AUGUST 6, 2020
6 min read
It pays dividends to think well in advance about the potential problem areas in the app development lifecycle. By considering issues, risks, and resource requirements ahead of time, you can help to ensure that your development process is as smooth and as cost-effective as possible.
Here, we’ll look at the fintech app development lifecycle in more detail, and think about the areas that should be considered priorities when allocating and managing budget and resource. We’ll also think about some simple strategies for preventing bottlenecks and reducing costs.
The fintech app development lifecycle explained
The fintech app development lifecycle consists of several distinct phases. It’s important to understand that the lifecycle is exactly that: a cyclical process in which each phase runs onto the next, and one that is constantly ongoing even after deployment.
Overview: The development lifecycle begins well before any actual development starts. The first stage is business planning: what’s your idea, what’s the market for it, who’s the competition, how are you going to monetise the product, and so on. This stage should also include marketing strategy (how are you going to acquire customers) and some legal tasks. The latter is especially important for fintech products, which are likely to attract significant compliance obligations.
Budget considerations: The resource requirements for business planning are hard to quantify. Your initial scoping project may be quick and simple, but you should remember that the business side of your product continues way beyond the end of the development stage. Make sure you allocate budget for ongoing activities like marketing and support.
Overview: At this stage you will codify the technical requirements of the product, the process by which it will be delivered, how it will be used, and how it will be maintained.
Budget considerations: This part of the process shouldn’t be too significant a resource drain, but it is vital that you get it right. Leave yourself enough time to build a comprehensive specification.
Overview: The design stage involves two separate but closely linked threads. First, you will set out how your fintech app is going to solve the problems or needs you’ve identified: its feature set, its basic operation, and so on. The second thread involves deciding how the features will be presented to users, and developing a working prototype.
Budget considerations: Design can be time-intensive, and may require you to bring in additional talent. This is where the major part of the budget spend begins.
Overview: Now the actual development begins. This will usually involve both front-end and back-end work. Code will also need to be regularly reviewed, although automated techniques like unit testing can help to reduce some of this resource burden.
Budget considerations: This phase is the crux of the lifecycle, and should be a top priority in budget allocation.
Overview: Setting up the necessary environments, systems monitoring, deciding whether to use new tools like cloud-based infrastructure, and other related tasks happen here. Your app needs to sit within a solid and scalable infrastructure, and this can be a major technical project.
Budget considerations: Infrastructure development is one of the most resource-intensive parts of the lifecycle, but it’s also one of the most important. This should be a budget priority.
Overview: In fact, testing shouldn’t be a standalone stage. Testing should be embedded within the development process, with the product constantly assessed for functionality, usability, and stability. There will, however, be a final round of QA before the final deployment.
Budget considerations: Testing should be conducted constantly. Make sure you allocate enough resources to not only perform internal QA, but also to test with real users.
Overview: At the point of deployment, your fintech app goes live and is open to users. It’s worth remembering, however, that there may be several stages to your deployment process, and that deployment and testing often go hand in hand: for example, you might first deploy to a test environment to seek feedback, or deploy to a select group of beta testers, or make use of staging environments.
Budget considerations: The budget requirements for the deployment stage will vary depending on the number of deployment phases you undertake.
Maintenance and optimisation
Overview: Once your fintech app is live, a whole new stage begins. From this point you will be monitoring the performance of the product and considering user feedback in order to make changes and updates. There will also be additional recurring tasks such as infrastructure maintenance. Additional business tasks will also be introduced at this stage, for example a wave of marketing activities.
Budget considerations: This phase represents ongoing overheads. The required budget allocation is open-ended, and should be factored into your medium-term business planning.
Fintech app development lifecycle bottlenecks
There are several key phases of the fintech app development lifecycle that often produce bottlenecks. The most common causes of bottlenecks include:
Development stage: sub-optimal specification
A poor technical specification can lead to bottlenecks at almost every stage of the development lifecycle. If you don’t know exactly what you’re building, or if you don’t have clearly defined objectives, you will suffer delays and confusion throughout the development process.
Development stage: tech debt
Technical debt is an extremely common cause of development bottlenecks. A lack of knowledge and expertise (for example because you are using an unfamiliar tech stack) and a lack of the required tools and resources are amongst the most common and most dangerous causes of fintech app development bottlenecks.
Testing stage: testing is left too late
Testing should be embedded in every stage of the development lifecycle. Wherever possible you should be putting your product through its paces throughout the development process. Testing and QA will inevitably turn up problems that you hadn’t even considered, and a failure to test early will almost certainly result in bottlenecks prior to deployment - or, worse, will force you to ship an unfinished product.
Every stage: siloed working
All too often, startups looking to develop apps take a siloed approach to work. This can be disastrous. Development needs to be a joined-up activity, with business and development teams working together to deliver a great product. If you’re contracting with outside agencies or freelancers, it’s similarly vital that these third parties are properly embedded into your organisation and that everyone has the visibility they require throughout the lifecycle.
Every stage: lack of agility
As we’ve touched on already, it’s important to think of the development process as a cycle, rather than a series. In the past, software development was conducted according to the ‘waterfall’ model, in which tasks are completed in a set order based on strictly agreed business requirements. This is a surefire way of producing bottlenecks. If you approach the development process in a rigid, inflexible way, you will inevitably incur delays and additional costs.
How can I reduce costs in fintech app development?
- Work out what you’re building
Before you begin any other work, make sure that you have a firm and clear idea of what it is that you are building. Scope out the project properly, and establish defined parameters in order to avoid mission creep - but make sure you remain flexible enough to make changes as required during the process.
- Be realistic about resource requirements
Bottlenecks and delays are expensive, and they are often caused by a lack of resource. Be realistic about what you will need from the outset, and make sure that you are properly resourced before beginning work.
- Adopt an agile approach
Agile software development has now replaced the waterfall model. In an agile environment, development occurs in short cycles, feedback is gathered and incorporated constantly, and features are deployed as they are built. This ‘continuous deployment’ method allows developers to tackle priorities and easy-wins first, and deliver key parts of the project at speed.
- Choose a suitable partner
Got a great idea for a fintech app but don’t have the technical resources to build it? This is where partnerships come in. By partnering with a dedicated fintech consulting firm like DashDevs, you can bring a fintech app to market quickly and affordably, safe in the knowledge that the entire process is being handled by experienced experts.
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