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How to Outsource App Development

The skill of delegation is a muscle you have to train. When it comes to our personal ideas and products we tend to be overprotective and often hesitate to allocate. That’s only natural.

Our team has partnered with 300+ entrepreneurs who once faced such a dilemma too. However, as companies learn about delegation in development more, some issues get fixed on their own. To help you with that we’re sharing a detailed guide on how to outsource mobile app development.

Reading time: 9 minutes

Table of contents

Key takeaways

  • Mobile development outsourcing is a way out for those entrepreneurs who are new to the subject or have limited resources and expertise.
  • Most product owners’ worries like quality negligence, lack of control, communication mismatch and compromised attitude can be mitigated on the start. 
  • Before starting a partnership journey define product essentials and decide whether you want contractors to be onshore, offshore or nearshore. 
  • There are three models of contracted relationships: fixed price, dedicated team or time & material. 
  • Outsourcing mobile development can cost you less than $60 000.

Why outsource app development

The first step on the path of mobile app outsourcing is to uncover your whys. When product owners are precise and objective about the motives, the whole communication process works better. 

Situation #1. Your team is not enough 

Either in terms of quantity or skills. Say, you have a great Java team, but the language fits only for Android development. Your people won’t be able to release applications for iOS. To top it off, all the staff hours can be fully packed. 

That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Even respected IT powerhouses regard outsourcing app development as run-of-the-mill stuff.

outsource tech companies

These tech companies employ contractors but that doesn’t mean their staff teams can’t do tech jobs properly

Situation #2. Resources are limited 

Software development is a cost-intensive business. You might have already learnt this yourself if you are reading this. To run an app development process in-house, an entrepreneur has to hire at least one full-time UX/UI designer, mobile developer and manager. Statistics prove that’s no small feat. 

yearly compensations for developers

These are the average yearly compensations for a developer, a manager and a UI/UX designer, according to Glassdoor

Depending on the project, you may have to call on a UX researcher, graphic designer or business analyst. Budget lines will definitely rise higher. In total an in-house development team comes at a price of at least $300 000. Mind that we haven’t included laptops and other office staff. Outsourcers can develop several apps for you at this cost. For deeper financial insights read the article on app development prices.

Another limiting factor is time. Those who opt for in-house need to realize that building, onboarding and mentoring a new team takes months. First, there goes recruitment, then evaluation of skills in action. Sometimes a recruitee just doesn’t fit and you have to go through the process once again. 

App development companies have staff with proven track records. When done by experienced people, application release takes less time. Even up to 6 weeks. This is how long it took us to build an app for smart fridges. If you want to learn more about ASAP development, study the case of Vendify.

Situation #3. You are new to mobile development  

Product ideas come not only to those who program, but to just creative minds as well. Never let cases like Facebook or Google mislead you. For instance, Pinterest was founded by Evan Sharp — a designer with degrees in History and Architecture. 

While an entrepreneur doesn’t have to be a coder to come up with an idea, they still need expert estimation. As a newcomer, a product owner wouldn’t manage to run the software development process professionally. Recruitment may stiff as well, as you just can’t know how to evaluate people’s expertise. 

Under such circumstances, to outsource mobile app development seems a stressless and convenient way out. 

Main concerns of app development outsourcing

Even after entrepreneurs outline the whys in favor of outsourcing app development, there is always a place for doubts. Myths, prejudices, biases enfold contracting relationships. Here are our favorite top four. 

“Outsource teams neglect quality due to project turnover”

Often product owners feel anxious that contractors focus on quantity and leave little time to see about quality. People do mess around. But decent app development companies won’t want to spoil their work with hodgie code, poor management or lame design. That’s a huge reputation loss. Be sure to properly choose a partner, we’ll share some tips here later on. 

“I can’t fully control productivity of external staff”

Well, that depends on what is meant by control. Mobile app outsourcing is not like setting the task and then getting your ready-made software. If that’s the way the process goes, consider it a bad omen. The most “controllable” in this regard is SCRUM-development.

See also  Project management and SCRUM: why and how?

Briefly speaking, SCRUM is a management technique, where you split the development process into phases or sprints. Daily project status, weekly calls and feedback come along with that. Besides, it’s vital to keep records of everything. 

FIRST SPRINT

Agenda Date  Agreements To Do (Team) To Do (Owner) Next Call
Clear up project goals

Tackle questions from analyst and PM

04.04.23 Concentrate on two target user groups: ABC & XYZ

Succession of user actions: signs up -> fills in the profile -> visits KLM section -> makes payment

Simple and intuitive interface

Present product architecture plan 

Start doing mindmap

Study design reference and give feedback 06.04.23

Call summary may look like this. Here are the key points of the kickoff meeting, based on this you can add new lines or other calls and sprints into the table.

“Contractors sugar-coat their expertise”

There are those who surely do. However, you may still browse for reviews on some app development companies you are interested in. On resources like Clutch you may find ten a penny of feedback on various projects.

One more suggestion for you. Select one contractor that seems like the best fit, dip into their portfolio, find some clients’ names and contact them. Confess you are planning to outsource mobile app development and ask for references. The chances to get impartial coverup is high. 

“What if we knock heads and have to part company before the rollout”

There’s no use trying to predict the future. Such things happen. But there are also ways to build a safety net. Much depends on how successfully and fulfillingly the kickoff communication ends up. Be specific about requirements, honest about partner’s ideas and open to expert advice. If you feel a screw loose somewhere at the beginning, share it and wind it all up if the communication looks compromising. 

How to outsource app development

When all the biases are past, the good part of outsource mobile app development begins. Delegating work doesn’t mean relying fully on an external team, entrepreneur’s involvement is always vital. Without it we just can’t get to the goal. 

