Outsourcing app development is a great boon for most businesses whenever approached by them from the right angle

The present-day ubiquity and scale of software outsourcing as a phenomenon makes it something everyone looking to outsource app development should consider.

At first blush, it all seems like no big deal: there are multitudes of application development outsourcing companies out there and a host of well-known software outsourcing destinations in which they are located. You can make a search on the Web and pick an offshore app development company that takes your fancy. However, the sad statistics that seem to never improve year in year out show that outsourcing application development is no breeze when one wants to approach it smartly: some 50% of all IT outsourcing relationships simply flop, while a plethora of others fail in their objectives to some extent.

Is it all a matter of luck, or can one still stave off or mitigate any of the app development outsourcing risks, responsible for the majority of  undesirable project outcomes?

Our R&D team has been in the business of IT outsourcing for close to two decades now. We’ve all been part of application outsourcing arrangements of sorts, including massive-scaled projects that have involved more than one outsourced development team and more than one IT provider. In this article, we’ll share some of the observations we’ve made over the years in the IT outsourcing industry. In our opinion, they can help set your project in the right direction right from the start, as well as avoid at least some of the trouble that might come your way otherwise.

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Solve simple software needs without custom app development outsourcing

Strange as it may sound, sometimes you don’t really need to develop anything when you have mobile or web development services needs. If your needs are simple enough, you may well be able to fulfill them by going for one of the several off-the-shelf products that are bound to exist in your business niche. To find out which of the readily available solutions suits your needs best, you can approach a tech consulting firm that works with your industry.

While using an off-the-shelf software application can help cut the amount of the required investment several fold as compared with custom development options, here the cons can sometimes easily outweigh the pros. Quite often, off-the-shelf software is associated with limited functionality you will have too much difficulty in expanding, an ill-fitting GUI, and insufficient integration ability. What should you do if you need to develop a relatively small business application but still want it to provide a good UI/UX and integrate freely with your other apps?

In this case, you might want to look in the direction of nocode and locode app development platforms. While nocode allows you to promptly build more adaptable smaller apps with minimum effort, lowcode can help create business applications with considerably broader functionality. Under the latter option, the customization can constitute up to 50% of the system’s functionality. Both nocode and lowcode options create cost savings you can refer to as meaningful.

Pay enough attention to the Discovery Phase and choice of your provider of application development outsourcing

If the essence of the software to be built excludes any off-the-shelf, lowcode, and nocode options that fall short by a large margin, you naturally have to custom-develop your application from the ground up. What are the first steps you should take on the road of custom software development?

First off, you need to define your product and product requirements. In some instances, you can do so by using your own Business Analysis experts, if any. This, however, happens quite seldom: modern business applications tend to require the involvement of more than one type of BAs. Most probably, your in-house BAs can make a contribution but will need to be augmented with IT Business Analysts, Solution Architects, and Business Intelligence Analysts to be able to come up with a comprehensive solution. That is why, you need to turn to a tech consulting company, or approach a full-cycle custom software development company with a strong BA practice.

In our view, the latter is a preferable option if you have enough confidence in the IT provider you are outsourcing application development to. This way you will not have to deal simultaneously with tech consultants that don’t have any R&D capacity of their own and an app development outsourcing company that can provide coders but doesn’t have the required BA and Product Development expertise.

As the next step, you need to choose the tech stack for your app development outsourcing project. You are basically faced with three options here: entrust it to your CTO who may have a personal bias in favor or against a specific technology, hire a tech consulting company to determine the tech stack, or approach a full-cycle custom software provider to solve this problem for you.

Whenever it deals with product development from scratch, and you do not have any in-house R&D capacity, go only with an app development company that is capable of providing a full cycle of software development. You can tell such a provider by the following criteria:

  • Proven experience in creating software applications from scratch.
  • A strong BA team and in-depth BA expertise.
  • Strong system architects; extensive experience in the design of complex system architecture.
  • The types of experts required for the provision of product development services (Project Managers, QA engineers, Technical Writers).
  • Product development consulting as part of the company’s service offering.
  • Full technical stack/a broad range of supported technologies.

Being able to сhoose the right custom app development company is as pivotal to project success as the Discovery Phase in its own right.

Choose an app development outsourcing company with relevant industry and technical expertise and a sound pricing policy

For product-driven development, it is highly preferable that your provider of app development services have profound enough experience in your vertical or business niche. This is important for several reasons, and here are some of them:

  1. Depending on the industry you are in, the required industry-specific learning curve for a software engineer can constitute up to 6 months (for instance, 6 months is precisely how long getting a handle on the industry specifics often takes a software engineer engaged in the development of Banking software).
  2. An app development outsourcing company that caters for some vertical has typically amassed a wealth of related industry-specific knowledge you can put to good use. They can help you define your incomplete product better and address the pitfalls you may not be aware of.

To be able to harness valuable industry-specific expertise, look for an app development agency with at least 5+ years’ experience in delivering solutions to your industry. Check out their related case studies to see the precise role of the company in implementing the projects they have delivered to your industry. Also, see if the expertise and experts they have can be regarded as an industry-related practice: continuity can mean all the difference in the ability of an app development company to mobilize the expertise you need and put it at your disposal when required. Sometimes, it appears that the outsourcing app development company you’ve approached does have one or more relevant projects in their portfolio, but no longer employs the actual knowledge holders.

