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Going Enterprise: 4 Signs You Should Outsource Your App Development

Around 91 percent of adults have their phones within arm’s reach 24/7. Moreover, global spending on mobile apps is expected to reach $35 billion by the end of 2015. That’s insane. But it’s even more insane if you’re not capitalizing on that exposure.

If you don’t have a mobile app, you’re already behind the times -- but luckily it’s never too late to catch up. Before you can do anything else, you will have to decide who you want to make your mobile app. If you’re a top notch mobile app designer, this question might seem like a no-brainer. But for the rest of us, it requires a little more thought. If the following signs apply to you, you should probably choose to outsource:

1. You don’t know the difference between a mobile site and native app.

This is a huge red flag to turn to outsourcing right away. If you don’t know the difference between a mobile site and a native app, then you won’t know what you are trying to build in the first place. In fact, this is an important distinction to learn even if you plan to outsource.

Mobile sites are websites that are optimized for mobile viewing and are accessible on any mobile device with a web browser. They require internet access to load, just like any website you’d access through your desktop or laptop. Native apps, on the other hand, are software applications native to the platform (e.g. iOS or Android). Native apps are downloaded directly to a mobile app, and they may not require internet connection to load.

If this is the first you’re learning about mobile sites versus native apps, you should most definitely outsource your app development.

2. You don’t know the difference between Android development and iOS development.

The two main platforms for mobile app development are Android and iOS (encompassing 95 percent of smartphone users), and the differences in development for the two platforms go much farther beyond which device will use your app.

Many inexperienced developers make the huge mistake of developing for iOS on Android especially. For example, according to Android guidelines, apps should not have static tabs, and they should never be at the bottom. Furthermore, system notification icons should not have color, app icons should not be placed inside a rounded rectangle, and lists should not have carets.

These are differences that any app developer worth their salt will know, which is why you should plan to hire one if this information is new to you. Certain developers might also be able to advise you on whether an Android app, iOS app, or both is better for your app specifically. Getting this expertise is worth the outsourcing.

3. You barely have time to tie your shoes in the morning.

You might be an all-star app developer, but if you barely have time to run all the other aspects of your business as is, you probably shouldn’t add app development to your plate. To create the best app possible, you need to have someone, if not a full team of someones, who can devote their full attention to its development.

Studies have shown that it takes approximately 18 weeks to develop a quality mobile app, and that’s assuming that the mobile developer is devoting his or her full attention to the project. If you are capable, building your app yourself may seem like a tempting strategy to try to save some money, but your other responsibilities will have to fall by the wayside. Given the availability of software cost estimation techniques, budgeting for these projects is also very feasible. Instead, it’s best to focus on running the parts of your company no one else can run, while outsourcing you app development to another talented developer who can perform just as well, if not better, in that arena as you can.

4. You can manage from afar.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when outsourcing is to remove yourself from the process. No, you shouldn’t have to micromanage your project every step of the way, but you should plan to be involved.

Once you have found a top mobile developer and are planning to start your project, make sure you state clear goals and timelines up front. The clearer your expectations are, the less room there can be for disagreement along the way.

You should also schedule regular check ins with your remote developer. Get them to send you periodic updates on the project, and schedule a weekly or biweekly call to actually speak with them and make sure everything is going according to plan.

Luckily, it’s easier than ever to manage a remote team. Adopting an agile project management style can be a great way to confront the challenges of governing and control required to deliver complex projects, especially if those projects are remote. Moreover, adopting an agile technique allows you to be more responsive to changing requirements, empowers your development team, and ultimately it puts you in control of delivering a high quality product.

Unless you have a money tree growing in your back storage room, it probably makes more sense to outsource your app development instead of hiring an in-house team. The practice is becoming more and more common, especially for mobile apps, so you shouldn’t be too concerned. As long as you remember that outsourcing isn’t an excuse to completely step out of the process, you’ll likely end up with a great mobile app that 91 percent of adults will have within arm’s reach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Lisa Froelings is a productivity consultant with over 4 years of experience in human resources working for a major retailer in the country before she decided to build her own business. Her interests include technology, mindfulness as well as time management. You may connect with her on Twitter

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