6 reasons why transparency is important in app development

11 min read
May 18, 2023

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.

These enduring words from Henry Ford illustrate the importance of collaboration and teamwork for success.

That includes developing successful apps.

And, in our opinion, nothing kills collaboration more than the lack of transparency.

In the world of app development, transparency refers to openness and visibility throughout the project.

It means that honest communication flows as fast as possible while the app is being developed.

Therefore, transparent teams always have the best information at hand so that they can make smart decisions consistently.

Here are six other reasons why transparency should be the top priority in your next project.

Allows for accurate planning

Transparency is a prerequisite to planning all aspects of an app project, including time and costs.

It’s no secret that forecasting a project is notoriously difficult. So many factors go into it that it’s easy to make a mistake, especially during the early stages where there are so many unknowns.

This phenomenon is called the cone of uncertainty.

cone of uncertainty

Source: ASP.NET Blog

The cone of uncertainty states that your estimates may be up to 4 times off. For instance, if you predict that completing a project will take six months, it could take up to 24 months in reality.

The way to combat the cone of uncertainty is to have as much information as possible during the planning stages.

This is where transparency proves essential.

Proper planning requires absolute trust and communication. Both the clients and the development team must be aligned on the project’s goals and key points.

Otherwise, they might go in opposite directions and skew the plan.

To achieve transparency, everyone must lay everything on the table.

The client must include the proposed budget, project scope, requirements, planned features, and other relevant information.

Developers, on the other hand, must be honest with their assessment. If a task is outside of their expertise, they must admit it and not mislead the client just to get the project.

Now, it’s understandable that clients might be hesitant to reveal their ideas to an agency for fear that the latter will steal it. Thus, they tend to hold back critical information.

A good workaround is to require a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) when meeting up with potential developers.

This document prevents either party from leaking confidential information about the project at the risk of legal action.

non-disclosure agreement

Source: Signaturely

Some reputable agencies, like DECODE, will even initiate this as a sign of good faith.

Regardless of your thoughts on the matter, full transparency is vital for ensuring that your project schedule and costs are as accurate as possible.

The big picture remains in focus

Transparency is also important for aligning clients, developers, and project managers toward one goal.

Without constant communication, there’s the risk of stakeholders going off in multiple directions.

The development team might be working on an unnecessary feature, or the client might ask for changes that are not in line with the project’s goals.

This is a surefire way to slow or derail your project.

Thus, it’s a good idea to remind everyone why you’re doing the project—its grand purpose and the problem it’s trying to solve.

From a practical standpoint, this helps developers make smarter decisions on their everyday tasks.

Whenever they do something, they can ask themselves, “Is this contributing to the big picture?

Knowing the big picture also gives team members a sense of purpose. They’ll know that the code they’re writing isn’t just code but an essential part of the whole.

When people realize this, it can be exceptionally empowering and motivating.

As Adam Houghton, VP of Customer Success at Klue, puts it:

Keeping high-performing individuals engaged starts with each person understanding how their role contributes to the overall reason why their company exists.

It’s no wonder that having a clear picture of the end goal can do wonders for people’s productivity.

A study by Hypercontext found that 59% of people consider having clear goals as the number one contributor to their productivity.

As a result, fast-growth companies tend to have employees who are clear on the big picture.

fast-growth companies graph

Source: Hypercontext

The easiest way to ensure people see the big picture is to discuss it regularly.

Make it a point to always remind everyone of the overarching goal of the project, then evaluate the team’s progress towards it.

Are you getting closer, and is the vision slowly taking shape? Or are there parts that don’t contribute?

This can help you determine if you need to double up toward your destination or pivot entirely.

Promotes team accountability

When your development process is transparent, it exposes each member’s responsibilities to everyone else.

And the knowledge that anyone can call them out will encourage people to take their role seriously, promoting accountability.

When team members understand that any shortcoming on their part will hinder everyone else, peer-to-peer accountability is established.

It encourages people to fulfill their commitments, report their progress to others within the team, and communicate problems that would impact the outcomes.

As a result, you’ll end up with a higher-quality app that delivers on time and within budget.

Some, like the author Patrick Lencioni, believe peer-to-peer is the best kind of accountability:

The best kind of accountability on a team is peer-to-peer. Peer pressure is more efficient and effective than going to the leader, anonymously complaining, and having them stop what they are doing to intervene.

One good way to promote accountability is to state it explicitly using a RACI chart.

RACI chart example

Source: Forbes

A RACI chart is a table that summarizes the responsibilities stakeholders have for each task.

Let’s see what each of the letters in the acronym stands for:

ResponsibleThe person actually doing the task.

For instance, if the task is creating the login page of an app, the developer doing the coding will be the responsible person.
AccountableThe person who will review the work, ensure its quality, and be taken to task if the work is not up to par.

In development teams, this will usually be the team lead or senior manager.
ConsultedThe people lending their expertise or specialized knowledge to the task.

