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How to choose a contractor: outsourcing app development

Competition motivates to improve the quality of app and to reduce the development and maintenance costs. Regardless of a project, you need competent specialists to get cool results. To create an app able to be top one, one will need experienced project managers, qualified UI/UX designers and developers. Where can they be found? There are three options: create a team from scratch, hire some particular specialists, or outsource app development. Let's figure out what their differences are.

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Table of contents
    1. Inhouse-development. It means creating a team from scratch. It makes sense to assemble a team if your annual development costs will be from $110K a year, and you already have experience in managing a development team. For example, you worked as a product manager in Profi.ru, noted some weak points and bottlenecks, collected 10 million rubles for the initial start, and decided to create your own marketplace for tutors and students. Even with a basic set of features, it is quite expensive and long. 
    2. Outstaffing. Another option is to outstaff some specialists. To perform outstaff-based activities, you need to have powerful technical expertise, and clearly understand what you need. This format may work out well when you already have your own team and need to complete tasks while searching for an inhouse-developer. 
    3. Outsourcing. An effective way to get a quality product without unnecessary snags is to outsource app development. You can delegate this task to an experienced external contractor, while you get occupied with marketing, sales, and communication with investors. 

    If you want to survey in detail the way outsourcing differs from outstaff and which is better: in-house development or outsource app development — check this article out. 

    The choice always depends on a specific project. But, if you need a quick start, upon lack of technical expertise, and limited budget, then outsourcing app creation will be the most profitable solution. This is a flexible way of cooperation: you can outsource development of some features or of the whole project. Custom app development allows one to get a functioning product quickly, and hire developers yourself. The main thing when dealing with outsourcers is to find a worthy one. In this article, we are going to tell you how to do that.

    What shall be done before finding an outsourced team?   

    To get the desired result, you do not only need to understand clearly what you want, but also to explain it to a project manager. Therefore, before starting your search for an outsourcing company, you should set tasks and goals for the project.

    It’s not necessary to have a clear SRS (Software Requirements Specification). The most important thing is to have a clear vision of the app idea and business logic before contacting a contractor.

    Answer the following questions:

    • What is your target audience? Who do you want to make an app for? 
    • What ‘pains’ does your app help to resolve?
    • Who are your competitors and how do you differ from them? 

    Let’s take an example. A client wants to order the development of a mobile fitness app. Its target audience is women from Russia, 25 to 45 y.o. User’s pains: dissatisfaction with one’s body; unawareness of healthy diet basics and training principles. Competitors: Fitability, Next, and Summer Fit. A distinctive feature is compatibility with any fitness watch, everyday motivation set as notifications, and a unique bonus system.    

    It will be a big plus if you roughly understand at least the stages of outsourcing app creation. This will provide some understanding of the phases at which inclusion into the process is required. Don’t worry if you do not have enough knowledge. In the future, you will discuss all nuances with the project manager (PM). Almost any web studio offers PM services to provide communication with customers and coordinate projects. The main task of the PM is to understand what a client wants and communicate it to the team. PMs also control the development process, deadlines, budget, and results acceptance as well.

    In Purrweb, communication with the client also goes through PM. At the design stage, you will have phone or messenger calls twice a week, at the development stage — once every 2 weeks. You will receive daily reports throughout the whole project: what was done yesterday; what will be done today. Such an approach guarantees transparency within all stages of custom app development

    Three pillars of choosing an outsourcer 

    The number of players in a cross platform app development market is constantly growing. Only in the Russian market there are 610 purely mobile development companies. But in fact, the number of those who offer outsourced app creation is much bigger. And where is the guarantee that all of them are able to make it all qualitatively? If you do not want to be disappointed, choose an outsourcer carefully. There are 3 questions that may help you with the choice.

    1. How does the outsourcer position itself in the market? 

    As you have already understood, there are many outsourcers and they are all different. Therefore, at the initial stage it is necessary to research the general info about the company. Find out as much information about the outsourcer as possible to form your own unbiased opinion. Just try to seek reviews about their works, check out their portfolio, ask for how long they’ve been on the market, and how many people are on its staff. All these factors are necessary to make sure the outsourcer may accomplish the tasks you need. And perhaps the most important factor is the category of clients that an outsourcer cooperates with. All companies may be divided into three generalized categories:

    • Reputable companies. More than 10 years. They have a good reputation and occupy first lines in the ratings. They are the ones who developed famous apps. Multinational companies are also among their clients. You see, such companies are usually not interested in small and short-term projects, so we would advise you to contact them if your task is long and large-scale, and requires significant resources. 
    • Large and medium-sized companies. 5-10 years on the market. Well-known clients flash among the clients, but there are also smaller projects. Such companies make up the bulk of the market. Most clients prefer such companies for outsourcing app creation, as they have enough expertise and offer acceptable prices. 
    • Small companies. Less than 5 years on the market. They take on almost all the projects coming to them because they need to collect a portfolio and develop expertise. Many clients are wrong to treat them with prejudice — a young company may have skilled employees as well.

