Outsourcing app development can be a good option for startups still starting out. Here are some tips to make getting your app off the ground smoother
The core team of young startups on a budget is usually a small group of co-founders plus one or two engineers.
In most cases, the team does not possess all of the skills they need, such as marketing, project management or application development. In many cases, newly founded startups have an application they want to develop, but are unable to execute it themselves for lack of time, expertise, etc.
If a startup does not have the ability to hire a full-time programmer, which many can’t right away, they might want to try outsourcing the development of the app. While outsourcing may sound easy, there are several points you should consider before beginning.
When my co-founder at GuardianEYE and I decided to outsource the development of our application for a baby behaviour tracker and predictor, we had our doubts as to the authenticity of some of the freelancers we encountered and learned a lot about the process the hard way. I hope the following tips will save you some trouble.
First, write a Scope of Work (SOW)
Your first task before posting your work is to write a detailed Scope of Work (SOW). If you are unsure as to what that is, try searching the web for examples. (If enough readers comment and show interest in how to write an effective SOW for outsourcing work, and even for in company work, I will also write a post about that.)
Pay attention to the content and to the way that you write the SOW. This is what you are requesting of the company/freelancer to develop.
The freelancer is not familiar with your ideas outside of the scope of the SOW – what you ask for is (hopefully) what you get. If any parts of your idea were left unclear, the development will not turn out as desired. In order to fix/add this at a later stage, you will most likely incur a hefty fee and a delay in development time.
Once your SOW is complete and you are ready to post your development listing, there are a few things to think about:
- To reduce the risk of scams, use websites that you trust such as oDesk or freelancer.com to check reviews. On such sites you can bargain more easily and get more for your money. A few ideas you can try are to get free bug testing for a year, receive development for two platforms for a reduced price, etc.
- Know that in addition to freelancers offering their skills on such sites, some companies look for business through such mediums as well. Selecting a company might be a wiser choice as they usually offer a variety of skills and produce a product in less time.
- Check if any applications you use and like were outsourced, and find the developing company name – try contacting them also.
Do you want to develop for Apple, Android or both?
If you are unsure, I suggest creating it for Apple only at first. You can read a lot about this online but here are a few points about each.
Apple will review your submitted application, check it for bugs and ensure that it follows their policy: Make sure you review this. However, the limitation is that the application will work on Apple phones and iOS only.
Android is an open-source platform, so you are ‘more free’ to do as you please, and no one will review your submission. Android works on a large range of phones and you need to make sure your app is customized for it.
Research shows Android holds more market shares, but Apple makes more money from application sales.
Choosing to develop for both platforms from the beginning will save you time and money in the long run, but will take longer and cost more from the outset.
How to review your candidates
First, request to see the freelancer or company’s previous work and use Google, LinkedIn and Facebook to find out more about them.
Here are some important issues to keep in mind:
- Do they design the graphical user interface (GUI)? If so, is the designer in-house or contracted? Do you have to supply them with icons (you can purchase them cheaply from sites such as shutterstock.com).
- Find out their location – this is not critical but if the time zones are not compatible, communication can be difficult, which will slow down product development.
- Verify they can do all that you need – backend, GUI, support social media, etc.
- How big is the development team? The process might be lengthy with a sole freelancer, whereas a team will most likely be quicker and give you more options for execution.
- How long after releasing the finished application will they support bug fixes and software version/new phone upgrades. Most companies will support fixing bugs for 30 days for free and all other upgrades are at an additional cost.
- Will they be available to add features later if required and at what cost?
Most of the communication will be via e-mail, but this can be a bit slow. Sooner or later, you will want to talk to them by phone to speed up development.
Once you have narrowed it down to two to three freelancers/companies, I recommend having a Skype chat with them to make sure they can communicate effectively with you.
From my experience, these are the main points to consider when contacting freelancers/companies for your application or any other development. Take your time and make sure you are happy with the team/freelancer.
In my future posts, I will elaborate on the parts of the process that follow after the company/freelancer has been selected, such as signing a contract and starting development, verifying the development process, and testing the application.
The article “How to outsource development for a startup on a budget” was first published on Geektime.
The post How to outsource development for a startup on a budget appeared first on e27.
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