In 2009, Apple released an iPhone 3g commercial with the catchy slogan—“There’s an app for that,”—pointing out that you can find an app for everything from checking snow conditions on the mountain to counting the calories in your lunch.
During that time, there were over 250,000 apps in the App Store. Today, there are more than 7 million apps in the world, according to the app stores offering iOS and Android products. Additionally, there is a third growing applications category—hybrid apps. A hybrid app lets you write the app functionality in a single codebase and targets multiple operating systems.
Today, the “There’s an app for that” slogan has become a buzzword, meaning a response to someone else’s problems, as per Urban Dictionary. In other words, it is possible to solve any problem with an app today—and this is probably true.
There are mobile apps for any industry—be it real estate, healthcare, insurance, retail, or finance. Furthermore, many big enterprises today are embracing the power of cloud computing and migrating their enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) to the cloud.
There is a high demand for app developers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Western Europe. One specific solution to the mobile app developer shortage is offshore development outsourcing.
In this article, we will highlight the benefits and risks of outsourcing mobile app development as well as explain how to minimize those risks. We will also give you some important points to consider if you decide on offshore mobile app development services.
Streamline app development outsourcing in three steps
Prepare for the development of your mobile app MVP. Focus on the main feature, do not try to build-it-all. Before building the prototype, for example, make sure you have talked to your target audience to ensure you’re going to build the MVP of the app they will actually use. After you’re sure of what the first version of your mobile app is going to contain, prepare the project description and timeline.
Engage an offshore app development team. Finding the right app development agency is probably the biggest challenge when it comes to outsourcing. Read more on vetting software development partners here.
Establish leverage over the vendor in the early days of the partnership so that if they aren’t delivering quality output, then you can take action and, in a worst-case scenario, you can get your outsource app development investment back.
Benefits of outsourcing mobile app development
If you delegate app development to an offshore team, you get the following advantages:
The cost of living in outsourcing destinations, such as India, China, or Eastern Europe, is significantly lower than in the US, UK, or Western Europe. Therefore, even the highest hourly rates in, say, Ukraine will be lower than the lowest rates in the US.
|Experience||The US||The UK||Ukraine|
|Junior iOS developer||$90,000||$64,000||$20,000|
|Middle iOS developer||$137,000||$82,000||$34,000|
|Senior iOS developer||$180,000||$97,000||$54,000|
Mobile app development outsourcing is not only cost-efficient but also helps to save time. When outsourcing app development, you will spend less time on hiring, training, and employee retention. You get a ready-made, dedicated team that has completed many projects requiring a similar tech stack, built many complex apps, thus, bringing experience to the table so they can contribute to your project productively and efficiently.
The high quality of work delivered
When you outsource app development, there are often many reviews available about your potential software partner that can help make the right hiring decision. You can browse websites such as Clutch.co, find application development outsourcing agencies worldwide, and shortlist candidates highly rated by previous clients. Additionally, you can look up the dev shops’ websites and check references, testimonials, and case studies.
Alternatively, you could get a shortlist of dedicated offshore teams of mobile app developers in 48 hours or less with YouTeam, a Y Combinator-backed marketplace that works with 500+ pre-vetted outsourcing agencies from Eastern Europe and Latin America. YouTeam leverages a dynamic talent pool of 50,000+ vetted software developer candidates. If you give YouTeam a list of your requirements, they can help you find and hire the best-suited offshore development team in less than a week.
Risks to consider when you outsource mobile app development
When outsourcing offshore mobile app development companies, there are many misconceptions about the quality of service providers. Many tech businesses had bad experiences with outsourcing, and we know how hard it is to find the right team. Let us help you avoid the most common pitfalls of IT outsourcing.
Collaboration with offshore teams is typically remote, though the leaders of in-house teams sometimes visit the offshore destinations or vice versa. However, even those visits may not be enough to ensure that everything is understood correctly and not misinterpreted. Therefore, if you wish to outsource app development to another country, be ready to educate yourself about remote project management practices. Thankfully, communicating remotely keeps getting easier thanks to a large number of project planning and remote communication tools, such as Slack, Zoom, and Skype.
