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To Be Or Not To Be: Should You Outsource Mobile App Development?

To Be Or Not To Be: Should You Outsource Mobile App Development?

Today taking your business mobile is not an option, it is a necessity. With over 86% of smartphone users’ time being spent on apps as compared to the mobile web (Nielsen Cross Platform Study 2013), the pressure to develop a great app has never been more intense.

Your business is your baby. You have carefully nurtured every aspect of it. Why should mobile apps be any different? I completely agree. A mobile app that is an extension of an existing website or traditional business, needs hands-on involvement of the parent company to be a true success. There’ no question about that.

The real decision is what is that perfect level of control that you need to maintain to ensure a good product? Let’s take a walk down the meandering and often confusing lanes of app development and weigh the various pros and cons of outsourcing development.

How Outsourcing Makes Life Easier:

1.) More Bang For Your Buck:

What would you rather pay? About $20/ hour to an outsourced, mobile app development specialist or $100/hour to an in-house developer? From a pure financial perspective, getting an outsourced company to take over your app development makes a lot more sense.

Often in-house developers get stuck halfway through a project and need expert assistance. This calls for engaging the services of a consultant that can pull your in-house team out of the jam they are in. Such services come at a price tag that is definitely not small by any standards.

The resources that you save on development costs can be ploughed back in, to add more bells and whistles to your app — get more for less!

2.) Focus On Your Core Competency:

When you entrust the task of developing an app from scratch to a team of professionals outside your company, your responsibility become limited to regular communication and overseeing the progress of the work done by the outsourced company / freelancer.

This frees up a lot of precious time that can be devoted to other key areas of business that scream for your direct involvement like marketing, business development, improvement or optimization of your core services and so on.

3.) Enjoy Better Quality Apps From Specialists In The Field:

This one’s a no brainer. The very reason you engage an outside third party is because they have the necessary skills to complete your project that you might lack in-house.

Assuming you did a good job of screening potential outsourcing companies with relevant tests, by reviewing their previous work or even through references from past clients that they have worked for; the skills that your outsourced app developers will bring on board will almost certainly be superior to your existing resource base. Sites like Elance and Odesk allow you to screen potential freelancers with specialized tests that they offer to ensure you recruit a skilled professional and not just any hustler.

With good skills comes good quality. Professional mobile app developers work on multiple types of projects and bring with them a wide ranging set of skills that can be tapped into for developing your app.

4.) Ongoing Support:

Depending on the service level agreement that you singed off with your outsourced developers, you can stand to get long term support for your app without worrying about doing it yourself or getting someone new to try their hands on it.

Most professional outsourced developers will offer you continued support in hosting, bug fixes, regular app updates, security fixes and analytics.

5.) No Long Term Commitment For Skills That You Might Not Need Later:

A full time in-house developer needs the complete suite of benefits that any other regular employee commands. Besides costs like insurance and medicare, in-house developers would need to be sent to training workshops and seminars to keep their skills up to date. This is a non-issue with an outsourced developer, who will take the necessary steps to stay updated with the latest in technology at their own expense.

If your company is not into software development or support as a core line of work, hiring an in-house developer means taking on a responsibility of an employee whose skills will be redundant once the app is up and running.

6.) No Avoidable Expenses Like License Fees And Certificates For Software, Tools, And Code: 

Professional mobile app development is not about punching in a hundred of lines of code every day. It also involves maintaining your skill levels at par with the rest of the market by taking courses or specialized certification programs. The tools of the trade are not always free and software used for coding needs to be licensed to prevent problems for the client at a later stage.

Good developers also use specialized codes like AppWrapper that helps them speed up the development process by integrating different services like RTB ads, analytics, bug tracking and more into your app with just one click.

All these expenses are not your problem anymore when you outsource app development to a specialist.

7.) Quicker Delivery Times:

Professional app developers work on hundreds of apps in their development careers. This range of exposure and deep knowledge about the intricacies of app development that this brings with it, helps them create your mobile app that much quicker.

Outsourced agencies have multiple developers that specialize in different software and they can divide and conquer app development in shorter time spans.

A specialist outsourced developer also has definite motivation to deliver on time — their reputation and future references depend on it.

To Be Or Not To Be: Should You Outsource Mobile App Development?

Outsourcing App Development Is Not Entirely A Bed Of Roses:

1.) Loss Of Direct Control:

As can be expected from any form of outsourcing, since you are not creating the end product yourself, the degree of control on the development process, the tools used and the final product may vary.

Some people can live with not having a 100% control on every line of code that goes into their mobile apps, while others like things under tighter controls. Figure out which camp you belong to and then decide whether to outsource or not. Control freaks who decide to outsource their projects, often end up spoiling relationships with the outsourced developer through overt interference, cause project delays and chronically restrict the outsourced developers’ freedom and creative thinking processes.

2.) Quality Is Suspect:

I seem to be contradicting myself here, but I can explain. Mobile app development is a lucrative business that gives great returns to both the developers and the clients. Unfortunately, this very fact has led to many unscrupulous, less than qualified hustlers to enter the business and offer their services with tall claims and promises not rooted in reality. An unsuspecting client can often be blindsided by such people and by then it could be too late to back out of the project.

To avoid such disasters, implement thorough screening and extensive background checks of your potential outsourced developer. Even better, get your app developed in house where you can stay on top of every aspect of development.

3.) Confidentiality And Copyright Questions:

Most companies that outsource their mobile app development sign off on Non-Disclosure Agreements with their outsourced developers. This restricts the developers’ rights on the apps that they create and seal questions about copyright and ownership at the outset of a project.

However, in spite of NDAs being signed off, it is not uncommon to hear about outsourced developers misusing proprietary code in their projects done for other clients. If your app release is a highly guarded affair, confidentiality might suffer if the project is outsourced.

There is no silver bullet to the question of outsourcing app development. While both methods — in house development and outsourced development — have their own strengths, your final choice depends on your own expertise in the area of app development, timelines involved, funds available and most importantly, availability of highly trained professional developers in-house who can top outsourced work any day.

About the Author:
Lori Wagoner is a growth hacker at AppWrapper, a patent-pending, Android based SDK integration tool that enables app developers to integrate APIs with their apps in a single click. If you want to hit up the mobile enthusiast in her, you’ll find her @LoriDWagoner on Twitter.

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