The Ultimate Guide To Managing Remote Teams

The Ultimate Guide To Managing Remote Teams During and Post COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 is far from over. In fact, we don’t yet know how far into the future the effects of COVID-19 will be seen. Some would say forever. Whether or not this proves true, one thing is certain: the shift to a remote workforce and the digital age is in a period of rapid acceleration. Therefore, businesses and organizations all across the globe have been making the shift to a remote workforce. With that shift, however, there are new workflows. New communication tools. And other new tactics that your company needs for managing remote teams.

First and foremost, with a remote workforce there are certain perks your company can use to their advantage. For instance, when managing a remote team, your company can utilize a much more flexible schedule. With employees at home, there isn’t as much pressure or urgency to get things done in a certain timeframe; and therefore tasks can be accomplished throughout the entire span of the day, and even into the night, without staff feeling overwhelmed.

A Decrease In Time-Wasters Improves Efficiency

Additionally, a decrease in “time-wasting” activities that only affected in-person staff improves efficiency. One such example is the commute to-and-from-work. Without a daily commute, employees are able to spend more time with their families and in their own home. This, therefore, leads to a stronger sense of work-life-balance, and a happier employee overall.

On average, remote employees are happier and have a better sense of work-life-balance, which usually leads to stronger performances at work. The mood of a staff-member directly affects their productivity, meaning that in the case of managing a remote team, your staff, on average, could have a significantly higher rate of productivity.

Understanding Expectations When Managing Remote Teams

When hiring or transitioning to a remote workforce, one of the core principles is to establish expectations. This is the same as it would be with in-person workers. However, it’s important to have a clear understanding of expectations from the very beginning when managing remote teams. While communication is important in every relationship context, it is specifically vital to managing a remote team. There is a lot of nuance to communication in-person. Between body-language and other non-verbals. However, most communication in a remote environment is non-visual. Hence why communication is so vital to managing remote teams.

Additionally, since many companies are utilizing more flexible scheduling with remote teams; it’s logical that expectations need to be set on both sides of the coin. These details should include things like time-commitment, weekly tasks, compensation, and everything else that would define the employees role and their relationship to the company.

Emphasizing Communication

As discussed above, communication is an integral aspect to any and every relationship. No matter the context. In managing remote teams, communication is more than essential. It truly is a vital aspect of successful teams working remotely. Correspondingly, then, it goes to reason that companies shifting to a remote workforce would want to implement business applications for communication. There are a myriad of business applications that your company can choose to use for communicating internally and externally.

Internally speaking, Slack is extremely popular as a part instant-messaging and part-email communication solution. Zoom is another company that has blown up astronomically since the onset of the pandemic. With global companies, domestic companies, and everyone in between needing reliable and consistent video conferencing capability; Zoom saw an unbelievable amount of growth in 2020, and set some records for themselves while at it.

There are many other internal communication solutions that you can implement for your remote staff, and even softwares that allow you to set up incentives for your team. This lets the culture of your company thrive even in a remote setting post COVID-19. Some incentive-based-softwares for remote teams are all managed by the leaders and decision makers, while others encourage and promote inter-colleague connections.

In other words, colleagues and co-workers can reward each other on a job well done with an internal currency that can then be redeemed for prizes, gifts, vacations, or even donated to a charity of the recipients choice. These are all great solutions to keep your company culture alive, and incentivize your remote staff to keep working hard and hitting goals.

Providing Some Structure When Managing Remote Teams

While flexible schedules and a stronger sense of work-life-balance are great; business is business, and work needs to get done. To help provide some structure to your remote staffs workweek or work-day, and to ensure that tasks are being accomplished managers and team leaders can schedule regular check-ins.

These check-ins might mimic the exact structure of a daily or weekly check-in that you’d conduct in the office. The only difference being that these check-ins occur remotely. Whether that be via a phone call, or a quick video-chat, a swift one-on-one with each of your remote workers is a great way to not only connect about work, but also get to know your workers and ensure they’re doing okay during these trying times.

Encourage Team Building and Team Bonding

Just because the world is shifting to a digital age and a majorly remote workforce, doesn’t mean that team members can’t connect and bond with one another. There are plenty of options for managers overseeing remote work teams who are looking for ways to bond the team. Some examples might be a virtual film-showing, or a remote happy-hour. Another popular choice is the remote pizza party.

However, while there’s nothing wrong with any of the above choices, staff and employees often enjoy trying something new. Being creative with team bonding exercises has gotten a little harder with the pandemic limiting so many options. Yet, where there’s a will, there’s a way, as the old saying goes.

For instance, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) can be an excellent team-building and team-bonding activity. For starters, D&D is all about a group working together, and usually overcoming a few character flaws or group-issues as well. But beyond that, good D&D campaigns, or even one-shots, require the team to think outside the box, put together some creative solutions, and ultimately work together. All in the context of having a good time, and maybe a few drinks.

Use Project Management Tools

While there are some differences and adaptations to managing remote teams, there are some similarities too. For instance, your managers can likely use the same project management software or project management tools that they were using in person. Transitioning to a remote use of these project management softwares is really simple, and they are already built for it, making it an easy and simple transition.

Using project management software when managing remote teams will allow you to set daily and weekly to-do lists, and share updates on project timelines with the whole team.

Wrapping Up

The world is changing rapidly. The shift to a virtual age and a digital workforce is upon us. Many companies are already prepared for the remote environment. Many others are preparing for the shift. Either way, it’s important to be able to properly manage a remote work team and remote customers.

For more information on the shift to the digital age, or managing remote teams, visit NS804 today.