Time zone differences
Offshore destinations—as their name suggests—are typically located further away from the client’s country. Thus, both countries need to find a convenient time overlap to meet. For instance, if an offshore team has an urgent issue that cannot be solved without an in-house development team, the ramifications can quickly escalate. Additionally, it can be difficult to control the quality of work because of those differences.
However, if the time differences are too inconvenient, you can try nearshoring app development—outsourcing to a nearer country or region. For example, developers in Latin America for the United States or Eastern Europe for the United Kingdom may be more convenient.
Members of both the in-house and offshore teams have various cultural backgrounds and different approaches to work as well. This results in a different perception of issues and even cross-communicational barriers—for example, developers in Asia can cover up problems and mistakes because of the fear of being punished.
Therefore, the company should have a clear culture code that the team members should adhere to. And, what’s more important, offshore team members should be treated the same way as the in-house ones.
YouTeam’s co-founder discusses the culture fit in remote teams in this article. When outsourcing app developers, you don’t need perfection as they are a temporary part of your dev team and may only communicate with one or two people in your company a few hours per day. However, cultures sometimes clash, so we suggest learning how to embrace frameworks of cultural differences when hiring remotely from other countries.
The leak of confidential information
When outsourcing an app development project, the client must entrust the outsourced app development agency with its sensitive data and, in some cases, even its customers’ sensitive data. To minimize those risks, the client company should take the appropriate legal and organizational measures, such as having offshore developers sign an NDA.
How to outsource app development without risk
Before you outsource mobile app development or web app development, you should take certain measures to help reduce or eliminate risk.
The first step should be to engage an appropriate and high-quality software development partner. The second step is to anticipate guarantees and establish leverage over the outsourced app development agency in the early days of the partnership. If they aren’t delivering quality output, then you can take action, and, in a worst-case scenario, you can get your outsource app development investment back. Further measures include the following:
1. Ensure there is a money-back guarantee in place
If you are not satisfied with the quality of the work, it is not fair for you to have to pay for it. Therefore, make sure you have a relevant clause covering this risk in the contract.
2. Trial phases & account management
As a client-side project manager, I often suggest doing a trial phase complete with a test assignment instead of paying large sums upfront. Try to set up a short trial period—two weeks to a month—within which the outsourced IT company has to deliver their best possible services to you and demonstrate they are right for your project.
If you are less experienced with delivering software projects, but your management team decided, for example, to outsource Android app development to either a nearshore or offshore software company, it makes sense to hire a client-side project manager to manage risks on an ongoing basis. For instance, within the YouTeam business model, you are assigned an Advisor who makes sure that communication, performance, and financial aspects of the project are taken care of. The account manager is a third party, and it is hence impractical to make sure projects are done consistently.
When working with a team directly, if you decide to do your own hiring with our help, make sure you set up the rules for business communication before signing the contract. This should include the task assignment, reporting methods, timing, the quantity and length of meetings, and pricing. Try to negotiate the necessity of extra meetings with members of your team for project explanation (if necessary), so you can plan with your employees.
3. Key the code on the client-side
Another basic and essential step is to set up your client-side repository to take custody of the code immediately, which prevents the outsourced app development agency from not transferring you the code in the case of disagreement. It also ensures that you are not obligated to pay for poor-quality code.
4. Avoid paying out large lump sums early on
Request as detailed a cost breakdown of the scope of works as possible, which should make contract management much easier. While the project is in its early stages, try to avoid paying out large lump sums. Until you’ve been working with a vendor for six months or more, you can’t be too confident in their ability to deliver.
Vijay, Founder and CEO of Software Testing Help, argues we can not totally avoid these risks, but surely we can mitigate the impact:
The biggest risk is whether the outsourced team is capable of handling the project. You should check the complete background and progress history of the outsourcing company. Start with small contracts and progress gradually by increasing the work. The second biggest risk is outsourcing costs. Check if the outsourcing contract is clear enough to handle the increased workload, team size, and duration. There should be a clear agreement on all these things to avoid any additional cost burden and legal issues.
