- Finding technical app partners to build your software might be a tough task. If you are a business founder, consider partnering with a development company for fast and reliable results.
- Analyze your network and search for recommendations. It is likely that one of your acquaintances can either provide you with technical consulting or recommend an experienced team to work with.
- Always compare several candidates to make the best decision. You can even run a small pilot project with two or three teams to test cooperation before signing agreements.
“You’ll never walk alone.” This is what Liverpool football fans say. When going in for sports, you want to be around others who share your enthusiasm for your team.
Working in the IT industry, connections with likeminded people are just as important. When constructing a high-tech software product powered with the latest technology, app development partners can help you craft your dream product, or they can make mistakes that distance you from the desired result.
You may or may not be a huge Liverpool fan, but you can probably relate to their motto. If you are an active player in the modern business world, we bet you’d like to feel confident about your app development partnership.
For many product owners, the cost of app development is the main criterion when choosing a tech partner. However, this strategy poses many risks. There are more aspects you have to pay attention to if you want your cooperation to be smooth, effective, and promising.
Here, we give in-depth answers to questions that may be bothering you:
- Where can I find a reliable software development partner?
- How can I make sure developers are trustworthy?
- What matters most to me when deciding to sign a deal that will change my company’s future?
… and many, many others!
This guide may be your first step to rewarding partnerships in your app development business!
Top three mistakes when choosing app development partners
We will start with three ideas that may have come to your mind earlier and that are worth mentioning right away.
It’s better to understand all the pitfalls now and avoid risky decisions than to spend much time and money fixing the consequences. These are things product owners often think at the very beginning of the app development process and that lead to issues.
“I can do everything on my own.”
The first mistake is fear of delegation. Building software requires many skills, and a single person can’t have all of them. Even if you were capable of designing your app, writing the code, testing it, and maintaining the infrastructure, your app would take years to build and release. Still, marketing, sales, financial matters, and many other aspects of your product would be neglected.
If you want to make your product a success, you need app partners who complement your skills and knowledge.
Being a skilled software engineer, you can take over technical leadership on the project and make crucial decisions while your development team builds the product itself.
If you are not a tech-savvy person, you need a trustworthy application development partner who can lead the app creation process.
Accept the fact that other people may be better at executing some tasks than you are. You just have to find people you can trust and delegate the work to them. Where can you find these people, you may ask. We’ll discuss this a bit later.
“I’ll hire trainee developers, and that’s enough.”
Working with students and inexperienced employees is good: you give a helping hand to young developers and start a company with a minimum budget. But you MUST have someone in your team to show them the right way, to guide them through the dangerous tropical forests of an application’s back end, and to save them from the sticky swamps of cross-platform application development or other programming approaches. Otherwise, these obstacles will kill their willingness to grow as software developers. They will kill your app, too.
If you want to rely on junior developers, make sure you have strong technical leadership in your team or at least know where to get it on demand. For example, some companies provide CTO as a service, which is basically technical consultancy. An experienced team will help you with important technical decisions like selecting the technology stack, defining the software architecture, configuring infrastructure, and so on, while your less experienced specialists take over coding.
“Freelancers rock. I’ll hire a few to build my app.”
Many developers on web services like Upwork sell their minds (we’re still not sure about their souls) for extremely low prices. For instance, you can find web developers who work for $6-$8 per hour or even less. It’s cheap and easy: just log in to a website and you can establish a software development partnership (if you can call it that) with freelance developers.
But this is a risky proposition. Cooperation with freelancers doesn’t give you the reliability and guarantees you desire.
Freelancers don’t become your partners in app development. They are executors who resolve tickets to get paid. And, of course, when working with freelance team members, you have to be very careful with how detailed your app requirements are and how much you are involved in the development process as a manager.
One day, a freelancer may stop contributing to your project without notice because they’ve found a better gig. Besides, your app may not be the only product a freelancer works on. They may dedicate their skills and attention to several apps simultaneously, and as a result, the quality of code and speed of development may suffer.
For sure, you can build strong relationships with freelance developers and make them care about your project. But this is a tough task that requires much of your time, strong management and people skills, and a few failed cases before you find the one freelancer that becomes your long-term partner. And the rate of this freelancer will be much more than $8 per hour.
Freelancers and junior developers may be good at executing clearly defined tasks, but it’s hard to expect true partnership from them. Fruitful cooperation is something you should opt for to make your app idea thrive. In the app development universe, options like solo work, cooperating with newbies, or hiring a freelancer don’t guarantee you success. Instead, partnering with an outsourcing company may be a much wiser decision.
