Apple's slogan “There’s an app for that” is no longer just a catchy marketing line: it’s an industry truth. With 7.1 billion mobile users worldwide, the number of apps is constantly growing. In 2021, the number of apps available on the App Store and Google Play combined reached a staggering 5.7 million.
Outsourcing can be an excellent choice if you’re looking to develop your own mobile application. It cuts costs, speeds up time to market, and lifts many burdens from your shoulders.
In this article, I’ll cover all you need to know about how to outsource app development — from the benefits and types of outsourcing to a step-by-step guide to finding a reliable outsourcing partner.
Let’s get started.
Benefits of outsourcing mobile app development
Application development was the most frequently outsourced function in the US and Canada in 2020, with around 60% of all organizations outsourcing it to some extent. And that’s not surprising, given the benefits that outsourcing brings to the table. For example:
You can choose specialists from a wider talent pool
Outsourcing companies meet a whole host of business needs, so, definitely, they have a full range of specialists under their roof. What’s more, you’re not limited to a particular location and have a global pool of developers to choose from.
You get the highest industry standards
A reliable vendor can offer you professionals who align with the best development practices and agile methodology. Based on their experience with similar projects and their broader view of trends, they can often recommend more effective solutions that will give your project a jump start.
You can scale up faster
App development is all about flexibility. Luckily, with an outsourced team, keeping up with changing business needs is no longer a headache. You can quickly hire specialists with niche expertise, change your team’s structure, and scale up or down as you need to.
You save on expenses
Developers from Asia and Eastern Europe will cost you significantly less without compromising development quality. Take Ukraine as an example — the country regularly features high in global software development rankings. And that’s just for starters: offshore mobile app development also removes your in-house expenses like office rent and equipment.
You work more on what matters
An outsourced team offloads your management burden and helps you focus on outcomes instead of on routine tasks. Employee hiring, training, and retention fall on your vendor’s shoulders while you control the project and track KPIs.
Outsourcing may sound like a magic wand, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Let’s take a closer look at when you can get the most out of it.
When is outsourcing mobile app development right?
There are 3 main reasons to outsource app development.
- You don’t have the right people. Recent McKinsey research suggests that IT and mobile development have the second-largest skills gap worldwide. Even if you have an in-house team, they may not have the expertise to build a feature-rich app or use advanced technologies like artificial intelligence or augmented reality.
- You have a limited budget. Cheaper rates and no more back-office expenses make outsourcing a perfect fit if you’re running on a shoestring.
- You want to move fast. With a ready-made outsourced team, you save time on hiring and training and get more experienced specialists who can cut your time to market.
If you’re in any of these situations, application development outsourcing makes a lot of sense.
So how do you get started?
What are the options for outsourcing mobile app development?
Depending on your project duration, complexity, and budget, you can choose to work with a company, hire freelance developers, or buy a ready-made app. Here’s the lowdown on each option:
Once you’ve decided on how you’ll work, it’s time to think about where you’ll outsource mobile app development:
- Onshore. Outsourcing to someone in your country
- Nearshore. Outsourcing in a similar time zone and/or culture
- Offshore. Outsourcing to remote countries
Onshoring and nearshoring minimize the risk of communication issues and cultural differences, while offshoring often brings you the most cost-effective specialists.
Whatever you prefer, remember that you’re choosing a partner to rely on, so their values and expertise should be more important than their location.
How to outsource your app development: steps
Outsourcing a team or a single developer can feel like a daunting task — your success and even your company’s sensitive information will depend on your choice. Luckily, with the tips below, you’ll be better set up for success.
Here are the steps to take when searching for a partner.
1. Outline your requirements
This happens in 3 stages:
- Decide on your business needs. What are your goals and objectives? What do you want to achieve with your app?
- Predict user expectations. How will your users interact with the app? What’s the core functionality?
- Clarify your app requirements. Do you need an iOS, Android, or hybrid app? What are the levels of authorization?
2. Estimate your resources
Your basic resources are budget, time, and your technical and management capabilities.
If you’re strapped for both money and time, a ready-made solution may be your best option, whereas if you need a more complex app and help with management, a development team makes more sense.
3. Choose an outsourcing app development partner
You’re choosing a partner from thousands of candidates worldwide, so it’s worth taking the time to find the best one.
- Draw up a list of potential development companies. You can search their websites or check Clutch, Upwork, or TopTal. (I'll give you more ideas later in the article.)
