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How To Smartly Outsource Mobile App Development in 2024

icon2 April 2023 (updated 17 May 2024)
icon10 minutes read
icon18 minutes audio
iconMemory Squared

Table of Contents

Dreaming of making your own mobile app or one for your business? If you're up for learning and navigating through the tech world, taking on the project yourself could be an exciting challenge. But if you're looking for different options, you've come to the right place.

Basically, you have two choices. You can keep things in-house by hiring a development team, finding a solo developer, or working with the developers you already have. Or, you can go the outsourcing route, which we're going to explore more in this guide.

Outsourcing means partnering with a company or freelancers to bring your app idea to life. The right partner can take care of the design, development, and launching of your app, making sure it's cool, user-friendly, and scalable.

In this article, I'm going to walk you through outsourcing your mobile app development in 7 steps. Plus, I'll share some handy tips on how to make it work smoothly without any risks. We'll also take a peek at the costs involved and the benefits you can expect to see. No matter if you're starting from scratch or have some experience with app development, this guide aims to simplify the process and make it as hassle-free as possible.

Mobile Application Development Outsourcing vs In-House

Deciding whether to outsource the development of your mobile app or handle it in-house is a major first step. Let's break down some key factors to help you make this decision:

  • Cost. If you've got the skills and time, whipping up an app on your own could save some pennies. Keeping it in-house might look like a bargain at first glance, but it could end up compromising on quality or limiting your options. Outsourcing, on the other hand, can be a smart save, especially if you're savvy about choosing where and who to work with.
  • Time. Teaming up with a dedicated outsourced crew can fast-track your project way more than going solo or working with an in-house squad. Outsourcing means you've got a full deck of pros ready to go, which can make things move along much faster.
  • Quality. Picking a top-notch mobile app development agency usually means your app will shine brighter than if you tackled it alone. The very best developers and designers often prefer working for agencies where they can zero in on what they do best.

Building your app doesn't mean you have to stick to just one way of doing things. The early phases, where you're sketching out your design and putting together a basic version of your app (that's your MVP or Minimal Viable Product), are perfect for figuring out what method suits you best and refining your initial concept. 

If you're starting this journey solo, we've got a great primer on the typical steps involved in mobile app development to help you out. 

But, as you dive deeper, you'll probably find that doing everything on your own becomes a bit too much. That's when bringing in some extra hands becomes essential. You might begin with a few freelance designers or developers to fill in the gaps in your skill set. Just a heads up, though — juggling a team of freelancers, even a small one, can be pretty tricky. 

If you find a software house that provides MVP phase development and teams without long-term obligations, it can be a good way to start building your product relatively effectively.

One key piece of advice: it’s much simpler to adjust your approach or development model before your app hits the market than after. So, use this time wisely to experiment and find the best fit for your project.

In the end, the choice between keeping things in-house or outsourcing mobile app development comes down to your specific situation. It's crucial to lay out all your options. Consider what you've got to work with — both in terms of resources and budget — and figure out which route will give you the most bang for your buck, not just in terms of cost but also time and quality. 

How to Outsource Mobile App Development in 7 Steps

If you decide to give outsourcing a chance, here’s a guide to 7 steps that can help you do it right. 

1. Start With a Clear Idea

An arrow coming from a piece of paper through the bulb reaches a pie chart
An idea comes a long way from a piece of paper to an actual product, but we promise - it's worth it!

Before you can outsource app development, you need to have a clear idea of what it is you want to create. That doesn’t necessarily require a detailed specification and requirements document upfront. But before you brief a company with your idea, make sure you have a clear vision that you can describe. Our article on early product discovery for founders can help you achieve it.

2. Define Project Requirements

The most important part of any project is defining the requirements. This will form the core of your project scope and ensure that all parties understand exactly what needs to be accomplished. It should include a detailed description of features, functions, user expectations, and an unambiguous definition of success criteria. 

The more specific requirements are defined upfront the better results you can achieve with outsourcing mobile app development.

Set up milestones before starting work and use them as checkpoints throughout the process. These will help you track progress, measure results, and identify any potential issues early in order to take corrective actions if needed.

