Hackernoon logoWhat You Need to Know Before Outsourcing App Development by@ilya.kislenko

What You Need to Know Before Outsourcing App Development

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@ilya.kislenkoIlya.Kislenko

We live in a globalized and highly connected world. Any company looking for cost efficiency should consider outsourcing its services or processes. App development should be on top of the outsourcing priority list unless it’s what your company does as its core offer.
Apps are, most of the time, a great way to expand your business and generate more customers. However, it should be carried out by professionals specializing in such services. This approach gives access to more resources so that you as a client can focus on your core business, its growth or consolidation.
Outsourcing can be done in various ways, from hiring an in-house team to choosing a reputed local company, an offshore company with better rates, or even a freelancer.

The benefits of outsourcing app development

From concept to testing and constant updating, outsourcing software development means that you have a dedicated team working on your project. If you did the same app in-house, you would need developers, UX/UI designers, testers, a project manager, and potentially even more specialists to get it done.
Just recruiting such a team and getting it up to speed can take a few months. You are saving valuable weeks in time-to-market as well as avoiding the risk of team mismatch when outsourcing.
Having a contract for app development means that there is a clear timeline in place and penalties for delays, so your company is in control and can estimate the launch better as well as prepare for it.
Simply put, you can reduce risks associated with staff, management, delivery schedule, technology choice, and subsequent app maintenance. Furthermore, a responsible development company also offers continuous support, bug fixing, and development of new features, if necessary.

Risk hedging strategies

Although there are numerous benefits associated with outsourcing, there are also risks to be considered and mitigated even before the work starts. The success of outsourcing depends both on the client’s organization and the provider’s skills. Here is a list of possible drawbacks and ways to avoid them to remain productive and within budget.

Define your project

You can’t outsource what you don’t understand. Even if you don’t know how to code, you should still have a clear understanding of what your app should do, who it is intended for, what the expected user inputs and the desired app outcomes are.
To select a good outsourcing team, you should prepare examples of what you would like your app to do and ask them if they can create something along those lines. Also, it should be part of your business strategy to inform the development team about your competitors and how you would like to be differentiated from them. Don’t assume developers are also business analysts, although full-cycle software development vendors offer this service as well.

Do your research

Make a list of potential outsourcing partners and evaluate their portfolios and pricing. Send them a brief of your project or a more formal request for proposal and evaluate the answer you get from each company. Make a short list and ask for references from previous clients. Companies that make great apps will be happy to provide them. Schedule a few calls with them to evaluate compatibility and ask detailed questions about their process, how they mitigate risks, and if they have quality management frameworks in place.

Discuss the project

Once you have selected the team or shortlisted 2-3 companies, discuss the brief with them in detail and evaluate their know-how based on the answers they give. Always ask for examples supporting their claims from the portfolio.
If you are not a technical person, ask for assistance. Before starting a project, you need to make sure that your outsourcing partner has both the know-how and access to technology to help you.
Always ask about their ways to tackle security problems, as these can jeopardize the entire project. If the app requires personal data, ensure GDPR compliance for EU users as well as follow other regional data privacy and protection regulations as applies.

Secure a payment structure

Every project is different, and every company has its own business model. Since there are no one-size-fits-all solutions in app outsourcing, you need to agree on a customized payment structure.
First, make sure there is a money-back guarantee if you are not happy with the work. Most outsourcing companies can also work with escrow accounts so that they also have their risks covered.
A good project manager can set clear development milestones and identify all associated costs. You can gradually release the funds for every stage of the project that you are happy with.
Also, never pay in full before you can get the ownership of the entire code.

Sign an NDA

One of the most common fears related to outsourcing is that the development company will steal the idea, make the app, and sell it as their own. Although it could happen, it is highly unlikely, especially if you choose reputed developers. Also, it is a must to sign a non-disclosure agreement before the work begins to protect your intellectual property. This document prevents the development company from recycling some of the code for other clients once the work is completed.

Last but not least, culture

Although it is cheaper to outsource the project to offshore companies, make sure you do some background checks related to the work culture of the specific country you are choosing. It might seem enough to define service level agreements and KPIs, but most of the time, an issue emerging from cultural differences can hinder your project. Setting clear communication rules and schedules can help mitigate such discrepancies. 

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