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Outsourcing Mobile App Development Done Right: When, Why, and How

Using outsource development for a mobile app can heavily reduce costs and find non-standard solutions. When should you hire external specialists and are there any stumbling rocks on the way? Find out here.

Mobile app illustration by Panfilia

With more than half of all IT companies hiring external professionals for software development at least once in their work history, the success of outsourcing firms does not come as a surprise. Businesses turn to outsourcing mobile app development as it may heavily reduce costs, deliver the project on time, and find non-standard solutions, to say the least.

When a company seeks outside help it does not mean it’s not successful or going through a turbulent period. It’s all about an outsourced expert bringing in certain skills and talents the company may lack at a given time or needs a one-time help with a certain project so that the productivity and workflow of its staff are not affected.

Moreover, businesses that hire professionals from outsourcing companies have a forward-thinking mindset ditching the often harmful “we can do it on our own” approach. While it takes self-awareness to admit that you need help, those who put the ego on the shelf eventually enjoy the benefits of the outside mobile app development expertise and take a step toward a faster implementation of their ideas at a new-quality level.

When you should consider hiring an outsourced app developer

Consider this, a whopping 87% of company owners surveyed by McKinsey & Company said they are experiencing skill gaps at this point or expect to face them within the next few years. It means that no business is immune to that.

Even though you have managed to hire the best of the best for your in-house team, there still is a chance you won’t have the right talent to deliver a high-quality app that meets customer demands when you need it. Simply put, not all professionals keep up the pace with the ever-evolving world of technology.

Going for mobile app development outsourcing makes sense when you have identified that:

  • your business is not linked with app development but you desperately need one;
  • your in-house team is not capable of building an app, be it because of a lack of expertise or a heavy ongoing workload;
  • your budget is limited;
  • or you want the project to be completed at a faster pace.

Established outsourcing mobile app development companies, focus on hiring skilled professionals and provide them with an access to the latest tools and state-of-the-art infrastructure. This, for you, eliminates the need to spend extra money on upgrading in-house equipment for tackling a certain task.

As a bonus, your in-house team members may learn something new from outsourced professionals and apply this knowledge to contribute to the development of future products.

Freelancers, development companies, and ready-made app providers

Once you start exploring the outsourcing options, you will come across the three main categories of service providers: freelance developers, development companies, and those who can sell you a ready-made application.

Hiring a freelancer is great when you look for developing a simple app for lower rates. You can pick a professional having a narrow specialization, which potentially can help avoid misunderstanding when briefing your technical requirements.

Still, dealing with a random freelance developer means there is a lack of control so it will require that somebody on your team manages them. There is also a risk of not getting your order done as usually freelancers provide no guarantees and simply may disappear, without completing the task.

White-label solutions, or ready-made products, are an option when you need an app with standard functionality and you have a very tight budget. This is the fastest way to get an application ready to be launched right away.

Keep in mind, though, that ready-made solutions are not flexible, hard to customize, according to your business needs, and have a standard interface, which means no personalization.

Outsourcing mobile app in 2022

Mobile app for car renting by Shakuro

Outsourcing your project to a software development agency is of great help when you need to bring a unique idea to life, build an application from scratch, and address specific issues and needs. Although it may be the most expensive option, outsourcing firms are usually flexible when it comes to the budget.

The final price of the development of a mobile app will be defined, according to the KPIs, project scope, the number of features, and additional services you will choose.

Next, you need to decide whether you would like to hire an onshore, nearshore, or offshore service provider.

When doing this, remember that signing up onshore and nearshore professionals will ensure better communication and understanding of your needs, thanks to minimal cultural differences. Offshore specialists will probably be the least-cost ones, however, prepare for being lost in communication in some instances.

Service-based, end-to-end, or team-as-a-service?

No one is going to question that the team behind your project knows more about the goals, tone of voice, vision, and preferences of your organization. Some of the employees may have been building the company’s DNA since its inception and it may be hard to believe that somebody from the outside can get your idea as well as them.

But wait! Are you sure your team will be able to think outside the box and approach the task from a new perspective, not being distracted by thoughts like “I don’t know, we have never done it this way”?

Today, technology advancements allow for easier communication, even if you and the mobile development agency are located in different countries and time zones, and ensure better flexibility in the sense that whenever you’ve got an issue, somebody from the hired team can take it over and quickly resolve it.