    What is the way to choose an outsourcer at this stage? Well, proceed from your project capabilities and needs. You may evaluate the amount of money you are ready to invest, and how functional and complex this product shall be. So you will filter out most of the options, and select the most suitable partner based on the following criteria.

    2. What does an outsourcer implement: a template solution or an app from scratch?

    When you are dealing with custom app development, an outsourcer can offer a template solution or outsourced app creation from scratch. Let’s figure out what the difference is.

    🔌 Template solution. A template app is one assembled from ready-made modules. This option is suitable for small businesses like online stores, food delivery services, and beauty salons. In these cases, there is no need to order development from scratch, it is much easier to take ready-made templates and fit them into the project. Usually, young companies adapt template solutions to the clients’ needs. It costs from $2K (per platform) and takes from 20 working days. No-code platforms also allow you to create template apps without any development skills. At first glance, it seems to be cool, one may save money and make an app as fast as possible. But in fact, for the product to remain “alive”, improvements will be required and, most likely, you will have to hire an in-house developer. For more details, you can check out our article about no-code platforms.

    ⚙️ App From Scratch. They are created for non-standard and complex tasks when you need a custom design, and it is impossible to apply a template. Right, this option is suitable for companies willing to implement a new business model or to automate business processes, as well as for other atypical projects. If you want to make an app from zero level, then be ready to pay at least $30K, and then wait for the result for around 3 months. The main advantage is that you will get an app fully adapted to your needs, having its individual design and functionality.

    3. How does the outsourcer align the work process?

    A whole team is working on the app, so the result depends on project management methods. The work may be transparent or opaque. There is nothing good if you gave away the task, and the developers silently coded ‘some’ app. This is an opaque approach in which everything is unclear, complicated, and sad. In this case, you are at risk, as an outsourcer may come up with non-existent problems and request additional money to clear them. To protect yourself from unnecessary expenses, choose companies with transparent work processes. You will not be deceived if you are included in such a workflow. Due to constant interaction with the outsourcing team, the client acknowledges all current processes, problems, and solutions. In this case, everything is clear and expected, and it significantly reduces risks. 

    Taking orders for cross platform app development, we build work with clients by Scrum. This is a transparent way to manage projects. It is suitable to create an MVP (minimally viable product). The whole project scope is divided into iterations or sprints. So the client sees a part of functionality finished every 2 weeks, bringing adjustments at any development stage to make a high-quality app within the shortest possible term.

    To demonstrate how transparent Scrum methodology is, let’s look at one of our cases. The Mamado team turned to us for assistance in launching an app for parents. It wasn’t fully outsourced app creation: we did not have to develop it from scratch. The task was just to reconstruct a flopped app and to implement project management.

    Outsource app development. Mamado case study

    Before that, the team did not have a PM, they did not plan anything, so they did not understand their real tasks and scope of activities. Most likely, this was the reason why they failed to bring the product to its working state within a year. When the PM got into the team, they realized where they should move and how. In parallel, we implemented sprints, coded, fixed bugs, and were engaged in training. We implemented daily meetings into the team’s routine and the tasks started to get solved faster. So, the app was launched successfully in 2.5 months. For more info about the project, check out our case.

     7 signs of an outsourcing team that suits you

    Now that you’ve got the outsourcers sorted by the general criteria, it’s time to have a closer look at them. It will protect you from unscrupulous contractors and will prevent you from wasting your money. So, here is a list of things to pay attention to when choosing outsource app development companies.

    Real reviews 

    Reviews are an important component of reputation regarding any company. Look for clients’ opinions about the outsourcer. It is good if you can track those who left a review. This makes it possible to contact a person and to ask for outsource app development details. Text reviews are easy to fake: one wants to spoil competitors’ reputations and will write nasty things, and the other, on the contrary, will praise himself. It is cool if there are video replies or reference letters accompanied by a client’s seal on the company’s website. But if there is no such a comment format, then you can check Goodfirms, AppFutura, and Google Business for the clients’ feedback regarding the outsourcer. Pay attention to how the company responds to positive and negative statements concerning its activities. If the dialogue is put adequately under attempts to find a compromise, this is a good indicator then. And if the communication is aggressive, then you should harbor no illusions, the attitude will be quite the same towards you.

    Outsource app development

    Working experience with similar projects

    Check out for the relevant experience. For example, one studio has implemented many IoT projects, while the other specializes in foodtech. When choosing a studio, you really need to take into account its specific expertise. If the company has developed similar apps for other clients, this is a great plus. The team already knows all pitfalls, which means that there will be fewer bugs.

