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Not everyone will make it: how to hire remote developers — a detailed guide

To realize the idea and release the product to the market, you need to hire a development team. You can hire an internal team but it will increase the budget to launch the product. Therefore, startups often outsource product development. If you make a mistake with the team, you can fail the project and lose potential profits. What types of remote development exist and how to hire remote developers — read in the article.

Reading time: 15 minutes

hire remote developers
Table of contents

    What to do before hiring remote developers

    Before hiring remote developers, you need to set the goals and objectives of the project. You don’t have to make a detailed plan or list all the features of the product in advance. The main thing is to explain why you want to release the product and what result you expect. To do this, you need to take several important steps:

    Think over an idea. It is necessary to present the product in all its details and think through as many questions as possible. You have to understand: who will use the app, what audience problems it can solve, determine the functionality, and consider monetization. A well-thought-out concept will help you develop the right app, save money, and launch the product on the market quickly. 

    Let’s imagine that the chef Benedict decided to create an app with recipes. It will collect the user’s taste preferences, ask what products he has and issue recipes for dishes. In this case, you should not tell the outsource developer something like: “In short, I want an app that shows recipes.” The developer will not understand in which direction to move, and what exactly the client expects. Benedict should think over the details of the product. For example, answer questions about what specific preferences the app will consider: food allergies, dislike for specific products. And how will it match these preferences — replace unloved products or not offer recipes with them? Where the app will the recipes and in what form will offer them to the user.

    Define an audience. The product will make a profit only if there is a demand for it. Therefore, it is important to study potential customers in advance. A little research will help you make sure your users are interested in your app. To do this, you can create a survey on the Internet, which will collect the necessary data.

    Consider the language and geography of users. For example, if you are creating an app for food delivery only in New-York, post surveys on local forums and websites. Use popular services like Surveymonkeyhttps://www.surveymonkey.com/, Typeformhttps://www.typeform.com/examples/polls/ or Google Forms.https://www.google.com/intl/ru_ru/forms/about/

    hire remote developers

    You should place the survey among the target audience. This will help to obtain unbiased results and draw accurate conclusions. Let’s imagine that you are developing an application for Dota players. It will collect data about each game and provide various statistics. The user will be able to analyze their matches and improve the quality of the game. In this case, you can create a post on a Dota2 forum or a topic on Reddithttps://www.reddit.com/ or in the Steam community.

    Create and test MVP (Minimal Viable Product). This is a product that contains only the essential features. It helps to check whether or not the market needs your product. If the MVP is profitable, you will understand where to go next and what to do with the functionality of the product. Read more about why you need MVP and what benefits it will bring to a project.

    Set a budget. At the very beginning, it will not be possible to name the exact amount that the app will require. When creating a product, the budget can change dramatically. For example, if you increase the number of features or adjust the product concept. Therefore, when budgeting, consider additional costs.

    The agency will consider your budget if you are not ready to spend more than a certain amount. It will adjust the functionality of the product in order to fit into the monetary framework. For example, it will offer to remove or replace some functions. If you do not know how much web application development costs, we at Purrweb offer to create an MVP in 3 months and 40 thousand dollars.

    Explore the market. Look at what the major competitors are doing and what they are not doing. It’s unnecessary to conduct a full-fledged marketing research. It is enough to analyze a competing product, think about how you can improve it and offer a new solution to the problem.

    In 2010, the streaming service Spotify gained popularity and lured some iTunes users. Because of this, Apple prevented the release of the service in the United States. And startup founder Daniel Ek claimed that Steve Jobs called him and breathed nervously into the phone. Spotify came after iTunes but became the market leader because it offered better sound quality, collaborations with artists, and social integration. For example, users can create public playlists, follow friends, and share music.

    hire remote developers

    When you should hire remote developers

    A remote team will help turn an idea into a finished product. Meanwhile, the client will be able to search for investors or engage in marketing. Therefore, outsourcing is especially useful when you need to:

    hire remote developers

    Get rid of the resource hole. Imagine that a startup-owner is into web application development and wants to release it to the market in four months. The startup has two React Native developers. But they support the current project at the post-release stage and cannot deal with the new app. In order to develop a product on time and get a high-quality result, the startup owner can contact an agency.

    Get funding. Outsourcing helps to develop the first version of the product (MVP) and to release it to the market. Business angels and other investors are more willing to invest in startups when they see a finished app. Investments help develop the product, fix bugs, and add functionality.

