Mobile App Development Outsourcing: A Brief Guide

22 Jun · 15 min read

Mobile App Development Outsourcing: A Brief Guide

There is a growing number of people using mobile devices. Respectively, it means that more people need more mobile applications. As a result, new mobile app development companies have appeared. Yet, while there is a demand for mobile applications, not all firms choose the proper strategies for delivering the product. In a nutshell, tech companies can either use in-house development or engage in outsourcing IT development. 

For startups and young businesses, outsourcing mobile app development is one of the key strategies to consider. Why? There are two primary reasons to consider.

First, Grand View Research indicates that the global mobile application market was valued at $154.05 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.5% by 2027. It means that the market is growing and will grow in the future. With the high demand, it is the perfect time for new entrants to meet the demand.

Second, Statista argues that in 2017 alone, skyward application development was outsourced by more than 64% of tech companies. In such a case, young businesses need to follow the existing path of outsourcing mobile app development because it works, and other firms proved that with trial and error.

If you wonder how to develop an app through outsourcing and outsourcing software development, we’ve collected some insights that establish the foundation for the process. These are the basics you need to know to choose the best mobile app development strategy to meet your business objectives and the needs of your clientele. 

In-house Mobile App Development vs. Outsourcing

Essentially, in-house software development means that you have a company of developers who work in your office and have long-term contracts. There are sufficient resources and talent to engage in application development without the help of any third parties. In such a case, one can speak about both pros and cons of app development with in-house developers.

Advantages of In-House Software Development

  • You have a team of experts working toward a shared objective. Having in-house developers ensures that the talent in your company works toward mobile application development in unison. They all will be in one place, and managers can easily navigate their functions.
  • No external access to the given project. In-house developments ensure there is no access of third parties to your project. It means that the chance of exposure to sensitive information is low. Besides, you do not need additional commotion with intellectual property considerations.
  • The environment for seamless collaboration. The in-house app development team is open to communication and collaboration. You have easy access to the team and can explore any part of the project fast and effectively.

Disadvantages of In-House Software Development

  • High cost of building and managing an in-house team. Often, having an in-house team requires having more than one long-term developer. Mobile app development is an important and complex task. It requires input from several developers. Respectively, having a number of mobile app developers in your team is expensive.
  • Slow and expensive team scaling. Scaling a team of in-house developers can be challenging. In contrast to outsourcing options, when you can simply add new professionals. However, with an in-house option, if you want to scale the team and hire a new mobile app developer, you need to start the entire recruitment process, which is lengthy and slow.
  • Regular payments without any work done. Mobile app development is rooted in several experts working on the project simultaneously. Yet, the issue with an in-house option means you need to pay for working hours even when mobile app developers sit without any work.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to having a team of in-house developers. The key aspect is to understand whether, in your situation, the benefits outweigh the challenges. 

In addition to understanding the pros and cons of outsourcing options, it is crucial to determine the outsourcing options available. Generally, there are three approaches to choose from:

  1. Offshoring. The option includes hiring developers farthest from the client, usually 8 or 10 time zones away.
  2. Nearshoring. The option includes outsourcing projects to people working from countries bordering the client’s nation.
  3. Onshoring. The option includes outsourcing mobile app development to experts in the same country as you.

Considering all the options mentioned above, it is crucial to look at the other side of the coin. It means determining whether outsourcing mobile app development can be potentially more advantageous than disadvantageous. 

Advantages of Outsourcing Mobile App Development

  • Reduced costs of operations. In contrast to harboring an in-house mobile app development team, having an outsourcing team costs much less. You can outsource a company and have it work on the project for a particular budget. Why is the cost of outsourcing lower? Key outsourcing destinations like China and India have significantly lower living costs, which translates into lower rates. You can pay lower prices for the work that would have been charged higher in places like the U.S. and Canada.
  • Time conservation. For instance, android app development outsourcing can help save precious time. Why? Because choosing to outsource eliminates the entire hiring, training, and retaining process. Besides, outsourcing mobile app development allows scaling teams without additional costs and time.
  • The high-quality services offered. You can look for the best software partners when choosing an outsourcing option. Hundreds of reviews are available to select the development partner offering high-quality services. In such a case, outsourcing mobile app development grants opportunities to choose the best talent and hire it seamlessly.