We have described software outsourcing pros and cons in a previous article. As we won’t focus on them here, we recommend you add that article to your reading list.
The main benefit of partnering with an outsourcing company is access to a global talent pool and the ability to partner with a team whose skills, knowledge, and values match your expectations. You can start with outsourcing to Ukraine, Romania, Germany, Canada, or any other country in the world without delay.
But is software development outsourcing automatically a partnership? Unfortunately, no.
Vendor vs partner: What’s the difference?
What differentiates an app development partner from a vendor?
A vendor is usually an executor. As a product owner, you are responsible for setting goals, planning, eliciting requirements, and grooming the backlog. Your vendor gets to work with well-formulated tasks and clear acceptance criteria. Their responsibility is to execute your assignments, and their involvement ends when they submit the task and get paid.
An app development partner’s involvement in your project is much deeper, including:
- Understanding your idea and goals
- Making proactive decisions
- Focusing on a win-win strategy
A partner team is involved during all stages of app creation, as they are directly interested in the product’s success. You can count on their participation from the very beginning of development till the product’s release.
An IT outsourcing company can be both:
- A vendor that follows your instructions and contributes to product development under your management
- A partner that takes part in decision-making and whose development team is autonomous and doesn’t require your constant supervision
Which option to choose depends solely on the level of involvement you expect from your tech team.
What can you delegate to a tech product development partner?
If you have decided that IT outsourcing is the optimal choice for your project, prepare to answer the following questions:
- What do I need to do to launch my app in the best possible way?
- What tasks would I like to delegate?
- How do I see the outcome of this cooperation?
Once you’ve answered these questions, define exactly what your app development partner can help you with:
If you’re just taking your first steps in product development, you may benefit from outsourcing product discovery. A product discovery phase is mandatory for every product idea. A properly conducted product discovery phase significantly increases the chances of your app’s success.
The main objectives of a discovery phase are idea research and validation, plus thorough preparation for further development.
By outsourcing discovery to an app development partner’s team, you benefit from the experience and expert opinions of business analysts, software developers, a software architect, quality engineers, designers, etc. And the best thing is that you don’t have to hire them. Their input in your project discovery is part of the discovery package of your choice.
Complete app development from scratch
In this case, an app development partner will help you with every stage of creating a successful programming solution. The team will provide you with:
- Product discovery phase
- UI/UX app design
- MVP development
- Full software development lifecycle services
- Thorough functionality testing and bug fixing
- App maintenance and further development
You can also find out more about the software engineering team structure in one of our recent articles.
According to our experience, outsourcing complete product development is the most popular option, as you, the product owner, can focus on strategic tasks while your app development partner takes over the technical implementation.
Specific app development tasks
If you have an in-house tech team, partnering with an outsourcing company is still an option if you know how to outsource to make the most of IT staff augmentation. You might opt for the IT staff augmentation model in several situations:
- You want to reduce time to market and need to speed up development
- You lack specific expertise, and you don’t have time to foster it in-house
- You want to build a new app prototype but don’t want to distract your team from the primary product
A tech product development partner can provide you with a quick team extension and save you plenty of time on recruiting, onboarding, and legal issues. At the same time, you will benefit from the flexibility of hiring dedicated developers on a project basis, as it’s possible to scale your team up or down on demand.
A clear vision of your goals will help you find the right application development partner.
Where can you find that one and only partner?
In 1975, Lakeside Private School was an ordinary school somewhere in Seattle with ordinary students and ordinary educational programs. Now we know this school as the place where Bill Gates and Paul Allen, co-founders of Microsoft, met and became friends. A love of computers made them partners in crime at school and led to their names being added to the list of the most famous IT people of our times. Bill and Paul’s childhood friendship grew into a lifetime partnership.
This story is one answer to the question of where to find great business partners. However, if none of your classmates are a good fit for an app partner role, you still have a chance. Just use one (or all) of the following tips:
Analyze your network
You are surrounded by creative, mindful, intelligent people, both online and in the real world. Take a closer look at their talents and let them contribute to developing your app idea. This is probably the easiest way for you to reach Microsoft-like success.
- List your current contacts, both personal and professional.
- Identify individuals with relevant skills, knowledge, industry experience, and (importantly) contacts.
- Contact those whose skills might be useful for your project
If there are no potential product development partners on your list, don’t give up. Likely, you know someone who knows someone…
Ask for recommendations
People from your network may already have experience with app development partners. To minimize time-consuming tasks, you can simply ask them for contacts.
