Managing App Development Risk: A Practice in Stoicism

Can an Ancient Greek Philosophy Fix Your App-Building Anxiety?

60% of all app development projects fail or require significant re-writes before they’re even viable. Does that scare you? There’s many wrong ways to handle uncertainty and the fear it brings. I’ve seen entrepreneurs micromanage on a vector they know nothing about by tracking the programmers’ typing speed or dictating how long coffee breaks should be.
The successful entrepreneur focuses on the important things that matter and they actually have control over. Tim Ferriss,  has connected this modern truth to an ancient philosophical foundation. Stoicism is the philosophy of accepting the natural order of things and focusing on what you can actually control and not on what is out of your reach. This isn’t foregoing responsibility, but determining what you can control and taking responsibility for those things alone. All other things don’t deserve the anxiety wasted on them.
While we can’t know or control everything, we can control our reactions to them. Anxiety is an ongoing, low-level fear of the uncontrollable and unknown. Tim makes the argument that we have two choices:
  1. Try to regain a sense of control over anything and everything,no matter how miniscule or remote (leading to failure), or
  2. Focus on defining fears and boxing in the worse case scenario (leading to success).
Defining our fears, working through the worst-case scenario, and accepting what we can’t control puts us in control. For the anxious entrepreneur shopping for an app, the best app developers create a stoic atmosphere. The best way to do this is to take away the unknown and reveal everything with a predictable timeframe, fixed cost, total transparency, and a concrete product.

Two-Week Sprints for Anxiety-Free App Development

At Galtsoft, we organize our development projects into transparent, two-week mini-projects. The client is actually in control of the process, through establishing the budget, defining what the product will do, setting priorities, and verifying results. There’s no need to worry about progress when you’re in the loop and along for the ride.

Examples of ways to keep the client in the loop include:

  • work together to prioritize the most important features and issues,
  • communicate sprint progress with a visual project management tool,
  • document all stories, issues, and bugs in a tracking tool,
  • tag all code changes with the issue number and make it all visible to client,
  • channel all tool tracking notifications, giving the client a sense of the ongoing  effort,
  • and providing frequent software deliveries with a clear record of the issues addressed.

Even if, despite all the transparency, they’re still nervous about the app, they’ll have the actual product at two week’s end to measure against their expectation.

Keep Eyes on the Prize

Apps are a big investment of both time and money. If a client is hiring a developer to build an app, it’s because they can’t build it themselves. A developer should give the client a genuine sense of control.
If you’re worried about your app investment, look for a development team that assuages your anxiety by hiding nothing. Find a development team that:
  • Works hard to organize detailed communications between client and the team,
  • Prizes transparency,
  • Time-boxes the development effort,
  • Hides nothing from you, even parts you may not understand,
  • Keeps you in the loop with visibility of the daily activity of the team,
  • Provides detailed build announcements so you know how your app is progressing, and
  • Gives you intermediate products to work with on your device.

A development team like that knows your fears, uses processes to minimize them, and reduces the amount of things out of your control so you can focus on your business.


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