Throughout history, a lot of bright, clever men and women have shared words of wisdom on the importance of speaking the truth. One of our favorites comes from Winston Churchill who said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Churchill’s colorful words apply to a lot in our day-to-day lives, and it also applies to product development where a developer holding back the truth can cost you the shirt off your back (and maybe your pants, too).

Cost is probably on the front of your mind when you approach a development shop to start working on your idea. You most likely have somewhat of a budget in mind, so it’s expected that you’d want to know how much you’ll actually be spending. But here’s the problem — if your development shop is offering an exact price point, they probably aren’t telling you the truth. They could be making up numbers to get your business and by the time the truth “gets its pants on” you could be out thousands that you didn’t expect. That’s because in product development setting accurate budgetary expectations is a huge challenge, and it’s actually not something that should necessarily be determined out front.

So why doesn’t setting a price in the beginning work? Well first, it’s impossible to tell how complex a project will be initially. A lot of shops base cost on requirements from user stories that are captured in the early stages of development. This only works if those stories are locked into place, however, and that’s something that simply doesn’t work in an agile approach. Features can change considerably from the time they are captured to the time they are executed, and these changes could mean that entire stories could get thrown out altogether.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect a shop to give you somewhat of an idea of cost. Any shop that’s been in business long enough should be able to give you points of comparison. But this is where truth and transparency come in, and that’s why the storycarding process is so critical.  Storycarding is going to make you aware of risks and complexities that will arise throughout development. That means price estimations can be made step-by-step as your product build is mapped out. This can reveal hidden scope and even the relevance of each story before development even begins. This valuable context tells you where your money is going and can even help you determine if a feature isn’t ultimately worth the cost. You’ll have a realistic, truthful idea of what can be accomplished on your budget because you have the start-to-finish blueprint in front of you.

That’s why Rootstrap should be your first step when developing your idea. It’s a smaller commitment which means less time and less money and will help you see the scope of your product before your dig deep into your pockets to have it developed. If you’re ready to get a clear roadmap for your idea, please free to contact us with any questions. When it comes to product development, think of Rootstrap as the belt that keeps the truth’s pants from falling down.

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CEO and Co-founder of Rootstrap Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Rootstrap, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.