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

Jan 24, 2020·9 min read

There are many myths about how to outsource mobile app development. It’s time to dispel some of them. We’ll also discuss the costs of outsourcing app development.


Great ideas often turn into world-class products. Your idea is worth a try as well. But you must be ready to invest a lot of time and effort into mobile app development, design, and technical support.

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

We’ll talk about:

  • Preparation of app requirements

  • Communication with candidates

  • Portfolio evaluation

  • Important questions to ask

  • Selecting an app development vendor

  • Defining sprints and expectations

Additionally, if we have missed any of your questions, you can ask us directly and receive a comprehensive response within 24 hours.

Why choose app development outsourcing?

If you want to build an application but don’t have the needed tech expertise, you have three options:

  • Hire an app development team
    Pros: They’re in the same building, so you can discuss anything anytime.
    Cons: You have to pay them full-time, even if there’s currently no work to be done.

  • Hire a freelance mobile app developer
    Pros: Freelancers usually offer lower rates.
    Cons: They are less reliable and can disappear at any time.

  • Outsource mobile app development
    Pros: A reliable option and you only pay for the work done.
    Cons: Communication issues may occur and prices vary significantly.

Pros and Cons of outsourcing

Outsourcing app development has certain risks. But the following tips help you choose a top-performer agency at a reasonable price.

Cost of outsourcing app development

Application development outsourcing can save you thousands of dollars for a single reason: price differences.

App development outsourcing costs

The above picture shows you that app developers in North America, Western Europe, and Australia are the most expensive - they charge up to $250 per hour.

Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria) offers comparable software quality but 2-3 times cheaper - from $30 to $110 per hour.

The third group includes countries in South and East Asia and Africa. The rates here can start at just $10 per hour, but you risk the quality of your future app, so if you’re looking here, you better doublecheck the portfolio and reviews of the company.

Clearly, outsourcing mobile app development gives you access to the best professionals worldwide.

In most cases, such cooperation allows you to save money when compared to similar services in your country.

How to calculate outsource app development costs?

The cost of the application is paid according to the time spent developing it. The number and complexity of the features, third-party integration, and used technologies matter as well.

Here’s the approximate number of hours needed to build a simple mobile application and the cost of such app development with Eastern-European rates:

  • Taxi App - 500-1500 hours - from $18,000 to $52,000

  • Fitness app - 400-1000 hours - from $14,000 to $35,000

  • E-commerce app - 500-2000 hours - from $18,000 to $70,000

  • Dating app - 400-1000 hours - from $14,000 to $35,000

Note that the mentioned prices are an estimation of the app’s needed functionality and can be much higher or lower.

App development costs

Your cooperation with the development agency should not stop after the product launch. 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 customers.

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Price is important when choosing an app developer. However, you shouldn’t focus just on that. Below we discuss additional priorities in app development.

1. Define your requirements

Startups and established companies often make the same mistake when outsourcing applications development: they don’t know what they want.

When you have an idea that you want to turn into reality, it is always important to start with a business plan. Preparing this document will help you analyze your needs, evaluate your possibilities, and understand what you expect from your development vendor.

How to define project requirements?

It’s important to start by analyzing the market, your niche, and your audience. After that, answer the following questions:

  • Which platforms do you start with? Which ones should the app support in the future?
    Platfrorms support is a tricky question and making this decision upfront could save you a lot of time. You could start with web development and make your app instantly available to users of all major platforms (iOS and Android). But if an exclusive user-experience is your priority, you’ll have to develop a native app and either start with one platform, or allocate a solid budget for multiple platform development straight away. You will have to choose between native, hybrid, and web app development before the actual development begins.  

  • What is the desired functionality? Which features will be included in an MVP?
    You have to understand the possibilities of your application from the beginning. However, implementing every possible feature is a bad idea. Think on what minimal set of features you can offer to begin. And - be ready for discussions. A development company may offer you other options based on their previous experience with similar projects.

MVP features

  • What technologies do you want your app to work on?
    This is actually optional - you can discuss the technologies with the company you choose to outsource development to. However, knowing your technical requirements in advance could save you a lot of time when looking for the right contractor.

Predefined requirements ensure that you and your technical partner both understand the end purpose of the development process. Communication with your outsourcing company will be more exact and efficient, resulting in a product that corresponds, or even exceeds, your expectations.

2. Create a short list of development companies

It’s always challenging to find and hire the best software development vendor. We have a few tips on how to speed up this process:

  • Check out the agencies on Upwork
    Upwork is a great place to look for contractors as it provides a lot of information about the agency: the number of completed projects, ratings, fair reviews, etc. You can imagine how your collaboration might look before you even start it. Also, when signing a contract through this service, you are protected by strict policies.

