How To Outsource Mobile App Development and How Much Does It Cost

Oct 19, 2020·13 min read

There are many myths about how to outsource mobile app development. It’s time to dispel some of them. Find out all you need about the prises for app development outsourcing and get a step-by-step guide on how to outsource your project effectively.

Contents:

Great ideas tend to turn into world-class products. For sure, your mobile app idea is worth a try. But in order to see if your idea has the potential to conquer the market, you must be ready to invest much time and effort into development, design, and technical support.

If you’re ready to start the hard work but lack the necessary expertise, you may be thinking of outsourcing app development. We’ve prepared a few tips that will make your cooperation with a remote tech team fruitful by eliminating risks and stress.

In this article, we’ll talk about:

  • Preparing app requirements
  • Communicating with potential outsourcing candidates
  • Evaluating portfolios
  • Important questions you should ask companies on your shortlist
  • Selecting an offshore app development vendor
  • Defining sprints and expectations

Why outsource app development?

If you want to build an application but don’t have the necessary technical expertise, you have three options: hire your own in-house app development team, hire freelance app developers, or outsource development to a company.

  Pros Cons
Hire an app development team You’re in the same building, so you can discuss anything at any time You have to pay developers full-time even if you don’t have enough work to keep them busy
Hire freelance mobile app developers Freelancers usually offer attractive rates and provide relevant experience Freelancers aren’t always reliable and can disappear
Outsource mobile app development Outsourcing companies offer reliable cooperation, and you’ll pay only for the amount of work done Communication issues with offshore companies may arise, and prices vary significantly

Outsourcing app development may seem risky: you have to trust your idea and money to people you’ve never met before. The tips we give in this article will help you choose a top-performing development agency at a reasonable price.

Cost of outsourcing app development

Why should you consider outsourcing? First of all, it can save you thousands of dollars due to price differences across regions. On the map below, you’ll notice that app developers in North America, Western Europe, and Australia are the most expensive, charging up to $250 per hour.

Developers in Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus, in particular) offer software of comparable quality for two to three times cheaper, starting at $30 per hour and going up to $110 per hour.

Companies in South Asia, East Asia, and Africa offer rates starting from $10 per hour, but there’s a catch. App developers from these regions have a questionable reputation, and you surely don’t want to risk the quality of your application.

software developer rates by region

Outsourcing mobile app development gives you access to the best professionals worldwide. And in most cases, it also enables you to save a lot compared to the cost of similar services in your own country.

Start with an MVP

A full-featured application may take a few years to develop and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This prevents many entrepreneurs from even trying to start software businesses: they just aren’t ready to sacrifice a huge part of their lives and risk their savings. However, starting with a minimum viable product, or MVP, is a far safer bet.

When starting with an MVP, you implement your idea with minimal resources to check its viability. The aim is to launch a product in the shortest time and start proving your concept with real users.

Once your idea shows some potential, you can move on with developing new features. And since well-implemented ideas tend to attract investors, you’ll no longer have to count only on your personal savings or loans.

Think of outsourcing your app MVP as a chance to kick-start your idea.

How to calculate the cost of outsourcing MVP app development

The cost of an application depends on the time spent developing it. The number and complexity of features, third-party integrations, and technologies matter as well.

Here, we share the approximate time needed to build an MVP of a mobile application and the cost of development at average Eastern European rates:

development time and cost for different apps

  • Food delivery app like Uber Eats — 4–6 weeks, $25,000+
    Food delivery apps require interfaces and functionality for four different types of users: restaurant owners, couriers, customers, and platform administrators. As a food delivery platform evolves, you should improve the app’s logic and completely replace manual platform administration with algorithms. However, at the MVP stage, manual processes will help you save essential development hours. For more on this topic, read our article on how to develop a food delivery app like Uber Eats from scratch.
  • Social network platform — 12–20 weeks, $30,000 to $55,000
    Whether you’re building an app for internal corporate communication, a project for the local community, an international fishing forum, or a safe communication channel for military purposes, you have to keep in mind your target audience and the needs that your service has to meet. There’s a huge variety of possible features for a social network such as file sharing, video calls, video streaming, photo editing, and event management. Some of them require blockchain, machine learning, or other advanced technologies. So the price for developing a social media app ranges widely. For a quote based on your own idea, contact us directly.
  • E-commerce app — 3–5 weeks, $15,000 to $30,000
    One of the most common requests outsourcing companies receive is to develop an e-commerce website. To sell their products online and discover new markets, many producers want to launch an online shop. Fortunately, this type of app doesn’t require big upfront investment. The price for a simple custom e-commerce app starts at $15,000. Once your idea proves its viability and you’re ready to invest more in online sales, you can significantly improve your app’s functionality. We’ve devoted a whole article to the process and cost of developing an e-commerce app. If your project is connected with online sales, don’t miss it.
  • Trucking app similar to Uber — 8–12 weeks, $20,000 to $50,000
    Many companies can’t afford to run their own logistics and delivery departments due to high upfront costs and maintenance expenses. That’s why logistics companies often adopt an Uber-like model to enable access to high-quality delivery services for every business. Trucking apps rely on geolocation services to place orders, calculate optimized routes, combine multiple orders in one route, reduce fuel expenses and control carbon emissions, etc. There are also other essential features for an Uber-like truck app that can define its success.
  • Social video app like TikTok — 8+ weeks, $20,000+
    The incredible rise of TikTok is now being followed by shutdowns in many countries. These newly appearing gaps in the market will no doubt soon be filled with new interactive social video applications. The point is to build an app that doesn’t violate local laws, provides better data security, and cares about users’ wellbeing. We’ve studied the topic and found out what an app like TikTok needs in order to succeed in local markets.

