When you need a mobile application, do you turn to your in-house IT team? With 66% of IT budgets forecast to rise this year, and app development taking a portion of this rise, the chances are you have applications in development or are planning on it. App development is expected to rise so sharply, in fact, that in-house developers are struggling to keep up. Industry analysts Gartner recently forecast that mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organisations can deliver them.
This pressure can be felt most acutely in cases where developers are asked to cross-skill over to mobile platforms, when their key skills may be in traditional desktop application or web development. Yes, we’re an app development company. Yes, we’re now going to talk about the benefits of outsourcing your app development. But it’s not without good reason.
So often, our first contact with a new customer is a cry of, “Help! We’ve developed an app in-house and it’s totally broken”. We’re not saying your in-house dev team is rubbish, we’re saying app developers and web developers are totally different beasts. You wouldn’t ask your sales guys to work in the canteen, however good their sandwiches might appear. So here’s our argument for outsourcing.
Experience is king
The fact is, 57% of developers have never built a mobile app before. Companies that work in mobile app development day in, day out, will have seen it all before and have a degree of ‘street knowledge’. That Android oddity that only surfaces on HTC phones? Worked around. That subtle difference between iPhone 6 and 6S software? Identified. That change in the way Android and iPhone users interact with apps? Incorporated into your design. Knowing a host of shortcuts and clever techniques ensures apps are built rapidly and effectively.
A polished final product
Once you have a finished app, how do you measure its performance? What about graphical interface design? User experience? Sound and music quality? Experienced testers are a vital part of getting a successful app into the marketplace. These skills can be impractical and expensive to maintain in-house. Outsourcing will mean these skills become instantly available to you, at a fraction of the cost it would take to bring them into your own in-house team. The golden glow of releasing an application that shows real polish reflects well on everyone involved, regardless of who developed it.
Losing control of other projects
In asking your in-house team to develop your mobile app, you may be taking them away from other critical projects and spreading their skills too thin. Couple this with the reskilling and training they may need to build your app, and you risk placing other IT projects in danger. This isn’t the case when you use an external developer, who have distance from your own business and can properly critique all elements of the project without worrying about sticky office politics. Adrian Leow, principal research analyst with Gartner, said, “Organizations increasingly find it difficult to be proactive against competitive pressures, which is resulting in their mobile apps becoming tactical, rather than strategic.” An experienced development team will do more than build your app, first identifying – and questioning – the strategic needs your app needs to serve. This pre-development process is as important as the build itself, because it determines the functional quality of your final product.
While the outsourced solution should not be seen as a magic bullet, it does offer real advantages to trying to keep everything in-house. You will have an eye fixed firmly on both monetary cost and opportunity cost, and will be keen to get the greatest return on investment. Putting your app development in the hands of those with a proven track record of success is a very good place to start. A good app development company will work hard at being co-creational with the key staff and developers in your company to maximise the likelihood of that success.
Trust us, we’re an app development agency.
NYC media lab by Mobile Futures. Creative Commons license 2.0.