To ask for recommendations:
- Clearly describe what type of partnership you are seeking and what you want to delegate (good thing you’ve already figured this out).
- Ask for feedback on people’s experience with their tech partners.
- Ask for an introduction if you feel like your project could benefit from a particular app development partnership.
Don’t forget to thank your referrer with lunch.
The good thing about asking for recommendations is that you can get insights from someone who has already worked with a particular team. You can not only talk about possible issues with the team but also discuss the costs of web app development with someone who has already gone down this path.
But remember that costs vary significantly due to industry specifics, app requirements, the team’s structure, and even the year when your referrer was developing their app.
If your acquaintances were not helpful, move on to the next steps.
No matter what your request is, Google can help. It always knows an answer if you only ask the right questions. You can do your own research, but make sure not to miss these platforms:
Upwork is often seen as a platform to find freelancers — who you aren’t looking for. But perhaps unexpectedly, Upwork may also help you build cooperation with a reliable outsourcing team. Upwork provides convenient functionality for time tracking, payments, and more. Each of these features simplifies cooperation with an app development partner, whether located in your city or overseas.
Clutch is a marketplace for finding services to boost your business. Here, you won’t find freelancers or individual professionals, but you can connect with teams that provide complex services. A significant feature of Clutch is comprehensive reviews from real customers. They help you make sure a company provides the type of app development partnership you are looking for.
This is a platform focused on matching co-founders. You can come to this website with an idea, discuss it with peers worldwide, and find partners to help you build your product. CoFoundersLab is also a great place to search for investment opportunities.
The last but not least important platform on our list is LinkedIn. This is a global professional network where business owners, investors, influencers, and specialists from all over the world can connect, communicate, and create long-lasting partnerships. Building your network on LinkedIn may take a while, but you can start engaging in groups connected to your industry or who share the same business or technical interests. Through LinkedIn, you can meet people who may become your potential partners or introduce you to a potential partner.
Don’t be afraid to contact representatives of development teams from other countries as well. You may be surprised by how reliable and professional these teams can be. Don’t give up on offshore application development, as it may be your chance for productive cooperation.
Visit an event
IT events and industry-specific conferences are the most fascinating and informative places you can go to meet web development partners. To find an event nearby, use the Startup Weekend website.
As you can see, networking is key to finding a team for a long-lasting and fruitful app development partnership. But how can you choose the best partner for your project among all those incredible specialists you’ve met? We have some tips.
Key factors to pay attention to when starting an app development partnership
You are halfway there. Now that you know where to look for partners, it’s time to find out how to make the right choice. Consider the importance of the following factors:
Substantial portfolio and testimonials
You will want to take a look at previous work of a potential app development partner. Their portfolio may be displayed on their website; if not, you can request it. These are the very first things you should do when analyzing a portfolio:
- Analyze how the team approached the initial problem and what solutions they offered.
- Evaluate the app’s visual design.
- Take a look at the tech stack they used to implement the solution.
- Assess the demo or install apps on your device and try out the functionality yourself.
After that, look through testimonials and make sure you are ready to study the next factor.
Don’t consider how long your potential partners have been in the market but rather the specifics of developers’ work during this period.
For example, if you’re looking for an agency to build an AI-powered app, explore whether potential product development partners have experience with AI solutions. If a team has spent the last 15 years building simple websites on WordPress, they may fail in this mission. Even if they offer you attractive rates, don’t be lured. Unfortunately, you will have to pay for their lack of experience later.
When contacting representatives of potential partner agencies, pay attention to details.
Each message, sentence, or emoji is a bottomless source of information. If you notice things like delayed answers, an inconvenient time when your partners are able to talk, weird jokes, a lack of professionalism, or an air of self-importance, think twice about whether you’re ready to accept this in the long term.
The way potential partners act online also gives you a good vision of their business. Poorly designed business profiles on social media platforms, questionable reposts, or no information at all may be red flags.
On the contrary, a professional blog, an active presence on multiple channels, and participation in contests and online events that make the brand visible are good signs. A company that works on its brand values lasting software development partnerships.
Vision of a common goal
When taking your first steps toward fruitful collaboration, make sure your potential partner understands your opinion and shares your plans and vision for success.
Also, you may want to share common values with your partner. To make sure you are on the same page, ask a potential partner questions like these:
- What keeps you in this industry?
- How did you start your development company?
- How do you choose professionals to join your team?
Brief answers to these and similar questions will help you understand if this team is exactly who you’re looking for.
Successful IT partnership: What’s next?