The price ranges we’ve mentioned here are not final and depend on many factors. You can get a more exact quote by discussing the details of your product with our manager. Leave a request on our website and we’ll get in touch soon.

Also, keep in mind that cooperation with an app development agency doesn’t stop after you’ve launched your product. Technical support, A/B testing, and implementation of new features are crucial if you’re serious about your application and want to attract and satisfy more users.

Cost is important when choosing app developers for outsourcing. However, it shouldn’t be your sole focus.

How to outsource app development to receive the best results

Further, we discuss the possible risks of outsourcing app development and how to avoid them with proper planning. Get ready to outsource the right way.

1. Define your requirements

Both startups and established companies make the same mistakes when outsourcing application development: they don’t know what they actually need.

When you have an idea that you want to turn into reality, we recommend starting with a business plan. Preparing a business plan will help you analyze your needs, evaluate your possibilities, and understand what you expect from your outsourcing app development vendor.

How to define project requirements

First of all, analyze the market, your niche, and your audience. After that, answer the following questions:

  • Which platforms will my app support at launch?
    Platform support is a tricky question, and deciding upfront may save you much time. Usually, you have to choose between native apps for iOS and Android, a hybrid app that can work on iOS, Android, and other platforms, and a web app.
Native apps are created for a specific platform (Android or iOS). With this approach, you have to hire two separate teams, so prepare to spend much time and money. Native app development is the most expensive option but delivers top quality. Web apps work on any device that has a browser. Since they can be developed fast, this is a cheap alternative to developing native apps. The functionality of a web app is limited, but sometimes it’s enough to test your idea. Hybrid apps combine the best of two worlds: they can be developed once and then adapted for any platform. Therefore, the cost of a hybrid app is much lower compared to a native app. At the same time, you don’t face the limits of a web app, so it’s possible to implement almost any functionality.

You can start with web development and make your app instantly available to users of iOS and Android devices. But if an exclusive user experience is your priority, you’ll have to develop native apps and either start with one platform or allocate a solid budget straightaway.

A hybrid app is a compromise: you sacrifice top-notch performance for the sake of development speed to test your idea quickly.

You have to choose between native, hybrid, and web app development before actual programming begins.

  • What technologies do you want your app to be built on?
    Answering this question is actually optional. You can discuss technologies with the company you choose to outsource app development to. However, knowing your technical requirements in advance might save you time when looking for the right contractor.

    Your technology stack depends on the approach you choose: native, web, or hybrid development.

    To build a native application, you need to hire at least two app developers: a Java or Kotlin developer to create an Android app and a Swift or Objective-C developer to launch an iOS app. If you also need a website, prepare to hire at least one more developer.

    Web projects are built using JavaScript. You’ll have to hire a frontend developer that works with either Angular, React, or Vue.js as well as a backend developer. Your choice of server-side technologies is wider, but we usually recommend Node.js (JavaScript) or Laravel (PHP). It’s also possible to hire a full-stack programmer who’s proficient both in frontend and backend development.

    Hybrid applications are also based on JavaScript but use an additional framework such as Ionic or Cordova. When striving for native-like performance, React Native or Flutter are the best options to choose from.

    Along with that, you’ll have to discuss the databases and cloud services used for your project. Integrations with third-party services are also important, since they allow you to reduce the development time by using ready solutions.

    Predefined requirements help you make sure you and your technical partner both understand the end purpose of app development. With clear requirements, communication with your outsourcing company will be more precise and efficient, resulting in a product that corresponds with or even exceeds your expectations.

  • What functionality do you want to see? Which features will be included in the MVP?
    You have to understand the possibilities of your application at the very beginning. But implementing all possible features right away is a bad idea. Think of what minimal set of features you can offer first, but be ready for discussions: a development company may offer other options based on their experience with similar projects. Also, keep in mind that developing a unique feature will take more time than developing common functionality.

2. Create a shortlist of app development companies

It’s always challenging to find and hire the best outsourcing app development vendor. We have a few tips on how to make your choice quickly and well:

how to find software development company

  1. Check out outsourcing agencies on Upwork
    Upwork is a great place to look for contractors since it tells you a lot about individuals and agencies: number of completed projects, ratings, reviews, etc. With this information, you can imagine how your collaboration might look even before you start. Also, when signing a contract through Upwork, you’re protected by strict policies.
  2. Look at review websites
    First of all, you need to visit Clutch and GoodFirms. On these websites, clients can leave extended reviews and describe how they feel about working with an outsourcing company.
  3. Google companies that focus on your domain
    If you’re planning to build an Internet of Things product, google “best IoT app development companies.” If you’re looking to create a logistics solution, search for “logistics software development companies.” By following this approach, you can make sure your technology partner has the needed skills and can help you build the best product on the market.
  4. Ask for recommendations
    It’s likely that one of your connections has already dealt with outsourcing app development. Just ask for a tip!

