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How To Smartly Outsource Mobile App Development

icon2 April 2023 (updated 2 August 2023)
icon18 minutes read
icon22 minutes audio
iconMemory Squared

Table of Contents

Mobile App Development Outsourcing - when to consider it?

Do you have a vision of creating your own mobile app or an app for your company? If you have the tenacity and skillset to learn one of the many available technologies and ways of doing it, then taking on this challenge yourself may be a viable option. But if you're reading this you probably look for some alternatives.

You can follow two paths. One is going in-house by employing a development team or individual developer or relying on developers you already have onboard. Another option which we focus on in this article is outsourcing the project.

Outsourcing involves cooperating with company or freelancers who will bring your idea into reality. If you choose an outsourcing partner wisely he can handle all aspects of design, development, and release while ensuring that the final product is up-to-date with current trends in design, usability, and scalability.

In this article, we will explore various distinct methods of building your own mobile app, with a particular focus on the outsourcing model compared to other alternatives.

Check what works for you at the MVP stage

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!

You don't have to commit to a single model when it comes to building your app. The initial design and MVP (Minimal Viable Product) development stage is ideal for testing which approach works best for you and polishing your idea and assumptions. If you decide to go at it on your own, you can check out our introduction to typical stages of mobile app development.

However, at some point, you likely won't be able to work independently on the various aspects of design and development, and hiring a team will be necessary. You can start by onboarding some freelance designers or developers to cover the skills you can't handle yourself, but managing even a small team of individual freelancers is often quite a challenge.

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.

After all, remember that before your app goes live, making changes in the workflow and model of development is easier and less complicated than after its release, so use this time to explore various scenarios.

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

What are the positive sides of outsourcing your mobile app development? Working with a specialized company offers many advantages over taking on the task yourself or hiring an in-house team. Outsourcing gives you access to a vast selection of talented professionals without the need for costly recruitment processes, which can be difficult when launching a new product. Additionally, you don't have to commit to these individuals permanently; some roles are only necessary during certain parts of the process.

By outsourcing your product development to a company that is specialized in new product development outsourcing, you often gain access to a knowledgeable Chief Technology Officer (CTO) who can help build and maintain an advantageous long-term technological strategy. This type of expert insight may not be accessible if you decide to go with the in-house option. Experienced project managers who are familiar with projects of similar scope and size are highly sought-after.

Finally, by wisely outsourcing this kind of work, you will benefit from faster turnaround times on projects due to fewer delays caused by miscommunications or lack of resources found more often with less experienced internal teams or teams made of individual freelancers.

Mobile application development outsourcing vs. in-house

The first decision to outsource or go with in-house development of your app is a big one. Here are some points to consider when making this choice:

Cost – If you possess the skills and time to do it, developing an app yourself can prove cost-effective. Having an in-house team may seem cheaper than outsourcing but it could hamper quality or restrict your scope of specialization. Outsourcing can be incredibly cost-effective, as long as you decide where to outsource (destination is a huge factor) and who to partner with.

Time – Working with a dedicated outsourced team can shorten project timelines significantly compared to working alone or even with an in-house team. Additionally, outsourcing makes it possible for projects to move faster since more hands are available on deck at any given time.

Quality – If you select a reliable and specialized mobile application development agency, the quality of your app is likely to be much higher than if you tried to build it yourself. The most experienced developers and designers are more likely to work in an outsourcing software house where they can focus on their specialization rather than taking on jobs directly from clients or as part of a small in-house team built from scratch lately.

Ultimately, the decision between in-house and outsourced mobile app development depends on each case. Considering all options before making this choice is important since what works best for one business may not necessarily be the right fit for another. Weigh all your available resources against the budget you have allocated and decide which approach offers you more significant benefits in terms of cost, time, and quality.

How to outsource app development - checklist

A pen on a checklist
Make sure you're on the right track! It's always better to plan more than not enough!

If you decide to give outsourcing a chance, below, you will find a brief introduction to the six steps you can follow to make it effective. We will then get into the details of each of them.

  1. Idea - Before you can outsource app development, you need to have a clear idea of what it is you want to create. That does not 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 here.

    right arrowProduct Discovery - Where The New Product Development Process Starts

  2. Budget - Establish and decide upon a realistic budget that best aligns with your business needs. This should be something that is determined on your side before you start collecting offers.

  3. Research – Take the time to research mobile app development companies and their areas of specialization. This will help you decide who is best placed to develop your application.

  4. Service model - selecting a model is crucial in building the perfect structure for your project. Consider carefully between fixed or time and material options - both come with their own set of pros and cons.

  5. Strategy - Ensure success in this project by establishing expectations and setting goals. Outline the desired outcomes of each stage, as well as any deliverables that must be attained for it to constitute a victory. Having a clear goal and strategy is critical for founders.

  6. Contracts - Make sure all agreements between yourself and your chosen partner are laid out clearly in writing before proceeding.

How to 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.

Mobile app development budget - what to consider?

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

Outsourcing compared to hiring an in-house team, can be more cost-effective but it highly depends on the outsourcing destination and type of company you will choose. However, even if outsourcing is more expensive on paper, the value that is added by working with a specialized company can often make up for this difference. Keep in mind the costs associated with recruitment and salaries for an in-house team when making your decision.

While you may pay more for outsourcing, depending on the company you choose and their quality of work, the return on investment could be greater in terms of time saved and product quality. Specialized teams in companies focused on startups are better equipped to get things done faster and to a higher standard than internal teams due to the experience and expertise gained from various early-stage apps before yours.

Never commit all of your budget to the initial version development without having a backup plan. Early-stage products usually require alterations and amendments based on what you learn about your users, business model, and assumptions. Ensure that you have funds set aside in case such changes need to be made!

