How to Outsource Mobile App Development

By outsourcing mobile app development, you can shorten the time to market, decrease project costs, and improve the quality of your product. For this reason, around 52.5% of all IT companies have outsourced software development at least once. In this article, we will give you a handy guide on how to choose a mobile app development outsourcing company. We also explain the typical working and paying models in outsourcing so you can select the best one. 

6 Steps to hiring outsourcing app development team

Below we share steps you need to take to find perfect specialists among outsourcing app development companies existing today. 

Step 1. Know your requirements

You need to have a detailed definition of your mobile app or a project you want at the outcome. 

Step 2. Find An App Development Team

You need to select the type of outsourcing mobile application development team. Types include onshore, nearshore, and offshore. 

Step 3. Check portfolio and communicate with previous clients

Before sending emails to all app development companies, or filling in contact forms on their websites, you need to go through their portfolios. 

Step 4. Select service model 

To hire outsourcing app developers you need to choose among project-based, dedicated teams, or outstaff working models. 

Step 5. Choose a payment model 

For a dedicated team or a project-based working model, you can choose among fixed price or time and material paying models. 

Before hiring outsource app developers, you need to have a detailed definition of your mobile app or a project you want at the outcome. To achieve that, check out our article about functional and non-functional requirements

Where can you find to outsource?

Check out the most popular options: 

B2B directories. Such websites list application development outsourcing companies, grouped by location, rating, and expertise. Clutch, the most popular B2B platform for finding app developers, includes advanced search, categories, classification, and even reviews of the team’s previous clients.  

The app solutions Clitch

[TheAPPSolutions profile on Clutch]

Freelance websites. If you need to outsource one specialist with a particular skill set, freelance sites might come in handy. One example is Upwork, where you can hire a freelancer or outsourcing team for a fixed-price or hourly rate. However, working with freelancers might be risky. It is hard to validate the experience of a developer and find out whether the developer is not reliable. 

Dev blogs. Development teams, like us, are running tech blogs with tips and case studies showing their experience in app development. If the company's expertise meets your project idea, you can contact such a company without hesitation. 

Design networks. Many app development companies are full-cycle and create both the code and design. For this reason, design communities such as Behance or Dribble also work great for finding a team to outsource. 

Now, let's imagine you have chosen the type of outsourcing, the team’s location, and created the list of developers to hire. What to do next? You need to check the team’s experience to find out whether they can complete your project or not. How? Read on to find out. 

Find out about the app development company expertize

Before sending emails to all app development companies, or filling in contact forms on their websites, you need to go through their portfolios. You should focus on the following: 

  • Projects. Does the team have attractive projects in their portfolio?  
  • Tech stack. Does the team have experience with the technologies required for your project? 
  • Industry. Has the team developed a project for a similar industry to yours? 
  • Clients. What do previous clients say about the team? 
  • Partners. Is the team partnering with tech companies like Google or other famous brands

After conducting in-depth research and answering these questions, you will narrow down the list of app development candidates. Now, you can get in touch with three or five of the most appropriate teams and pass to the next stage. 

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Select the best service model 

To hire outsourcing app developers you need to choose among the following working models: 

Project-Based. Once outsourcing a dedicated team, you have a pre-defined goal for the team to reach within defined timeframes. By goals, we mean a set of specified requirements your app must meet. In this way, you, as a client, are responsible for the result, not the means, technologies, and tools used for the project. 

Project-based application outsource includes: 

  • A fixed-sized team
  • A fixed period 
  • A fixed budget
  • The task of developing the best possible product based on the backlog 

This business model is popular among start-ups without their own development team or experience in project management. 

Dedicated Team. In this business model, the outsourcing company is responsible for building the team and taking care of personal management and process quality. In this way, you receive a full-cycle development team, also including PMs and BAs working on a project pipeline or providing complete service. 

In a dedicated team, the provider is responsible for:

  • Tasks assignment
  • Team leaders
  • Project management
  • Tasks schedule 
  • Project status  

However, you still make the product or project management decisions and levels may vary:

This business model works great for midsize teams that need to implement a part of a project like Cloud storage integration or complex functionality, like developing IA Chabot.  

Outstaff or Extended team. This model includes assigning tasks to outsourced developers, as well as providing them with a place to work.

In this working model you would also be responsible for:

  • Controlling the working process,
  • Managing the project 
  • Controlling vacations
  • Regulating working time 
  • Promoting inside the team
  • Paying salaries
  • Creating motivation

And so on. The Outstaff is a perfect outsource app-building model for mid-sized and big companies who need to hire a particular specialist for particular tasks while staying within the project's budget.  Outstaff is also a perfect model when a Customer has PM and, for example, CTO or someone who can provide audit and control developers by giving them tasks, priorities, and leading them from a technical management side.

This model seems to have a lot of extra responsibilities on the Customer's side. But, Outstaff is the cheapest, and very often mid-size companies to large enterprises, and sometimes even startups have their own technical leaders and chiefs. Sometimes co-founders may also have such kind of expertise and experience.

Choose the most suitable payment model 

Once you outsource app developers under the Outstaff model, you pay them a monthly salary like regular staff members. As for a dedicated team or a project-based working model, you can choose among the following options:  

Fixed price. Such a working model works only in the combination of the following criteria:

  • A relatively small project 
  • A limited budget
  • The scope of work is clear
  • The amount of time needed is easy to estimate

This paying model suits new-born start-ups which need to develop an MVP. Still, due to the human factor, it is tough to evaluate the project scope initially. For this reason, most of the dev companies prefer working on the next model. 

Time and Material. This payment model, also known as Pay as You Go, is prevalent among companies that use Agile methodology. First, you and the team will agree upon the hourly rate of each developer, and then, you pay based on the actual time spent on the development. Companies use Time and Material when:

  • It is hard to determine the scope of work in advance
  • The client needs to change the requirements during the process of work without modification of the agreement. 

Having become very popular among outsourcing mobile application development companies, the Time and Material model has proven to be valid for projects of any size. 

Cooperation models for Iphone/Android app development

[TheAPPSolution models of cooperation]

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How much does it cost to outsource app development?

So how much will it cost to hire outsourcing app developers?
Let's talk about real numbers.
Depending on the team's geographical location, the cost to build a simple mobile app may range from $25.000 to $50.000, while a complex app with multiple features would cost from $100.000 to $200.000 to outsource approximately.

To give you a clue on the app cost based on its type, consider the following common app types:

  • Real Estate Applications – $12,000 – $15,000
  • A messaging app like Whatsapp – $50.000 to $130.000
  • Dating app like Tinder – $80.000 to $200.000
  • City guide app – $25.000 to $50.000
  • Networking (social) app – $30.000+
  • Banking/payment app – $40.000 to $70.000
  • Taxi booking app like Uber – $25.000 to $100.000

Final word

Outsourcing app development reduces costs, increases team productivity, and allows delivering the project within schedule. This type of collaboration suits all kinds of businesses – start-ups, mid, and large-sized companies. Still, to receive all benefits from outsourcing app development, you need to select the team you are going to work with carefully. Thus, check their portfolio, tech stack, and reviews from previous clients. Then, select the engagement and payment model which is the most appropriate for you and enter the discovery phase. 

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Elena Vodovatova