Outsourced App Development: 8 Common Questions

by Tony Meazell
Blog Post

To outsource, or not to outsource, that is the question.

In fact, while outsourcing has become a more and more common way to get essential development work done, for companies who haven’t tried it before, there still remain a lot of questions.

It’s understandable, you’re entrusting what is possibly a valuable project to people who you might not ever meet in person, how do you know they’ll get it right?

At Koombea, we get asked a lot of these types of questions about outsourcing ourselves, so let’s take a look at a few of the most commonly asked:

#1. Should I outsource?

What is your other option besides outsourcing? For most companies, this is using an internal team to do the development work. If you don’t already have one, you’d have to go through the process of finding and hiring the right people, whereas if you do already have internal developers, you need to know a) whether they have the right skills and b) whether they have the capacity within their workload.

Here are some common reasons why a company might go with the decision to outsource:

  • App development is not their core function – it’s a one-off job.
  • It would take too much time and money to train internal team members.
  • The company would need to invest in infrastructure to complete the project.
  • They’re currently swamped and don’t want to put time into recruitment.
  • They don’t want to commit to long-term management and updating of an app internally.
  • The outsourced team can get it done at a cheaper cost.
  • The outsourced team can get the app created faster.
  • Giving the project to an outside team helps to spread risk. If you develop internally and something goes wrong, all risk falls on you.

#2. How do I find a reliable outsourced team?

If any of the reasoning in the last section resonated with you, you’re possibly moving onto the next step – locating the right outsourced team to take care of your project. It’s true that, with the online environment making it easy to span borders, there are a lot of possible options available for outsourcing your project.

The key is to find the right combination of skill and reliability.

We wrote recently about what to look for in an outsourced team and would stick with the key points raised there:

  • A strong portfolio of work on similar projects to your own.
  • A good reputation with glowing (verifiable) reviews from customers.
  • Responsive to communication.
  • Emphasis on quality and quality testing.
  • Availability to maintain or update your app.

A quick check on reliability and communication is simply to see how quickly they respond to messages. This is not to say you should expect instant responses, but that they get back thoughtfully and within a reasonable period.

Outsourced App Development

#3. What should I expect from outsourcing?

Many people wonder just what they can expect out of the whole outsourcing experience. For example, how involved does a representative from your company need to be in the project? The answer to that is that it varies, often in line with the preference of the client.

Our personal recommendation is that the client at least stays involved as far as reviewing weekly progress reports and providing any timely feedback requested by the development team. It’s much better to stay on top of things early and have any iterations made quickly rather than get a finished product and need a whole lot of rework. (This works both ways – we think development teams should make the effort to check in at least weekly).

One of the worst outsourcing experiences we have seen outside of Koombea was a client for whom the developer seemingly disappeared. They didn’t respond to communication from the client, then turned up weeks later with a “finished” app which wasn’t anything like the client expected.

You should expect to be involved, but you should also expect that the developers make an effort to involve you.

#4. Do I need to personally meet with developers?

This is another thing that is up to you. Many people have top quality projects completed have never once met the developers in-person. At Koombea, about 80% of our projects are purely remote, however, we will fly in our team members with some notice, at the client’s request.

For many people, this has a lot to do with the stakes involved with their app. If you’re investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into building the next Facebook, it might not sit too easy with you to never see the people doing the work in-person.

Meeting in person is definitely a good way to help build rapport between the client and the development team and might be advisable if you’re working on a long-term project together.

#5. How much is my app going to cost?

The million dollar question… Or at least into the thousands for most apps. The question of how much an app will cost to build very much depends on the type of app you need, the features it involves and the platform/s you want it made for.

We tackled the cost question in an article here – these average facts and figures came out of it:

The following information was taken from a Clutch survey:

 

  • Average hourly rates for development in the USA are $100 to $150 per hour.
  • Maximum costs at those rates were $485,000 to $727,500.
  • Medians for each rate were $25,275 to $114,300 at $100 per hour and $37,912.50 to $171,450 at $150 per hour. This is based upon the development of an iPhone app.

Enterprise level apps range from $50,000 to over $1 million, with the average cost being $271,000.

Put another way, here are some average costs if you were to build an app similar to these popular ones:

  • Uber – $1.5 million (more for second or third versions).
  • Instagram – $500,000.
  • Small e-commerce site (up to $1 million in revenue) – $100,000.

Development costs for developers based in Eastern Europe or Asia may be less, but then if you’re US-based, you’re also weighing up the time zone and distance factor.

#6. How long will my app take to build?

This is another question where, unfortunately, the answer is “it depends.” The complexity of your app is the major factor, more lines of code mean more time taken.

If we were to put out some averages, let’s use those same examples from the previous section:

  • An app similar to Uber – 20 weeks or more.
  • An app similar to Instagram – 12 to 15 weeks.
  • A small e-commerce site – 5 to 7 weeks.

#7. What if I would like changes made?

This is a very important question to sort out with your developer before the project gets underway. You should discuss how communication will be facilitated, what to do if you want something changed and what the developer is prepared to do.

Most reliable developers will offer some number of revisions as part of their contract, but this is not usually unlimited. Make sure both parties are clear about terms and conditions.

#8. What happens when the app is finished?

What happens after the app is finished and on the market? Who will take care of any needed updates or perhaps new iterations?

At Koombea, we offer a package for ongoing maintenance and we feel that this is an important thing to look for in an outsourced development team. You want a well-maintained app that remains attractive to users – it will be no good to the reputation of your company if bugs go unrepaired or new technology comes in, but the app is never updated to allow for it.

Final thoughts

If you make the decision to outsource your app development, we would encourage you to ask as many questions as you need, including all of those which help you to discover the skill and reliability of the developer.

Outsourced projects can provide rewarding results, but of course, they come with an element of risk.

Do your homework in terms of finding a reliable outsourced team and you can create a fruitful, ongoing partnership.

Koombea is an outsourcing destination for companies who want beautiful, well-built apps. Talk to us today about how we can help you.

by Tony Meazell
Blog Post