It’s also important to pay attention to communication protocols between all parties involved — make sure everyone is on the same page and understands each other. 

3. Estimate the Mobile App Development Budget

A stopwatch
While time is playing a crucial role in releasing a new product, don't rush things, if you're not sure that your budget can take it

Although outsourcing might come with a higher price tag depending on the quality and company you choose, the investment can pay off with time savings and better product quality. Companies that specialize in helping startups often bring more to the table in terms of speed and standards, thanks to their wealth of experience with early-stage apps.

It's also wise not to pour your entire budget into the first version of your product. Early-stage projects often need tweaks and changes once you start gathering user feedback and understanding your business model better. Make sure you have a safety net in your budget for these kinds of updates.

4. Research the App Development Companies

Doing a bit of legwork is essential to find the right team to turn your app idea into reality. Begin your hunt with companies that have a knack for nurturing early-stage projects. Take a good look at their past work, sift through reviews, and explore their portfolios to understand their capabilities.

If you're at the starting line, you might want to skip the big firms that focus on scaling large enterprises. Instead, look for a partner who gets your vision and business model straight away without drowning you in tech speak or demanding detailed specs from the get-go.

Be open about your own tech know-how. It's crucial to team up with a company that can walk you through the development process with ease. If they're not up to the task, it's time to search for a better match. And pay attention to how quickly they respond to you. Delayed replies or needing constant nudges to get an offer could be a warning sign to consider other options.

Furthermore, trust your guts regarding personal fit; getting along with your future development partner will make all the difference!

5. Choose an Outsourcing Service Model: Fixed Project vs Time and Material Approach

Choosing between a fixed project and a time and material approach for your mobile app development can be tricky since each has pros and cons.

Fixed Project 

This is when you and your development team agree on a specific plan, budget, and timeline from the start. You'll need a detailed document that outlines everything the project will entail before any work begins. This method is great if you can list all your requirements upfront, but that can be tough, especially in the fast-moving world of startups. 

If changes pop up mid-way, it might cost extra or even need a redesign, depending on the progress. The big plus is that it puts the onus on the outsourced team to deliver, minimizing your risk early on, particularly if you've got a complete MVP outlined.

Time and Material Approach

With this approach, you pay for the development time and any materials needed as the project unfolds. It's a setup where the value lies in the expertise of app developers and designers, with materials often being IT infrastructure or specialized testing setups. 

The flexibility is a major advantage, allowing for adjustments along the way. The flip side is the unpredictability of costs, which might overshoot your initial budget. This method calls for more involvement from you or your product owner to steer the project and make key decisions.

Ultimately, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. It's important to weigh your needs, resources, and objectives carefully. When choosing a company to work with, look for one that can offer both options for a side-by-side comparison.

6. Build a Strategy for Mobile App Development

A smartphone with a magnifying glass on it
Make a research before setting a app development strategy - knowledge about how much time each process needs will help you in negotiations with the developers!

Kicking off your digital product's development with a long-term plan is like drawing a map for a treasure hunt. It ensures that everyone on your team knows where the treasure (your product's success) is buried. 

To start, sketch out a roadmap that highlights your product's vision and key milestones for the next six months, a year, two years, and even five years down the line. Make sure the whole crew is clued into this plan. Think of your roadmap as a living document you'll come back to and tweak as needed — after all, a bit of course correction is part of the adventure.

As a founder, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the strategy and product vision remain viable. This particular task can be difficult to outsource; therefore, you should have an active role in the development process, as only you know how best to bring your ideas into reality.

7. Prepare Contracts for Mobile App Development Outsourcing

When it comes to agreeing on a contract for mobile app development outsourcing, be sure that you communicate the needs and expectations clearly. Lay out a timeline and milestones for the project so there is no confusion about the delivery plan. Ensure that any pricing and payment terms are negotiated upfront to avoid future disagreements. 

Remember about Intellectual Property (IP) ownership rights, security measures for data protection, acceptable use policies, and confidentiality agreements.

Overall, having clarity over who will own the product and all its parts after development is especially important when it comes to mobile app development from a founder's perspective.

If you can't claim every part of your product as your own, then it's key to have a clear license spelled out. Ideally, you'd want a mobile app that's tailor-made for you, free from any licensing headaches or tight grips from third-party services. 