  • Go through review websites
    First of all, you need to visit Clutch and GoodFirms. On these websites, clients leave extended reviews and describe how they felt about working with the company. Ratings on these sites are absolutely trustworthy!

  • Google companies that focus on your domain
    If you’re about to build an Internet of Things product, search “best IoT development companies”. If you’re looking for a logistics solution, “logistics software development companies” may be your query. When following this approach, make sure that your technology partner has the necessary skill to help you build the best product on the market.

  • Ask for recommendations
    Someone in your contact list has likely already dealt with software development outsourcing. Just ask for a tip!

How to choose outsourcing company

When you have your short list ready, prepare for interviews, portfolio reviews, and negotiations.

3. Communicate with the agency manager

Communication, what can be easier? In fact, there are several communication lifehacks to determine whether the company is the one you’re looking for.

  • Expect a lot of questions
    The right contractor wants to know as much as possible about the product they will potentially work on. A lot of questions (including inconvenient ones) speak to detail orientation and interest in the project.

  • Expect disagreement
    The right contractor understands your weaknesses and is ready to talk about them. After all, you don’t pay for adulation, but for competence and interest in the project.

  • Avoid one-sided communication
    Be ready to not just answer questions, but to ask and dispute as well. Prepare a list of questions that may affect your choice of contractor and don’t hesitate to ask all of them.

Don’t let kind words tempt you straight away. It’s important to evaluate the expertise of every company in your list!

4. Evaluate the portfolio

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

  • Look at the number and complexity of completed works
    A company can have over 200 completed projects, but if they are all template websites, what does that mean for you? Look for the projects that are similar to your future application. Tip: if you plan to develop a marketplace, any e-commerce project in the portfolio is relevant.

  • Go through demo versions
    Along with a brief description, an agency should be ready to provide you access to an application demo. Use it.

  • Check out the company’s existing live products
    Are their past web and mobile applications available to a wider audience? Ask for the link, install the app (if needed) and get an impression of what your end product might look like. Is it the quality you expect?

  • Check GitHub contributions
    Ok, here you’ll need some basic knowledge in programming, or a friend who can help you with the evaluation. By checking GitHub, you can see the code these guys produce and decide whether it fits your needs.

How to evaluate your potential tech partner

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

5. Set a price

Discussions about outsourcing web app development budgets are usually hard. However, it is crucial to adhere to a win-win strategy.

First, you have to decide between fixed price and time-and-resources. Both have their advantages and disadvantages

Agile vs. Waterfall

Fixed price

This approach is viable in just a single case: you have clear product specifications and you are sure it won’t change. You agree on a fixed price, set an exact deadline and the work begins. In some cases, developers will have to neglect specific issues to adhere to the predefined time and budget. The fixed price approach is becoming increasingly outdated since time-and-resources allows you to achieve much better results.


With the introduction of Agile to app development, flexibility has become crucial. Since strict deadlines and fixed prices allow anything but flexibility, the time-and-resources approach has won appreciation. You have to pay for the time and resources that have been actually spent. It enables you to change the initial plan, quickly react to any novelties and adjust the process.

With time-and-resources approach, it is harder to predict the end price of the product, but the quality and market-fit are definitely worth it.

When deciding between these two approaches, make sure to consider all possible factors. Important considerations include your previous experience with outsourcing web app development, the allocated budget, and the desired end product.

6. Establish sprints and expectations

After you have chosen your one and only technology partner, start by discussing the development methodology. Waterfall and Agile are the two to choose from:


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 methodology allows much more flexibility. You divide the whole task into small sprints, developing tiny pieces of functionality one after another. The team constantly tests, measures and improves the product to better fit the market needs. As a result, the final product might differ from the initial idea, but it is adjusted to end-user expectations.

Agile methodolgy is preferable for outsourcing web development as it enables you to adapt to any market changes and adopt new ideas quickly.

When you first start working with your development agency, discuss initial sprints and your expectations from each of them. These will be your first steps towards a world-class product.

In addition, these first sprints will prove the expertise and devotion of your vendor. If you notice that your collaboration doesn’t work, it’s better to find another company to work with. Remember, the success of your business is at stake.

To sum up

Outsourcing app development is sometimes considered risky. That’s true. There are thousands of companies worldwide and only a few of them deliver a truly high-quality service.

How to outsource app development

If you want to partner with a top-performer and make the most out of this cooperation, carefully choose the best service provider for your needs. The steps described above are helpful tips.

Clockwise Software is one of the most reliable outsourcing companies in Eastern Europe. If you have a project on your mind - we’ll be happy to discuss it and share our thoughts about possible technical solutions!

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