64% of IT leaders outsource development, and 37% of companies expect to increase their mobile app outsourcing capabilities over the coming years. For businesses leaders, entrepreneurs, and bootstrapped startups, mobile app outsourcing can cut costs, increase efficiencies, and create competitive advantages that drive profitability.
But where do you start?
If your business is looking to leverage the incredible flexibility and cost-savings of outsourced mobile app development, you’re in the right place. Here’s what you need to know to make sure your next outsourced app project is successful.
Why Outsource Your Mobile App Development?
The mobile app market is booming. With the average American checking their phone every 12 minutes and 90% of that time spent in mobile apps, tapping into the rich consumer app market is appealing to savvy entrepreneurs. By 2022, consumers will download over 250 billion apps, creating a +$150 billion industry on app stores alone. In fact, the average iPhone user spends $88 on apps and in-app purchases over the course of a year.
On the business side, internal apps can help promote remote work capabilities and connect employees with rich resources and communication tools.
There are obvious reasons that businesses want to develop apps. They either want to tap into the consumer market to create profit streams and generate loyalty, or they’re looking to leverage internal apps to improve engagement levels and connect users across geographic locations.
But why outsource apps instead of developing them in-house?
In general, there are four reasons:
- Outsourcing is cheaper
- Outsourcing gives you scale
- Outsourcing is high flexibility
- Outsourcing provides critical on-demand talent
Since app development companies will be focused solely on apps, they bring skilled development talent to the table. You can instantly scale that talent without having to spend heavily on on-boarding and recruitment, and you get the added flexibility of having a large team of diverse app-focused talent at your fingertips.
In other words, outsourcing allows you to instantly tap into talent without having to scout out new talent every time you run into a roadblock. Outsourced app development companies harbor a pool of diverse app-focused talent ready to tackle all of those complex app issues. This is especially important in today’s talent-strapped development ecosystem. According to SHRM, 83% of HR professionals are finding it difficult to onboard and identify skilled talent. That number quickly rises when we’re talking about highly-skilled developers.
To put the power of on-demand talent into perspective, the average app developer’s salary is around $70,000. But that’s just the start. You have to find that prospect in a crowded talent marketplace (83% of HR reps say finding skilled talent is difficult in today’s landscape.) That can take months. If you use a headhunting firm, expect to pay around 20% of that employee’s annual salary. On-boarding and training the employee will cost you over $4,000. And it will take up to two years for that employee to become productive — during which time you’ll lose an average of 2% of your total business revenue.
Now. Imagine having to hire a new app developer every time you run into a new issue that requires a different skillset. For example, you may have an iOS app developer who is fluent in Objective-C and Swift. But what happens when you need to create an Android version of that app? You’ll need a developer who understands Java and Kotlin. Then, what happens when you need an app developer who understands Apache Cordova, React Native, Google Flutter… the list goes on.
Outsourcing is cheaper, faster, and more flexible — with nearly limitless scale. But where do you start? Here are some tips to help you begin that next outsourced app development project on the right foot.
4 Tips to Help You Outsource Mobile App Development Smarter
Let’s look at five simple steps that your business should take when looking for and utilizing an outsourced app development partner.
1. Pick the Right App Development Partner
This sounds obvious, right? Of course, you want to find the right partner. But there are thousands of app development companies on the market. And they will all give you their spiel about how they’re the best-of-the-best.
There are four primary types of outsourced app development companies:
- Onshore: These are app development companies that are based in the United States. The benefits here are obvious. They provide a clear, consistent line of communication. They’re fluent in English and capable of communicating complex goals and KPIs. And they’re a physical face that you can connect with. In general, onshore app development companies cost a little more. But, the benefit of having easy and open communication may facilitate speedier deliveries — which may end up costing you less in the long run.
- Nearshore: These are app development companies located in countries nearby. For US companies, nearshore developers are usually in Mexico and Canada. The costs vary wildly for these types of businesses, depending upon where they’re located.