How to Properly Execute a Mobile App Launch for Results

Successfully launching a mobile app is challenging, but not impossible if you know what the process entails. But be aware that it’s a long and difficult process that often trips up novice app developers. NS804 specializes in mobile app development in Virginia, and we always try to demystify the craft of making engaging apps. Below, we’re providing several handy tips that are in line with current trends in mobile app development.

1. Do Your Homework

Launching a mobile app is a lot more involved than one would think. It’s simply not about developing an app and then releasing it out in the wild, hoping that it will miraculously succeed. Only half the battle involves designing and developing a compelling application that will keep users engaged. The other half of the battle involves marketing, which may sound scary but is absolutely necessary.

Take the time to do extensive market research. And we do need to stress that there’s no such thing as too much market research. After all, you don’t want to waste time and money working on an app that users will ignore or won’t find appealing. Furthermore, investors and other stakeholders won’t be pleased if company resources are funneled into a project that will likely fail.

It’s vital to understand your Product Market Fit (PMF) and subsequently develop the right product for the right market. Current trends in mobile app development include several handy tactics in regards to PMF. These include keyword search volume, which is a list of commonly searched words in the app store, conversion metrics that track user acquisition and other data points, and retention metrics that measure user retention after the mobile app launch.

Of course, your marketing efforts shouldn’t end there. Research your closest competitors, blog regularly, create engaging video content, share content on social media, and even set up a landing page for your upcoming app. Also, diligently measure all your marketing endeavors and audience engagement.

2. Discuss the importance of defining success for the app

Many individuals and companies want to put out an app. But many don’t have a clear picture of what they’re trying to achieve or have an end goal in mind. If you’re finding yourself in a similar situation, then we recommend you ask an important question: “What problem should my app solve?”

After launching a mobile app, it will either gain traction or languish in obscurity. Apps that solve particular problems or improve on existing solutions tend to do well. And some apps find an audience by dealing exclusively with customer pain points. Other more niche apps solve specific business needs or improve upon existing processes. After carefully conducting a PMF survey and doing extensive market research, you should have a good idea of what problems your app is trying to solve.

Furthermore, you’ll need to set specific goals that your app will have to achieve and that you can measure. These goals can include the number of users that you’ll reach, the number of active users, the retention rate, and lifetime value.

3. Testing & Feedback

Current trends in mobile app development include leveraging BETA test groups and focus groups. These groups will make up the initial audience that sees your app, apart from your internal development teams. Why BETA testers are so important is that they’ll rigorously test your app and then provide you with valuable feedback. This feedback will consist of bug reports, issues with the UI/UX, and performance issues, to name a few.

Focus groups can help you to further refine your product before that crucial mobile app launch. Perhaps your target audience consists of medical professionals, but you’re unsure if your app’s color scheme and visual design will meet their expectations. However, a focus group that includes such professionals will be able to tell you immediately if they find your app’s aesthetics appealing.

Prepare a roadmap that informs your development teams and testers about important milestones. If possible, make your roadmap as visual as possible, as this makes it easier for most people to comprehend and internalize. Ideally, you want your developers and testers to work in tandem and deal with issues early on.

4. Data Collection & Results

Launching a mobile app is both exciting and scary. Exciting because you’re finally releasing your masterpiece after months of hard work. But scary, because you don’t know how well it will do. While there’s no guarantee that your app will succeed in an increasingly competitive market, this shouldn’t deter you from moving forward. Moreover, every mobile app launch presents a golden opportunity for collecting data that will become invaluable for your current and future development endeavors.

You can collect a wide variety of data, which may include device information and compatibility, functionality, location data, performance metrics, and user behavior patterns. Ensure that you’re only collecting data that’s necessary to the smooth functioning of your app and not intruding on user privacy. This data will show you whether your app is achieving the desired results or if you need to implement changes.

5. Be flexible in adapting and perfecting the app

You may think that you’ve released the perfect app, but it’s the users who ultimately decide that. The data you’ve collected and the reviews that users leave will give you a good idea if your app is meeting expectations. But regardless of your app’s overall performance, be flexible in adapting and perfecting your app. After all, current trends in mobile app development include the regular updating of apps to enhance their features and security.

But view this matter from the users’ perspective. Not only have users become accustomed to receiving regular updates, but they also expect them. Users tend to remain engaged if they’re receiving regular updates that enhance existing features or introduce new features. And they also feel more confident in using your app if they know that you’re regularly fixing bugs and issue security fixes.

6. Partner with an expert

Another vital part of your app that you shouldn’t skimp on is in regards to its Call to Action (CTA). Creating a CTA that converts prospects into long-term users of your app is a skill that you’ll need to master. However, we recommend partnering with an expert, such as NS804 that has plenty of experience in creating powerful CTAs that convert.

CTAs can be implemented in an ad, app, blog, digital platform, download, free trial, landing page, newsletter, and social media. Effective CTAs target the user, create a sense of urgency and are simple and straightforward. Furthermore, the effectiveness of CTAs are determined via A/B testing, and these tests need to be conducted regularly.

In Conclusion

Developing mobile apps that find and retain their audience in today’s competitive market is not easy. But if you do extensive market research, define what makes your app successful, test and receive feedback, collect data, and are willing to adapt your app, then you’ve got a shot at success. If you’re seeking mobile app development in Virginia and beyond, then contact NS804 today.

Why Communication is the Main Priority in Enterprise Apps

Understanding Enterprise Apps

Enterprise apps are focused on providing solutions to the business world. Assisting with workflow, streamlining processes, and providing a myriad of other functions. These apps are designed with companies and organizations in mind that are executing large-scale, or even micro operations. With so many implementation possibilities, enterprise apps must have an integrated communication platform.