When your app deals with sensitive stuff like payment details or personal info, beefing up security is a must to keep that data safe. 

And about those contracts for outsourcing your app development, it's more than just laying down the law on who does what. It's about forging a win-win partnership with your remote team.  Ensure your contract includes a plan for smoothing out any bumps in the road, with clear steps for resolving disagreements. And it's totally okay to talk about penalties as a safety net for your project, especially when you've got deadlines that matter to your backers.

Benefits of Outsourcing Mobile App Development

A smartphone with a dollar symbol on the screen
The cost is the most used factor while choosing a business strategy for app development

Outsourcing your mobile app development offers several compelling advantages that are hard to ignore. Here's why you might consider going this route: 

  • Cost-effectiveness. One of the most appealing aspects of outsourcing is its cost-effectiveness. By tapping into external talent pools, you avoid the hefty expenses associated with recruiting, hiring, and maintaining an in-house team. This approach eliminates the need for long-term commitments to employees whose roles may only be critical at specific stages of your app's development, making it a more flexible and financially savvy option. 
  • Flexibility. Outsourcing offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing you to scale your development team up or down based on the current needs of your project. This means you're not tied down to a fixed number of employees and can adjust your workforce based on the demands of each development phase. Such flexibility is particularly valuable when navigating the unpredictable waters of app development. 
  • Access to a vast pool of professionals. When you outsource, you gain access to a broad spectrum of skilled professionals ready to bring your app to life. This global talent pool includes experienced project managers and even knowledgeable Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) who can devise and oversee a long-term tech strategy for your app. These professionals bring a wealth of experience from working on similar projects, offering insights and expertise that might be out of reach with an in-house team. 
  • A more efficient and streamlined development process. Experienced teams are better equipped to avoid common pitfalls, such as miscommunication and resource shortages, that can slow down project timelines. This means you can expect faster turnaround times and a smoother journey from concept to launch.

Outsourcing Development as a Startup

Outsourcing mobile app development can be a game-changer for venture capital-backed startups. It's a smart move that lets you quickly allocate resources where they're needed most, keeping things lean and speeding up your journey to market. 

For a startup, the time of its founders and core team is gold, particularly in the bustling days leading up to and following a product launch. That's why it makes sense to save this precious time for tasks that really need your attention. 

Startup founders and their investors often aim to keep a tight grip on control and scalability as their business grows. Teaming up with a software company that's seasoned in helping startups flourish is a brilliant strategy to maintain control over your product. 

And if you're worried about becoming too dependent on an outsourced team as you scale, don't be. At Memory Squared, we get the importance of staying autonomous. We're here to support you through the transition to an in-house setup whenever it makes sense for your growing team and product. 

What After the 1.0 Version? Post-Release Development and Maintenance

The development of a mobile app is not a one-time effort. Post-release maintenance and regular updates are essential for the successful operation of your application. As such, it's important to have an outsourcing provider that can provide ongoing services such as bug fixing, monitoring, and performance optimization.

Additionally, if you plan to launch multiple versions on different platforms or introduce new features, consider partnering with a company that offers complete product management and a dedicated long-term project manager rather than just development services. This will ensure that your product is well managed from start to finish and continuously optimized over time.

Best Places to Outsource Mobile App Development

the outline of Poland
Poland is a great market to find a reliable software house in a fixed price

The quality of IT services isn't generally dependent on the geographical distance between parties. Still, some clients prefer to stick with closer partners, choosing so-called nearshore software development companies.

At the same time, in today’s digital world, outsourcing software development has become increasingly popular for businesses of all sizes, and other factors than distance are more important. Many companies are turning to Eastern Europe as a destination for their application development needs due to the region's high-quality talent pool, competitive pricing, and experience working in various time zones. Other popular destinations are India and Latin America.

Poland has become a popular destination for mobile app development outsourcing due to their impressive universities and high level of technical education.

Besides, the region boasts an active tech community that spans all levels of experience, from entry-level developers to experienced software architects. Eastern Europe also offers competitive rates for hiring offshore development teams compared to other regions. 

