“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
– Abraham Lincoln
We’re not very political here at OpenChannel but we know wisdom when we see it. We know than planning is key to a successful project, and when it comes your app store, that means clearly creating and defining your app store requirements.
Know Where You’re Going
Your have to start with “Why” you need to create an app store. It’s a proven strategy in other areas of business and it’s the necessary first step with your app store. There’s no right answer but you have to know what that answer is. A few examples can be:
- To increase company revenue, in some cases up to 20%.
- To meet more feature requests from customers with 3rd party plugins.
- To integrate with other services your customers are already using.
- To keep up with your competitors
- To crowdsource innovation from outside your company
The list of possible reasons is long and can have multiple answers (most do) but this will be what you look towards when defining your requirements.
Know How To Get There
In order to get there, we need a map, and the map for your app store is a list of user stories that outlines the requirements for building your app store.
You want to break down the overall requirements into smaller manageable milestones that will make it easier to organize and ultimately complete. An example milestone would be “payments” and inside that milestone would be all of the required user stories
Requirements and user stories can get complicated. Your app store has multiple “users” involved. You‘ll have a third party app developers building apps, end users of your app store, and you (or your team) as app store administrators.
Keeping with our payments milestone, here’s a short (and non-complete) example of some user stories:
Milestone 7: Payments and Paid Apps
Development Estimate Using OpenChannel API: 80 hours
Development Estimate for 100% In-House: 960 hours
- A User is able to add their payment details
- A User is able to participate in a free trial of an app
- A User is able to purchase and install paid apps
- A Developer is able to add multiple price models (plans) for their app
- A Developer is able to set a subscription purchase price and trial period for apps
- A Developer is able to specify deposit account information
- A Developer is able to handle refunds and chargebacks
- An Administrator is able to set the min/max price for apps on the marketplace
- An Administrator is able to receive a commission from app sales
- An Administrator is able to specify deposit account information for app comission
- An Administrator is able to view pricing models for apps
Depending on your product, your app developers may also be building multiple types of apps including downloadable files, web apps, and even more fully integrated plugins that run within your existing product UI.
We Found A Short Cut 🙂
At OpenChannel we’ve spent a lot of time working with companies to define their specific requirements, essentially helping them navigate their own map. Every company is different but there are some recurring needs and must haves in every app store.
To help companies, we created our new App Store Requirements Generator as an easy way for you to generate your specific user stories and outline the requirements for your app store. Instead of a map, think of the requirements generator as GPS!
The generator lets you include or exclude different needs for your app store. A couple examples are, will third party developers be required to create special developer accounts, and will developers be able to integrate apps into your API. Once completed, you’ll be able to see a complete list of milestones with all the required user stories and a development estimate for each milestone. This will help you plan ahead and have your app store fit within whatever methodology (agile, waterfall, etc) you use.
We know this can help companies and development teams in the planning phase of their app store, but what is the lasting effect?
You’ll Arrive On Time & On Budget
When your start with the end in mind AND know all requirements of your developers and end users, your are going to complete the project on budget. When you know the development hours needed from your internal team, even though things may change along the way, you’re going to complete your app store on budget.
So if we had 6 hours to cut down that tree, we would certainly spend time sharpening that axe and getting ready, because we know in the end we’ll be done ahead of the competition and with time to spare.