Built for Communication, Internally and Externally

Communication is essential for businesses both big and small. Strong communication channels are arguably one of the most valuable aspects of an organization – and with the implementation of technology, comes a necessary element of communication. Yes processes can be automated, and systems can be optimized; but if the staff running those apps have no reliable communication channels native to the systems the benefits of integrating technology may be completely nulled.

Not only does the staff need to be able to communicate; but the systems and technology need to be able to communicate with one another as well. This is key to identifying certain aspects of enterprise apps. For example, an app that is used to automate business to consumer communications might need a feature that identifies where the specific consumer is in their customer journey with that company. This information is then used to generate the right version of copy from a library, and deliver it to the user through their preferred channel.

This is a powerful example of an enterprise app that can completely alter the communications process, supplement customer support, and totally automate certain communication aspects of the consumer journey, like check-ins, status updates, and other pertinent information.

Communication During COVID-19

On top of the practical benefits seen from implementing strong communication channels into the design of enterprise apps, there are social and emotional impacts to consider as well. During COVID-19, feelings of isolation in individuals have started to climb. The lack of human-connection is palpable throughout society, and there is a real need for human-to-human connection.

Enterprise apps built and designed with systematic and personnel communication in mind can streamline operations and build efficiency into the culture of an organization. On top of that, it promotes a higher quality of company culture, and employee satisfaction.

In these hard times – being able to talk and share with members of an organization is vital for our societies success, as well as our individual mental health.

Enterprise apps are designed to be versatile, flexible, and user-friendly. This makes them marketable to businesses and organizations across industries and market sectors. Providing solutions for business owners all over the country that are looking to streamline processes and optimize their operations. Including a strong network of communication channels improves the efficiency and utility of an enterprise app and yields additional benefits to the company.

NS804 has experience in app development across the board, from AR to enterprise apps and beyond. Now, NS804 is changing the game and making app development and design services available to anyone with a great idea. Get in touch with NS804 to get the conversation about your app development project started today.

Internal Communication Solutions

Communication is arguably the most important aspect of any company. The ability to collaborate, delegate, inform, and present are just a few of the common functions internal communication enables. Being able to communicate across teams and between departments is absolutely essential to the survivability of companies and the success of projects. Especially in today’s volatile economy dominated by work-from-home roles, and remote operations. Communication software is vital to ensuring that teams can continue to function, and deliver on expectations. Mobile apps offer a versatile and robust internal communication solution to companies that need to stay up-to-date with constantly shifting deadlines without hindering a busy professional’s ability to stay focused and efficient.

Most communication software designed today has some integrated productivity tracking functionality. This could include something as basic as a to-do list function. It could also be as robust as project-management software capable of generating complex production schedules, and designed specifically to improve efficiency and productivity. Designing innate productivity tools creates a more robust and comprehensive communication software, that allows business professionals to streamline activities, and keep communication focused.

Without strong communication channels enabled, customer requests can be ignored, projects can derail and productivity can come to a screeching halt. Both could spell disaster for a company striving to Consumers and customers both need reliable avenues to get in touch with knowledgeable support staff to handle any issues that may arise on the user-end of things. Consumers should also always, and without fail, have access to a sales-staff equipped to help them through any issues, and convert them into customers, or in the case of mobile apps: users.

Internal communication channels for personal connection, the development of company culture, and team building should also be made a priority during these unprecedented times. Building a robust and exciting company culture has been a mainstream focus for the better part of the past decade. As the workforce has become empowered with access more information than ever before employees no longer settle for hostile or subpar work cultures. Keeping this in mind, businesses need to emphasize personal connections in order to stay competitive and attract top talent. Especially during the global pandemic, it’s more important than it ever has been to make a palpable effort to support virtual-socialization in a time of almost pure isolation.

Effective Business Communication With Mobile Apps

Mobile apps can be life-saving for companies looking to pivot to remote operations and implement work-from-home roles. Working in tandem with desktop communication platforms like Slack and Zoom, companies can build an infrastructure of communication that competes with traditional in-person communication. One thing to note regarding Zoom and Slack is that they actually both offer their platforms in a mobile-app format; which gives companies a nice array of options when utilizing these platforms to supplement communication processes within an organization.

One of the strongest arguments for pivoting to mobile-app for business-communication solutions is that they are offer push-notifications. In the world of instant-gratification that we live in; smartphones have almost become an extension of our hands. Considering that the majority of workers have their cell phone within 3 feet of them at any given point during the day – the feature of a push-notification ensures that important communications are never missed.

Hipchat is another name in the internal-communication game. Offering a myriad of products that target internal communication, collaboration, and file-security. Hipchat is another player that provides both desktop and mobile app platforms and a nice suite of functionality that’s both user-friendly and corporate oriented. Enabling companies to communicate between departments and individuals while also offering file-storing and file-sharing capabilities that boost efficiency and encourage collaboration.

Internal Communication and Team Building

The work-from-home trend isn’t going anywhere. Not any time soon. With that in mind, companies need to get creative when it comes to team building. The traditional after-hour happy-hours, company-wide pizza parties, and team-specific outings are quickly being phased out of company cultures due to the pandemic, social distancing, and the remote-operations craze. The disappearance of traditional team-building activities leaves a glaring void that needs to be filled. Regardless of industry or profession, top talent candidates still expect a certain standard of company culture that both rewards performance, and promotes socialization.

Instead of heading to the bar after work for a few drinks, managers and team-members are replacing these in-person experiences with virtual happy hours that still promote socialization and team building. While nothing can replace the experience of going to the local watering-hole with your co-workers. Virtual happy hours and virtual pizza-parties are swiftly becoming a relatively popular alternative in order to promote social distancing and employee safety, while also encouraging team-building and internal socialization to bring employees closer together.