For example, if a team is developing a fintech app, they will consult a financial expert to ensure they’re meeting the expectations of the target audience.
InformedThese are the people who need to be kept in the loop.

Usually, this involves the project manager and senior management, as well as the client.

With the RACI chart, responsibilities are clearly laid out. Thus, team members know who should be accountable if problems arise or quality dips.

Problems are addressed on time

Transparency is a prerequisite for visibility, i.e., the ability of the team to see all the moving parts of the project.

With it, you can better spot and communicate problems to the team, thus giving those involved enough time to address them.

Visibility is critical if you want to create a stable, bug-free app without going over your budget.

According to the 1-10-100 Rule, fixing bugs is cheaper the earlier you detect them in development.

cost of prevention vs. cost of failure

Source: Inspectorio

Without transparency and visibility, you’ll find that problems keep popping up later, where they’re more expensive to fix.

To avoid this, you need to foster a culture of psychological safety.

People shouldn’t be afraid to bring up problems and mistakes—even if it’s their own.

You can achieve that by making sure that there’s no risk of being punished or shamed even when they veer off course.

When there is a lack of safety, people won’t speak up about problems even if they see them.

Worse, some might even cover their mistakes up actively until the last minute, even when raising the alarm early on would have easily solved the problem.

 It all stems from the fear of being blamed.

psychological danger vs. psychological safety

Source: Jigsaw

But it isn’t just about individual team members. Transparency regarding problems should also come from managers and senior leadership.

As John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, says, you can’t have secrets if you’re trying to build a high-trust organization where “people are all-for-one and one-for-all.”

You must share relevant issues with your team, no matter how challenging.

For instance, if market changes make the feature your team is developing obsolete, you must tell them about it regardless of whether it’s potentially frustrating.

Insisting on transparency, especially about the difficulties that may occur, isn’t always comfortable.

But if you want to have an effective, problem-solving team, it’s the biggest requirement.

Ensures effective collaboration

Effective collaboration without transparency is close to impossible. After all, how can people perform tasks properly with incomplete information?

Information silos are one of the biggest obstacles to collaboration. This refers to data visible only within their respective teams.

For instance, UI designs are only available to the UX team and not to anyone else.

This slows down collaboration. If the developer wanted to see the latest UI designs, they would need to talk with the design team first instead of just accessing it directly.

Transparency helps break these down by giving immediate access and visibility to relevant information.

One of the best ways to do this is with a knowledge base, which stores all project information in a centralized location that every member can access.

Basecamp PM tool

Source: Developer.com

Transparency isn’t just about freedom of information. It’s also about knowing what everyone else on the team is doing.

This is critical for collaboration because it allows teams to coordinate their efforts.

For example, let’s say the design team decided to change the UI mid-way and would need an additional week to work on it.

When they’re transparent about this shift, other members can adjust accordingly.

Developers can start coding a different feature first while waiting for the assets from the design team. This saves the project lots of time and money.

And nowadays, it’s easy to have this task visibility with project management tools like Asana or Jira.

Jira board

Source: Atlassian

Transparency is especially critical if you manage an in-house and outsourced team simultaneously. It allows you to handle them as if they’re under one roof.

Clients become part of the team

The best, most successful projects also tend to be the most inclusive. They tend to treat everyone—including the client—as part of the team.

A transparent team always involves the client in every decision and gets their feedback at every step.

This contrasts the usual approach of presenting only the final product to the client near the end of development.

Regularly involving clients is great because it gets them to buy into the project. Thus, they’re much more likely to approve features, speeding up development time dramatically.

There are many approaches to achieving this. One is adopting an Agile methodology.

Agile methodology

Source: Radview

The Agile method breaks up the development process into shorter sprints. At the end of every sprint, the team presents the work in progress to the client and gets their feedback.

This iterative process ensures complete transparency. The client is always on top of what’s happening with their app.

Plus, they have various chances to give their insights for a better result.

Another way to promote transparency is to update clients about the project regularly.

At DECODE, we do this by having regular catch-ups with the client via Slack or Zoom.

We’re open about the challenges and ideas we encounter during the project for the client’s peace of mind.

By doing so, DECODE functions as if they were the client’s team, not just an outsourced entity. And that, for us, is the real benefit of transparency.

The most important thing to achieve transparency

We hope you’ve realized how crucial transparency is for app development.

However, know that transparency alone won’t make your app development successful.

You must also pair it with a development team with the right work ethic, professionalism, and communication skills.

And DECODE is that team!

With dozens of successful projects under our belt, we have the right mix of skills and experience to pull off your next app.

Interested? Schedule a consultation with us today, and let’s talk!

Written by

Marko Strizic

Co-founder and CEO

Marko started DECODE with co-founders Peter and Mario, and a decade later, leads the company as CEO. His role is now almost entirely centred around business strategy, though his extensive background in software engineering makes sure he sees the future of the company from every angle. A graduate of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, he’s fascinated by the architecture of mobile apps and reactive programming, and a strong believer in life-long learning. Always ready for action. Or an impromptu skiing trip.

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