60% of Organizations Turn to Outsourcing for App Development. Should You Do the Same or Keep It In-House?

With the ever-increasing demand for mobile applications and digital solutions showing no signs of slowing down, more and more organizations are turning to outsourcing for app development. 60% of organizations rely on third-party providers to help create and maintain software applications as part of their digital transformation. 

Outsourcing is a relatively faster and more efficient way of getting the job done, but there are also some drawbacks to consider. Whether or not you should outsource app development to an external IT team depends on various factors, from project complexity to time constraints.

In this article, we’ll look at the benefits and drawbacks of outsourced and in-house app development so you can decide which option is best for your organization.

Should You Outsource App Development to a Third Party?

Generally speaking, outsourcing is a good idea if you don’t have the programming skills or design knowledge to take on the project. However, outsourcing can provide a slightly less expensive option if you’re a small business or startup with a limited budget. 

But before you outsource, it’s important to research and ensure the freelancer or agency you hire is reliable and experienced. You should also understand the contract terms and the timeline for completion. 

Then again, there are situations where outsourcing is a bad idea. Sometimes, hiring an in-house team may be the best fit.

If the app you’re trying to develop requires custom functionality that relies on an intimate understanding of your business needs, it might be better to build it yourself. Similarly, if you require enhanced security protocols to protect your business data, you may not want to trust the development process in the hands of a third party.

Things to Consider When Outsourcing Business Apps

If you’re confused about whether or not to outsource, here’s a handy list of items to take into account when you’re onboarding a third-party vendor to develop your business application:

  • Cost: The cost of outsourcing app development should be a major factor in your decision. You should evaluate the cost-effectiveness of outsourcing and compare it to the cost of hiring an in-house team or using a no-code platform.
  • Quality: Quality is always important in software development, so you should ascertain that you are working with a team that can deliver results. Always review their portfolio and ask for references before making a decision.
  • Communication: Communication is key when outsourcing app development. Determine whether you can communicate easily with the outsourced team through email or video conferencing.
  • Security: Security is always a priority in software development, so ensure that any data exchanged between you and the outsourced team is done securely and remains safely encrypted. 
  • Timeframe: It’s important to understand how long the project will take before agreeing to work with an outsourced developer or agency. This understanding will help ensure your project stays on track to meet internal deadlines.

Essential Tips for Outsourcing App Development

Have you decided outsourcing your app development project is the best approach? Then here’s a laundry list of best practices to consider as you work with an outsourced team. 

1. Identify your needs

Before outsourcing app development, it’s important to develop a project scope that identifies what exactly you need from the final app. 

Do you need a complete custom-built app or just a couple of features added to an existing app? Do you have any specific design requirements? Does your business require additional measures to guarantee compliance with local data regulations for your mobile app?

Understanding your needs will help the outsourced agency ensure that the project runs smoothly and they complete it within budget.

2. Research potential vendors

Once you know what work you need to do, it’s time to research potential vendors who can do the job. 

Look for companies with experience developing apps for the platform(s) you need (iOS, Android, etc.) and those with good reviews from previous clients. If the app you’re looking to build requires custom domain expertise, such as experience building membership portals or sales applications, look for agencies specializing in those fields.

Make sure your chosen provider offers the services that best fit your needs and budget before deciding. If you need help looking for potential candidates, try looking into review portals like G2 or Clutch.co.

3. Set clear expectations

Setting clear expectations with your vendor before beginning work on the project is important. 

If you’re working with an agile software development team, ask them to involve you in the week-over-week sprint planning process and provide detailed progress reports on how they’re using billable hours.

Double-check that you agree upon all deadlines at the project’s outset and that everyone understands their mutual responsibilities. This alignment will help ensure there are no misunderstandings or surprises down the line.

4. Establish communication protocols

Establishing communication protocols is a crucial part of outsourcing app development projects. 

Everyone involved should know how they will communicate with one another throughout the process (email, phone calls, etc.). They should also be aware and mindful of response times and time-zone differences. 

This understanding will help keep everyone on task and ensure consistent progress throughout the project timeline.

5. Monitor progress regularly

Finally, monitoring progress regularly during an outsourced project is important so you can address any issues quickly before they turn into larger problems. 

Be sure to ask questions if something isn’t clear or if something isn’t going according to plan so you can make adjustments promptly as needed. At the same time, avoid micromanaging your outsourced team, as that will only lead to additional friction.

Generally, requesting a periodic progress report detailing how your developers spend time and which work items are top priorities is smart.

Mistakes to Avoid When Working With an Outsourced Partner

When it comes to outsourcing app development, it’s essential that businesses choose the right partner and fully understand the process. Unfortunately, many companies make simple mistakes that can be costly in terms of time and money. 

