask developers to show and discuss with you each step they completed.
2. Communicate in a convenient manner. Choose a platform or format that will be OK for you both.
3. Try to maintain friendly relationships — it will contribute to your common understanding.
4. Communicate honestly. It is important to flag it up if you are not satisfied with something. This may be very difficult to go back and change something later on without severe consequences for the deadline or the budget.
Hire a technical «translator»
In achieving good results with a developer, a lot depends on the skill level of the programmer and how well you understand the idea.
Sometimes you might need a «translator» or an entrepreneurial programmer, an individual with business and technical knowledge in mind, who can offer a working solution, not just to develop a product. Here are some cases when you might need to ask for help:
- you still have some problems;
- you have little time;
- you are planning a complex digital product.