Business Strategy

5 in-house mobile development issues & what to do about them

October 28, 2014

  • Jessica Smith

There’s been a bank ad on recently for home improvement loans. A wife asks her husband to fix a broken handle on the refrigerator. Mr. Novice Fix-It comes to the rescue with duct tape! A broken kitchen cabinet shelf? Oh, duct tape will do the job. Something wrong with the kitchen fan? You got it. The husband solves the problem with his favorite basic tool–duct tape. However, at the end of the ad, all of the “fixes” come undone.

The ever-wise wife is standing there, iPad in hand. The commercial narrator asks, “Using short term fixes for long term solutions?” and answers by stating that their product (in this case, home improvement loan) offers you the chance to turn your home equity into lasting improvement. The commercial closes with the wife showing her husband that it’s time to apply for a home improvement loan (on the tablet, no less).

It’s a rather ordinary ad, but somewhat cartoonishly and conventionally illustrates a point: seeming to have the tools to a small problem (or a group of issues) in the end doesn’t save any money, looks bad, doesn’t work, and sets the family timeline back. All too often this can be the same with in-house mobile development projects.

In-house development: mobile development duct tape

Not all large companies have mobile development teams, and even those that do may not have the specialists it requires to create a world class app to impact the bottom line and get world class results. There are many reasons why apps fail in business settings where they’re developed by an internal team, but let’s take a look at the issues we’ve seen again and again when companies come to us when their solid attempts fail and the duct tape comes off.

1. & 2. Budget overruns & project timeline overruns

Budget overruns and project timeline tardiness are every professional’s problem in every industry, but it especially plagues internal development teams. Why? Because even if you have software development specialists on your team (as opposed to systems architecture, security, networking, web, etc.), they may not be trained in mobile or be experienced in strategizing, choosing the right app, developing, and testing mobile apps start to finish.

Internal teams, because they aren’t mobile development specialists, frequently underestimate not only the workload (and therefore labor costs), but also the timelines to get it done. It’s not just about the what, but also the how. 

3. Poor UX/ UI

In addition to being about the how, apps are very much about the who. As we wrote about in “One JFK airport restaurant’s iPad UX misadventure,” UX is paramount. If companies don’t support their employees and enable end users, adoption will be low to zero, and you will waste your money. Good UX/ UI, more than making apps look nice, is designing things in a simple, elegant way that is easy to understand and easy to use. UX/ UI requires not only a keen design sense, but a developed emotional intelligence and be up to date with user behavior research.

An internal team might have access to a UX/ UI specialist, but it’s rarely the case that they have those dedicated resources. Rarer, still, is the case of the poly-gifted developer who is versed in all needed disciplines for the job. In this CIO article, “5 Ways to Avoid Mobile Development Failure,” tech writer Lauren Brosell interviewed top tech analysts for their mobile app development advice. Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates commented on the difficulty in finding either jack-of-all-trade developers or specialists. Brosell writes:

“Gold says that it’s very difficult to find one person, with design and programmer skills, who can handle an entire project. ‘Finding a good general practitioner is hard, you are better off finding a certain skill set,’ he says, in which case a group of independent developers or an agency team would be a better option.”

4. Struggling to deliver the right product

Getting the right product delivered depends on stakeholders who are invested in the part of the business that the app will benefit. Stakeholders and product owners are familiar with the workflows and business context, but are crucial to guiding the development process, namely making decisions and keeping things on track. It’s very uncommon to find dedicated product owners on internal IT and development teams, so it’s all too common that the app ends up being inadequate or entirely wrong.

5. Underestimating testing & maintenance issues

Another challenge internal teams may have is keeping up with testing changes and maintenance challenges. Each platform has its own complexities, and mobile in particular has its own qualities and set of challenges. Moreover, even brilliant apps need maintenance with bug discovery and new OS updates.

Outsourcing: girder and brick solutions for success

The answer to the struggling internal team’s ad hoc app efforts is the keen and focused work that specialist app developers do. At Lextech not only do we have the specialists you need (engineering, product, UX, QA), but we’re above and beyond in our ability to understand your business processes and what you need in order to succeed. When you partner with us, you’re not just getting technicians, you’re getting a foreman for your goals.

We’re so passionate about making your team successful that we even developed a proprietary process for delivering you the most lucrative apps imaginable: the Billion Dollar Apps process. We believe in our process and team so much that we guarantee success, 100% ROA (return on app). Nobody else has this guarantee.

Don’t take our word for it. Our clients have called our apps “100% better” and “life changing.” See what we’ve done and what they have to say about our work.

Whether you’re having a DIY project hangover or you’re hoping to avoid the duct tape approach from the start, get in touch with us to start a conversation about your mobile initiatives today.


Has your internal team struggled to build a mobile solution? What were your obstacles? What advice would you give to other businesses looking to develop mobile projects?