Never make the lowest app development cost the main decisive factor in the selection of your app development agency.

In the vast majority of instances, one can only achieve a good value-for-money ratio by opting for a cost-effective software outsourcing destination and not the cheapest one of the app development companies based there. Hiring An offshore app development agency with one of the lowest available rates can often be a blunder that entails the need to change the development team halfway or derails software development projects altogether.

Choosing a mobile app development company to outsource app development

While being pretty much the same overall, the process of mobile app outsourcing still does have a few peculiarities it’s better to be aware of before you start. This applies to both iOs app development and Android app development. So, what should one pay attention to here?

First off don’t get carried away with snazzy look and feels and pick at once the mobile app development company whose UIs seem to be the most visually appealing to you. Yes, in mobile app development, UI/UX carries a whole lot of weight, but still make this just one of the several major selection criteria.

Secondly, pay attention to the ways in which your app development agency candidate can ensure the security of your mobile app. Such ways include conformance with the corresponding platform guidelines, the use of compression algorithms and AES-256 or SHA-256 data encryption, and the use of the Keychain Keychain database in iOs app development and that of Android Keystore in Android app development. Ask your mobile developers which of these techniques they have a grasp of and used in projects for their previous clients.

And as far as UI/UX is concerned, if you need a mobile app to manage the complex and wide-ranging functionality provided by a larger solution, you definitely need mobile developers who have provenly done this before. Compacting this kind of functionality so that it can be presented in a user-friendly manner in mobile UIs frequently poses a serious challenge.

Actually, if you are looking for advice on how to outsource mobile app development, read our article How to Leverage Mobile App Development Outsourcing to Benefit You the Most?

Take the right approach to the launch of your outsourced application development project

If you are looking to develop a sizable application with more or less broad functionality, it is strongly recommended that you start with a MVP. This way you will test and refine your core value proposition, avoid any possible bias in favor of some optional functionality and accessories, and incorporate meaningful feedback from your early customers. In this sense, one more requirement for your app development agency can be sufficient MVP development experience.

Once your MVP has been released and you’ve taken the customer feedback you have into account, you can kick off a full-scale development effort. Never start this development effort without a detailed development plan you’ve agreed upon with your provider of app development services. This plan must detail or be accompanied with:

  • The scope of the project and that of the constituent tasks.
  • The project deadline and the timeline of each of the constituent tasks.
  • The succession in which the tasks are to be fulfilled and each task’s priority.
  • The project actors responsible for the fulfillment of each task.
  • A set of aspect-specific project plans, including a budget plan, QA plan, Risk Management plan, and a project schedule.
Required Documentation
Budget plan
Quality assurance plan
Project schedule
Detailed Technical Specification
Risk management plan
Detailed Development Plan

It’s also preferable that you have a detailed functional specification for the solution to be developed as you begin your full-scale development effort. This specification must be composed for you by the BAs or tech consultants who collect your project requirements during the Discovery Phase.

Choose the right engagement and delivery model to outsource app development

If the bulk of your solution is tackled by your in-house development team and you need just 1-3 software developers to beef up this team, you can simply opt for a no-frills Staff Augmentation arrangement to land the coders you need.

However, if you need to outsource the bulk or entirety of your application the situation is ways different – Staff Augmentation falls short here. You need a more solid engagement model to manage a project like that.

Therefore, for larger-scale app development outsourcing, it makes sense to discuss the Dedicated Development Team model or even open your Offshore Development Center. In those cases, when you don’t have a sufficiently qualified in-house technical expert to manage the project, go for a Dedicated Development Team managed by your software outsourcing partner’s Project Manager.

However, be careful here if you have strict budget constraints. The Dedicated Team engagement model often comes in conjunction with the Time and Material pricing model. Many less bona fide IT outsourcing outfits would be enthused over a customer they can wangle into a time and material arrangement they usually have very little responsibility under in terms of the final product. Such time and material scenarios are known to sometimes ramp up project budgets by a factor of 2, leaving the corresponding app development outsourcing projects stalled halfway and poised for a continuation. If you have a set budget for a not so big product development project and a well-defined project scope that is unlikely to change, consider the Fixed Time Fixed Cost pricing model.

Pick a software outsourcing destination with a good value-for-money ratio

The exorbitant developer wages and dearth of qualified software developers in the West have long made nearshore and offshore app development more of a necessity than an option for many Western businesses. However, even if this is a somewhat compelled choice, the benefits it brings about are clear-cut and very significant.

Firstly, you hire the development force you need a great deal more quickly. For instance, the recruitment cycles for software developers in Ukraine span 4-10 weeks, technologies like .Net, Java, PHP, IOS, and Android being in the lower part of the above range. Secondly, the rates you are likely to get will be 40-50% lower than those you’ll get locally in the West. Very frequently, the quality of your hires will also be superior due to a wider selection of candidates.

We do hope our hands-on tips on how to outsource app development will help you find a perfectly suitable arrangement for the outsourcing of application development. However, if you are still unclear on any of the aspects of application development outsourcing as a process, or the ways some of the nuances of your project or business situation can be taken care of if you send your app development offshore, we are here to help. Just send us the question(s) you have, and we will promptly reply.

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