Developing a new product can be a daunting affair. If your company wants to develop a new app and do not have existing skills, then there are three major ways you can go about it.
Develop an In-House Team
Developing a mobile development team in house would be great if you have a long term strategy and have adopted “Mobile First” strategy in your company. Many companies also use dedicated augmented teams abroad to complement their in-house technical team. Keep in mind this will require long term commitment and total buy-in from your team. More on that later.
Hire a Freelancer
If you are just testing the waters and want to create a quick prototype as a proof of concept, then hiring a talented freelance developer may be the way to go. The freelancer could work with you closely to create the prototype. This will work if you are just testing the waters and have not decided which route to go. This will help keep initial costs low.
The same freelancer may not be available at a later time to add a new feature or fix a bug. There may be downtimes when the developer is sick or have to attend personal matters. So, if it is a time critical project, tread carefully. Having said that, many apps have been successfully created by hiring freelances from outsourcing sites such as Odesk, Elance or Freelancer.
Here are a few things you should do when hiring a freelancer:
Schedule a Skype or phone call to ascertain their communication skills.
Determine how many hours can be dedicated to your project. Many freelancers have more than enough projects, and may take on more projects than they can handle.
Review existing apps the freelancer has created. Have one or two client references you can talk to. Check their feedback on the site you are using to hire.
App development may require more skills than just creating the app. UI design skills, backend software integration, server and infrastructure setup, etc. are skills needed for developing and supporting a successful enterprise app.
Make sure you have an NDA in place to protect ownership and confidentiality.
Provide git or a software repository access so you can have control of the source code at all times.
Make sure you own all domain names, hosting accounts and app store accounts used to publish apps. This will let you keep in control of your project.
As for a project plan upfront and ensure a weekly or bi-weekly product demo is available to understand the progress and provide feedback.
Hire a Product Development Company
Both the above options have their own challenges. Having an internal development team needs a long term vision and usually a larger budget. You also want to make sure you keep the team engaged and motivated. Hiring and managing a freelancer can be a daunting task. It can be a hit or a miss depending on various factors.
Yet another way to go is to hire a professional products development company which would help mitigate many risks and reducing overall costs. Such companies have a mix of talent such as UI/UX Engineers, Business Analysts, Developers, Project Managers and Quality Analysts. So you harness a spectrum of skills which would be otherwise hard to find and hire within your city.
Service companies typically work in the following pricing models:
Hourly Cost: This method works well if your project idea is not well formed but want to evolve it in parallel to development. You should have at least a good part of the idea well formed and should be able to provide documentation, wireframes or explain your thoughts in detail during meetings.The advantage in going with an hourly model is that you can get development started quickly and you can provide feedback and changes along the way. This may end up being a more costly option, but would enable you to develop your product in an experimental basis, gather feedback and improve continuously.
Fixed Price: Many companies would be able to provide a fixed price for the whole development of the project. Be prepared to provide detailed functional specifications, UI designs, and instructions so the company can provide a fixed price and project plan.Professional companies put in a lot of effort to understand the requirements, and create detailed estimates. Some use established techniques like PERT estimates or Functional Estimations to come to a conclusion on the total effort required to build the project. Insist for a detailed estimation, and project plan and be ready to pay for the proposal.
Dedicated Teams: If you want an hourly cost but want to keep control over costs, this is a great way to go. This lets you “hire” a dedicated team of mixed resources for a determined time period. This can help you scale your development team for a peak development period say 3 to 6 months and ramp down when the product development is complete.
Once you find a successful vendor, you can focus on the core aspects of your business and leave the heavy lifting of app development to the professionals. It will give you the flexibility of quickly ramping up the team when you need it and ramping down when you don't.
Looking to hire a professional app development team to getting your app idea up and going? We'd love to work with you!
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