As the popularity of mobile-app communication soars, there’s a wide breadth of opportunity for developers and mobile appreneurs. While the virtual happy hours and pizza parties discussed above certainly offer some sense of normalcy – there is an abundance of possibility for bolstering mobile-app communication as it relates to team building. Beyond video conferencing, and instant messaging; mobile apps are capable of delivering real-time experiences to c0-workers, like gaming, going head to head in problem solving activities, or any number of other functions that have yet to be widely implemented in corporate communication solutions.

With work-from-home accommodations, and remote operations becoming the norm for most companies during COVID-19, and likely into the foreseeable future, reliable and reputable communication capabilities are more than essential. The ability to collaborate, conference call, and conduct normal business activities from virtually anywhere is invaluable to companies. This trend in the workplace should continue to grow in popularity over the years to come. The integration of business activities, communication, team building and productivity tracking all into a single mobile app could be the next evolution in the mass-communication industry. This would empower companies, professionals, and individuals alike to maintain the same levels of productivity from anywhere around the globe. An all-in-one communication app would also significantly contribute to a work-teams ability to conduct team-building activities, offer personal connection, and deliver a sense of community in a time of severe isolation to the point that it’s nearly crippling to some.

With new adversity comes new challenges, and 2020 has been chalk-full of surprising new challenges that are universal in nature. The world may never be the same again, and as is natural, the burden of inventing and adjusting to our new normal falls on the shoulders of entrepreneurs. Once again it is the duty of early adaptors, appreneurs, entrepreneurs and pioneers to maintain a sense of curiosity and invention in these dark times so to pave the path ahead by taking the first steps forward.

Wait for the “right” opportunity, and spend a lifetime waiting. There has never been, and never will be a “right time” to take on a new venture, and the risk is all a part of the journey, but with COVID-19 keeping the majority of people confined to their houses, while most businesses remain closed to the public, consumers and companies alike are turning to mobile apps for communication solutions, entertainment, and much more.

Contact NS804 with a mobile app idea and get professional consultation from tech experts dedicated to making mobile app development accessible to the average person with a great idea.

8 Benefits of Enterprise Application Development

Businesses that develop mobile apps are becoming increasingly efficient. From payment banks to e-commerce businesses and health care, almost every single industry will improve its market value with the help of mobile applications. Success in today’s highly interconnected world is all about leveraging big data and existing business processes. Developing enterprise apps is one way to become more effective.

Below are 8 benefits of enterprise apps:

1. Enterprise Apps are Improving Worker Productivity

Any competitive business must invest in enterprise mobility if they want to increase sales, improve inventory, and incur fewer operational costs. Efficiency in all three areas can be improved by developing enterprise apps with data analytics.

Mobile developers also have the task of pairing analytical tools with the mobile app to maximize productivity. One particularly well known software application that to track important analytical data is Kumulos. It enables businesses to monitor the developmental life cycle of their app and make suitable adjustments throughout for maximum benefit.

2. Company Apps Empower Employees

A large number of companies have employees out there in the field, including delivery services, airport mechanics, and truck drivers. Subtle improvements in their everyday operations can drive up productivity and with it, profits. Enterprise apps give these workers access to real-time data and insights related to their processes.

This data is then fed back into the cloud in the form of business intelligence. This can be particularly helpful to the sales team because they can tap into a variety of available data, including press releases, finical reports, market analysis, research papers, and more. Bonus points if the application is powered with algorithms that can procedurally generate insightful information based on data from third party sites.

The best part is that most enterprise apps can be configured to integrate with important business processes. You will notice that the more users you have on the mobile app, the better your productivity. Enterprise apps maximize productivity by ensuring the following three:

  • Accessibility to work anytime and anywhere
  • Encourages work-life balance
  • Easier communication between different departments

3. Enterprise Apps Save Time

It is not easy to store or retrieve data from your laptop or desktop while you are away from them. Not to mention the fact that employees won’t stay on their desks all the time. Going back and forth between their computers and laptops increases the time that employees could have spent being more productive.

For example, in an organization of over 200 employees, it would take around 10 minutes for a worker to go back to their desk, retrieve data, and then share it with each other. And while they do this, they are also shifting the attention of other employees from the job they were previously working on.

But using enterprise apps can save your employees’ time since they can just as easily retrieve the data or report from the cloud from their phones.

This also raises another important issue: employees will no longer have to fill up large and tedious forms that take up too much of their time. Instead, the enterprise app allows you to generate reports from drop down lists and menus that are much easier to use and generate. This makes it easier to process sales, generate invoices, and speed up marketing efforts.

4. It is Cost Effective

There are many operations in a single organization, and implementing technological tools for each department would be extremely difficult.

It doesn’t make sense to implement various tech tools for each department for two reasons, i) it would take time to teach employees how to use the tool ii) maintenance will eat up your profits. An enterprise app is a far more effective solution because it can be used by all departments at the same time.

Not only is this more cost effective, but it also lets you make decisions faster and more precisely. The use of apps will also cut down on the use and dependence on paper. You can hire a cloud service to store and process the data, this is a far more effective solution than to spend money on hardware and other tools. Using agile cloud technology also means you won’t have to use expensive tools at the workplace.

5. Creating New Opportunities

One of the main benefits of enterprise apps is that key stakeholders and decision makers in your organization can know and respond to new opportunities at a moment’s notice. This allows your company to stay ahead of market trends, address reputation management problems, tackle supply chain problems – and a lot more from a single app that you control.

6. Developing Enterprise Apps is Cheaper

Developing a new app on Android and iOS has become significantly more affordable over the years. The best part is that you don’t have to hire a team of developers to build an app for you. The development and maintenance of enterprise apps can be sourced to an app development agency instead. Since they are generally more experienced at app development, app development agencies can build new apps in a shorter period of time using fewer resources.