- Offshore: These are app development companies that are located overseas. They are generally cheaper, but time zone differences and communication frictions can add an extra layer of pain points if you’re not prepared.
- Hybrid: These are app development companies that leverage both a local and offshore workforce. This is the more balanced solution. Companies can still rely on local service, but they get the cost savings since the bulk of the actionable work is performed offshore.
Once you figure out which delivery model you’re most comfortable with, you should start looking into each development companies skillset.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- Can they develop both iOS and Android apps?
- Do they work with wearables (e.g., Apple Watch, Fitbits, etc.)
- Can they create responsive web apps?
- Can they write API?
- Can they integrate with your current or third-party solutions?
- Can they leverage or deploy to the cloud?
- Will they help in submissions to the App Store and Play Store?
- Do they help in app development strategy?
- Do they help in growth strategy?
- Can they create plugins?
- Do they offer cross-platform hybrid mobile app development
You should also make sure that the app developer you hire can create the right types of apps for your needs. For example, a social networking app requires a completely different skill set than a fintech app. Check their past work to see if they have the capabilities to create apps that are similar to the app you’re planning on creating.
2. Come to the Table With a Game Plan
Don’t hire an outsourced development company without a game plan. You need a detailed outline of your app, and you should have some type of internal benchmark to measure success. This doesn’t have to be super-detailed. In general, as long as you have an idea, a goal, and a desired result, you should be able to move forward with your project.
A good tip here is to come to the table with brand information. Creating an app that’s highly branded is the key to winning the app wars. Walker research shows that brand is more valuable than price or product, and color alone improves brand recognition by up to 80%. You want your app to resonate with your brand.
3. Discuss Scope and Identify Hidden Costs
The outsourcing world is filled with different payment models. Some companies charge flat fees, some charge subscription fees, and others charge based on scope. The first thing you need to do when trying to uncover costs is to define your scope. You need to understand what you need to make your project work, and you should certainly communicate with the outsourced development company to discover just how much work your app will take.
Next, try to dig up hidden costs. You may get charged more if you want apps across both platforms. You may have to pay more for certain app functions. And some outsourced companies may tack on hidden costs to boost their bottom line. Communicate pricing structures early and often.
4. Ask for a Project and Product Manager
It’s crucial that you have access to a product manager. Some app development companies don’t provide product managers to help oversee products. But, unless you are knowledgeable in product development and taking care of that role yourself, you need this role fulfilled for the success of any software product work. Having a reliable, highly-trained product manager with experience in a different type of software products will give you the deep insights you need to make strategic product decisions and push products to market faster.
Chances are, In addition to Product Manager, you’ll be paired with a project manager as well. But if you’re not, you need one. You shouldn’t have to bounce around phone lines to get insights into your project’s progress. You want a single face that you can email, call, or text to get updates and communicate benchmarks. It is important to differentiate the roles of product and project managers. The product manager will help to create the right product and prioritize features, while the project manager makes ensure the on-time delivery of the product as per requirements.
This relationship should be official and on paper. Ideally, your project and product manager should deliver reports and timelines to you directly, and they should be flexible enough to intake feedback and execute that feedback in real-time. This is a huge benefit of hybrid development companies. You’ll have a direct line of communication with someone in the United States who can help you navigate the entire app development process.
In other words, you want someone who is available during local hours, and you certainly want someone that you can clearly and consistently communicate with who is nearby, but you don’t necessarily want to pay the costs associated with onshore developers.
Are You Ready to Make Your Dream App a Reality?
Finding the right outsourced mobile app development partner can be a headache. You want the cost savings, scale, and flexibility of outsourcing, but you don’t want that outsourcing to create more problems than it solves. If you’re looking for a hybrid app development company that can develop mobile apps across environments using best-in-class app development talent, you’re in the right place.
Technology Rivers is a full-service software outsourcing company that can help you develop best-of-breed mobile apps with dedicated project and product managers and a swarm of highly-skilled offshore developers. Are you ready to take the next step? Contact us to learn more.