But worry not. Here’s a list of the ten most common pitfalls to avoid, so you don’t make the same mistakes others did:

  1. Failing to Do Your Homework: Before outsourcing app development, it is important to do your homework and research potential vendors. Make sure the vendor you choose has a proven track record of success and has the necessary skills and expertise for the project.
  2. Not Setting Clear Objectives: Communicate what you want from the project before outsourcing app development. This communication will help the vendor understand your vision and deliver a product that meets your expectations.
  3. Not Considering All Options: Don’t limit yourself to one outsourcing option; consider all possible options, including offshore, nearshore, or onshore development teams. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, so understand each before deciding.
  4. Not Securing Proper Documentation: See that all project documentation is in place before beginning work with an outsourced team; this includes contracts, timelines, scope documents, wireframes, etc. Proper documentation makes it easier to tell if both parties are on the same page throughout the project lifecycle. 
  5. Not Knowing Your Target Audience: Before beginning any app development venture, it is important to know your target audience and their needs. This understanding will help guide the design process and ensure your product meets customer needs effectively. 
  6. Skimping on Quality Assurance (QA): Quality assurance testing is essential to any software development process. Without it, the final product may have hidden bugs or issues, leading to a poor user experience. Be sure to plan for QA testing when outsourcing app development projects so any problems can be caught early in the process and addressed quickly before the launch date arrives. 
  7. Neglecting Post-Launch Support: Once you’ve launched an app, it is important to provide users with ongoing support in the form of bug fixes, feature updates, maintenance services, etc. Without them, users may quickly become dissatisfied with their experience and even uninstall the app altogether. 
  8. Not Communicating Properly: Communication between both parties should remain open throughout all stages of development. Make sure there are clear communication channels, such as emails, phone calls, video conferencing, etc., so you can promptly address any questions or issues. 
  9. Not Planning For Future Updates: Apps need regular updates to remain relevant; you should plan by discussing future updates with your vendor so they can prepare accordingly. Unfortunately, most development agencies require clients to put them on a retainer for this work.
  10. Failing To Monitor Progress: Keep track of progress by regularly checking in with your team. That way, you can catch any potential problems early on and address them quickly before they bottleneck the process.

Frequently Asked Questions for Outsourcing App Development

Business outsourcing decisions are always tough to make. If you’re still unsure of what to do, here are the most commonly asked questions when looking to outsource development projects to third-party agencies and freelancers:

1. Why should I outsource app development?

The main purpose of outsourcing app development is to reduce costs, speed up development time, and access specialized talent or skills that might not otherwise be available in-house.

2. What are some immediate benefits of outsourcing app development?

A few benefits of outsourcing app development include cost savings, access to a larger talent pool, faster development time, greater scalability and flexibility, improved quality control, and the ability to focus on core competencies.

3. What types of app development services can I outsource?

A few types of app development services that businesses often outsource are: designing user interfaces and experiences, developing back-end systems, developing databases, coding custom applications, testing and debugging code, managing user experience (UX) design, creating mobile applications for iOS or Android platforms, and providing ongoing maintenance and support services. 

4. What are the risks associated with outsourcing app development? 

The risks associated with outsourcing app development include:

  • Lack of control over project timelines and deliverables
  • Difficulty in communication due to language barriers or cultural differences
  • Potential security risks due to data transfers between parties
  • Potential intellectual property issues if you do not address ownership rights in advance contracts or agreements
  • Potential legal issues if laws governing the service provider’s country differ from those in the country where you’re developing the project

5. How do you ensure quality when outsourcing app development? 

To ensure quality when outsourcing app development, creating clear expectations with your service provider about deliverables and timelines before beginning work is important. It is also important to have detailed contracts that clearly define each party’s responsibilities and any intellectual property rights associated with the project. Additionally, it is important to have regular communication throughout the project so that you can address any issues quickly before they become problems. 

6. What should you look for when selecting an outsourced partner for your project? 

When selecting an outsourced partner for your project, consider their experience working on similar projects and their track record of delivering projects on time and within budget. Additionally, it is important to determine if they understand your business needs well so they can provide tailored solutions. Finally, you should ensure they have adequate resources, including skilled personnel. 

7. How do you manage an outsourced team effectively? 

To effectively manage an outsourced team, it is important to maintain clear lines of communication by setting up regular check-ins between all parties involved. Additionally, businesses must set clear goals, which both parties agree upon, along with progress milestones. Finally, it is also beneficial to build incentives into contracts that reward performance beyond basic contractual requirements.  

8. How do you measure success when working with an outsourced team? 

You can measure success when working with an outsourced team by considering these factors:

  • Cost savings compared against projected budgets on reaching the completion stage
  • Timely delivery against agreed-upon deadlines
  • Customer satisfaction levels based on feedback received upon completion
  • The contractor achieved technical accuracy and quality assurance results throughout
  • The overall user experience delivered upon completion

Build vs. Buy: What’s the Best Approach for App Development?

Sadly, there’s no straightforward answer to this never-ending debate.

Outsourcing app development can be cost-effective but also involve extra overhead costs associated with managing an external team. 

Going in-house may require a larger upfront investment, but it can also lead to greater efficiency and faster development times. 

Finally, no-code platforms are great for quickly creating basic applications but may not be suitable for complex projects.

Ultimately, the decision should come down to the goals of the organization and its total budget. 

If time is of the essence and money is not a problem, going in-house could be the best option. However, outsourcing may make more sense if budget is an issue. And if you need a basic application quickly and need more technical expertise, then a no-code platform might be your best bet.

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