How to write a technical note for your future app?
Feb 18, 2020
Before contacting an agency for developing your business application, you need to have a detailed statement of work done. Why is this important? A documented plan will help potential vendors to evaluate a project without hidden costs and avoid misunderstandings with performers.
You can draw up a technical note with the help of a marketer and business analyst, but if you decide to do it yourself, this guide will be helpful for you. Our Head of Research & Development Department has collected some useful tips based on their extensive experience.
So, let's get started.
In what format to compile the technical note?
You can write it whatever is convenient for you, but try to make it speak for the essence of the project itself. It can be a text with the list of features, but it would be much better if you attach hand-drawn sketches or screenshots of similar applications with descriptions. Any visualization will be helpful.
If you want to create a copy of some existing application, you should name it and indicate how your project will differ. You can discuss the requirements verbally, but it's always better to have all documented.
What mandatory parts should it consist of?
- Description of the idea.
- Background information of the project: problems the application would solve, its target audience, user story.
- Devices the product would work on.
- Preferences for the technology stack.
- Enumerating deliverables: landing page, mobile app, web app, admin panel, etc.
- The link to a similar application and explanation of how it will differ from your future product.
Lite Mode (for level-up tech note)
In addition to general information, describe the user journey: everything that a user can do in the app. For instance:
- to find a landing page on the Internet;
- to register via email, phone, and Facebook;
- to log in to the platform;
- to recover the password;
- to see a news feed and advertisement;
- to leave comments on friends' posts.
Advanced Mode (for tech note hero)
List the screens and describe how a user is supposed to interact with the service on each particular stage. Usually, it is also accompanied by sketches: splash screen, registration screen, and so on.
What affects the development cost and timeline?
- The scope of work. If you want to add a lot of extra features to your app, the development will be long and expensive.
- The quantity and skill level of specialists. You can choose a large team of experienced engineers to get your app delivered quickly, but it will increase the monthly budget.
- The tech stack. Additional features that require specific knowledge and experience, or features that use the capabilities of the device (image and video processing, voice assistant, etc.).
But there is a nuance: the longer the team makes your application, the more expensive it becomes for your business. For instance, a project could have been bringing you money for 2 months already, but it's still at the development stage. It also includes the cost of environment and tools, such as servers and APIs.
As a bonus
We have compiled a list of nuances that you should take into account. This knowledge we have acquired over the years of work in the digital market.
- At the initial stage, make up the list of core features for the running application cycle. For instance, to run a food delivery app, you only need to implement the user side with the ability to place an order: the main menu, shopping cart, payment, address. Then you can add more features such as a loyalty system, registration, order history, saving cards, driver tracking, online chat, etc. This lean approach called MVP (Minimum Viable Product), it refers to agile development and helps not to run out of your money before the application is ready.
- You should set the deadline. To do it right, feel free to consult the engineering team. Together with the timeline they can come up with a project plan and burn down chart.
- The estimate of your primary requirements will be approximate. As soon as the team completed the design and documentation, the manager can estimate your project more accurately.
- Focus on design in the first step. The success of your project depends on it in many aspects. Then think about development. It's best to take a phased approach to make each step perfectly. Orient the team in advance according to the expected budget to not waste time.
- The quote is not the only decision making factor. Have a call with a team, check its previous works, read reviews, and get to know its process of work. Also, you can assign the paid test task to make sure they deliver what they say.
- Estimates from agencies may differ: someone can lower the price to take on the project (hidden costs), someone can overstate (overload). It's better to find out what the estimate includes in case of each feature, and ask why the performers indicated that particular time. Read customer reviews, do a test. Also, you can go with a trial period: 1-2 weeks to look at the speed of work, communication, and the process, and then make a decision.
- If you don't need to make the project from scratch, provide the initial requirements and project documentation and the legacy materials of the design or coding part. Otherwise, the team will spend the entire budget on studying the current code.
The more detailed you draw up a technical note, the more accurately experts will evaluate your future project. Feel free to consult with specialists, ask questions, and discuss controversial nuances. Every detail can be crucial for your business.
We'd be glad to create the high-level scope of work document as well as the business & technical specifications for you.
If you want to know the approximate estimate of time and price for your idea, fill out the brief and get a rough quote within 24 hours.