The best part about app development is that you can always add or remove features based on popular demand and analytical surveys.

7. Improve Customer Experience and Satisfaction

Developing an enterprise app becomes all the more important if you want to improve customer experience. Good customer service depends on how fast your employees can respond to queries and feedback of customers. The speed of your response can play a big role in improving customer satisfaction.

Once again, this is not possible to do since employees are not always available at their desks and getting to and from the computer will delay their actions. Moreover, being able to make responses to customer queries on an enterprise app in an instant is the best way to improve customer engagement. The presence of instant support enriches the user experience and leads to higher revenue and sales.

8. Stay Ahead of the Competition

The cutthroat industry does not favor businesses that are slow to move and respond to changes. Enterprise apps are usually always on the bleeding edge of technology. They create a sense of belonging among employees since they can just as easily log in to their systems at the time of their choosing. This allows employees to optimize their talent pool in the most efficient way possible.

Businesses that don’t take advantage of enterprise apps will find themselves severely short-staffed. This may be true even though they may have more employees than their immediate competition. It’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Conclusion

A large number of businesses are using or plan on using enterprise apps in the near future. Furthermore with Enterprise apps, you can provide a more comprehensive customer experience, increase productivity and make better decisions while pooling your entire talent pool together. NS804 can help you control and transform your systems rapidly. Our team of expert app developers can help with Android app development and iOS app development based on your specific requirements.

For more information, feel free to reach out to us by clicking the link here and leave your feedback.

The Risks And Benefits Of Offshore Software Development

The Risks And Benefits Of Offshore Software Development

We live in an age of burgeoning technology – in an age where rockets are re-useable, cars drive themselves, and watches keep track of our pulse, it’s easy to imagine that developing a mobile application by partnering with an offshore development team would be easy to manage.

With VoIP technologies like Google Hangouts, instant communication platforms like Slack, and project management tools like Trello, it would seem that we’ve reached a truly global era in business and the development of products.

And in many respects, this is true – plentiful and vast industries exist today either due to the existence of global production and supply industries, or rely on the global market that fuels today’s global economy for resources, customers, or both. Many of the rare earth metals that make phones, watches, laptops, or virtually any electronic device come from regions in Africa or Australia – without a global supply line, none of us would have phones – or be reading this blog, for that matter.

What I’m trying to convey is that we do live in the future – it just isn’t to the point where we can collaborate on the level that mobile app development requires, while communicating on a global scale.

The myth of offshore development

There’s plenty of misinformation about offshore development – the main one being the quality of code. A good developer is a good developer no matter where they are or what language they speak (but they’d better know their programming languages) – offshore developers aren’t bad at what they do.

While it’s very true that applications developed by offshore companies can lead to unsustainable codebases, low-grade products, or un-deployable platforms, developers in India or Ukraine can be just as experienced (or inexperienced) as developers in Japan or the US.

The problem isn’t people – it’s the communication of ideas.

Complicated ideas and concepts are difficult enough to understand when they are presented to us in person – just think of how many companies today struggle with disseminating and promoting company culture amongst their own employees – communicating the “feel” of a company’s mission is a challenging task.

And with the addition of different time zones, and distances measured in the thousands-of-miles, communicating the high-level, detailed concepts that are crucial to the decisions of app development can become a nightmare.

So if you’re in the UK, hire a UK development team – and if you’re in Bangladesh, hire a Bengali development team. The most important preliminary step to a successful app is a throughly-vetted development partner; a company that you can trust to deliver a full-fledged product, and trust to understand the mission of your app.

risk and reward of offshore mobile app development

Research the risk & reward of offshore development

The benefits of offshore development

There are benefits to making use of offshore development companies:

  1. Cost: Development companies almost universally charge based on an hourly rate. Developers in countries with a lower cost of living will report lower hourly rates than high-cost-of-living countries. While a developer’s rate in the US may range from $100 – $150, a developer in Asia would range from $20 – $50. If managed properly, this can lead to significant savings.
  2. Quality: “Quality” could just as easily be listed in the “risks” section of this blog. By hiring an offshore developer that lives in a country with a lower cost of living, you stand the chance of getting a high-quality product for a fraction of the cost of a highly-skilled developer in your country.
  3. Cultural insight: This is the most substantial benefit to hiring an offshore development team. If you are targeting a market in Sri Lanka, you should hire a development team from the region. The insight the team will bring to the design choices of your app will help your app feel familiar to your specific audience, and increase its chances of market penetration.

The risks of offshore development

Despite these benefits, there are many more opportunities for the risks associated with offshore development to take hold.

  1. Hidden costs: While offshore development does come with a lower hourly rate, this is more often than not negated by the fact that development will usually take twice as long. The main reason for this is…
  2. Communication: Couple language barriers with high-latency internet connections and having a verbal conversation with your team in a different country, and communication can become a real challenge. Communicating the technical aspects of an issue a developer is working on can be downright impossible sometimes. For systems that require integrated maintenance provided from your own IT department, clear and efficient communication is a necessity.
  3. Management: For many of the same reasons as communication, managing an offshore team can be an organizational nightmare. It is recommended to hire a project manager that is local to your offshore team, and will work to bridge the time difference your development team and your company will experience.
  4. Data privacy, security, and governmental regulation: As unfortunate as it is, it’s necessary to be wary of IP theft when dealing with offshore developers, which makes it especially vital to throughly research your development partner. If a developer in another country steals your intellectual property, there is very little recourse available to you. Security and privacy are two other pressing concerns when utilizing offshore codebases – some countries’ intelligence agencies will work with developers to include backdoor access in order to extract users’ personal data for means of cyber espionage.