    Ratings

    Do you think that if an outsourcer is included in some authoritative rating, then this is an indicator of its professionalism? We think that it is not always so. You need to analyze everything well. Clutch rating is one of the most prominent ones. There are different companies on this list. If the budget is below $30K, it is better not to deal with the tops. Just like the lower part, too, as there is a high probability of bumping into outsourcers without expertise. It is better to focus on the middle points of the list, just there are companies with a good reputation and reasonable prices.

    Communication efficiency

    How quickly did you get feedback when you left your request on the outsourcer’s website? Such a reaction rate displays how much the company is interested in new clients and is ready to pay attention to them. If you have not been contacted within 1-2 days, and have no consultation offered yet, then you should refuse to cooperate with such a partner. It is cool if you get feedback right away. Even if it is an email sent automatically. It’s really cool if you get contacted on the same day as you submitted your request. Pay attention to communication channels used further. As a rule, Zoom or messengers are used to be in contact with a customer.

    Clarifying questions

    The more questions you are asked, the better! Some clients perceive such a performer’s inquisitiveness as some non-professional things, but this is not the case. On the contrary, the deeper the outsourcer gets into the project, the higher the chances that they’ll create a quality app and soon it will appear in the App Store or Google Play. If you are just dropped with some vague project cost, then you should be wary.

    Post-release support

    It is not enough just to develop an app, it also has to be supported. After all, it is just the beginning of the app real “life” past its release. If the company offers such a service and does not leave the client alone with the app immediately after work is done, this is a good sign. Usually, 20-40 hours of team activities per month are reserved to support the app and fix bugs.

    Installment payment

    Some outsourcers ask to pay the entire amount for outsourcing app development at once. Much better not to do that. No matter how much you trust the contractor, the risk is not worth it: you may be a victim of fraudsters and lose money. The maximum you can agree to is to make an advance payment for a part of the work planned. This is a normal practice in the field of custom app development.

    It is better to spend time immediately to perform company analysis according to these criteria than to suffer in the future from the lack of professionalism of an outsourcer. If you want to make an app that will generate some income, then you will have to dive into the IT sphere and understand at least a little bit about the basics of how this market works. Cost of services and payment type play an important role in choosing an outsourcer.

    3 ways of cooperation with outsourcing companies

    The cost of outsourcing app creation depends on five factors: team location, company reputation, developers’ qualifications, project complexity, and deadlines. There are three formats of cooperation with outsourcers: 

    Fixed-price

    You pay a certain amount based on the quote set by a web studio. It is convenient because you understand initially how much it will cost to outsource app creation and get the product. But there is also a risk of getting a low-quality product. This type is suitable when a project is small, there is a clear understanding of the result, and you are very limited in budget. At the beginning of negotiations, it is important to announce the amount you are willing to pay. This will help your outsourcer to evaluate real options for MVP creating without risks. And do not be fooled by the low price. If one company offers to pay severalfold less in comparison to another with the same position, we mean outsource app development market, then this is clearly a reason for getting suspicious.    

    Time&Materials

    A more common way of working in IT. A client pays for time spent on the task, everything is transparent and understandable. However, you will not be able to find out the exact costs of the app. It will depend on changes in app functionality during its design and development, as well as regarding typical solutions used. This approach is more flexible and is focused on results and quality, and not on how to meet the deadline sacrificing the quality. 

    Retainer

    A client determines the budget and reserves a certain number of team hours for working on the project. This means that it is kind of a subscription fee tariff. If the team spent less time for the project in one month, then hours not used are transferred to the next one. And vice versa, if it takes much time, the outsourcer issues an additional invoice. This type is suitable within the post-release stage when you need to support the project. In this case, there are always tasks available, but their flow is unstable. 

    The bottom line 

    When choosing a contractor, be vigilant, communicate as much as possible and trust facts only. Just do not forget that an app’s success depends on you as well. Contact an outsourcer with a ready-made idea and participate in its implementation actively.  

    When you already know your target audience; understand what pains your app will resolve; have tuned out from competitors; have surveyed web studios ratings — it’s time to choose an outsourcer who will make an outsourced app for you.  

    Purrweb has been in the mobile app development market for 7 years. There are already 250 projects in our portfolio. We create an MVP in 3-4 months with a focus on competent and catchy UI/UX design. If you want us to evaluate your project, just leave your details in the form below, and we will contact you within 24 hours. That is so easy!

    Editor
    • Anton Kiryukhin
    Designer
    • Tatiana Kiseleva
    With 250 startups under our belt, we’re happy to share the takeaways. Get our MVP launch checklist in your email.