14 Skills Your App Development Team Must Have
You need an app development team.
You look, you search, you interview … but each mobile app company sounds vaguely similar to all the others. And when you ask them about their skillsets, you get a download of engineering speak – technologies, languages, and platforms that only make them sound more similar.
So what sets a mobile app development team apart?
After all, if they don’t understand your vision, they’re never going to build it the way you want it anyway.
According to Eric Feng on TechCrunch, “The average engineer spends about 15-30% of his or her time working with non-engineers every week.” If your mobile software engineers lack business sense, much of that time is wasted. For this reason, according to a study at Harvard Business Review, 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional. Not yours, though. Your app developers are going to be top-of-the-class. Why? Because you know the 14 skills every app development team must have to be successful. Here they are:
1. Product Management
The product manager for a mobile app developer is a major liaison between the project team and the client. They dig into the business needs behind the app and get to know the client’s vision. They make sure the app development team shares that vision, too.
2. Agile Methodologies and Scrum Management
If you want to be successful in mobile applications, you have to adopt Agile development practices. It’s the best fit for the fast-paced mobile industry, where technologies come and go as quickly as a single “old-school” product lifecycle. Agile methodologies consist of a series of rapid design, build and release events.
Scrum Management is the best way to manage these projects. Perfect for highly cross-functional mobile development teams, Scrum enables greater cohesion between developers and clients, with aggressive communication schedules and frequent reviews.
3. User Interface and User Experience
Referred to as UI/UX, these skills are incredibly important for the end-user’s satisfaction. They’re also frequently overlooked by mobile app development companies who tend to focus more on enabling actions than encouraging them. Even if you have the perfect app idea, you might not know the best way to present it to your customers.
A team with skilled UI/UX professionals can bridge that gap.
Design simply refers to the overall look and feel of the app. Your customers don’t want ugly apps and icons on their high-tech smartphones. They want your app to look appealing in addition to providing a smooth experience and value. Your mobile app development team should possess design skills that intrigue and inspire customers to use their apps.
Have you ever opened an app that looked great but the wording made you cringe? If the text on your app sounds like it was written by an ESL student, you need to pay more attention to the writing. And even if it doesn’t, you want your words to support your message – and sometimes persuade users to take action. Your typical C# engineer is going to sound more like that ESL student than a trained copywriter.
Don’t build the perfect mobile app and send the wrong message with bad writing. Make sure your app development includes professional quality writing, too.
6. Business Analysis
This skill involves taking the client’s vision and requirements and mapping them into development needs and specs for the project team. It’s often performed by the project or product managers, but is really a separate skill in its own right. A mobile development team with more business analysis training and experience will be better able to translate your vision into bottom-line results.
Scrum management requires vigorous corroboration between you and the mobile development team. The same goes for the interactions within their cross-functional groups. You want your app developers to be on the same page as you. And every member of their team must be on the same page, too.
This requires the skill of communication – clear communications – both in speech and writing. It seems like such a simple thing, but in the high tech world it can be very hard to come by. For more on why this sort of collaboration is so important, see our free webinar on improving team efficiency and driving results with Scrum.
8. QA and Performance Testing
In the world of Agile deployments, QA skills are crucial to the ongoing viability of your app. Your mobile development team should have strict QA testing methodologies in place. Being “agile” can lull some companies into focusing on speed rather than quality. But QA testing is not a corner you want to cut, so make sure your prospective app development team agrees.
Skills You Need from the Engineers
Above our eight business and general skills your app development team should have. Here are six more skills the software engineers should bring to the party:
9. Modern Coding Languages
Since mobile is the technology of the future, you don’t want an app developer still coding in the past. InformationWeek lists the 6 Top Programming Languages for Mobile Development as: HTML5, Java, C++, Objective-C, Swift and C#.
Your app development team doesn’t need to employ all of these, of course. But they should be skilled in at least one or more of them … and able to explain clearly why they made that choice.
10. Cloud Infrastructure
Since cloud infrastructure is such an important part of mobile development, the team should be skilled in using technologies like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. Microsoft Azure, for instance, is a platform for deploying and managing applications and services. It utilizes a global network of Microsoft data centers to house their infrastructure.
Platforms like these are where most of the apps you create will live, so your app development team should be skilled in interacting with them, as well as able to suggest the right one for your needs.
11. Cross-Platform Capabilities
Whether you want to start your app on Android, iOS, or Windows, any successful app will eventually want to be ported into the other two. Coding native apps for one platform has the disadvantage of making the transfer to other platforms much more challenging. In some cases, it might even require a completely different team of engineers.
That’s why it’s important that your app development team champions a cross-platform tool. At Ascendle, we chose Xamarin as the best option for doing this. Xamarin is based on C# code and provides a reliable tool to translate apps cleanly into Android, iOS, and Windows – or all three simultaneously.
12. Data Expertise
Data drives apps. Data defines customers. Data is both what you’ll collect and how you’ll recognize your end-results. You need that data. Lots of it. Which means you’ll need skilled data engineers to create the most efficient databases and repositories possible. A well-designed database will lead to a smoother, better performing app.
Your app development team may also encounter data in many different forms, from a wide variety of sources. Understanding these sources and being able to interact seamlessly with them is an important skill for mobile development.
13. Integration with Cloud-Hosted Systems
You don’t always know what you’ll find in the cloud. Technologies like Amazon Web Services have grown so large and versatile, they’ve enabled all sorts of platforms, languages, systems, and data. You might want to push data into these systems, or draw data out – or both. Which means you’ll need mobile developers who are well-versed in push notifications and prepared for whatever they find.
Making sure your apps are secure can be a real headache for a CEO. You need your customers’ privacy secured, your systems protected from compromise, and all the logs, checks, and balances in place.
At Ascendle, we use tools like OAuth to allow user logins via social media accounts. This avoids revealing passwords and has the advantage of familiarity for end-users. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to security.
There will always be some risk. Minimizing that risk is what’s important. And that means working with mobile development teams with a thorough grasp of security protocols and the latest best practices and tools. Because you can never be too safe online.
Does Team Size Matter?
No, it doesn’t matter if the team is small or large. Small teams will rely on versatile members with multiple skills, while large teams may contain more specialists. Be careful they don’t specialize too much, however, or communications become an issue.
Agile methodologies may work best with the smaller, more versatile teams … but, of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.
How Skilled Is Your App Development Team?
Does the team you’re considering meet the criteria? We hope so! If not, consider Ascendle. We’re proud of our highly skilled, highly versatile teams. And we believe that good business sense drives results, not technology.
So whether you choose Ascendle or another mobile app development company, always make sure the team you hire possesses these 14 important skills.