Disadvantages of Outsourcing Mobile App Development

  • Foundation for miscommunication. In the case of offshoring, working with the most remote teams can create issues with communication and collaboration. It is challenging to cooperate with people who are 8 or 10 time zones away. Besides, due to language barriers, it may be difficult to interpret all the parts of communication properly. As a result, miscommunication can occur, leading to issues with the project.
  • Issues associated with cultural and geographical differences. Working with people from different nations entails geographic and cultural differences. Along with differences in time zones that can lead to problems with communication, it can be hard to find common ground with people from different cultural backgrounds. In such a context, outsourcing mobile app development in the case of offshoring offers specific cultural, time, and language barriers worth considering.
  • Potential leak of confidential information. While outsourcing mobile app development, vendors and clients often share confidential information. Working with third parties increases the chance of the leak of sensitive data. Respectively, with the probability of data breaches, there are higher chance clients and vendors will face litigation and reputational damages.

Keeping all the elements in mind, in-house and outsourcing mobile app development grants advantages and disadvantages. Choosing between managing an in-house team of software developers and determining whether outsourcing is your option, it is crucial to consider all the available pros and cons and consider the best approach. 

Outsourcing Options in Mobile App Development

Outsourcing mobile app development requires choosing a particular approach. Because there is a growing demand for software outsourcing in general, there is an increasing number of vendors offering their services through a range of platforms. You can choose between three key outsourcing options - outsourcing company, freelancers, and mixed model. Let’s review each one in detail.

  • Outsourcing company. With this approach, you get a chance to outsource your project entirely or its parts. It means you can outsource recruiting company to get talent or outsource a sales and marketing company to get a new marketing campaign. Yet, for outsourcing mobile app development, you can hire an entire company with its team of developers. They can offer high-quality services for lower prices than having in-house development. Respectively, there are pros of hiring an outsourcing company:
  1. formalized approach
  2. experienced professionals
  3. organized development process
  4. a complete team ready to work from the get-go
  • Freelancers. Such an approach often entails balancing between attractive hourly rates and relevant experience. Yet, when working with freelancers, you cannot ensure that high-quality services will be offered. Most companies working with freelance developers highlight the existing management issues in mobile app development. Respectively, there are also pros to hiring freelancers:
  1. cheaper than most option
  2. a chance to get talented experts for a lower price
  • Mixed model. This option is often perceived as the quickest to launch. Also known as an off-the-shelf solution, the hybrid model entails looking for quick updates to meet the rapid market changes. In other words, if you need to update your application fast, the hybrid model can be a solution to look for. Naturally, there are particular pros to the approach:
  1. usually, the cheapest model
  2. very fast to launch
  3. includes various features that can be integrated rapidly

Keeping all the three methods in mind, you should choose the one that fits your desires. Consider the budget, resources, and complexity of the project. Based on such factors, any company can determine whether it can afford to hire an outsourcing company or should appeal to freelancers. It is the part to have an understanding of your objectives and possibilities. From the insights, you can select the best option on the market. 

Signs You Should Choose Mobile App Outsourcing

Custom mobile app development is a process requiring much input. Yet, particular signs indicate that you need to choose mobile app outsourcing rather than in-house software development. 

Following is the checklist to consider. It should point you toward outsourcing:

  • Your company does not consider mobile app development as the primary business objective
  • Your business needs additional infrastructure to manage mobile app development
  • Your IT department is too busy with other tasks
  • Your team does not have sufficient talent and experts to handle mobile app development within an in-house setting
  • Your company is considering scaling the team and hiring new talent
  • Your business cannot afford the time to hire and train new talent
  • Your team cannot update the mobile app internally
  • Your budget-management considerations are based on careful principles
  • Your business plan does not consider spending internal resources to commit to mobile app development

The factors mentioned above suggest whether you should consider outsourcing mobile app development. These internal factors illustrate how your company is ready for outsourcing. Yet, there are also external factors that must be regarded when focusing on outsourcing mobile app development:

  • Good market environment. If your company is exposed to fierce competition, time to deliver a new product is crucial. At this point, appealing to an outsourcing company grants a better chance to bring new mobile applications to customers as soon as possible. As a result, your company gets an opportunity to compete in a fiercely competitive market.
  • Cost-factor is appropriate. The rule of thumb dictates that in-house development is more expensive than outsourcing. In such a case, if such a principle exists in the market you live in or enter, then choose to outsource a proper strategy to consider.
  • Niche expertise is available. Some projects are founded on rate skills like AI, VR, AR, or Salesforce. In all instances, such skills require on-off configuration and continuous maintenance. Experts with such skills are widely available in outsourcing companies. Respectively, while having in-house experts with such rare skills is extremely expensive, you have better and more affordable options when looking for outsourcing mobile app development.

Outsourcing mobile application development stems from both internal and external factors. Look at those factors and calculate all the pros and cons. Then, make your decision. To help you with that, we’ve analyzed a massive amount of information and squeezed it into seven straightforward but important steps toward the best approaches to outsourcing mobile app development. 

How To Outsource Mobile App Development in 7 Easy Steps

Your company receives a blueprint for easy and effective outsourcing mobile app development following the steps outlined below. 

1) Outline the Project

Outlining the project ensures that you understand each stage of outsourcing. As a starting point, it is crucial to focus on three key steps:

  • Deciding on business needs.
  • Predicting user expectations.
  • Clarifying mobile app requirements.

In the context of the phases mentioned above, you need to consider many questions. For business objectives, you need to ask yourself what your company's endgame is and what you intend to achieve with a mobile application? In terms of user expectations, it is crucial to consider how consumers will interact with the app and determine the app’s core functionality. Finally, clarifying app requirements stems from choosing whether it would be iOS, Android, or a hybrid app? Also, consider the levels of authorization to anticipate potential issues with security. 

Respectively, outlining the project stems from understanding what the application should achieve and how users will interact with it. 

2) Freelance or Software Development Company? Choose!

After having your product outlined, the important part is determining whether you appeal to freelancers or a software development company to get mobile app development done. When selecting a company to work with or freelancers, it is crucial to find the best one. Consider the following substeps:

  1. Make a list of available development companies
  2. Check the reviews on the Internet
  3. Explore the technical expertise of a software development company or freelancers
  4. Go through the development workflow to clear the communication and working style
  5. Ask for references from previous clients

Choosing between a mobile app development company and freelancers is crucial to understand how further steps can be taken. Go through the phrases mentioned above, and you’ll have a good chance to select a proper development partner. 

3) Choose Where to Outsource

You need to consider various platforms and websites depending on the previous step. Narrowing down the number of choices, you can select the following options:

  • Freelance marketplaces. There are a number of online freelance marketplaces where you can find people who know how to create apps and how to deliver high-quality services for a reasonable price. Marketplaces like Upwork, TopTal, and Guru are among the most visited freelance marketplaces. There, you can hire any number of freelancers you like.
  • B2B platforms. Looking at reviews of potential partners is vital for getting the best one on your team. At least go to G2 and Clutch to get an overview of what it's like to work with a freelance or an outsourcing company you have your eye on.
  • Development blogs. If you are looking at a development company, you should also consider checking various tech blogs. Looking through expert articles can help set a path toward a proper candidate.
  • Design communities. Getting mobile app development done often includes both code and design. Having end-to-end development, you need to look for both software engineers and UI/UX designers. Covering for the last requires checking websites like Dribble and Behance.

Look through the websites and platforms mentioned above. They grant you crucial insights that help you move further with the project. Besides, you need also consider what platform and website to visit if you emphasize working with individual freelancers or outsourcing companies. 

4) Create the Budget

When you need something new, you need to pay for it. Basic resources are the following: time, budget, technical, and management capabilities. 

If you don’t have enough time and money, you need to look for a ready-made solution. In other words, with limited budget and time, appeal to freelancers. However, suppose you are looking for a more complex project to be done, which includes help with coding, design, and management. In that case, you need to look for an outsourcing mobile app development company. 

Depending on your budget, different options are at your disposal. Often, the difference can be drastic. Usually, off-the-shelf applications are the cheapest to develop. However, they rarely stand out and are not considered unique. The most expensive and most special applications are offered either by freelance developers or software development companies.