Hourly rate, time, and scale

These are the variables to the equation for determining the cost of your app; the more time it takes to develop, the cost rises… the higher the hourly rate, the cost rises… the larger the scale of your app, again, the cost rises.

hourly rate time and scale to develop a mobile app offshore

Consider hourly rate, time and scale

When comparing the cost of developing an app using an offshore developer versus an onshore developer, the key factor is time. While an offshore developer’s hourly rate will usually be lower than an onshore developer, developing an app with an offshore developer is a longer process – sometimes adding two or three times the amount of total hours to develop. This discrepancy in development length is usually exacerbated by communication issues and time-zone differences, and in turn, significantly reduces the savings of the lower hourly rate of offshore development.

By increasing your time to market, your app’s chances of success will lower, and by increasing the chances of miscommunication, your app’s codebase has the possibility of being less robust than an app developed onshore – leading to the necessity of almost immediately updating your app as soon as it hits the App Store or Google Play.

With these factors in mind, the cost of developing an app offshore or onshore usually even out – and while either option comes with their own benefits, the risk of miscommunication is a factor every CTO or team lead should consider when deciding between offshore or onshore app development.

MVP Waterfall vs. Agile In Mobile App Development

MVP Waterfall vs. Agile Method

Decoding the difference between the waterfall and agile methods in mvp development

Which is better the MVP Waterfall or Agile method? You may have heard these words come up in conversation if you are considering getting your MVP developed. Building the product which you have interpreted to your app development team is critical. Knowing how it will be executed really matters to have a successful MVP.

So let’s dive in, before agile development was adopted most software products were actually developed using what is called the “Waterfall approach” Waterfall is also referred to as a “big design up front” (BDUF) approach. A key aspect of using the MVP Waterfall approach in mobile app development is that the team does not progress until the previous step is 100% complete. Meaning, no design happens until all of the requirements are defined, and no coding happens until the entire product is designed. (Olsen, 2015)

Essentially it proceeds sequentially through a series of steps, gathering and analysis, system design, development, integration and testing, deployment, and maintenance, in that order.

Waterfall Model

The waterfall Model illustrates the software development process in a linear sequential flow (Source: sdlc waterfall model)

Conversely with the now popular Agile methodology, the product is broken down into smaller pieces that undergo shorter cycles of requirements definition, design, and coding. Unlike with the Waterfall method, the developers can begin to code before the design elements have been completed. Instead of following a rigid plan, Agile focuses on flexibility and promotes quick responses to change.

Which MVP Method Is Better Agile Or Waterfall?

The answer to that question depends on the type of MVP. Typically the Waterfall method is good for larger projects or smaller projects that are very defined. Agile methods are great to get deliverables out to customers much faster. With the agile method there is also constant dialogue between the MVP development team and the customer. Yet this does not mean that the Waterfall method is not the way to go to complete the project. Depending on the type of project, this type of attention to detail and refinement is needed to create a minimum viable product which has the least amount of error known and unknown as possible.

For example think about the mini-van, who could fathom sending a family down the highway in a not nearly completed mini-van MVP? Checking and rechecking the design and requirements with this kind of scope can make the MVP Waterfall method the best way to handle certain projects. However what is fantastic about the Agile process is in every stage the customer is front of mind. At the end of any Agile project, what you have is a working product that the customer can use.

Breaking Down MVP Waterfall vs. Agile Methods Key Benefits

Benefits of using the Agile MVP Method:

  • The agile method is based on breaking down the project into smaller increments, the development team can react to changes in the market or other new information more quickly.
  • Your product reaches the customer earlier, meaning you can begin to start receiving customer feedback sooner. Which will assist with guiding subsequent product development efforts.
  • A team can also reduce the margin of error if they are working on the project in smaller increments, allowing them to see issues as they arise much sooner than they would if they waited.
  • The agile method encourages a mindset to software development focused on creating value for customers.
Agile Model

Illustration of the agile model (Source: sdlc agile model)

Benefits of using the Waterfall MVP Method:

  • Perfect for customers who know exactly what they want.
  • The waterfall process model is very simple to understand and use
  • Phases are processed and completed one at a time
  • Well understood milestones
  • The waterfall Model illustrates the software development process in a linear sequential flow. This means that any phase in the development process begins only if the previous phase is complete. In this waterfall model, the phases do not overlap. (source: sdlc, waterfall model)

Quick Note About The MVP Waterfall Method

With the MVP Waterfall method it is important to note that once the project is underway and in the testing phase, it is very difficult to go back and change something that was not well thought out or well documented in the conception stage of the project. If you are going to choose the Waterfall method for the development of your MVP it is important that you remember to communicate any changes or new developments before going into the testing environment.

For an entrepreneur or business owner who has a pre-determined set of requirements, knows exactly what they want from the mobile app they plan to have developed, the Waterfall method may in fact be the best way to go. The Waterfall method is also very useful with enterprise projects.

If you are trying to decide which method will best fit your needs call and set up a consultation with us: HERE, Let’s Talk!

In-app payments and purchasing – cost and profitability

There are many methods of app monetization, but none are as palatable for users – and profitable for publishers – as in-app payments and in-app purchasing. Just like any lucrative revenue stream, however, there are many costs (both hidden and upfront) associated with implementing the ability to charge users while they are engaging with your app; and there are even more pitfalls that may pop up during the development and implementation of in-app purchasing and payments.

Below, you’ll find knowledge about the deployment, cost, and revenue potential of in-app payments and purchasing:

The difference between in-app purchases and in-app payments

There’s a lot of different ways for users to spend money in apps, and a plethora of platforms that facilitate payments. In-app purchases are distinguishable from in-app payments because they are used in situations where the user isn’t buying a product, but rather additional content for the app itself.

