More Enterprises are Outsourcing App Development. Here’s Why.

by Nicolas Costa
Blog Post

How does your enterprise have apps developed? outsourcing app development

You’ve got a number of issues to consider when it comes to any kind of development work, with an early decision being, who’s going to create this?

Many enterprises have resources available in-house, but this doesn’t make developing internally the automatic decision. In fact, many are choosing the outsourcing route over designating development to their own teams.

Here’s why:

Capacity

“By the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organization’s’ capacity to deliver them.” (Gartner)

Pick any given internal team and there will always be some kind of limitations on how much they can deal with at any given time. If your enterprise has multiple projects on the go, then outsourcing may be a valid option to ensure that the right amount of focus is put into development.

Gartner research shows that increasing demand for mobile app solutions is challenging enterprises to rapidly respond by developing, deploying and maintaining new apps. Given that mobile is still a relatively new competency for many developers, enterprises often find it difficult to keep all development in-house while meeting their workloads.

A mixed-sourcing approach can be a great solution to ensure that demand is met and quality is upheld. Sometimes it’s simply more efficient to focus internal development on what you’re already good at, than outsource for additional expertise.

Availability of Skill-Set

Skill-set is an issue which naturally follows on from capacity. As we indicated, given that mobile development is a newer skill-set, many enterprises are struggling to find enough internal team members who have the requisite skills.

Let’s look at a few statistics to give some perspective:

  • 90% of companies want to increase investment in mobile apps. (Applause)
  • Internal enterprise IT represent 8% of the global developer community. (Forbes)
  • 94% of enterprises don’t have all the mobile development talent they need. (Outsystems)

The solution isn’t as simple as “hire more people” either. The demand for top tech talent is huge and many enterprises are finding that it’s simply too difficult to find, or get a seat at the table with the best people.

Additionally, we have to remember that “mobile app developer” may in fact cover any of a broad spectrum of skills. Android developers use Java for Android, whereas iOS developers will be using Swift or Objective C. You’ll find some developers who cross over between languages, but many specialize in one or the other.

A plus for the outsourcing or mixed-sourcing of app development is that you can tap into the skills which are missing from your current team. Perhaps you don’t really need someone full time who specializes in certain mobile development; outsourcing provides you with the option to hire as needed.

platforms for app development

Source: Forbes

Risk

There is inherent risk involved with developing anything entirely internally. Skill-level does play a big part in that; how do you know your internal team is equipped with the right skills to do the job? Not all enterprise managers would automatically know the answer to this, particularly if they are not deeply technical themselves.

The entire risk of the project falls on your team and that includes trying to get to the bottom of any problems which may occur. If you don’t have the right expertise on board, you could be in for a drawn-out, expensive ride as they try to muddle through to a solution.

When thinking about risk, you also should consider the scalability of your team, should your scope expand or if there are simply several projects which your team is responsible for. Will the team be able to work in any feature changes or iterations? Or will a scope expansion lead to a never-ending backlog and much more spend in order to get to market?

As we’ve found, it’s not just as simple as hiring new team members to meet the demand.

An advantage of outsourcing is that the team you outsource to now absorbs some of that risk. Most of the time, (if you’ve found and vetted the right team), the requisite skills won’t be an issue and scope is something that you work out between you. The responsibility lies with the outsourced team to ensure that they have the capacity to cope with what your app requires.

Cost of Development

Mobile app development is expensive, and while an enterprise might be well-placed to absorb that cost, there are very few who have infinite budgets. If apps are not your primary reason for being, but more of an enhancement to what you already offer, the chances are that you’re not set up with the right infrastructure to build immediately in-house.

Enterprises might find they need to invest in infrastructure which they wouldn’t normally have planned on if they’re keeping everything in-house. If you’re looking at custom or one-off apps, that kind of spend simply may not make sense.

There’s a question of efficient use of the IT resources you already have too, as cited by Wired:

“Even large enterprises will indicate that while there is value to developing mobile apps, IT resources would often be better diverted to other organizational challenges… This is true not only for the process of building mobile apps, but also the equally time-intensive process of managing support for app updates – support that is necessarily focused on devices being used at that particular moment rather than forward-thinking innovation that can look ahead at ways to enhance the app experience.”

Time is money in any organization, so enterprises are finding that there really has to be a good business case for keeping app development in-house, particularly where it’s not the primary function of the IT department.

Another side to the cost is that many enterprises need to hire new developers if they’re to develop internally for mobile. Recruitment takes time and money, as does any training which may be required for new employees. On-boarding time in organizations, including going through standard HR procedures can take three to six months.

The time and money investments don’t end once the app is ready to market either. Ongoing requirements for updates can take significant resources which again will come back to a decision from the enterprise over what they really want to focus on.

“Once a traditional enterprise app is built, an organization must devote significant time and resources to ensure the platform or application supports and tests to new versions of operating systems and devices, while mitigating downtime and other technical/user issues.” (Wired)

Often it simply works out to be more cost effective to outsource app development, especially if mobile development is not going to be your focus moving forward.

outsourcing app development


To Outsource or Not?

If your enterprise is looking at mobile app development, making a call early on the long-term future of any internal IT teams will be important. Will mobile development be a core requirement going forward? Or is this more of a short-term deal?

Assess the skill-level you have available internally and whether it makes sense in terms of organizational priorities, time and finances to develop within your own team. Consider your available capacity and whether you are happy to undertake risk for the entire project yourselves.

Outsourcing has become a popular choice for enterprise development for being a cost-effective way to access the skills needed.

Koombea develops beautiful apps for enterprise. Talk to us today about how we can help with yours.

by Nicolas Costa
Blog Post