7 Tips for Outsourcing Mobile App Development

By David Oragui / 22 May 2018

Looking to outsource app development? Here are some handy tips for ensuring a smooth development process and exceptional end results.

Thinking of building your very own mobile app? Outsourcing its development can be cheaper and more efficient for many businesses.

A plethora of businesses have started to look towards outsourcing for their design, content, and development needs. In 2016, 72% of businesses worldwide outsourced their IT-related requirements.

Graph of IT outsourcing

And this number continues to grow.

Outsourcing can significantly cut down your costs, reduce the amount of risk involved, and produce exceptional results.

But managing your mobile app development from halfway across the globe can be intimidating. 

In this article, you’ll discover 8 useful tips and tricks for effectively managing your outsourced mobile app development process and maximizing the outcome:

  • Know Your Requirements
  • Look for Relevant Experience
  • Ask Questions
  • Set Clear Expectations
  • Request a Project Plan
  • Collaborate with Your Partner
  • Remember: Communication is Key

1. Know Your Requirements

Before you start looking for app development options, you need to know what exactly you want out of your app.

Knowing what you want can help you communicate your requirements clearly to your developer.

If you don’t know, you’re more likely to end up with a product that doesn’t match your expectations or doesn’t perform that well. Furthermore, the more revisions you need, the more you waste your precious time and money.

Here are some questions to consider when you’re figuring out your requirements:

  • Who is your customer?
  • What’s the purpose of your app?
  • What’s the standout feature of your app?
  • What other features do you need?
  • Is your app free or paid?
  • What is your app monetization strategy?
  • Do you want a native or a hybrid app?

2. Pick the Right Development Option

Remember, there is no single option that’s right for every business or app. It all depends on your requirements. And, of course, your budget.

Before you pick who you want to outsource your app development to, consider the pros and cons of each option.

You can choose to outsource your app development to agencies and specialized firms, who usually have a team of experts to offer you efficient results and a strategy-focused approach.

However, this option might be relatively expensive, and is probably not suitable for small businesses on a tight budget.

Outsourcing your app development to independent/freelance developers is a cheaper option for small businesses.

However, even if you find a technically skilled developer, chances are you won’t have much luck with the market research and strategy aspect of the app development process.

Still, independent developers are great if you don’t need a very high-end, complex app, or if all you need is some decent customization and a technically sound product.

Other options include outsourcing to offshore developers or firms and using drag-and-drop mobile app builders.

Offshore developers offer the most attractive solution for your wallet, but they might not be a good match for your culture, target market needs, and quality standards. Drag-and-drop builders, on the other hand, are great for simple, generic apps that don’t need much customization.

3. Look for Relevant Experience

What do you look for when hiring a developer?

The obvious answer is experience and their portfolio.

But just looking at general experience isn’t enough. You need to look for experience relevant to your app development project if you want to end up with a really great product.

Has the developer created apps similar to yours in the past?

If a developer doesn’t have experience working in the same industry as yours, find out if they have experience designing similar solutions in different markets.

4. Remember: Communication is Key

Never underestimate the importance of communicating, especially when it comes to outsourcing app development.

When searching for the right developer to hire, excellent communication skills and responsiveness should be at the top of your list.

You can easily maintain a smooth development process simply by ensuring that both you and your developer are not afraid to ask questions, clear up any confusions, and respond to each other in a timely manner.

If you don’t communicate often, you might not always be on the same page as your developer. This could lead to increased mistakes, revisions, costs, and conflicts.

It’s also important to clearly establish the channels through which you’re going to communicate with your developer.

For example, if you’re using multiple channels, such as both email and a team collaboration app, clarify when each channel should be used. Should the developer ask questions through email or the app? Where should they send you the deliverables?

Another common issue clients and developers face is the lack of proactive communication. Don’t just wait for the other person to ask questions. Anticipate any potential points of confusion, and try to address them before they even have to ask.

This will help reduce the time you’d otherwise have wasted waiting for a predictable question to pop up, and then answering it so the other party can start doing something about it.

Also, don’t forget that interactive communication is always much more effective than one-way communication. Listen to what your development partner has to say. Don’t just order them around. Make your communication process a two-way conversation, and treat your developer like a teammate instead of your subordinate.

5. Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask any questions. This is especially important for offshore app development relationships, since communication can’t flow as naturally.

Ask the developer anything and everything that makes you feel comfortable enough to work with them. Ask them to tell you about their experience, if you can see their portfolio and testimonials from previous clients, and even about their work process.

Remember, you want to hire someone who is responsive and open to communication. If a developer you’re interviewing doesn’t answer your questions properly, it’s a red flag.

6. Set Clear Expectations

Especially when it comes to offshore app development, you need to set clear expectations so you both know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and when you’re doing it. 

Unclear expectations can lead to ugly issues arising in the middle of your project, like confusion over payment terms, requirements, revisions, and more. This will just end up wasting your time and money.

Make sure you both decide on the payment terms, deliverables, and the time frame of the project before you get started.

7. Request a Project Plan

Don’t hesitate to ask your developer for a project plan if you’re not providing them one yourself.

A project plan or timeline helps streamline the development process and makes it easier to complete the project by breaking it down into smaller pieces.

Here is an example of a typical project plan:

Example project plan

Project plans lay out a series of tasks to complete. It’s usually better to complete these specific tasks before moving on to the next ones. This helps minimize errors and missed steps.

You can request a project plan from your developer before they get started, so you can tweak it according to your requirements and send it back.

It’s also a good idea to set milestones throughout the length of the development project to divide the work and payment into manageable chunks.

8. Collaborate with Your Partner

If you’re going to hire a developer, you have to make sure you trust in his skills and expertise.

Outsourcing your mobile app development is not a one-sided project. Don’t expect to send out a bunch of requirements and magically receive a perfect product.

Let your development partner pitch in their own thoughts, opinions, and suggestions on your strategy and requirements. After all, they likely have more technical expertise than you.

They can even help you get rid of irrelevant or unnecessary features that may waste money.

Plus, if you make your app development a collaborative process, you give a sense of ownership to your development partner.

The more you trust the developer with doing the right thing, the more they will feel involved. And that will make them more likely to treat your app as their own and deliver better results.

Maximize Your Mobile App Outsourcing

How do you make the most out of outsourcing your mobile app development?

Some key tips include knowing your requirements, weighing the pros and cons of different app development options, asking the right questions, setting clear expectations, and always communicating effectively and timely.

These tips and tricks are guaranteed to help you make better decisions when outsourcing your app development, but they are just the start.

Every business comes with its own set of challenges and requirements, and you need to figure out the solutions that work best for you.

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