The Big Nerd Ranch Approach to App Development Services

Daniel Ra

4 min read

Sep 13, 2016

The Big Nerd Ranch Approach to App Development Services

When there’s something new in the development world, we’re among the first to know about it. For the last 15 years, we’ve been putting that knowledge to work in our courses and in the apps we build for clients around the world.

If you’ve ever wondered how Big Nerd Ranch consults with clients, look no further. While you won’t find delicious trade secrets (eh, we don’t really have any), this post will give you a high-level view of what to expect when consulting with us.

How Do We Build?

Traditional development methodologies assume that needs, requirements and features are fixed, final and fully realized at the start. At the other end of that is an immovable deadline with a fixed budget. Many Bothans have died trying to build in those constraints—Big Nerd Ranch, however, adheres to Agile software development and design principles.

We prefer to say we build with agility, since the word “Agile” can be a loaded term. From a 10,000-foot view, it means that we defer to the idea that building software inherently comes with complexities, unknowns and risks. This is the unavoidable truth of building software.

From a 20-foot view, it also means:

  • We ask the client to prioritize the features they want most on a week-by-week basis.
  • We design and develop toward minimally shippable builds and build iteratively.
  • We expect the client to communicate with us on a daily basis.
  • We expect the client to regularly test and validate the work we deliver.
  • We’ll be transparent through and through.
  • We will prove our worth.

Prioritizing Features

It’s rarely the case that a client comes to us with a set of features or requirements and says, “I don’t care what gets built first. You pick!”

It’s far more often the case that clients need to meet an external demand, and a specific feature will meet that demand quicker than others. In other words, our client represents their customers and will know their customers’ needs. When our client determines our build priority, it ensures our client’s customers are happy, which keeps our client happy.

Building Iteratively

The goal of building with agility is to deliver value in short bursts throughout the project, rather than way at the end. Depending on the goals, we’ll either deliver miniature versions of the product as frequently as possible, or we’ll deliver a set of features towards that end goal.

Constant Communication

Let it be known: We expect a lot of our clients. Daily communication is the standard we’d like to set. Even more, we encourage our clients to join our Slack team and chat with us throughout the day. A highly attentive and collaborative client dramatically increases the chances of the client walking away very happy. And likewise, the client should expect that of us as well!

Frequent Testing and Validation

Our goal is to deliver value as frequently as possible. But the value that we deliver has to be proven, and that’s our clients’ responsibility. We don’t do QA. Why? Because the client knows best what they (and their customers) need.

Each week or two, we deliver work for a client to test and validate. The sooner the client provides us a thumbs up or thumbs down on the work we deliver, the sooner we can fix the problem and then move to the next set of deliverables. As an added bonus, clients always have insight to the project status—they aren’t left wondering what’s being worked on.

Being Transparent

We hate hiding behind a veil. We think the client should feel absolutely comfortable with our work, even if they might not understand all of it. In other words, we’re out to prove we’re trustworthy. And we do so by documenting, communicating and tracking work through multiple tools. We’re transparent with our successes, opportunities for improvement and even our opinions on what is best for the client. In turn, we ask the client can be as transparent as necessary about any roadblocks ahead, so we can find solutions together.

Proving Our Worth

There are lots of consultancies whose services cost less than ours. We know that. But at Big Nerd Ranch, we believe you get what you pay for. We don’t start low, then nickel and dime you along the way. Our engineers are also expert instructors and best-selling authors. When we consult with you, not only do you get world-class designers and developers building an elegant and sustainable product, you get an educational experience around proven design and development best practices and process improvement.

We love helping our clients be successful. Among the myriad ways to do that, our approach is essential to ensuring success. Whether you’re a Fortune 100 company or a startup client, we have the mastery, experience and care to help you be a more competitive player in your market!

66% of our current clients have already worked with us on an app development project. Contact our sales team to get started on a project of your own.

Daniel Ra

Author Big Nerd Ranch

Since joining BNR in 2015, Dan managed product development efforts for, and built relationships with, startup entrepreneurs with a dream to leaders at Fortune 100 companies. As General Manager of Big Nerd Ranch, Dan practices out the modest experience and learned wisdom he’s gathered over the years supporting outcomes that enable people’s lives through technology.

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