    Solve a non-core problem. Imagine that a startup has HTML/CSS developers. But for the project, it engaged in mobile app development. In this case, outsourcing will help to transfer the task to a specialist who will create the desired application. During this time, the core team will deal with other issues. We have a similar article that explains how to deal with remote development.

    What remote developers you can hire

    If you decide to hire remote developers, then you need to choose between a freelancer and an agency. Below we analyze what is behind every option.

    Freelancers. These are individuals who perform specific work: they create design, develop frontend and backend parts of the apps. It will take more than one freelancer to launch the product on the market. Therefore, many clients prefer to hire a full-cycle development team.

    Agency. This is a team that develops a complete product. In the agency, one specialist works on one project: designer, backend and front-end developers, tester, analyst, and manager. Agencies decompose the project into parts, and thus quickly bring it from an idea to a finished product. The client is quietly engaged in managerial affairs, while the agency takes care of technical issues.

    What is the difference between freelancers and agencies

    When you have an idea and you understand in which direction you will move the project, you can think of remote development. There are two options: hire a freelancer or work with an agency. Each solution has its pros and cons. Therefore, before cooperating with one of the parties, it’s better to analyze both options.

    Freelancers. With a freelancer, the client will always be able to meet the budget and find an employee with a certain cost of services. Among freelancers, there are many beginners who are ready to work at the minimum rate. And even an experienced programmer with a good portfolio will cost less than an agency. Also, with freelancing, you do not have to spend money on management.

    There are many freelancers, so you can quickly find a specialist for a specific task. Agencies may be busy with other projects and won’t take on your product. Among freelancers, there will always be a free specialist to whom you can quickly explain the problem. An experienced freelancer verses well in their field. Therefore, the freelancer will quickly cope with a specific task, for example, make a landing page or set up a server. But an agency will always create a full-fledged app faster. Because an individual specialist deals with each side of the project.

    To get the desired result and not lose money, you should always check the portfolio of freelancers. Also, if you do not have knowledge in programming, it will be hard to evaluate the skills of a specialist. In this case, you will either have to trust the reviews and portfolio, or contact an agency.

    Agency. Development agency’s services are more expensive. But they keep track of their reputation by meeting deadlines and creating a quality product. Unlike freelancers, agencies do more than just develop. They take over management and replace specialists in the team if necessary. Agency programmers will not disappear.

    Agencies will select the programmers who have the required expertise and will develop a product with the functionality you need. At the same time, the employees in the agency have already worked together. They will make decisions faster and move forward. You just need to explain your ideas to the team, check the results, and share your feedback.

    If the client cooperates with the agency, they cannot independently hire new employees or engage in management. Therefore, before concluding a contract, you need to acquaint yourself with the team and clarify how they usually work. It is better to communicate with several agencies. In this case, you can choose a team that will definitely suit you. It will take more time to find an agency but you will have transparent cooperation as a result. You may not worry about the app and can delve into other matters, such as marketing.

    Freelancers👩‍💻Development agency🏫
    You can choose a specialist depending on the budgetCosts more than freelancers. But they will consider the specifics of the project and select the necessary specialists
    Perform only a single taskDevelops a complete product
    Difficult to evaluate a portfolio or skills if you have no development experienceKeeps its reputation and meets deadlines. You can check customer reviews
    You need to contact the freelancer regularly and check the resultsMonitor the development process

    Contracts with remote developers

    There are three main formats of contracting outsource developers:

    Fixed Price. In this case, the agency estimates the project and asks to pay a specific amount. This allows the client to understand how much the web or mobile app development will cost. Better voice your price at the beginning of negotiations. This will help the outsource team analyze the options and risks of remote development. Do not search for the lowest price on the market. If one company is ready to do the same work several times cheaper, this is a red flag. Beginners or scammers can make such offers.

    Usually, with a fixed price contract, agencies compensate for potential risks and increase the app development cost by up to 30%. Also, in order not to break out of the budget, the client will be limited in iterations and edits, and the agency will not change the product at each stage of development.

    Time & Materials. This is one of the most popular types of contracts in the IT industry. In this case, the mobile app development price depends on the time the company spent to create it. One cannot set the exact price of development in advance. At Purrweb, we run our estimation in two steps to ensure it’s accurate. You can find out how we built the estimation process in the article below.

    The terms of remote development depend on various factors. For example, it may increase if the customer asks to change the technical side, add functionality, change the design, or if it’s technically difficult to connect third-party services. That is, this payment option pays full attention to the product and does not sacrifice results to meet deadlines or save money.

