I'm the client, and I'm wondering what the best practice is for providing feedback to a 3rd party development shop that's building my company's iPhone app.

Current process:

  1. Devs provide a version of the iPhone app
  2. I review it and put my comments into a Word document that contains a running list of all prior feedback that's yet to be implemented.
  3. They receive that feedback document, address our feedback, then further build out the app so we can provide feedback on new areas of the app.
  4. Along with the next build of the app, they send me back the Word doc with comments indented below my comments, and they indicate whether my comments have been addressed/completed, can't be done, or they might ask questions or tell me it's a work in progress since the feedback could take a while to implement, etc.

So basically that's it, and this Word doc is updated (and snapshots for each version of it are saved off to an archive) after each iteration of the app. It's a running tally of all the feedback we've given thus far that still needs to be implemented. (i.e., "we don't like this color," or, "please make this larger." etc.

Wonder if there's a more efficient way or tool to keep track of all the feedback/outstanding items.

Here's sample feedback discussion that happens in the Word document:

  • Client: I shouldn’t be able to select text in any field that’s set by a picker. Examples include Xxxx Xxxx and Xxxxxxxxxxx Xxxxx fields. Field should be read-only, like a label.
    • Dev: COMPLETED - all picker fields have selectAll disabled.
      • Client comments: Tapping and holding on buttons like Xxxx Xxxx and Xxxxxxxxxxx Xxxxx still pulls up the magnification loupe. They’re buttons and the only action that can be performed on them should be a single tap. The single tap takes the user to a screen of values. Once the value is set, the button displays that value.
  • Related, but not directly answering your question... You're likely to get closer to you want by providing them a very solid, very complete specifications document. If your specs don't contain things like color, expected specific functionality of buttons, etc. You may consider going back and thinking through things at that level of detail to provide in your actual spec to the vendor. My experience has been that the more details you include, the closer they get to what you want the first time and you avoid a lot of the back and forth completely.
    – Sam Woods
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 18:49

4 Answers 4


Word documents can be helpful to share initial requirements, but get pretty messy with back and forth like that.

I'd suggest using a tool like Pivotal Tracker where you can track features, bugs and chores. It's not the best bug tracker I've used, but it's nice to have one place to go for all of your features as well, and see their state at any given time.


  • This seems to be exactly what I'm looking for. Thank you. At $18/mo for the number of people we'd need to hook into it, I think it's a massive deal when compared to the amount of time and effort spent maintaining a word doc. Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 18:28

I've had to do this in the past with vendors, and this kind of system has never really worked out all that well. Whenever possible, for a project like this, you may want to see about actually setting up some sort of requirements/project tracker (Mingle, sharepoint project template, Quality Center are ones that I have experience with, but there are plenty of free and/or open source ones as well).

This way, feedback tends to be a little more organized and granular. You don't have to refer to a previous document or email. Save everything within each item. Importantly, ensure that the company doing this also has access to application.


I'm using a Trello Board ( trello.com ) as a very lightweight way of tracking issues


If possible, go there and discuss with them face to face about the new features they are going to implement next. Ask them to demo the latest enhancements so that you can comment them. You can pass much more information when talking compared to slower feedback loop of writing comments. If visiting them regularly is not possible, try online meeting.

Conclusions of the discussions should then go to your tracking system. I agree with others that some lightweight tracking or ticket system with automatic history would probably suit you well. Do they already use some system for their internal bug tracking or bookkeeping in the iterations? Could you get access to that? That way their manual workload would be smaller and everything would be nicely in one place.

  • Yeah, not sure what they use if anything for this kind of thing. Visiting them isn't easy as they're 2 hours away and I have a day job (this is a side project I'm working on). We just recently had the idea to do GoToMeeting/WebEx desktop sharing so we could collaborate more efficiently, which I love. Face to face is always best. But we also want to document all the different moving parts--I really like the idea of metrics, which Pivotal Tracker provides, and I think I'm going to sign up for a trial and see how we fare with that tool. From what I've seen, it looks great. Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 19:47
  • 1
    Pivotal Tracker seems like good candidate for you. With metrics, just remember to be careful. What ever you measure, the team will optimize for just that. And maybe the most important metric is your gut feeling as the client.
    – Edu
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 20:31

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