August 11, 2020
When your developer stops answering the phone

You and your Executive team have finally been given the go ahead from the Board to create an app that will open up a whole new line of revenue for the business. It’s exciting! You’ve innovated and secured the budget but there’s still the ‘minor’ detail of developing an app that needs to happen. Whilst you are all astute professionals within your industry, you don’t have any app development background. You have a bit of internal developer capability but their time is already allocated to existing projects. So, you start reaching out to external contractors to work with you and develop the app on your behalf.

Fast forward a couple of months and your app is ready to launch on the market. Marketing has run successful campaigns and as you thought, your client-base is loving the technology. Everything is going along swimmingly until about 6 months later, when there is an announcement that new security protocols need to be applied to apps on the Play Store. Otherwise, apps that don’t have the security update will be pulled from the platform andAndroid users will no longer be able to install them.

It’s probably about time you contacted your contractor anyway and brought the ongoing development of the app in-house. But after about a month of attempts to make contact, you’re realising that they may never answer the phone. You pour over your contract with them and speak with a lawyer. Whilst you had contracted this developer to create an app for you, there were no allowances for ensuring you owned the source code after the work was completed. Yes, your intellectual property rights were covered but what about the ability to actually make changes to the app?

Source code is key to an app’s evolution. Without it, you are stuck with the app as it was given to you at the end of your project with the contractor. You are faced with two very bad options; you either have to start development all over again (good luck getting the Board to sign off on that!),or you keep selling the app to Apple users only, effectively removing half your potential revenue stream, and knowing that eventually the app’s features will become outdated for those users too.

This is a true story for many firms. It’s not a story about demonising the contracted developer; to be perfectly honest, they did their job as it was set out legally. It is a hard lesson learnt by many firms, however, to be diligent and ensure they truly own the app they had developed. The key to this is ensuring that whether you are having work developed by internal staff, or third-parties, that the source code is saved to a company owned and controlled repository.

REDD Digital’s Cyber Health allows for this centralised writing of source code to an app that is only accessible by yourself, or your Executive-level team. Please get in touch to learn more, we promise we’ll answer the phone, or ring you back!

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