Research of app development companies

Good research is key to making sure you partner with the right team for your app idea. When searching for a company to develop your mobile app, begin with those that specialize in early-stage products. Check their other clients, read reviews and look at their portfolios to get an idea of their skill sets.

Companies that offer dedicated teams to help enterprises scale and build big projects are not the most suitable fit when you're starting; instead, connect with one that can understand your concept and business model clearly without all of the technical jargon or requiring built specs.

When it comes to your technical expertise, be honest and forthcoming. If a company can't guide you through the process, look elsewhere for a future partner. Also, ensure that whoever you brief is prompt in their response- if an offer only surfaces after several reminders, this could serve as a red flag.

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

Outsourcing service models: Fixed Project or Time and Material Approach?

Deciding on a fixed project or time and material approach for outsourcing mobile app development can be difficult, as both approaches have their unique advantages and disadvantages.

Fixed project – A fixed project approach is when you agree on a plan with your outsourced mobile app development team and they will work to complete the project within an agreed-upon budget and timeline. This involves a detailed scope document outlining all the requirements of the project upfront before any work is done. In this case, you will need to be able to define every single requirement before starting which can be difficult in fast-paced environments such as startups. Additionally, if changes arise during the process, it may require additional fees or even a complete redesign based on how far along the project has developed by then. In this approach, the responsibility for delivering a product is almost fully on the outsourcing partner. It's an excellent way to lower the risk at the beggining. Especially if you are able to define MVP end-to-end.

Time and Material – the Time and Material Approach means you pay for the time of work it takes to complete a project and any materials needed. When it comes to mobile app development, the time of skilled app developers and designers is the most valuable resource. The material can be some IT infrastructure or dedicated testing environments. The main advantage here is that you have more flexibility than with a fixed project. You can make adjustments as needed throughout the process. The downside is that it may be hard to predict exactly how much time or materials are necessary. Therefore, the cost associated with a project could exceed your original budget. It also requires more founder or product owner engagement to lead the project and decide on directions.

At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Consider your resources and goals before deciding as to which option works best for you, and make sure that the company you choose can propose offers in both models for comparison.

How to 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!

Establishing a long-term plan for any digital product development early will help ensure everyone involved is on the same page throughout the entire process. The strategy should be documented to keep track of progress and remain organized. To get started, set out a roadmap with your product's vision and goals for the next six months, one year, two years, and five years. Ensure that everyone involved in the project is aware of these long-term plans. Return to this roadmap often and be prepared to make modifications - constant changes are a natural component of the journey.

As a founder, it is 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.

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 do not have ownership over all aspects of the product, then be sure to include a clear license. The perfect scenario is to have a custom-made mobile app that you own exclusively without any license limitations and restrictive third-party dependencies.

If your app will use any sensitive data, such as payment information or personal data, then ensure that security measures are in place to protect it.

Finally, when it comes to contracts for mobile app development outsourcing from a founder’s perspective, remember that the goal is not only to define rights and responsibilities but also to create a mutually beneficial relationship with your outsourced remote team.

Ensure that there are clear dispute-resolution mechanisms built into your contract should any disagreements occur during the course of the project. Also, don't be afraid to discuss the implementation of penalties to protect your risks, especially when you have set deadlines for your investors.

Outsourcing development as a startup

When it comes to venture capital startups, mobile app development outsourcing can be especially beneficial. Outsourcing development services allow you to deploy resources quickly with minimal overhead and get you to market faster.

The time invested by a startup's founders and the core team is an invaluable asset, even before the product launch and for many months afterwards. This is why saving it for strategically important tasks is very beneficial.

Founders of startups (and often their investors) usually want to maintain control and scalability during the growth process. Partnering with a software company that has extensive experience working with startups and offering specialized services for them is an excellent way to ensure you will keep control over your product. Don't let the concern of becoming reliant on an outsourcing company impede your progress when scaling a product. In Memory Squared we have a full understanding of the need for independence and we work with founders to support them in in-house transitions when the scale of the team and product will make it beneficial.

How mobile app development outsourcing is 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. Even 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 applications often require more specialized resources when it comes to UI and UX design as well as certain technical capabilities such as integration with existing systems.

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.

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, you should 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.

Good Destinations for Application Development Outsourcing

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

In today’s digital world, outsourcing software development has become increasingly popular for businesses of all sizes. 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 in working for 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.

It's an excellent source for talented engineers. Furthermore, 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 located in Krakow which is not only a great technology hub but also one of the most beautiful European cities. Deciding on Krakow's software house is a great excuse to visit it! :)


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 outsourcing app development, there are a few tips to keep in mind that will help ensure the best results.

First, build a strong relationship with your outsourcing provider and make sure they understand your expectations.

Second, provide clear instructions on what you expect from the project and how it should work when complete.

Third, create a detailed timeline for delivery and milestones so everyone is working towards the same goal.

Ultimately, ensure that you are actively involved in the development process as a leader to share your vision and strategy.

By following these steps and taking into consideration both potential risks and rewards when outsourcing mobile app development, you can develop your product quickly and efficiently while maintaining full ownership and control over the final product.

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.

They can provide a great extension for startups' development and design teams. Working for GitLive they were very engaged and put a lot of effort into improving our product.
Nicholas Bransby-WilliamsGitLive - CEO

Trusted by both innovative startups and large international companies.

Awarded as one of the best 2023 software companies globally

Awarded as one of the best 2023 software companies globally

What we do

We can cover the whole process and product development life cycle but we’re also open to sending our developers and designers on a mission to join your team. We’re comfortable working closely with business managers to creatively place digital products into their strategy.