In-app payments refer to purchases made through an app – the most common example being eCommerce apps, or even retail apps like those for Target or Kroger. Both of these methods involve the user paying for a good or service – but both are implemented (technologically, and strategically) using different methods, and come with different associated costs, as well as revenue models.

Let’s look deeper into these two revenue-driving options:

In-app purchases

In-app purchases can be broken down into four categories:

  1. Consumables: These are (usually) single pieces of content that are purchased once, depleted, and then purchased again. The most obvious example of a consumable purchase in an app would be lives, gems, or coins that many mobile games use as in-game currency. Another example of consumable purchases that is outside of the gaming sphere, however, is Tinder’s option to buy more swipes. Consumable purchases don’t just belong in games – if your consumable purchase can provide enough value, users will purchase it.
  2. Non-Consumable: These are, not surprisingly, the direct opposite of consumable purchases. Once bought, these extra pieces of content, additional features, or extra services will never expire. A good example are filters in Instagram, or sticker packets in WhatsApp.
  3. Auto-Renewing Subscriptions: Using this model of in-app purchasing, users buy access to services that regularly provide content updates, like Hulu. Other subscription services offer more utilitarian products, like cloud storage services such as dropbox, or productivity software like Monday. Users will be charged on a regular basis using this model.
  4. Non-Renewing Subscriptions: Users will purchase access to services or content just like auto-renewing subscriptions – this method differs in one key factor however: content is not regularly updated, and the user is only charged once for the content or service, and not on a reoccurring basis. The most prevalent example of this would be the omni-present “season pass.” In order to access these services or content, users must pay for every release.

Note: For apps published to Apple’s App Store to make use of in-app purchasing (and payments), publishers must sign Apple’s Paid Applications Agreement, as well as set up their company’s baking and tax information with Apple.

There are two options when it comes to in-app purchasing APIs: StoreKit for iOS, and In-App Billing API for Android (always with the clever names, Android). These options are the only two available for implementing in-app purchasing through Apple and Google’s platforms, and both (just like the sale of any product or content through the App Store or Google Play) will take 30% of the profit from each in-app sale made through your app.

This form of app monetization is, so far, incredibly successful, if implemented respectfully and properly. According to a study conducted by App Annie, out of 1,200 developers, 50% of them used in-app purchases to drive their revenue, and the App Store’s top revenue-earning app of 2018, the game Fortnite, made $450 million that year – using a revenue model mainly based around in-app purchases of character costumes.

In-app payments

This is where your field of developmental and payment options begin to widen – the purchasing of goods, services, and content outside of the App Store or Google Play can be implemented through many different APIs, and the strategy behind the CTA changes based on the individual app.

On of the most popular apps to make use of in-app payments is Uber – riders need a way to pay drivers, and drivers need a way to receive payments. In the same manner as Apple and Android with in-app purchases, Uber takes a percentage of the profits from each transaction between riders and drivers.

This revenue model is also highly successful – Uber’s revenue in 2018 was $11.27 billion.

In-app payments are also the backbone of mobile eCommerce – an industry that boasted 500 billion individual sales in 2018.

While you can develop your own custom in-app payment processing system, there are APIs out there that can speed up development: two popular options being Stripe and Braintree. Both of these APIs provide end-to-end encryption, and charge a percentage for each credit or debit card transaction. Stripe charges 2.9% + $0.20 for non-European cards, and Braintree charges 2.9% + $0.20 as well.

In the near future, we’ll cover these (and more) in-app payment APIs in greater detail – so stay tuned for a deep dive into payment gateway APIs.

When implemented, and not imposed, in-app purchasing and payments are an un-stoppable revenue stream

The key to both in-app purchases and payments is to be honest, clear, and provide value. Remember – anyone can play Fortnite for free, and yet it made $450 million last year. While the in-app purchases in the form of costumes weren’t necessary to the gameplay, users were more than happy to purchase them. When users don’t feel pressured to pay for extra content or services, but are rather presented with the option, they are more likely to pay, and continue engaging with your app.

Reported from Clutch – NS804 Apps’ client rating is 4.9 out of 5 stars

At NS804, our team of motivated engineers provides full-service mobile application development, specializing in native iOS and Android mobile app development. Since 2012, NS804 has produced more than 100 apps.

As a result of our dedicated service to customer satisfaction, partnerships, personalized digital strategy, and informed design, NS804 has earned a reputation for our tailor-made developments, according to Clutch.

Through Clutch, our clients have rated us a 4.9 out of 5 based on their experiences with us from their app development’s start to completion. Our firm, based in Virginia, strives to be your partner and your developer – when you succeed, we succeed – so your success is always our number one priority. Your input and vision for the app we help bring to life is highly valued by our team, as we aim to ensure that you understand the front and backend processes of your app.

Clutch, a respected Washington D.C. B2B business, ratings and reviews platform that provides firm suggestions and buying recommendations to a plethora of businesses through its ranking system based on collected objective client feedback, seeks to ensure that the best value is given through their in-depth analysis of this data.

Our past clients only have good things to say about their experiences with NS804, highlighting our responsive communication, pride in our work, guidance from start to launch, and a lot more.

In one of our most recent reviews, the founder of Carpe Diem Social LLC said, “[NS804’s] team does a great job of turning around last-minute requests,” showing our dedication to our clients and willingness to accommodate you however we can.

It’s feedback such as this that means the world to us – if there’s anything we can do to help our partners succeed, we’re on it.

Clutch Profile

The Manifest, a sister blog site of Clutch, featured our team in Richmond as a top 2 app developer in Virginia. We can help your business be one of the 32% of small businesses have a mobile app.

