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A client has requested a fast turnaround on a public iOS app. We know we can manage it with the resources available, but distributing via the Apple App Store is an unknown to us.

I understand that Apple can be fairly opaque regarding their review times and their rejection policies, and my concern is that this will be the bottleneck in hitting the client's deadline.

How can we manage the client's expectations regarding the date the app goes live?

In the event that the app gets rejected, how should we handle the situation and the resulting delay?

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migrated from programmers.stackexchange.com Mar 27 at 12:08

This question came from our site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development.

4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Add an agreement to your contract with the client that the deadline of the contract is met, when you submit the app to the App Store.

I assume (I have no experience with Apple's review process) that you get a reason why your app was rejected. If the reason is a client requirement, you shouldn't be responsible. If it was your design decision, you should be responsible.

I'm aware that some clients may not accept such clauses in the contract initially, but that's the whole point of contract negotiations ;-).

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When I worked in an agency that developed mobile apps, this was the approach we took. We made a commitment to have the app developed, tested, signed off by the client, and submitted to the app store by a certain date. Never to have it available on the store to customers by a certain date. –  Carson63000 Mar 27 at 23:25

As Simon has stated, a contractual clause outlining that

  • The reviews process is out of your control;
  • the agreed deadline doesn't include the review process;
  • you will adhere to deadline agreed with regards to your own obligations.

That is obviously a legal matter, as it's contractual - but something like the last point is a fairly good thing to include regardless of the review process. I would suggest it helps cover your back somewhat with regards to the client not keeping up their own obligations (asset delivery and so on) on the project as a whole.

I would also suggest that you have some form of documentation to provide to clients that is clear, simple and concise - which outlines the process as a whole. Apple's own literature isn't the most client friendly, and is bound to be a cause of confusion if not explained properly.

Ideally guidelines should be examined as part of a feasibility study, with the client seeing the findings. If you can outline any concerns here, and have the client sign a document saying that they understand this document and any concerns outlined in it - you should be OK.

I have worked with/seen unscrupulous individuals get contracts for the development of iOS apps which were never going to be approved - being based around an adult content delivery network. This was clearly a situation where a feasibility document should've been developed and given to the client with a full explanation.

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1 - Be honest

Be clear with the customer on what the unknown is. Gather what information you can find:

  • any documentation on the process and timelines
  • any information based on experience with some level of confidence in the source (for example, having done it before within the company is better than an answer in a forum, but an upvoted answer in a StackExchange is probably better then a single voice randomly whining in a blog...)

2 - If possible, change the scope of the work

In many cases, a company will give a customer everything they need to get to the step that is beyond the company's control. For example, my accountant may give me my tax forms, an envelope addressed to the IRS, and the correct paid postage. All I have to do is my part (verify and sign and provide the check) and then I can send in my taxes. And then I can work with the unresponsive big agency (the IRS) myself.

(granted, this is an obsolete example with electronic filing being so reliable)

Rewrite your contracts to give them everything they need, just they way they need it, and let your customer submit for themselves.

3 - Promise exactly your behavior in light of the chaotic factor.

In this instance, it may be: - deadline by which the request will be made to Apple - SLA for response in light of any responses from the Apple registration process - for example, turnaround time on any questions or bug fixes. - expectations of completion of contract regardless of outcome - you can't promise that the third party will do what you want, so what does "completed" mean - is the contract complete after the first accept or reject from Apple? Will you cover the cost of 3 attempts? Is there an additional fee after that? Don't assume success.

4 - Realize that how you mitigate the risk is a factor of your business plan

Different companies will address this differently. Some may develop a core expertise and promise absolute success, because they know that they can achieve it based on their prior experience. But if it's new, you're not likely to be a position where you can promise perfection. Figure out how much time, effort and money you are willing to risk as a company vs. how much risk you expect that the customer will accept.

Customers will shop based on their own decision making process. One customer may make high-risk/low-cost choices, while another holds out for high-cost/low-risk options. A valid way to price the option is to make it a "no worry" process for the customer, but at a phenomenal rate. This really is only viable if you have the knowledge and the talent, since being a high-end, hassle free service also means that you provide consistently awesome communication and general excellence in all parts of the relationship.

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You can "guarantee" turnaround time right up to the point where you deliver the app to the Apple store. Beyond that, it's up to Apple.

You should set the client's expectation regarding the turnaround time from the Apple store: your client is or should be aware when he asked for the fast turnaround that every single IOS developer is in the same situation in terms of dealing with the Apple store - I am assuming here that the Apple store operates on a first-come first-serve basis, and you might want to double check my assumption. Setting the client's expectation wrt the Apple store is in a sense the easy part if everyone has to go through it and there is no shortcut and no way to work around having to do it.

If you have experience getting IOS approved through the Apple store, make sure to mention it to the client - It's definitely a point in your favor and it helps reduce your client's anxiety about the probability of the Apple store not approving the app, although you are not in a position to guarantee that the Apple store will approve the app on the first try.

In summary, you are setting the client's expectations by educating the client about the process. So, the better you educate the client about the process, the more confidence he has in you as a business partner and service provider. Hopefully :)

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