We live in a world where we can get anything on demand. Want to order takeout? Done. Looking for someone to fix your plumbing or paint your house? It's as easy as logging onto the internet and making one phone call.
But when it comes to developing an app, many business owners are hesitant about outsourcing their projects because they don't know where to start or how much it will cost them in the end.
This post unveils the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing. We’ll show you what to keep in mind while navigating outsourced development to minimize risk and maximize value.
What Does Outsourcing Mean?
Outsourcing means bringing services from an outside vendor into one’s own organization. It is a great way for small businesses without much experience in IT to get their hands dirty with technology with the help of someone who knows how to take care of the technical stuff.
However, outsourcing development also means hiring on-demand developers who do pure development work while your in-house team focuses on more creative product-related tasks. For example, your in-house team can be heavily invested in creating and testing hypotheses while the outsourced team will be implementing features.
In other words, when you outsource mobile app development for your company, you bring someone else in who specializes in developing apps. According to Statista, software application development is the most outsourced IT function worldwide.
What Are the Benefits of Outsourcing?
Outsourcing development is a great way to get more work done, without the added pressure of hiring someone new and managing them. It's also an excellent alternative if you're just starting out and don't have enough cash flow for a full-time in-house team of developers. Take a look at other benefits of outsourcing mobile app development.
For one, there are a number of cost-saving benefits that come with hiring an outsourced company for your IT needs. Outsourcing software development is less expensive than hiring several team members, such as designers, iOS and Android developers, business developers, UI/UX experts, or any other related positions. Outsourcing allows you to take advantage of someone else's expertise while saving money on overhead expenses like equipment and software costs.
When you're running a business, time is your most valuable asset. IT outsourcing can save you time and energy by reducing the resources spent on finding the right software developer. You can put this extra energy into your company's core business functions, e.g., improving customer relations or creating new features that will enhance customer experience.
High quality of full-cycle services
You can rely on experts to guide you through the whole process of mobile app development — from ideation and conceptualization of your app, all the way up until deployment and updates. To get a development team that you can trust, look at reviews and testimonials, preferably from unaffiliated websites or services. Choose a company that specializes in your industry to guarantee a high quality of deliverables and a high level of expertise.
Access to experts
Hiring an outsourcing company can also help you increase productivity by giving you access to top talent and expert skill sets. Outsourcing software development — or parts of development — to senior professionals will help you fill talent gaps and get necessary insight wherever and whenever you need it.
Flexibility in team management
Instead of having to manage a development team by yourself, outsourcing companies hire a project manager. That person is responsible for managing the entire project. Your sole job is to focus on the vision. However, when you hire experts with years of mobile development work behind their belts, you can also count on their expertise and consult if your app specification is realistic and viable in your business context.
Ideal balance between skills and rates
Outsourcing gives you a perfect balance between skills and rates. You’re able to find exactly what you’re looking for in a flexible contract within a reasonable price range.
Picking a mobile development partner is one of the most important decisions in the life-cycle of your application. The right partner will help you realize your idea’s potential. But the process of choosing a mobile development agency can be cumbersome and downright daunting.
How can you effectively look for a vendor and how to use the most common channels to evaluate an app development agency? Let’s dig in.
General Advice on Choosing a Mobile App Development Company
Before we delve deeper into the gist of the matter, let’s list some of the general advice you should keep in mind when looking for a mobile app development partner.
Take your time
Don’t rush into a partnership. Evaluate any potential contractor carefully, taking into consideration their experience with your app idea.
Ensure your app idea is safe
When discussing potential cooperation with a supplier, ask for a non-disclosure agreement to keep your idea and concept confidential.
Look for software agencies with previous experience that matches your project, industry, or sector
If there were any challenges or issues that came up during the creation of a similar project, it’s likely the company knows how to solve them. Industry-specific experience decreases development time and increases the final quality of your product.
Double-check the location of a mobile app development agency
Companies listing their location as, for example, US-based, can in fact be located elsewhere. You can easily confirm the location by checking the company’s LinkedIn profile as well as the profiles of its employees.
