3 Important Things To Consider When Outsourcing App Development

November 20, 2013

5:00 pm

In our tech startup ecosystem, there are coders, there are designers, and there are hustlers. If you’re coming into this world hoping to truly make something from some great idea, then you likely fulfill at least one of these three roles. Of course, in order for you to truly launch a successful company with an actual product, you’ll need all three of these elements. Unless you’re some brilliant polymath, it’s unlikely that you have expert competency in each of these skills. More likely, you can pursue one of two options: 1) bring in other partners/founders with the skills you lack, or 2) hire help from the outside.

For many non-technical people with a product or startup idea, hiring outside work may be the better option: you don’t need to convince anyone about the brilliance of your idea, it takes less time to hire someone than it does to find someone with whom to partner, and you retain full control of everything. Iqbal Brainch, the founder and CEO of LinkUP, did this precisely when pursuing his own idea, leading to the production of an app within three months.

LinkUP is an app that allows users to check out who is attending any sort of networking event – before, during, or after said event. Rather than being location-based (as many social connection apps tend to be), LinkUP is event-based and finds attendees based on event attendance, much like Meetup or EventBrite. Using the LinkedIn API, the app shows the picture and title of each fellow attendee, and allows users to connect directly or “LinkUP” with him/her.

Brainch is a non-technical founder. Without the support from Photon Infotech, the company he hired to develop the LinkUP app, he would not have a working product today. Outsourcing app development can have some risks, though. When considering to whom such development should be outsourced, the decision ultimately came down to three factors: 1) communication, 2) skills, and 3) resources.

1. Communication

When outsourcing the development of your app, communication is – by far – the most essential factor to consider. Because you’re obviously not near your hired developers or designers, it’s really important that you look for a contractor or firm that has a record of providing good and constant communication. “There’s a little more of a hands-on approach when you’re dealing across the globe,” insists Brainch. In Brainch’s case, daily conference calls occurred (hassle-free) between him and Photon Infotech for the whole three months during which the LinkUP app was in development. Constant and immediate email correspondence also helped make the entire process seem like there was no geographical divide.

2. Skills

I mean…duh. Are the people you’re considering for hire actually capable of doing the things that they claim? What does their history of work look like? For Brainch, this wasn’t too hard to distinguish, since the company he hired has a track record of being one of the largest and highest-rated mobile app developers in the world. The level of competency in a particular skill is also important. For LinkUP, the high competency of the developers allowed for a much quicker product launch – launching after a mere three months of development. Since the app’s August 20 launch, it has already gone through four updates with additional features.

3. Resources

Does the contractor you’re looking at have enough resources to support your development needs? Due to the size of Photon Infotech, the company was able to allocate enough resources (i.e. human capital) to support all of LinkUP’s needs – from back-end development to front-end and UI. More importantly: will the person/company you’re hiring even have the time for you? When deciding between hiring local firms or outsourcing his development needs, Brainch ultimately found that outsourcing allowed greater flexibility in actually working with him in the off-hours. “Local firms were already swamped and busy; they really didn’t have the time or resources for me…and my little startup.”

When looking into whether to outsource your app development, just remember to keep in mind these three important factors. Things should work out for you, if you do – I mean, consider how LinkUP was able to make things happen.

LinkUP was most recently featured at Tech Cocktail’s Chicago Mixer & Startup Showcase

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.