This page is intended to help Emory faculty, researchers, physicians, and administrators interested in implementing mobile apps in support of Emory's education, research, and healthcare missions.
Emory University and Emory Healthcare have developed over twenty-five mobile apps since 2013. The number of apps and their complexity is expected to increase given the popularity of mobile apps and trends in higher education, research, healthcare, and information technology. Emory has implemented key policies, mobile app infrastructure, foundation components, and identified consulting resources to prepare to meet the increasing demand for mobile app development.
Mobile apps are more costly to develop, test, and maintain than many think. There are many reasons for this, but the basics are:
It is not uncommon for a simple mobile app for iOS and Android to cost $50,000 to develop and $20,000 per year to maintain and operate. A complex application can easily range in hundreds of thousands to implement and maintain annually. For this reason it is imperative to get meaningful estimates for your project from the beginning. Useful estimates help in preparing budgets for grant proposals or allocating institutional funds for the project.
One of the primary challenges for mobile apps at Emory has been funding. This challenge has three dimensions: funding meaningful estimates to start, funding development and implementation, and funding on-going operations and maintenance of the app. The challenge of funding meaningful estimates is that under 15% of the projects LITS has helped estimate have been funded by either research grants or institutional resources. So in performing initial analysis and effort estimation to adequately prepare proposal budgets, the institution effectively does this work for seven projects although only one project is ever funded and implemented.
To address this challenge LITS has developed a method to reduce the effort estimation process while still producing enough artifacts to make a meaningful estimate that can be validated by other developers. For apps from low to medium complexity this process usually involves three or four 90-minute meetings with a project team and approximately twenty hours of effort between meetings for a total of about 25 hours of effort. LITS is working with preferred mobile app development firms to duplicate this type of assessment process at a reasonable cost. The market rate for 25 hours of effort for these assessment resources is roughly $4,000. LITS has been offering these assessment free of charge, but has limited capacity to provide them. LITS produces written use cases, data structures, and in some cases user interface wireframes are required for novel aspects of the app. For more details see the method of estimating cost and effort for mobile apps.
To request a mobile app cost estimate, complete the LITS request form. LITS will either work with you directly to prepare the estimate or help put you in contact with the preferred contractors best suited to help you. At the same time LITS can help you make important connections with the Office of Technology Transfer, Compliance, and Security, who are all critical partners in implementing and distributing any mobile app.
Based on our experience, mobile application development projects that are staffed with personnel who are well versed in Emory’s technical practices and security standards as well as experienced in the programming apps subject to security and compliance requirements have the highest rate of successful delivery. In these cases, teams understand how to create a secure mobile app based on Emory’s standards, have gone through the appropriate sign-offs and not been delayed because of an “unknown” requirement, and have built the mobile app using quality coding practices and techniques.
As demand for mobile apps increased beyond the ability of LITS to assist with every project, Emory has identified, vetted, and on-boarded several mobile app development consulting firms with the following attributes:
The current market rate for resources from firms that meet these criteria is between $110/hr and $175/hr and Emory has negotiated advantageous rates with two firms and is evaluating several more. Current program participants are:
To engage the services of these companies, please complete the request for a mobile app cost estimate. Not all participating vendors are ideal for every project. Each has their own specialization, strengths, and weaknesses. IT Architecture can help with quick triage analysis of your project to help match your project to the best vendor. All of Emory's preferred vendors have a track record of success on Emory projects that match the vendor's strengths.
Three models for ongoing operational support and maintenance of apps have emerged at Emory.
Planning and budgeting for operational support and on-going maintenance of the app is a critical part of estimation and implementation process. LITS and EHC IT operational support and maintenance resources are limited and presently focused on apps with specific compliance requirements or enterprise-wide scope. For other apps it will be necessary for an app owner to contract for operational support and maintenance or otherwise staff themselves to provide it.