We're based in Krakow, a city that's not just a booming tech hub but also one of Europe's most stunning destinations. Choosing a software house in Krakow gives you the perfect reason to come and explore :) 

Wrapping Up

A gear and a roadsign
App development is a milestone in product development - don't wander in the fog, trust your development partner!

Outsourcing mobile app development can be highly beneficial for businesses of all sizes. It offers cost-effective solutions, access to specialized resources, and flexibility in the design and app development process. It requires significantly less effort and commitment than constructing an in-house development team.

When you're thinking about outsourcing your app development, here are some tips to make sure everything goes smoothly:

  • Get cozy with your outsourcing team. It's key they really get what you're looking for.
  • Be crystal clear about what you want from the project and how you envision it functioning once it's finished.
  • Sketch out a timeline with all the important milestones. This way, everyone's on the same page about what needs to happen and when.
  • Stay hands-on in the development process. As the leader, sharing your vision and strategy is crucial.

By keeping these steps in mind and weighing the possible ups and downs of outsourcing your mobile app development, you can get your product off the ground quickly and efficiently while maintaining full ownership and control over the final product. 

FAQs on Outsourcing Mobile App Development

How is mobile app development outsourcing different from general custom software development outsourcing?


Mobile app development is a bit different from general software development outsourcing because mobile apps are built for use on specific platforms. To create a hybrid app that functions on both iOS and Android, you need to understand the various distinctions between those two platforms, but with the right technologies, you can use one codebase for both systems.

Mobile apps also demand a knack for UI and UX design and specific technical know-how, like how to weave them into existing systems seamlessly. 

Testing is also critical and must be considered during the project plan. Mobile devices come in many sizes and resolutions, and testing mobile apps is much more demanding than desktop or web software. Especially if you're aiming to have your app available on wearables.

How much does it cost to outsource mobile app development?


The cost to outsource mobile app development really depends. In the UK and US, hourly rates range from $15-$45 for junior developers to $50-$100 for seniors. The final price is influenced by several factors, including:

  • The development team's location
  • App complexity and type
  • Development purpose and urgency
  • Platforms supported
  • Development approach and UI/UX design complexity
  • Back-end infrastructure needs

How can I reduce the risks of mobile app development outsourcing?


Minimizing risks in outsourcing mobile app development is all about smart planning and clear agreements. These steps can help you choose a reliable partner and create a successful outcome for your app development project:

  • Research thoroughly. Investigate potential companies by reviewing their case studies, asking for references, and testing apps they’ve developed.
  • Sign an NDA. Protect your app idea and sensitive information with a non-disclosure agreement.
  • Set communication rules. Define how and when you’ll communicate, especially with offshore teams, to ensure smooth collaboration.
  • Split payments. Avoid large upfront payments by agreeing to installment payments, protecting your investment in the early stages.

How can I find the best outsourcing company for mobile app development?


Finding the best outsourcing company for mobile app development starts with doing your homework. Dive into their past projects, check out reviews, and maybe even download some apps they've developed to see their work in action. Recommendations can also be golden, so ask around within your network. Don’t forget to discuss your project in detail with potential companies — this will give you a feel for their expertise and whether they understand your vision. 

Is it better to outsource mobile app development?


Outsourcing mobile app development can be a great choice if you're looking for expertise, cost savings, and efficiency. It allows you to tap into global talent, get your app to market faster, and often at a lower cost than hiring a full in-house team. Plus, it lets you focus on your core business while experts handle the technical side. However, it's important to choose the right partner to ensure your vision is accurately brought to life.

Why should I hire offshore developers?


Hiring offshore developers not only grants you access to a vast talent pool but also comes with the advantage of cost-effectiveness. You can often find high-quality work at a fraction of the cost compared to local rates. This approach can accelerate your projects with continuous progress across different time zones and inject new perspectives into your work, allowing for rapid scaling without breaking the bank.

Memory Squared

Memory Squared - Design Driven Software House
Memory Squared - Design Driven Software House

At Memory Squared we connect humans and computers by creating digital products that meet real needs and inspire genuine emotions and interactions. We would love to share our story and experience with You.

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Awarded as one of the best 2023 software companies globally

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