With the newest development tools, you can expect the timeframe for developing your minimum viable product to be as short as 8 to 16 weeks. But if your idea is raw and you haven’t even started looking for a team to implement it, a better target would be 4 to 6 months.

July 4, 2019

Four to six months is the average time needed to develop and release an MVP according to surveys by GoodFirms and Kinvey. But if you want to understand the time needed to implement your project specifically, averages turn out to be meaningless.

Apps are different. A mobile interface for an online shop can be done with ready-made tools within a couple of weeks. Enterprise solutions may take a year and then require constant updates. 

In this post, we’ll help you better understand how much time it may take to build an MVP specifically for your idea. By an MVP, we mean a minimum viable product, which is a product that brings your app’s core value to users. 

An MVP should have only the most essential functionality and a minimal design. With an MVP release, you’ll confirm user interest and then decide whether you want to continue improving your app or change the main idea behind it.  

Now we’ll explain the key factors affecting the length of software development:

Now, let’s dive into the details.

1. The Budget Factor

If you know how much you can spend on your project, that might help you define the software development speed.

Here’s how it works.

First, find out the average rate of the software teams you’re considering working with. You might already know that rates vary dramatically: in the US, you’ll pay $100+ per hour, while Eastern European experts may ask for only $30–60 per hour.

Then decide on the optimal size of the team. For instance, you might want to have a UI/UX designer to work on your app’s interface, an iOS developer, an Android developer, and a backend expert to implement the business logic of your solution. 

After that, you can find out how much time you can allow your team to work on your project.  

The formula for calculating development time:

Such information will also be helpful if you haven’t yet decided on the scope of your MVP.

Note: Don’t spend years building an MVP if you have a huge budget. In today’s world, markets are disrupted by the fastest teams, not the richest.

2. The Team Factor

The less experienced your software engineers, the more problems and delays you’ll encounter. 

Some teams will only follow your orders to a T. Others might share their experience to help you decide on the MVP’s scope, take advantage of technical shortcuts, and carefully plan the work to avoid productivity bottlenecks. With this kind of team, you can cut the development time by up to 25%.

Established teams are known to work faster, as they already have their workflow defined. If you were to build an in-house team or hire a bunch of freelancers, you’d probably spend an additional 4 to 12 weeks gathering specialists that you would then need to manage.

So if time is an issue, the best option is to hire a team of software engineers and save a month or two on hiring and onboarding. Finding the team that fits you best will take approximately 2 to 3 weeks depending on how much time you’re ready to invest in this process daily. 

3. The Involvement Factor

Another important factor in the length of software development is your responsiveness. How quickly you respond to questions raised by the software development team may significantly affect the time your team needs to deliver the desired results — as may unforeseen circumstances, obstacles, and dead-ends. 

Your app's quality depends on your attention.

The good news is you can discuss these things before you start the project. Often, experienced teams will offer to set up daily and/or weekly meetings to discuss progress and avoid communication bottlenecks. Having access to the team’s task management tools (like Jira or Asana) will also help you address problems in a timely manner. 

Or you can find a person in your own team (a so-called product owner) who will be responsible for communicating with developers while you focus on other business tasks. 

4. The Project Factor

Different projects require different degrees of preparation. 

If you have technical requirements down to the smallest detail, that will help your team understand your project thoroughly, predict possible issues, discuss them, and start building your product/service as soon as possible.

But if you only have a basic idea, you might want to find a team with a business expert who can help you conduct market research, validate your idea, build a product roadmap, define the priority of functionalities, and come up with the scope for your MVP. These efforts will require an additional 4 to 8 weeks. 

The services of an experienced business/industry expert are often underestimated. In the end, you’re the one who knows the industry best; you have probably been connected with it for years, and the pain you’re trying to address has probably been confirmed numerous times. You’re sure there are lots of users waiting for your solution.

But an expert (or a consultant) has no intention to doubt your expertise. They only aim to help you deliver a valuable product within your given budget and timeframe and in the best way possible. Maybe your MVP can be built only for Android first. Maybe it doesn’t need all the features you want to pack in with from day one. And so on. 

An industry expert can help you raise your chances of succeeding with your product within your limitations, including by saving development efforts and cutting the time needed to launch your solution.

5. Mobile App Development: Other Peculiarities 

You may find other approaches to define the timeframe for product development. Probably the most popular is splitting the development process into phases: design, development, quality assurance, release. Although the development process indeed consists of these parts, they can’t be separated from each other and are often done simultaneously. 

For instance, while UX designers define the usability of the product, your backend developer can already be implementing the business logic. While QA specialists are testing the main functionality, developers can be developing secondary features. It may happen that at some period of time all team members can work on your product at once. 

So you can’t just sum up their time and define the duration of the development process.

To minimize risks, target for 4 to 6 months.

Finally, there may be unforeseen circumstances. The App Store or Google Play Store can reject your app a few times for unpredictable reasons. A new operating system version may be released, requiring you to adapt the code to new requirements. Changes to third-party integrations can also affect the product roadmap. 

So while you may conclude that you should meet a 3-month deadline, it’s always better to target for 4 to 6 months to minimize risks. 

Key Takeaways

How It’s Done at Ego

We’ve been on the market for 14 years and know the ins and outs of software development. In our experience, it usually takes 4 to 8 weeks to negotiate all the details with a client and learn about their project. 

Then we start the development process. By this time, you know how much time it will take and can see the progress against predefined milestones and by accessing our task management tools. In almost all cases, we fit within the 3- to 4-month timeframe when it comes to building mobile app MVPs. If it looks like your MVP will take longer than that, we'll tell you so you can decide whether you want to go forward with it or redefine the scope to deliver your MVP faster.

Bonus: We provide free time and cost estimates. If you want to know exactly how long it will take to build your mobile app, just tell us about your project and we’ll respond within 24 hours. You can always reach us here


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