How To Outsource Mobile Application Development Successfully Part 2
In the first part of this series on outsourcing mobile application development, I discussed the importance of an accurate app specification for outsourcers to work with and provided some answers to common questions regarding the usefulness of NDAs.
In this second and final part of the series I will provide some guidance, hints and tips for how to select the right outsourced developer for you app and focus on the criticality of the working relationship.
Outsourcing App Development Tip#2: Developer Selection
Its an oldie but a goodie –“Cheapest is not always best”. I recall a movie about space flight when one of the actors sitting atop a rocket about to launch reminds his co-pilots that they are sitting in a rocket built by the lowest bidder!
Clearly this can end 2 ways for pilots and those brave enough to always take the lowest bid in outsourced app development. Of course you are cost conscious otherwise you would not be looking to outsource but the cheapest bid may not be the best.
One way you can determine what your target app development price should be, is by running a break even analysis using a simple spreadsheet application – and don’t forget to factor in Apple’s 30% take if you are developing for iOS!
There is some guesswork here so punch in what your sell price is multiply by how many downloads you think you’ll get, include what ad revenue you might get from these downloads and get a rough estimate and subtract Apple’s take of your top-line revenue.
If you want to get more serious and remove this guesswork, you can head to the App store and get this excellent App called PriceCooker which will help you determine every cost and revenue opportunity you can imagine and model these for you in real time.
When working through the tender process, communicate honestly about your pricing expectations and what other prices you are getting from other developers that are bidding.
Let them all know if they are out of your pricing ballpark or target price and indicate to what degree they are off this in percentage terms. The outsourcers bidding can then make their own call if they want to reduce their price , maintain it or exit the tender process.
This may also be a good time for you to re-evaluate your app development. If all of the prices you are getting are too high and you communicate honestly and no-one lowers their price or you experience a mass exodus from the bidders, then maybe you’re expecting too much for your money or don’t understand what is involved in the development.
Remember if you force outsourcing developers to go cheaper and cheaper they will be less inclined to give you the value and polish on your App development that you absolutely need to achieve success.
Good outsourcing developers will ask questions right after you have posted your project tender. Good developers will also read what you type and comply – this shows attention to details.
For example, I ask them to write “I AM HUMAN” as a standard to any replies or communication initially which demonstrates to me their messages are not a canned response and they have read and understood. If you get a price back without questions – be wary.
Outsourcing App Development Tip#3: Working Relationship
Depending on what type of project management tools your now selected outsourced app developer chooses to work with, you should always assign a single individual to be your app development mouthpiece.
Just imagine if you were the outsourcer and you have to deal with 4 different people advising you on the same functionality but describing it with different language that ultimately may even be describing different functionality!
This App Development Mouthpiece needs to have a key understanding of your core design intent and be absolutely familiar with the detailed specification you have provided the app developer.
This is not to say others in the team cannot participate in the development process – of course they must – however having a single point of contact on both sides streamlines the communication process.
Have your internal meetings, make decisions and communicate these decisions through a single person. Overtime your project manager and their project manager will understand how each other communicates and be able to act as a translator of the developers communication style to the rest of your team and vice versa.
Your team already know how you communicate and can read if you are happy, annoyed, stressed and so on and this all helps speed up your internal communication and decisions making processes.
Additionally before you start the development process collect all the samples of apps you like, designs you like, provide your own designs, maybe even use some tools such as Keynotopia & AppCooker to provide mockups to your developers.
Anything you can do to more accurately communicate your vision and help your chosen app development partner target and focus on your development project is better for your business and your App.
How Do You Manage Your App Projects?
Proposing that App Development is just like any other software development or construction project means someone on your team must be able to manage projects competently. Do you think this is an essential skill or less important than programming or marketing?
I’d love to hear about your experiences with outsourcing as well as your process for project managing App Development. so leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments box below.
Simon J Co-Founder of Digital Hinge and a serial entrepreneur with over 17 years spent building 8 businesses in 3 countries and 4 industries. Simon is also an Early Stage Micro Venture & Start-Up Seed Investor. Contact him at simon[at]digitalhinge[dot]com Lean Startup Evangalist. View All Posts By Simon J