How to Find a Mobile App Development Agency
#1. Determine the Scope of Work You Need
The choice for a mobile development partner will largely depend on what you need exactly to breathe life into your application. That said, you might be in one of these five scenarios:
Design & development
Full-cycle development includes work on all stages of app creation. From strategy to design and development to post-release support, full-cycle development is best done by experienced mobile app dev agencies that can provide expert insight and advice on the whole process of app creation.
Maybe you have an underperforming app that delivers poor experiences to your customers. Or maybe the working version of your app, e.g., an MVP, needs improvement or complete design overhaul to deliver value to your customers. In that case, hire an agency that has documented examples of past work where their focus was strictly on UX/UI design. Also, make sure they have experienced UX/UI designers aboard.
Note: UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) are two separate things. Always look for companies that provide both. UX designers are a real thing and their work greatly impacts the success of your application. Bad user experience will quickly lead to app abandonment.
With designs and wireframes at the ready, you’ll need solid development work to launch your app. Here, you can look for agencies that do development work solely (e.g., offshoring partners).
That said, consider hiring an experienced agency that delivers more than just development services. The problem with development-only providers is that they might not have the business skills necessary to translate your vision into a digital product that sells.
Mobile app development companies with full-cycle services can help you release a product that resonates with your target audiences. For example, by evaluating your idea, an end-to-end mobile app development agency can tell you which features are key to release a product that doesn’t flop on the market.
Also, communication and project engagement play a huge part in building an app. Keep that in mind when talking about potential cooperation with overseas companies.
Design & Development
When you know where you’re at with the specifics of your app — meaning you have a strategy and documentation — look for a mobile app development agency with professional UX/UI and development services.
Try not to hire separate providers for design and development. Collaboration and communication between the two ensure that the most optimum implementation paths are taken. For example, that you don’t pay for designs that cost too much or aren't feasible to be developed.
What about needing the expertise of someone to develop a specific function or part of your mobile app? For example, including VR/AR features in your application will require a partner that has extensive knowledge in the field to deliver seamless experiences.
You can consider staff augmentation to supply your app development team with external expertise. Mobile development agencies specializing in staff augmentation have experience blending with existing team members to provide valuable knowledge and insight.
#2. Use Ranking Websites
It’s no news that today's market of mobile application development agencies is saturated. There are thousands of potential mobile development contractors that could—or couldn’t—turn your idea into a full-fledged app that will give your business a boost.
Thus, it might seem tricky to go through such a densely populated landscape and emerge with a shortlist of potential partners. To the rescue in this case come ranking websites that aggregate and rank mobile development companies.
The most popular ranking websites are:
Let’s see what to look at when navigating these ranking websites.
Clutch is a business directory specializing in B2B reviews for various industries. Clutch is by far the most popular ranking website with reliable agency reviews.
What to watch out for:
When you are redirected to a Clutch listing, you automatically see a “Sponsored” list—meaning the companies paid for high visibility. Don’t let that put you off, however, since these companies are still vetted by Clutch. Besides, if they can afford sponsorship, they do their job well and diligently.
Still, try to sort the list by organic verification of services—i.e., by “Clutch Rank.”
Why is Clutch Rank important? Well, Clutch Rank is assigned based on client reviews (number and quality), experience, the scope of services, and industry expertise (certificates, awards, etc.). In other words, it’s an objective measure of a company’s services.
Another thing to keep in mind is to check the service focus of a mobile app development agency you’re browsing.
Service focus will help you determine whether the company’s services are oriented mainly at what you need. This is especially useful if you have an idea for an app that is unconventional and requires extensive industry experience as well as design, development, and strategy skills to be successfully launched into the market.
Clutch also gives you information on minimum project size, average hourly rate, number of employees, and location. On top of that, you get the agency’s description as well as detailed information that can help you verify a company’s credibility.
AppFutura ranks service providers based on a mix of verified client reviews, active expertise-sharing, reliability, and project performance.
Client reviews are confirmed via interviews. Companies listed on AppFutura are certified by the website’s staff and have the infrastructure and experience to deliver their advertised services.
What to watch out for:
Just like Clutch, AppFutura sorts companies with “Featured” agencies populating the top.
Whether you sort the agencies by “Popularity” or “Ranking,” the list somehow always begins with “Featured” companies. Again, something to keep in mind when looking for an app development agency.
