Many organizations opt to outsource mobile app development rather than using an in-house team. As we discussed in our post on hiring an app development firm vs. using an internal development team, the reasons for this vary, but the decision is made to use a third-party. But even after the decision to hire an external team is made, there are still many options available when it comes to mobile app outsourcing.
This is a guide for companies that want to outsource mobile app development. It will go over the different routes available, the specific considerations involved with each avenue, and the associated pros and cons. At the end of this article, you will be able to make a more informed decision on which mobile app outsourcing option best aligns with your needs.
Companies that choose to outsource mobile app development will find during the vendor selection process that there are many options available to them. Below are the most common:
Firms in this category, like Clearbridge Mobile, focus specifically on mobile app development rather than offering it as an ancillary service. These firms typically:
Even within this category, you will find a broad range in quality. Aspects including specific technical expertise, experience, proven ability to deliver, project complexity, team size and more will vary significantly.
Depending on the needs of your business and the requirements of your project, you may want to research aspects like the vendor’s past clients and projects; their experience with specific technologies or features similar to what you need developed; team size and location; and the complexity of projects that they have delivered.
These firms are typically branches of large multinationals – think IBM or Accenture. The majority of technology and software companies offer mobile app development as a secondary service to other core business functions. Their strengths include:
These firms, while highly capable, have disadvantages which may include:
The big development firms also typically charge the most, which is another factor companies will want to consider when outsourcing app development to a third party.
Mobile is in high demand, and there are plenty of talented developers out there. Independent developers typically have strong technical skills, and many of them even work at firms that build mobile products and freelance as a side job. They are typically significantly cheaper than alternative options, with the exception of offshore firms.
However, if you outsource app development to an independent developer, you will typically find gaps that can affect the overall quality of your product, including:
For small businesses or cash-strapped entrepreneurs, independent developers may turn out to be the strongest mobile app outsourcing option – particularly if they will need to focus the majority of their budgets on marketing their product.
The decision to outsource mobile app development to an offshore firm is generally made due to budgetary constraints. These firms are significantly cheaper; however, there are many caveats that come with the cost savings. Offshore firms tend to fall short in a number of significant areas, including:
Opting for an off-the-shelf solution is quite a bit different than any of the options we’ve mentioned so far, and typically isn’t grouped in with mobile app outsourcing per se. These aren’t custom solutions, but rather out-of-the-box platforms that can sometimes be white-labeled. E-commerce is a great example of an area where off-the-shelf solutions have seen widespread use. And they do come with a number of advantages, such as:
However, opting for an off-the-shelf solution for your mobile app outsourcing needs also comes with a number of downsides, which include:
Outsourcing app development is a decision that needs to be informed by your organizational goals and the requirements of your project. Determining what these are will help you eliminate some of the options that don’t fit your needs, early in the process. Other things you will want to consider include the amount of risk your organization is willing to take on; your budget for mobile app development; how important it is to customize your solution given the expectations of your customers and your competition in the market; how polished your product needs to be; whether you need a more consultative engagement on top of development, and more. Once your company is able to determine the best route, you can begin researching and narrowing down vendors that tick the right boxes.