Ideas to app is all the rage. As a product builder I am often approached about which ideas are good ones and which ideas are bad ones but it's not always as simple as that. Sometimes you have to start building to evolve an idea into a winner, other times the business problem needs to be more fleshed out before building even starts. The biggest myth is that you have to be "technical" to start an app or idea, in fact with technology development you can actually build tech before building tech -- outsourcing technology becoming more acceptable, here are some tips below on how to save on development costs, particularly if you are spearheading something yourself.

You don't have to be technical. You can outsource your project and still manage it.

1. Create a Very Clear RFP or Request for Proposal

Before asking around for people who can "code" stop to think about what it is exactly that you want to be built. A common industry practice for this is to create a RFP or Request for Proposal. This is a centralized document that can list out basic requirements like budget, business needs, deadlines, value props, if the thing to be built is mobile or not, what kinds of users are being sought after. How a RFP becomes helpful is that it can assist with:

  • Consistent information for vendors or partners
  • Start to get ballpark figures of costs for building
  • Streamline a process for onboarding technical resources

2. Review Statements of Work or Similar Documents

Once a project starts maturing you will go from simple "scoping" or RFP to real project-like stuff. Most projects will eventually become and have a Statement or Work or SOW. Before getting your SOW or creating one look online for other examples, some may even let you download templates. SOWs generally include:

  • Project Description
  • Business requirements
  • Technical requirements
  • Schedule
  • Budget
  • Payments Schedule

3. Become Familiar with Milestones and Check-ins

In a dream world we would come up with an idea, hire someone, and magically have a finished product months later. But the truth is, anything great started good and constantly checking in and making sure a product is evolving takes work even if others are helping the building process. The concept of checking in and creating either checkpoints or product milestones is crucial as a process and habit to form as an entrepreneur. Milestones can be broken down as:

  • Calendar dates
  • % of completion
  • Deliverables complete
  • Payments

4. Know How to Validate a Product

Both before and during development you should continually be question the business or product theory, look at the data not the theory. What are users or the market demanding? What is already existing? Product Validation is an ongoing process but generally speaking to start a project you should be able to know the following:

  • Is there a mass-market of users possible?
  • Is the business solution worth the cost of building the solution?
  • Are there core product features that are easily identified early on?
  • Is the business proposition clear and easily explainable?

5. Learn How Mobile Tech Works

Understanding mobile is important regardless of whether or not an idea is "mobile" you need to know about mobile as much as possible: how people act, what apps are in use, the general process for submitting an app to the app store and general use. The reasoning here is that with any good idea if it's not mobile it will turn mobile so being away of how mobile works in advance a huge advantage. Some bases to cover regarding mobile would be:

  • Generic steps for submitting a mobile app (apple or Google)
  • Common development costs for mobile items
  • Mobile development timelines (it's not as fast as you think!)
  • User terms and conditions

Following core guidelines and framework can make all the difference in the world. Anyone with the right help can build products it's just a matter of mastering some nuances for development. Saving time and costs is the name of the game-- better to finish on budget than run out of money and not finish at all.

Ellie Cachette is a seasoned entrepreneur and mobile app designer based in New York City. Springboard Enterprises alumna of 11' Ellie is a technical project manager by trade and partner at Koombea. For more information on Ellie visit her website