    Retainer. The startup determines the budget and allocates a certain number of hours to the outsourcer to work on the project. It sets the budget and pays a monthly fee, which depends on the number of hours needed for the project. If in one month the team spent less time on the project and left several hours, they will be transferred to the next month. It’s better to use the retainer contract at the post-release stage. At this stage, you need to support the product. There may be many different tasks but they occur randomly.

    Let’s say a product has a small problem. A startup hires an outsource developer and gives 15 hours to solve it. The developer copes in 10 hours. There are 5 hours left and the outsource developer will work them next time. The reverse situation may also occur. The developer will spend more time on the project than the client paid for. In this case, the client issues an additional invoice.

    Better ways to find remote developers 

    If you are working on your first startup or have never outsourced development, it may not be easy to find a specialist in the market. Below are the most popular and effective ways to find remote developers.

    hire remote developers

    Freelance websites. These are special platforms where you can find outsource teams or freelancers. Usually the client does not search for specialists on his own but posts a request. It needs to explain in detail the essence of the work, set the price and deadlines. To ensure that only freelancers with a portfolio or certain skills respond to the vacancy, write down all your requirements in the request. If a freelancer is interested in your offer, they will respond to your offer.

    There are a lot of different specialists on general freelance websites. Therefore, in order to quickly hire a remote developer, it is better to post job offers on IT websites. Search freelancers for mobile app development or other IT tasks at:

    • UpWorkhttps://www.upwork.com/
    • Arc.Devhttps://arc.dev/
    • Hubstaff Talenthttps://talent.hubstaff.com/

    Ask friends or colleagues. This is an effective way to hire remote developers if you are creating your first startup and don’t know who to contact. Friends will not only suggest a good outsource option but also tell you how the cooperationwent. Even if your friend had a bad experience, you can get useful information. You will learn which teams or freelancers better not to contact.

    The main thing is that your friends should understand the IT market or have certain programming skills. For example, they themselves were programmers or already participated in a startup. Without this, it will be difficult to obtain the necessary information.

    At IT conferences and networking events. Business events are now held both online and offline. If you find out that a major conference or IT event is coming up soon, take the time to check out the attendees. Perhaps among them you’ll find interesting agencies with relevant experience. Search for valid 2022 tech conferences at:

    • Bizzabohttps://www.bizzabo.com/blog/technology-events
    • TechRepublichttps://www.techrepublic.com/article/2022-tech-conferences-and-events-to-add-to-your-calendar/
    • All Tech Conferenceshttps://www.alltechconferences.com/

    Search on the Internet. This method may take more time but the choice of remote developers will be more diverse. To narrow down your search, try specific terms, for example: “custom web app development” or “remote business app development”.

    Carefully scroll the websites of the agencies. Tag only those who have a portfolio with fresh cases. If the agency completed the last order 2 years ago, then you should be wary. Gather options and contact each agency. Explain the gist of the project and ask to evaluate its price. Usually web application development takes 2-4 months and costs from 40 000 dollars.

    How not to fail when choosing a remote developer 

    Picking the very first freelancer or a random agency can waste your budget and fail your business goals. Therefore, before signing a contract, you need to make some steps:

    Check out the portfolio. It will describe the past experience of the agency or freelancer. This way you’ll make sure that the specialist has the necessary skills and will be able to implement your project. How to hire a remote UX designer by portfolio, read our article:

    View reviews in app stores. They will help to check the opinion of ordinary people who have used products from this developer. Find out which product the agency or freelancer was involved in developing. After that, find the app in one of the stores: Play Market or Apple Store. First, you can look at the overall score. Usually a rating below 4 out of 5 already indicates some shortcomings. Read a few negative reviews, try to find similar claims in them. At the same time, remember that every app has bad reviews — the main thing is that they should not overscore positive or neutral ones.

    hire remote developersUser reviews on the Microsoft Office app page in the App Store

    Read customer reviews. Ask the agency to show their clients’ reviews or find them yourself. Other startups will not only analyze some disadvantages of the app but will tell you how the cooperation went. For example, you can find out whether the agency met the deadlines, what problems arose, how much the work cost, and what’s better to pay attention to. You can find real reviews on Clutchhttps://clutch.co/.

    Compare developers with each other. Explore as many options as possible. Even if you like a freelancer or an agency, it’s always good to have an alternative. Imagine that you have hired a remote developer, had an interview and did not like the deadline or the price that this developer offered. If you do not have another option, you risk spending extra time on web app development and releasing the product to the market later.