When you have your shortlist of development companies ready, prepare for interviews, portfolio reviews, and negotiations.

3. Communicate with agency managers

Here are a few life hacks to understand whether an outsourcing company is the one you’re looking for.

  • See how many questions the company asks
    The right company will want to know as much as possible about the product they’ll potentially be working on. A lot of questions (including inconvenient ones) speak to a desire to clarify every detail.
  • Don’t avoid inconvenient topics
    The right contractor will understand your weaknesses and be ready to talk about them. After all, you aren’t paying for adulation but for competence and interest in your project.
  • Avoid one-sided communication
    Be ready to not just answer questions but to ask questions and dispute things as well. Prepare a list of questions that may affect your choice of contractor and don’t hesitate to ask them all.

Don’t let kind words tempt you straightaway. Check out the expertise of every company on your list!

4. Evaluate portfolios

A reliable company is always ready to share a portfolio. But what should you look at if you’re a non-technical founder? Again, we have some tips for you.

how to evaluate portfolio

  • Look at the number and complexity of completed works
    A company can have over 200 completed projects, but what’s the big deal if they’re all template websites? Look for projects that are comparable to yours. If you plan to develop a marketplace, any e-commerce project is relevant.
  • Try demo versions
    Along with a brief description of applications they’ve developed, an outsourcing agency should be ready to provide access to a demo of an application. Try it out.
  • Check the company’s live products
    Are the web and mobile applications a company has developed available to a wide audience? Ask for links, install apps, and get an impression of how your end product might look. Is it the quality you expect?
  • Check GitHub contributions
    For this, you’ll need some basic knowledge of programming or a friend who can help you with evaluation. Take a look at the code a company’s developers have produced and decide whether it fits your needs.

After you’ve seen how your potential partners work and the results of their work, your decision might come easier.

When looking for details on choosing the right technical partner, check out our article with steps to follow.

5. Choose a pricing strategy

Discussions about the budget for outsourcing web app development are hard. But it’s crucial to adopt a win-win strategy.

First, you have to decide between a time and materials and fixed price model.

Fixed price

This model is viable only if you have clear product specifications and you’re sure they won’t change. In this case, you can agree on a fixed price, set an exact deadline, and let the work begin. Fixed price is often chosen when cooperating with an offshore company, giving a fake illusion of control over the process. In some cases, however, with a fixed price project app developers will have to neglect specific issues to meet the agreed timeline and budget. A fixed price approach is becoming outdated, as time and resources allows you to achieve better results.

Time and resources

With the introduction of agile app development, flexibility has become crucial. Since strict deadlines and a fixed price allow anything but flexibility, the time and resources approach has won much appreciation. It enables you to modify the initial plan, quickly react to any changes, and adjust the development process. It’s harder to predict the final price of a product with time and materials, but the improved quality and tighter market fit will be worth it.

Fixed price

Time and materials

Works well for products with clear specifications.

In case of changes to requirements, developers may have to forgo specific issues to meet the agreed deadlines and budget.

Enables flexibility with a strong focus on the end product.

Developers can quickly react to any market changes to ensure high quality and product–market fit.

When deciding between these two pricing models, consider all possible factors, including your previous experience with outsourcing web app development, your budget, and your desired end product.

6. Establish sprints and expectations

After you’ve chosen your technology partner, start discussing the development methodology. Waterfall and Agile are the two to choose from.

Waterfall

The waterfall methodology is usually applied when you have a fixed price and strict deadlines. With waterfall, you know exactly what the end product should look like and develop it step by step without retrospectives or significant changes.

Agile

An agile methodology allows for much flexibility. With agile, you divide the project into sprints, developing tiny pieces of functionality one after another. Your outsourcing team constantly tests, measures, and improves the product to better fit the market needs. As a result, the final product might be quite different from the initial idea, but it will be meet end users’ expectations.

An agile methodology is preferable for outsourcing web development, since it enables you to adapt to any market changes and quickly adopt new ideas.

waterfall vs agile

When you start working with your offshore app development agency, discuss the first sprints and your expectations for each of them. These will be your first steps toward creating a world-class product.

In addition, the first sprints will prove the expertise and devotion of your vendor. If you notice that your partnership isn’t working, it’s better to find another company to work with. After all, the success of your business is at stake.

To sum up

Outsourcing app development is sometimes considered risky. And it is. There are thousands of outsourcing companies worldwide, but not all of them deliver truly high-quality service.

If you want to partner with a top performer and get the most out of your cooperation, carefully choose your outsourcing provider based on the tips we’ve provided.

Clockwise Software is one of the most reliable outsourcing companies in Eastern Europe.

If you have a project in mind, we’ll be happy to discuss it and share our thoughts on possible technical solutions!

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