Mobile App Development Timeline: What You Can Expect
By Thayer Tate
The process of building a mobile app is relatively straightforward. It is true that the software industry has varying opinions on how mobile apps should be built, like waterfall vs. agile. However, at the end of the day for every project, you will need to:
- Figure out what you want your mobile app to do
- Plan how to build it — the design and the technologies
- Build it
- Test it to make sure it works the way you planned
Looking for an app development timeline example? The quickest that a straightforward mobile application can be built is 4 months. That’s the minimum amount of app development time needed for the sufficient gathering of requirements, getting clarifications, creating a design, building the software, incorporating feedback, and testing the final product.
In this article, we explain these steps in more detail and break down the longer application development timeline. Along the way, we’ll share the most common reasons a project might take longer than average.
How Long Does it Take to Develop a Mobile App?
Mobile App Requirements & Design: 2-4 weeks
“Figure out what it is you want to build”
At this stage, you take your ideas and put them on paper. That’s the foundation for all of the app design and development work that follows. You will answer typical questions to help guide the development team, such as:
- What does the mobile app need to do?
- Why is this mobile app important to your business?
- Who will be using it?
- What tasks do they need to accomplish?
- What are the steps of those tasks?
- Who else does the software serve and how?
It isn’t a long part of the app development process, but it is an extremely important part.
If an idea doesn’t get written down, it doesn’t get built during the development stage. If it’s written down in a vague way, it will probably be developed differently than you expect. When it comes to requirements for building an app, specificity wins the day.
Your job in this step is to share your vision, and carefully check that you have been understood by whatever documentation has been created.
We typically see that mobile app requirements and design take 2-4 weeks. The duration depends largely on the availability of you and your team, responsiveness to reviews and questions, and how long it takes to make critical decisions.
Mobile App Planning: 1-2 Weeks
“How is it going to be built”
With a design in hand, a talented project manager gets the enviable job of breaking down the project into bite-sized chunks that can be assigned out. This planning stage builds the foundation for actually developing the app.
The tasks have to be ordered based on priority and dependency on other tasks. Just like a house, you can’t put the roof on until the framing is done. Software is the same.
Mobile App Development: 3-6 Months
Development is by far the longest stage of the mobile app development timeline. The largest amount of time in software development is spent coding the application.
In this stage, the user-friendly screens are built and the code that magically computes things and makes the screens work is written. Slowly but surely, all the parts of your design come together for a fully working application.
If the timeline of your project needs to be accelerated, this is the best place to do so.
You can add developers to build different parts of the functionality simultaneously, at least to a point. Too many cooks in the kitchen can slow things down when they need to wait for each other or accidentally step on someone else’s binary toes.
Mobile App Testing: 3-6 weeks
“Inspect it to make sure it works the way you want it to”
You can spend a lot of time testing your application. That can lengthen the app development timeline, but also yield a better final product.
The extent of your testing phase is really up to you. At a minimum, we would suggest conducting feature testing at each demo and end-to-end testing where you test out the complete system before the system goes live.
The basic testing is to make sure that what was built works and meets your original design. After this testing, you may want to consider testing your mobile app for a variety of conditions it might have to go through. That includes complications such as a high load or use on different devices or versions of the operating system.
Why Mobile App Projects Take Longer
The numbers here are provided as guidelines for an app development timeline. Even after a software plan has been created, projects can and do take longer than their original plans. Building in some padding to your development timeline can help you avoid the anxiety of a fast-approaching deadline.
Part of the job of a project manager is to keep an eye out for the types of things that typically delay a project, then raise the issue and course correct. Below are some things that you and your project manager can watch out for.
- Waiting on feedback, decisions, or need information from the client
- Conflicting directions from the client
- Change of requirements or direction after the project has started
- Clarification of vague requirements
- Delays when working with third parties such as not receiving technical documentation, credentials to test systems or support on technical questions
- Fixing bad data or missing data in a data migration
- Staff changes on the project team
SOLTECH has been creating software applications for nearly 20 years, and we’d love to help you. We build mobile apps engineered to perform.
Before you get started in developing your software app, your thoughts and ideas should be clarified and written down so they can be consistently and easily shared and understood. To help you get started on the right foot, we have created a checklist. You can grab a copy of that checklist below and share it with your team!
Thayer TateChief Technology Officer
Thayer is the Chief Technology Officer at SOLTECH, bringing over 20 years of experience in technology and consulting to his role. Throughout his career, Thayer has focused on successfully implementing and delivering projects of all sizes. He began his journey in the technology industry with renowned consulting firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers and IBM, where he gained valuable insights into handling complex challenges faced by large enterprises and developed detailed implementation methodologies.
Thayer’s expertise expanded as he obtained his Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and joined SOLTECH, an Atlanta-based technology firm specializing in custom software development, Technology Consulting and IT staffing. During his tenure at SOLTECH, Thayer honed his skills by managing the design and development of numerous projects, eventually assuming executive responsibility for leading the technical direction of SOLTECH’s software solutions.
As a thought leader and industry expert, Thayer writes articles on technology strategy and planning, software development, project implementation, and technology integration. Thayer’s aim is to empower readers with practical insights and actionable advice based on his extensive experience.