    Ask extra questions. Feel free to ask about anything that interests you. You are not an expert and don’t have to know all the nuances. Ask how long the job will take and how much you will need to pay. If you are going to collaborate with the agency, specify how often you will communicate with the team and how you will control the work.

    Check out rankings. If an outsource developer is listed in a respected IT rating, it is more likely to complete your project successfully. In combination with customer reviews and portfolio, the rating helps to hire remote developers and not worry about the result. 

    Which developer to choose depends on your budget. The higher the place in the ranking, the more expensive the services will cost. The first ten companies are worth looking at if your budget starts from 40 000 dollars. At the bottom, you can come across inexperienced companies that have recently appeared in the rankings. Therefore, to hire a remote developer with a good reputation and low cost, choose from the middle of the list. Search for remote developers on Clutchhttps://clutch.co/developers or The Manifesthttps://themanifest.com/#top_companies.

    Check IT and corporate blogs. They publish news, guides and ideas from the IT industry. Corporate blogs of IT companies help to keep abreast of the latest events and follow current trends in the mobile and web app development market. If the agency actively blogs and publishes a lot of materials, it understands the IT field and will be able to offer various options to solve your problem.

    Check out our blog for helpful guides and articles for startups and entrepreneurs — Purrweb

    What else should you pay attention to?

    When you choose several developers and decide who you want to cooperate with, do not rush to conclude an agreement and develop a product. Before that, discuss the details of the work with a potential developer. Use this step to make a few important points for yourself. They will help you better assess the situation, weed out some candidates, and make a more informed decision.

    Image: we can draw some kind of board on which red threads are fastened with buttons. And they connect the bullets from this subheading together.

    hire remote developers

    How quickly you received feedback. If you left a request and waited for a response for three days or more, it is better to hire another remote developer. Pay attention to companies that responded within two days. This means that in the process of working on the project you will not wait a lot and will receive answers just in time. 

    How many questions they asked. The more questions you ask, the better. Each project is different and contains certain nuances. Additional questions help the developer gather the right information, clarify expectations, and develop a quality app. Therefore, always use the opportunity to explain the essence of a startup in advance. Tell the outsourcer in detail about the product and its functionality.

    If a developer provides post-release support or not. All projects need support after the release. You will have to add functionality or fix bugs. Missing this step means people will notice constant errors. They will not use the app, and you will lose profits. At the same time, a person without programming experience will not be able to cope with this task on their own.

    Therefore, it is always good if the developer offers post-release support and does not disappear immediately after the development of the product. You will be able to launch a product on the market and not worry about technical problems. It usually takes 20-40 hours a month to maintain an app.

    Check-list

    There are two options for remote app developers: freelancers and agencies. A freelancer is a specialist who solves a specific problem. The freelancer usually has certain skills and is only well versed in his profile. An agency is a team that includes programmers, designers, and managers. It will create a ready-made product.

    Before outsourcing mobile app development, you need to complete 4 steps: think over the idea, determine the audience, set the budget, and research the market. This will help to avoid mistakes and bring a quality product to the market.

    You need to hire remote developers if you: develop a project at an early stage and want to solve a non-core problem, get funding or get rid of a resource hole. In these cases, outsourcing helps save time and move the project forward.

    Freelancers are cheaper than a agency and there are always more such specialists. But they can be difficult to test and evaluate skills. Especially if the client has no programming experience or knowledge. The agency will cost more. But the client concludes a contract with it. This helps to reduce risks and not worry about the results.

    There are three main formats of cooperation with outsourcers. Fixed price: The agency sets a specific amount. Time & material: the price depends on how much time an outsourcer spent on web app development. Retainer: the client provides a remote developer with a certain amount of hours and pays for this time.

    To hire remote developers, you can surf through freelance websites, ask friends or colleagues, attend conferences and other events for startups, or simply search for outsourcers on the Internet.

    To transfer mobile app development to a verified contractor: study the portfolio of an outsourcer, read user and client reviews, compare developers with each other, ask additional questions and check its place in authoritative software developers ratings.

    Before you hire a remote developer, check how quickly you got feedback, how many project details the developer clarified, and whether he provides post-release support.

    If you want to hire a remote developer with a large portfolio and experience, fill out the form below and we will quickly contact you. We are a full cycle team. We analyze the market, do UI/UX design, develop MVP, and offer post-release support.

    Editor
    • Anton Kiryukhin
    Designer
    • Polina Androsova

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