So what are you waiting for? Come create with us today. Contact us here.

Backend design

When I was younger – as in less-than-a-decade old – I wanted to be an architect. That was, until I learned about the existence of trigonometry, calculus, and all the higher-than-geometry level math I could never possibly hope to understand. I liked drawing houses and castles, not mathematically planning them.

Many professions, just like that of architect, necessitate the mastery of hidden skillsets or knowledge bases that the layperson isn’t aware of; the perfect example of this being backend developers. The title, and the topic that comes with it, is enough to make most people instantly glaze over – even some frontend developers will look for an excuse to escape from the conversation.

There’s a reason that this blog is titled “backend design,” however – a lot more design goes into backend development than you would think. Or, more accurately stated, a lot of design goes into architecting the backend.

Systems architecture

According to Introduction to Systems Architecture Design by Medium, backend architecture is “… a conceptual representation of the components and subcomponents that reflects the behavior of the system.”

In other words, backend design is architecting a structure for the frontend, user-facing data layer. It’s akin to designing a car – there’s just as much artistry necessary as engineering. Code is code is code – there’s nothing special about Ruby on Rails or Node.js. Once mastered, the language of the backend can be written just as fast as a frontend developer working in Swift or JavaScript.

Just as a good UI designer knows how to create a rectangle in Sketch, so to does a backend developer know how to build a NoSQL database: the true skill of design is knowing where to place that rectangle in order to create a pleasing layout, or how to organize data in order to minimize latency.

So know that when someone starts talking about systems architecture, they’re really talking about architecture, and less about code. And once this topic is broken down, it’s not that complicated (on a high-level, at least) to comprehend.

The backend can be broken down into three layers:

  1. Controllers – these handle client requests, such as when a user adds an item to their cart.
  2. Services – access data in the DAO layer, and send it back to the controller, which then sends the retrieved information to the client.
  3. Data Access Objects (DAO) – This is the layer where data can be stored, organized, and accessed.

Most often, these layers can be implemented by cloud providers; these platforms – like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure – will sell managed services like on-demand servers, or databases (in addition to many other services).

When someone speaks to the scalability of the cloud, this is what they’re referring to; “the cloud” is really a collection of remote servers that provide customers with ready-made backend infrastructure, giving companies the ability to increase their operations without needing to store, manage, and maintain servers physically on site.

Within these layers are components, of which we’ll cover the four most basic and widely-used:

  1. Virtual machines – Like most things in the world of computers, the moniker “virtual machine” is an apt descriptor of what VMs do; a VM is nothing but a computer simulated inside of a computer, much like a digital Russian nesting doll. When utilizing cloud providers, VMs will be hosted on larger servers that allocate the necessary CPU, RAM, SSD, and network bandwidth in order to run your VM – this exact process can be achieved on a personal computer as well. VMs run the operations of your backend.
  2. Load balancers – Run too many applications on your computer, and it’ll start to slow down. The same is true for your VMs in the cloud or on your local servers – too many client requests, and the time it takes to load a page can skyrocket. Your backend’s load balancer is designed to solve this problem: load balancers act as a medium between your backend’s controllers and services layer. Load balancers both interpret client requests from the controllers layer, and keep track of the health of VMs – and to ensure low latency client request, the load balancer distributes those client requests evenly between VMs.
  3. Databases – Databases are how your DAO layer is organized. There are two types of database structures: non relational (NoSQL), or relational (SQL). We’ll cover those a little bit below.
  4. Caches – The reason databases can have different structures is because certain databases are optimized for different types of data, in order to decrease the time it takes to access information. Caches are used for the same reason; during times of heavy traffic, caches can store data that is sure to be accessed in rapid succession by many clients, thus reducing the time it takes to complete client requests. Caches can be thought of as super-optimized, small databases.

Back it up

Before we get into anything more complicated, theres a few basic concepts we can go over now that we’ve covered the building blocks of the backend:

  1. Latency – This is the length of time it takes a client request to complete. Latency always refers to time.
  2. Bandwidth – This is the maximum amount of client requests (data) your server can handle.
  3. Throughput – This is the true amount of data your servers can handle. Often, during times of high traffic, bandwidth will drop as latency rises – this new measurement is called throughput.

In order to reduce latency and increase bandwidth, backend systems will be scaled up to process more client requests. This can be achieved via three different methods:

  1. Vertical scaling – This method reduces latency by increasing the amount of requests a single VM or physical server can handle by upgrading the CPU, RAM, or SSD of the machine.
  2. Horizontal scaling – Reduces latency by adding more VMs or physical servers, thereby increasing the number of client requests that can be handled at a given moment.
  3. Auto scaling – uses the same principle as horizontal scaling, but automates the process: VMs are added as they are needed, and deleted as client requests decrease. Both auto and horizontal scaling necessitate a load balancer.

Another design choice that can reduce latency is the type of database your DAO layer makes use of. As stated above, there are two types of database structures: SQL and NoSQL. While SQL databases are organized to write data in a very efficient manner; NoSQL databases are organized to read data quickly, but due to their structure, require duplicate data in order to access information.

You can think of a SQL database as a collection of tables that hold very specific, uniform sets of information, that link up in a web. NoSQL databases are structured in branches, which lead to other branches, which lead to other branches.

SQL - NoSQL

Both come with their pros and cons – NoSQL databases can access information faster, and are optimized for dealing with un-related sets of data. SQL databases are robust and optimized for dealing with requests that require relational data from various processes in your backend’s service layer.

Back in business

Just as a house would fall apart without the wooden structure, plumbing, wiring, and ventilation, so to would your website or application without its backend. It’s important to know what’s going on back there!

Stay tuned for our future look into scaling up your backend systems.