Business of Apps
Business of Apps goes beyond being only a ranking website and is a leading publisher of news, insights, and analyses in the world of business apps.
Companies interested in the app industry app can look up valuable statistics, with detailed revenue and usage from many major players out there. Business of Apps also releases a regular podcast where industry experts share their insight on the current matters affecting the global mobile app market.
The company runs a fair share of industry-focused events, where participants from all over the world can attend conferences full of detailed knowledge on mobile apps.
What to watch out for:
Business of Apps’ list of top app development companies also starts with “Featured” companies.
The Manifest (a sister website of Clutch) is another listing directory. The Manifest, however, focuses more on delivering analyses and insight on current matters revolving around business. The site also publishes practical how-to guides on marketing, business, productivity.
What to watch out for:
The top app developer list on The Manifest is sorted by sponsored companies, meaning the top is populated by the companies that paid for visibility. There’s no option to change the sorting, so keep that in mind when browsing.
Tip: Scroll down the list to see companies sorted by organic ranking.
Visual Objects (another sister website of Clutch) is focused on featuring the design portfolios of listed companies. Visual Objects, just like The Manifest, aggregates companies listed on Clutch.
What to watch out for:
It’s not clear how Visual Objects sorts the listed companies, but the ranking is similar to Clutch’s list when sorted by “Clutch Rank.”
#3. Dig into Reviews
Reviews, especially those verified ones available on Facebook or reputable ranking websites, are a great source of information on a potential contractor. Reviews will let you in on any possible issues (untimely delivery, dishonest charging practices, difficult communication, etc.).
You can also reach out directly to the company owners who have worked with a contractor you’re interested in to get first-hand information on matters specifically important for your project.
That’s particularly helpful when the company has hired the agency for a similar project to yours.
Google Play and App Store
Reading a client review of a mobile development agency is one way of gauging the quality of their services. Another important thing is to browse through reviews left directly on app markets by users.
User reviews can shed valuable light on bugs and usability. Do a thorough read of app market reviews to pick out recurring issues or ascertain that your future contractor provides quality services.
Tip: Don’t get too discouraged by negative reviews. Users are more likely to leave a review after a bad experience than a good one. Cross-check the reviews with the number of active users to get a more accurate picture.
Companies need unparalleled flexibility to consistently deliver quality solutions. Rapid market changes often demand specialized skill sets and quick product releases.
For many organizations, hiring in-house developers to address these is not always a viable option as recruitment can be time-consuming and costly. Staff augmentation helps companies retain full control over how stuff is done while giving them a much-needed boost in capacity and expertise.
What Is Staff Augmentation?
Team or staff augmentation is the short-term hiring of third-party workforce with the aim to improve company business processes and operations.
Why Companies Need Staff Augmentation?
Companies can look to staff augmentation for a variety of reasons.
Case #1. Increase Output and Meet Deadlines
You have a project you need to complete quickly but lack developers to do it in time. Finding the necessary talent and the hiring process itself would take too long. In that case, augmenting your development team with additional professionals can help you meet deadlines and decrease time-to-market (TTM).
Case #2. Get Special Skills for Short-Term
Some intricate parts of your project require expert insight and skills that your in-house team doesn’t have. It’s not viable to hire in-house specialists because of the short-term character of the project need. Augmenting your team with highly skilled engineers can help you overcome the skill gap.
Case #3. Acquire Skill Flexibility
Your company has multiple projects going on, some of which require different areas of expertise. Because the demand for those skills fluctuates, you need to be able to address it dynamically, as per project requirement. Staff augmentation lets you add experienced developers without worrying about additional time spent on in-house hires and administrative matters.
Case #4. Add Talent during Business Relocation, Transformation, or When Establishing New Branch
Your company is expanding and you’re building a team in a new business model or new location. Staff augmentation ensures the work goes forward and your capacity is uninterrupted while you take your time to complete the team.
Case #5. Free Resources to Work on Core Functionalities
You have an evolving project where adding new, innovative features is of crucial, but you don’t have enough developers to take care of the coding overhead. The augmented team covers the workload while the internal team can work on developing new functionalities.