5. Leverage the benefits of code and secure payment offered by outsourcing platforms
One of the major benefits of using a hiring platform, such as YouTeam, Upwork, or TopTal, is that they offer secure payment services, whereby your payments are only released when you are satisfied with the quality of the work.
Additionally, strict vetting procedures on these platforms allow you to outsource mobile app development without the risk of wasting money on unskilled talent.
Where to find offshore mobile app developers?
B2B directories and review platforms
Clutch is a popular B2B platform where you can find app development companies and filter them by location, industry, budget, and hourly rate. You can also view customer reviews and see how Clutch ranked companies—market leaders, proven leaders, niche leaders, and emerging leaders—on their Leaders Matrix. Mobile app development projects reviewed on Clutch typically cost $10,000–$50,000.
G2 is another platform offering app design and development company rankings. The website scores companies based on reviews gathered from their user community and data aggregated from online sources and social networks.
Upwork is a website where you can hire freelance mobile app developers by browsing their profiles, talking to an Upwork recruiter, or posting a job and picking the best-responding candidates. You can select freelance app developers by reviewing their work history, total earnings, English proficiency, education, and skills.
Staff augmentation marketplaces
Staff augmentation uses full-time employed software engineers from outsourcing agencies. However, unlike assigning or handing over an entire project to a mobile development agency, businesses manage remote developers and communicate with them directly. You can view remote mobile app developer profiles on YouTeam and filter them by English proficiency, seniority level, experience, and hourly rate.
How to check mobile app developer expertise
Before filling out the contact form on the app development agency website, you should focus on their portfolio, industry expertise, and customer reviews. After reviewing the following criteria, you will be able to narrow down the list of the most suitable development candidates.
Range of skills and domain expertise
Cost-effectiveness and flexibility
Fixed-price outsourcing contracts are usually best suited for smaller projects with clearly defined requirements, while more complex projects may require flexible service fees and regular project reviews.
Check out mobile app agency reviews on sites like Clutch or G2. Even though development shops often ask their most loyal customers to rate them, having reviews is still a good sign, especially in the absence of other recommendations. If an agency has received some reviews, it means it has found at least a few customers willing to invest their time in working with it.
You should check whether an outsourcing company or marketplace adheres to international security standards and contractual agreements on intellectual property transfer and data protection.
Offshore mobile app development: FAQ
Let’s recap what we’ve discussed in this article, plus add a few new useful sources.
How to keep a remote development team productive?
How much does it cost to hire an offshore app developer?
The bottom line
Today, apps rule the world, and there’s an app for almost everything. That’s why the demand for app developers is constantly growing, and due to the shortage of tech talent in the US and Western Europe, mobile app development outsourcing is trending.
Outsourcing app development to an offshore app development agency brings companies the following benefits:
- Reduced costs
- Time savings
- High-quality work
At the same time, companies face the following risks:
- Time zone differences
- Cultural differences
- The leak of confidential information
However, you can implement some simple measures to help reduce your risk. For example, once you have all the milestones in place and they have demonstrated their ability to deliver quality reliably, then you will have a significantly better chance of establishing a win-win collaboration with your chosen software development firm.
YouTeam makes it easy and safe to match you with a team of offshore engineers for any type of project. To get started, fill out your project info and get on a quick call with one of our representatives. We will start souring teams of developers immediately. Within 48 hours, we will present you with a list of talented software engineers based in dev shops in Eastern Europe and Latin America. Thanks to our dynamic database of 50,000+ engineers in the top offshore destinations, we can help you stop wasting time on sourcing and recruiting and get in touch with agencies immediately. The whole sourcing and interview process is completely free for clients working with YouTeam up until the hiring contract is signed. After which, you sign our contract and pay using our platform to ensure safe funds transfer to your outsource team only after the team completes project milestones.