By Ian Small,

Haven’t developed your own app yet? What’s holding you back? Not knowledgeable in software development? Don’t need to be. Ian Small of gives his tips to help get you started.

The use of mobile platforms for online activities is growing rapidly, which is driving online retailers and software providers into the app development business. With hundreds of thousands of apps available on leading platforms and billions of downloads worldwide, app development is a hot business, for developers seeking to launch new products and companies looking to expand into the mobile marketplace.

Companies roll out new apps daily, but the pace shouldn’t obscure the effort and planning that go into the development of a quality app. Having recently spearheaded the development of an innovative new audio books app that enables book lovers to enjoy audio books anywhere, anytime, I can share three tips designed to make app development more efficient and effective:

Planning, Planning, Planning: Above all, thorough planning is the key to successful app development. It’s important to take this stage seriously and develop detailed plans upfront. Planning is a cross-functional team effort: Get your Quality Assurance team together and develop a set of detailed specifications. Repeat that process with all teams so that you know the requirements and what it takes to complete them before you start.

In-House or Outsourced Development: Another important point is to make sure you weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing vs. in-house development. Unless you’re leading a software development company, chances are you won’t have all the expertise you need to develop apps on multiple platforms in-house. Decide which app you’ll develop in-house (if any), and then assess potential outsourced app development partners to find the right fit.

Parallel Stream Development: It’s critical to understand the perils of parallel stream development – the development of apps for multiple platforms (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry) at the same time. You don’t want to alienate any set of users, so it’s tempting to develop and launch all your mobile apps at the same time. However, know that during the development process, you’ll be required to make many decisions on the fly – no matter how carefully you planned upfront. It can be a real challenge to make sure each decision is communicated and integrated into the apps being developed in parallel.

App development is an excellent way to put your products or services on the cutting edge, but it pays to go into the process understanding the potential impact on your team and resources. Upfront planning, defining a development strategy and making a decision on parallel development are good first steps.

About the Author: With nearly seven years in the audio book industry, Ian Small is currently General Manager of In his previous role as General Manager of Simply Audiobooks, the industry’s largest online audio book rental enterprise, Mr. Small conducted extensive market analysis and identified an opportunity to build the industry’s first unlimited, cloud-based, streaming audio book service. He assembled a development team in 2011 and spearheaded the effort to deliver this vision to market, launching in January 2012.