Whichever service model — team-as-a-service, project-based or service-based ones — you will choose, the outsourced team will help you go from idea to launch.

End-to-end mobile app development works best when you have an idea for an app, so you can share your expectations with the hired developers. Usually, the team of professionals, in this case, consists of a project manager, UX and UI designers, front-end and back-end developers, and a quality assurance engineer.

Here, you will have to assign tasks and take control over the KPIs. However, you will have the opportunity to choose the team members, have a transparent budgeting scheme and full support throughout the development process and after the app is launched.

That said, the team-as-a-service model can ensure a much greater return on investment (ROI) when compared with conventional outsourcing ways. Here, you also can build a team based on people’s skills and professional backgrounds that would meet all your needs.

This option is great when you want to get quick results, have a fixed budget, expect that staffing requirements are going to change as the project goes, and if you cannot find professionals with certain skills locally.

Among the benefits you get along with a team-as-a-service are a lack of administrative costs, delegation of control over all the processes, focusing on results, instead of being distracted by little things, and canceling the team at any point.

If you pick the service-based model, you will enjoy having a team of professionals just like in the other two options, but here, the team will be supporting you with a particular task. You will define the KPIs and assign tasks, however, you will not be responsible for building the team.

In all cases, the outsourced team will consider your requirements, offer the most suitable work scenario, and take care of all development management tasks.

It’s time to pay: hourly and fixed payment options

So you have hired a dream team who will be busy developing a mobile application that stands out in the market, allocated a budget, and negotiated other administrative issues. Now, it’s time to decide on the payment method and, ideally, come up with a win-win option.

Fixed-price contract

Flexibility is a trendy word in the professional world, especially given that the fixed-price approach has been gradually losing ground among young specialists and digital nomads. However, if you have a roadmap and clear technical specifications and are absolutely sure that nothing will change along the way, a fixed price should work well.

With a fixed-price contract, you have more budget transparency and fewer things to worry about: the final price of the product cannot unexpectedly jump, thus affecting your business plans, and after signing a contract, all you need to do is just passively wait for a new and shiny app to be delivered.

This way, you can spend more time on managing and training your in-house team and focus on other company issues. You even can take a vacation, as your product is being developed under professional guidance!

On the other hand, the outsourcing mobile app development company may charge more than when entering into an hourly payment contract, just to hedge its bets. Moreover, since all the requirements and expectations have already been written in the contract, it will be difficult and, often, costly, to introduce any changes, as it will require re-estimation.

When considering a fixed-price contract, keep in mind that it would not be a good option for when you have a large-scale product with complex functionality.

Hourly payment

The hourly pricing model may be more cost-effective and save you money, not to mention that those who prefer this kind of compensation are usually highly dedicated to what they do.

From an employee perspective, this pricing model provides them with a slew of advantages such as being paid extra for overtime, setting their own rates, which may change depending on the economic situation in the country they live in, flexibility in terms of the workload during the day, and no pressure in the sense that hourly-paid professionals do not hold responsibility for the company’s growth and development.

As an employer, you should define the categories you will ask the outsourced employee to track their billable time against. Those may include internal and external conference calls, client communication, research and updates, and their direct responsibilities as part of the app development, among others.

When following this payment scheme, you will also define the day you expect to receive an invoice from the employee or outsourcing company and arrange the payment process, according to the contract.

If there is a trust issue, you can ask the outsourced developer to use a time and productivity tracker. Such software is more reliable than manual tracking systems, plus it makes human resource specialists’ workflow much easier as it shows where the employees are spending their time.

Although hourly pricing is a simple model, setting a price for creativity and design services is quite challenging for both sides. If the outsourcing firm prefers to be paid on an hourly basis, conduct research and explore average freelance rates for similar work. Once it comes to the negotiations, you will be well-versed in the pricing standards and also, opting for psychology would not go amiss.

Whichever method you choose, just make sure you keep an eye on the deadlines and whether the team meets all the requirements.

Want to know the development price, before outsourcing?

If you would like to know the approximate price of a website or mobile app development, before reaching out directly to the studio, you can use a project calculator provided by Shakuro. All you need to do is to answer a few questions about the planned project and specify whether you need additional features.

If you have questions at any point, feel free to , and our team will take care of them, also explaining the stages the design process consists of and how branding, illustration and animation, and design costs are defined.

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Written by Sergio Santino

June 06, 2022

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