However, if you know where to look and what factors to focus on, you can find an outsourcing company with reasonable prices and proper quality. So, look at the sources mentioned above and consider our insights to find such an option. Yet, don’t forget to estimate the budget based on your business objectives and available resources.

5) Research the IT Market

Understanding the market is crucial for understanding the options you have. From thousands and thousands of mobile app development companies on the market, you are looking for the few that meet your needs. When looking at the market, focus on geography and communication. 

As it was mentioned above, there are three options: offshoring, nearshoring, and onshoring. Outsourcing to the experts near you is easiest yet most expensive. Outsourcing to professionals farthest from your company is the cheapest yet most difficult. Nearshoring is the option that stands between the two. 

At this point, you need to explore the market. Take into account the budget. And determine whether you need to choose offshoring, onshoring, or nearshoring. 

6) Conduct the Interviews

When you’ve selected the candidates, it is time to narrow down the pool. As a starting point, look at the candidates' portfolios to understand what questions to ask. Focus on aspects like expertise, tech stacks, and management capabilities. Further, make a list of questions you want a candidate to answer. For instance, these can be the following:

  1. Do you have software development experience in a particular area?
  2. Do you offer back-office functions?
  3. What is the degree of project control required on our site?
  4. Does your team have sufficient IT skills to meet the criteria of this project?
  5. How scalable is your team?
  6. Is it possible to quickly expand your team if necessary?
  7. Do you provide a compliant cooperation model?
  8. Who will own the source code?

These questions can help you determine whether a candidate in front of you is the right one. 

7) Choose the Best One and Begin Cooperation

The final step is the easiest one. When you have conducted the interviews and selected the partner, it is time to send the paperwork and proceed with the mobile app development. Emphasize communication and try to have fun during collaboration and cooperation.

Common Mistakes in Mobile App Development Outsourcing

It is no secret that many companies fail when it comes to outsourcing. To help you avoid being among them, consider the following common mistake in mobile app development outsourcing:

  1. Lack of research phase. Proper research is crucial for delivering a successful product. To do the homework, you need to focus on pricing, strategies, visions, and technical expertise. Often, companies fail to find a proper development partner because they barely scratch the surface of researching the prospective candidate. So, invest your time and effort into researching to avoid the mistake.
  2. Insufficient proper planning. The product discovery process included in mobile app development is something many companies overlook. Try to look at partners who spend time planning and understanding your product and business objectives in such a case. Partnerships need to be founded on authentic collaboration and open communication to avoid a lack of planning.
  3. Improper agile balance. Most mobile app development companies practice agile methodologies. It includes making a balance between the software and feature documentation. Unfortunately, many development partners do not achieve such a balance and instead prioritize software over documentation. To avoid the mistake, hire a development partner who understands the importance of the agile balance and is capable of anticipating errors on the way.
  4. Failure to prototype. In mobile app development, it is crucial to consider prototyping. In such a case, never wait until the final development phase to prototype. Many companies fail to understand that, which later leads to end-to-end failures. For instance, one of the worst-case scenarios is when you discover that end-users cannot use the app after all of the code was written and design integrated. Prototyping helps with usability testing and offers a foundation for trial and error to make the product top-notch.
  5. No lack of code review. Don’t forget to perform consistent code reviews. Many development partners fail to conduct manual code reviews. It creates massive issues with the functionality of developed apps in the final stages of their development. Luckily, multiple open-source tools can help you avoid the mistake. First, run automated code reviews to flag security issues. Second, perform manual code reviews to beat the most in-depth mistakes.

Getting a job done and having a unique app at the end of the process often depends on the ability of partners to avoid the mistakes mentioned above. If you want to have a product that stands out, you need to pay attention to each stage of development and consider the failures of your predecessors. 


As you can see now, mobile app development is a process that relies on a number of factors. Like any other process, there are certain steps involved. Dealing with a structural issue requires a structural response. You are now equipped to engage in a successful outsourcing mobile app development process following the guidelines outlined above. 

Start outlining your objectives, looking at resources, and searching for development partners. Yet, the most important factor to consider is whether you can afford to avoid outsourcing in the first place. Don’t forget that many companies fail and face mistakes because they underestimate the importance of looking into details. 

The article was first published here

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