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The 6 Critical Things to Consider When Partnering with a Mobile Developer

“The majority of businesses look at a mobile development project as a destination. But most software projects are a journey that must be smartly managed.” — Sunil Jagani,

Founder and Chief Technology Officer, AllianceTek

The explosion of mobile technology has prompted businesses of all sizes to embrace mobile applications in hopes of gaining a competitive edge in their industries. However, in the rush to move forward, businesses often fail to vet mobile developers adequately. Partnerships formed without due diligence end up moving businesses away from the acclaimed mobile benefits rather than towards them, ultimately costing them time and money.

"The majority of businesses look at a mobile development project as a destination," notes Sunil Jagani, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of AllianceTek, an Information Technology Company based in Malvern, PA. "But most software projects are a journey that must be smartly managed."

Jagani should know. After earning his Master's in Software Engineering from Penn State, Jagani jumped into the computer software industry with both feet. He spent six years as a Senior Technical Lead at Advanta before leaving in 2006 to start his own company. His perspective - from behind the monitor and behind the president's desk - has taught him the value of identifying success as something that happens along the way. "Every phase of the project must consist of start-to-finish milestones," Jagani asserts. "The success of one milestone will make way for the success of the next, and so on until the project's completion."

How, then, to choose a mobile technology partner from a crowd of prospective partners all clamoring for your business? In addition to gathering information on the cornerstones of a reliable partnership (experience, references, and expertise), there are six critical mobile-technology, specific-considerations businesses should examine.

AllianceTek were very patient and professional with us throughout the whole job but especially when we made changes to the original proposal after the job was underway. Would definitely use them again.

- Julie Henry

1. Does your mobile partner have multi-platform experience?

In the past, when developing web or desktop applications, one or two robust application versions would be enough to accommodate users of most browsers and operating systems. However, there are many form factors in the mobile marketplace, including the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. Tablet devices such as the iPad also require a high level of expertise and know-how. When looking for a mobile developer, find one who has experience in accommodating multiple form factors. Failing to do so could alienate a significant portion of your potential users.

2. Can your mobile partner provide back-end system integration?

Many mobile developers are versed in creating isolated applications packaged for general use. But it is critical that the mobile application’s architecture connect to your organization’s back-end systems. That's because there’s a distinct gap between a generic application and your existing systems, forcing parts of the application to be recreated in order to use them effectively. A mobile developer needs to be able to assess your existing architecture and ensure that the mobile application is designed to integrate seamlessly with your back-end systems.

3. Is your mobile partner capable of contributing new ideas to your mobile strategy?

Mobilizing is more than simply taking your existing content and features and making them accessible on mobile devices. Because at its foundation, this new platform is about more than mobility. It's nothing short of a game changer that is radically redefining the way users interface and interact with applications. Businesses that fail to design for the unique capabilities of the platform do so at their own risk.

When choosing a mobile developer, go with one that is able to show you how mobile technology can be used to develop unique applications that use the platforms' features, such as touch interfaces, location awareness, and application connectivity.

“Going mobile is nothing short of a game changer that is radically redefining the way users interface and interact with applications.Businesses that fail to design for the uniqueness of the platform do so at their own risk.” — Sunil Jagani,

Founder and Chief Technology Officer, AllianceTek

4. Is your mobile partner a business solutions architect?

A mobile development partner should bring additional value and insight to a project. If a mobile developer simply builds according to your instructions, they're fulfilling the role of a service provider, not a solutions architect. "A mobile technology partner should be a partner in the truest sense of the word," says Jagani. "They should add their own ideas to achieve your objectives that include insight from a mobile technology expert's perspective."

Even if you possess a basic application concept, the business solutions architect should help you to expand on the concept and perfect it.

“If a mobile developer simply builds what you tell them, they’re fulfilling the role of a service provider, not a solutions partner.” — Sunil Jagani,

Founder and Chief Technology Officer, AllianceTek

5. Does your mobile partner offer value identification and prioritization?

Let's face it. At the end of the day, every business has a mandate to ensure a positive return on its investment in mobile technology. A reliable mobile development partner plays a critical role in achieving return on investment by identifying the lowest-hanging fruit, and discouraging extra features that won't yield benefits worthy of the time and effort it takes to create them. According to Jagani, "It takes the understanding of both a business solutions architect and a software architect to develop an effective mobile solution that meets business objectives." Sometimes this means breaking development requirements into smaller parts and prioritizing them based on which can be developed efficiently and effectively first.”

6. Does your mobile partner assume end-to-end responsibility for the project?

A mobile project can only be successful if there is a clear understanding of the business strategy, application goals, requirements, and component and feature priorities.

From inception to deployment, a mobile partner should take responsibility for all considerations and have a clear view of the big picture objectives -- including those that may only come into play down the road. “It's the mobile development partner's responsibility to identify the core features needed to get a working first version and what features should be rolled out in future versions," Jagani observed. "Placing this responsibility squarely on your mobile partner's shoulders ensures that he has skin in the game, and your mutual success is priority No. 1."

Central to each of these six points is that a mobile partner should be, above all, a business solution architect. This means they can ascertain your business’ unique challenges and objectives and apply their expertise to develop a mobile solution tailored to your needs. How to ensure you find a partner who will do this? "A mobile partner should align their success with your own so they are incentivized to help you achieve the best results for the lowest cost," Jagani concludes.

You must demand that your mobile partner put their money where their mouth is. No matter how rapidly technology changes the way we do business, fundamentals such as this remain constant.

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