Step #1. Define product essentials 

No matter if we speak of an in-house development team or outsource partners, people should know what they are working on. That’s why product owners have to start building applications with business analysis

Outline the key points: 

  • type of product planned to release (e.g. money manager, fitness tracker, daily planner, calories counter etc);
  • requirements (features, scope of works, design must-haves, load capabilities, number of pages, future scalability); 
  • platforms (iOS, Android or both);
  • technologies (tech stack including languages, framework and integrations). 

When entrepreneurs initiate software development to test some idea or hypothesis we recommend MVP or minimum viable product approach. Say, some gym owner wants to release a brand fitness assistant but they aren’t sure about its relevance for clients. This owner wants the development process to be as cost-efficient as possible. Here MVP is just what the doctor ordered. We summoned all the perks and cases when this approach is helpful in the article about MVP development.

Mind that not all frameworks and languages fit for simultaneous release on iOS and Android. In case you want to kill one bird with two stones consider implementing JavaScript/React Native combination. 

Step #2. Choose your fighter

The most crucial matter and the most stressful. You are passing on to choosing a contracting team. One of the main benefits of outsourcing app development lies in the opportunity to connect with companies out of your town and even country. Here entrepreneurs have three options. 

Offshore developers Nearshore developers Onshore developers 
📌 Live abroad in the countries far removed from yours

⏰ Time zone differs a lot, like of 11 hours 

🧩 Chances of cultural mismatch are the highest 

💰The most cost-efficient

📌 Live abroad, but in the neighboring countries or regions 

⏰ May share your time zone or with up to 3-4 hours difference 

🧩 Chances of mismatch aren’t high due to similar cultures 

💰💰 Medium prices

📌 Live in the same country, not far from your location

⏰ Share the same time zone or with a few hours difference

🧩 Little chance of cultural mismatch

💰💰💰 Pricey

The final solution completely depends on resources and convenience. There’s no wrong choice. In all the three groups you can meet top guns, just look closer. 

Whatever the region, stay careful and impartial while selecting a contractor for software development. Outsource teams sell services through cases, so the thinner the portfolio is, the more suspicious it gets. 

What else we might recommend 

  • ask for the techniques the candidates use for project management, development and design to make sure your approaches coincide; 
  • suggest a preliminary free-of-charge call; 
  • inquire about the staff: how many of them can be placed at your disposal, how experienced the team is. 

Step #3. Discuss your partnership model

Companies that provide outsourcing app development services share approximately the same partnership patterns. Regardless of the location. 

Fixed price model

Fixed price model

Fixed price or simply FP model fits when an entrepreneur and its contractor are 100% sure they won’t make any changes on the fly. This is simple, you list all the software requirements, hand in this doc to the mobile app outsourcing partner who calculates the price. Seems a transparent way to go. Though while enterprise projects uncover numerous benefits here, FP never goes well with MVP development. The point is, you can’t reconsider your thoughts, ask for amendments in the plans and tackle risks as easily as with other models.

Dedicated team model

Dedicated team model

It’s like hiring the entire software development department at one shot. You contact an outsource company, share the requirements and together gather a team of experts who fit. Entrepreneurs who already have their own IT departments value the dedicated team model the most, as it’s a convenient way to fill in the gaps. But take care to “befriend” internal and external staff, this may be challenging. 

Time & material model

Time & material model

Companies who implement Time & Material model for app development outsourcing, take payments per hour, day or week. You apply to such a vendor, share the thoughts and requirements, then the partner calculates approximate hours for each stage like UI/UX design, development, QA. As T&M opens great opportunities for flexibility, you won’t be able to fix a specific price at the start. Though this approach implies deep involvement of the business owner, so that you could track expenses and adjust the budget on the go. 

Purrweb sticks to the latter model. Our development experience shows that you can’t predict and precisely plan everything in advance. Application might need additional testing, you can reconsider features or color scheme at some point. T&M ensures these changes run smoothly. That’s why agility is your golden ticket. 

Step #4. Make sure to protect your product

With all the news about data theft around, you can’t but get anxious about safety. With outsource mobile app development the fear gets even more intense. Though you can protect yourself by signing a non-disclosure agreement or simply NDA. 

The majority of experienced app development companies would offer a standard document, so there’s no need to stress out. But be sure to read it, you might want to highlight some specific points or remove something. You may find some tips on how to protect your product from intellectual treason in our guide.

See also  How to make sure your contractor won’t steal your startup idea

Step #5. Establish solid communication

Most of the time an entrepreneur communicates with an outsourced project manager. This is the one who shares project status, transfers information from other experts to you and otherwise. 

Make sure to reach an understanding with the project manager before going into development together. Specify how often and when you want to receive project status, appoint meetings, and get demos. Discuss how you will communicate, tackle risks and implement features. 

How much does it cost to outsource app development

Here’s a table with our approximate estimation for businesses who seek app development outsourcing. Remember, we share T&M model. App development costs differ depending on the agency.

Stage Time Approximate costs
Project estimation 8 hours Free at Purrweb
Project analysis including features prioritization 1 week $1,000
UI/UX design 4 weeks $5,400
Development 9 –10 weeks $36,000 – $40,500
QA Concurrently with the development $5,400 – $6,000
Project management During the whole project $3,950 – $4,100
Total  3 – 4  months $56,000

Conclusions 

Delegation is dope. It relieves you from needless troubles, sets your focus free to embrace more significant matters and sleep yourself out finally. Any boss would second that you just can’t do it all on your own. 

Our team will partially take the responsibility off you. Our team comprises 190 experts and has 8 years of experience behind. Check our portfolio to learn more about the cases. There are over 300 of them and we say over as once we had reached 300 we just lost count. 

Contact us to get your free project estimation.

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