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Red Hat Tool Estimates Enterprise Mobile App Complexity, Cost

Red Hat Inc. today published an online tool that helps organizations estimate the complexity involved and time required to build a mobile app depending upon answers to a questionnaire.

By answering 10 questions in the Mobile App Assessment Tool, line-of-business staffers, IT decision-makers and mobile development managers can get a report estimating the complexity, time and cost involved in developing individual mobile apps, the company said.

The report provides recommendations and time estimates concerning front-end development, back-end development and deployment options. It ranks each app against those areas on a low/medium/high complexity scale and provides customized information blurbs and recommendations, along with a time estimate.

Although the company says the tool measures app development costs, that estimate is expressed in developer days required for each app. Monetary cost estimates typically depend on factors such as the specific expense involved in taking up a developer's time and other resources, which could vary widely among different organizations.

"Mobility can add great value to the business; however, its true cost can often be underestimated," Red Hat said in a blog post today. "Many mobile app development projects require more complex integration with back-end systems, adherence to regulatory requirements, and/or compelling user interface design that can drive up the cost of development."

The 10 questions are:

  1. To get a feel for the scope of your mobility initiatives can you estimate how many custom apps your company plans to develop over the next 12 months?
  2. Which best describes the BUSINESS use case for your app?
  3. What type of app will be developed for this use case? (native, hybrid, responsive Web)
  4. What device(s) do you want to build for? (iOS, Android, Microsoft Phone)
  5. Which of the following features are a MUST for the app you are building?
  6. Estimate the number of different screens that the mobile app may need?
  7. Will the app need to connect to 3rd party services? (Examples: social, push, SMS, weather or any other public APIs)
  8. Will the app integrate with internal backend/business systems?
  9. Who are you building the app for and how many users?
  10. Where will the mobile app be deployed? (public, hybrid or private cloud, on-premises)

For an app that rates on the high end of the complexity scale regarding back-end development, for example, the tool provides the following:

Your app needs to exchange data with some internal business system(s) or application(s). This can be complex especially if this is the first time that a mobile app needs to access this system(s) and there is no existing well-documented API(s). Establish what systems you need to integrate with. Integration to systems like EAM, CRMs, ERPs that have preexisting API connectors may still require some complex coding. Large-scale legacy backend systems requiring complex APIs e.g. full on integration with likes of SAP module, require complex coding.

Creating APIs from scratch for connectivity to backend systems, especially legacy systems, can involve a high degree of complexity and developer resource.

However, for APIs that have already been created and can be re-used across other app development projects via a mobile application platform you can expect the cost of integration to drop considerably.

Estimated Developer Days: 225

"As decisions on enterprise mobility initiatives shift from IT to lines of business, we see the responsibility for tracking the success of mobile app projects shifting as well," Red Hat said. "While the business can provide value in prioritizing mobile use cases and features, determining technical complexity and cost can be challenging for line of business managers. When considering factors that vary from back-end integration to front-end features and how the app is to be deployed, mobile app development becomes more than just a simple touch interface."

The Red Hat tool joins many others available online, such as:

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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