- Check their reviews. Don’t just rely on a candidate’s website or portfolio: track them down in industry ratings and on review websites like G2 and Clutch.
- Explore their technical expertise. Pay attention to your candidates’ partners, projects, tech stack, experience in your industry, and awards.
- Go through their development workflow. Get a clear understanding of how they work, including their communication process and management style.
- Ask for references. Don’t be afraid to ask for contact details of previous or current clients.
An experienced partner will offer fast and smooth development, advise you on your project, and give you a choice of service models.
4. Select a suitable service model
A service or engagement model basically defines how you'll work with your vendor. This includes responsibilities, management, and your level of control.
There are 3 main service models.
End-to-end development (project-based model)
Under this model, you work with a dedicated team built exclusively for your project at a fixed cost. The team consists of all the specialists required for end-to-end development, such as developers, QA engineers, UX/UI designers, business analysts, and project managers.
In this model, you’re responsible for task assignment and KPI control, but not the team assembly or the tools they use.
When to choose?
- You need experts who can advise you on your project and improve the outcome.
- You’re not tech-savvy, or you don’t want to deal with the development yourself.
- You want to stick to a fixed budget.
- Budget control and predictable costs
- Control over the expert selection
- Full support during development and after release
- Flexibility and scalability
The service-based model
This model also involves a dedicated team built exclusively for your project. However, instead of end-to-end development, the team supports you with a particular task, regardless of the development stage.
In this model, you’re responsible for task assignment and KPI control but not for team assembly.
When to choose?
You’re tech-savvy and can manage the overall development yourself, but you need to perform a specific task quickly.
- Fixed period and budget
- Control over scope
- Access to niche expertise
Team extension (team-as-a-service (TaaS) or outstaffing)
Team extension allows you to close a skills gap in your team without hiring permanent employees.
In this model, a vendor is responsible for finding a specialist with the necessary experience and skills. Meanwhile, you take care of project management and control, onboarding, salary, vacations, and motivation.
When to choose?
You’re tech-savvy and can manage the overall development process yourself, but you need to extend your team with a particular specialist quickly.
- Scalable development capacity
- Effective communication
- Fast hiring
If it’s hard to choose the right model, don’t fret: an experienced outsourcing app development vendor will help you decide what will suit you best.
5. Select a suitable payment model
There are 2 payment models to consider if you decide to outsource mobile application development:
Hourly payment (time & material; pay-as-you-go)
Hourly payment is the most popular, transparent, and flexible payment model, as you pay only for the time your team is working and can easily change the scope or team size at any stage. However, hourly payment gives you less budget control, as you can’t always predict how long app development will take.
When to choose? The model suits companies with little knowledge of the target market or the scope of work and projects in a fast-changing environment.
Fixed payments offer low risk without unpleasant surprises, overpayments, or distrust, but they lack flexibility, as writing detailed specifications and calculating the timeframe takes time and effort.
When to choose? Fixed payment makes sense if your project is small or typical, or you can easily estimate how long it will take.
Searching for the right development partner can be challenging, but following the steps above will help you find the best one for your specific project.
Let’s now turn to where you’ll find your outsource app development specialists.
Where to Look for Outsourcing Companies
Depending on the outsourcing option you choose, the main options are freelance websites and B2B platforms.
- Online freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, Guru, and TopTal can help you find and hire a specialist or even an entire freelance team with a particular skill set. You can find a detailed review in our research about Upwork, Toptal, and YouTeam.
- B2B platforms. Review websites such as G2, GoodFirms, and Clutch let you see client feedback and sort vendors by reviews, rating, and expertise.
Some less obvious places to find and outsource app development vendors are:
- Dev blogs. Many development companies run tech blogs and post expert articles in magazines, which can set you on the path to a candidate.
- Design communities. Most development companies offer end-to-end development that includes both code and design, so you can check their work on design websites like Behance or Dribble.
This list is obviously not exhaustive, and every search will be different.
App development is the most frequently outsourced IT function in the US and Canada, and for good reason: outsourcing allows for more cost-effective and fast development with a reduced management burden.
The main challenges when choosing a reliable freelancer or an outsourcing app development vendor are:
- Setting your requirements, goals, and resources clearly
- Finding the candidates that match your project needs in a huge pool of options
- Deciding how you’ll work with and pay your developers
If you don’t want to go through this alone, Altigee is here to help! Whether you need help with building a team of app developers for your project or want to extend your current team, we’re well placed to offer you the best IT professionals. Just drop us a line to get the conversation started.