Now that you have shortlisted businesses to work with, it’s time to start on the next stages:
Use as many communication channels as you can
Let’s say you have established seamless and fast communication via email. A text message is a good way to share information, but it may not be enough to get to know someone well, explain your intentions and goals, and get used to your potential associate. Thus, we recommend setting up video calls, engaging in small talk, and extending the borders of your communication. This will help you make sure the person you’re interacting with is honest, easygoing, and reliable.
After you’ve met the management of an agency you’d like to start working with, meet the developers. Pay attention to their behavior, English skills, and work attitude.
Evaluate soft skills
What do you mean by talking about developers’ behavior? you may ask. When taking the first steps towards lucrative cooperation, you should evaluate the personal qualities demonstrated by developers you’d like to work with. Here are some of the most important:
Sticking to one technology is the best way to never succeed in anything. This has become a proverb in our development team.
In the rapidly growing IT world, software developers ought to be open to new technologies and methodologies; they must be aware of every update and keep a finger on the pulse of their industry. If developers don’t do this, you shouldn’t be working with them.
Ask your development team how long they have been working as part of your potential partner’s team. Four months? Six years? This matters a lot. The longer people work together, the better they know each other. The more accustomed people are to working as a team, the better web products they are able to deliver.
Besides, the period of time for which someone has worked in one position may open your eyes to how responsible and dedicated they are.
- Positive attitude
No, we don’t mean that a person needs to sprinkle the day with jokes. In evaluating whether someone has a positive attitude, pay attention to everything from their smile to the way they react to a stressful or complicated situation. Toxic people poison the entire project, so don’t let them join your team.
Always consider more than one option
Choose a software development company wisely. Always have several options so you can compare them and pick the best. You can even start a small proof of concept (or a pilot project) with two or three candidates just to test the cooperation and make an informed decision.
Prepare yourself for a software development partnership
Collaboration means working together, so keep in mind that the person you’re discussing details with is evaluating your brand, your idea, and your attitude as well.
1. Develop a brand
A company with a recognized brand is seen as more trustworthy than a no-name company. This works both for personal brands and corporate ones.
Be active on social media, promote your opinions, and share your vision for the future of your industry. Make your potential partners understand what kind of person you are and what type of organization you’re leading or founding.
2. Prepare a presentation
Basic info about your story and your idea are essential. The better and more precisely you present this information, the greater the chance you will attract a talented team.
You don’t have to describe all stages of your SaaS app development in detail. In the end, it’s the job of your partner’s team to guide you through this process. However, you need to show that you have a clear understanding of the industry you’re going to enter. You have to speak the same language as your potential partner. And by this, we don’t just mean speaking English but also knowing what waters you’re going to enter. By the way, if you’re thinking of building a SaaS app, make sure to read our guide to SaaS application development!
3. Provide a business plan
This shouldn’t be an in-depth explanation of all startup development phases, your app launch plan, and your expected cash flow. Basic steps and approximate numbers are enough. However, a business plan is significant for allowing your partner to understand what you would like to achieve and whether you can support your dreams with solid calculations.
4. Talk about the financial part
Discuss money at the very beginning.
After you provide the details of your product idea, a potential partner company can calculate the approximate budget and advise you on strategies to reduce software development costs, estimate the project duration and the required stages, etc.
Be realistic and open about your expectations. Discuss the payment schedule and possible penalties if one of the parties doesn’t fulfill its obligations.
Mutual trust is the cornerstone of any relationship; its absence is one of the reasons businesses die. Always tell the truth and provide access to non-confidential documents and facts your potential partners may request.
Think for a while
After discussing critical details, you both have much to think about. So take your time and don’t hurry the decision: five to ten days are okay for such an important step.
Compare your candidates, their hard and soft skills, and their estimations. If you have run a pilot project with different teams, assess the results as well as the work process itself. Which team were you most comfortable working with?
Prepare an agreement for your app development partnership
Once you are confident about your choice, prepare a draft of your agreement.
Put on paper all the rights and obligations of both parties. Even though the cooperation may seem comfortable and the atmosphere may be friendly, you have to prepare for all possible outcomes.
Regulating your software development partnership with a contract increases your chances of succeeding and establishing a powerful business together.
A prosperous app development partnership is crucial. You should start looking for a reliable app development partner right now for three reasons:
- Working with a partner saves you time, energy, and resources.
- It opens new opportunities for viable business growth.
- It allows you to promote your business.
Several simple steps, great attention to detail, and our tips on how to make the right choice will take you to the top. The process may take time, but it will bring you valuable results.
And you’ll never walk alone.