How To Choose A Mobile App Development Company
By Thayer Tate
The decision to build a mobile app brings with it a certain amount of anticipation. It’s natural to picture new connections with consumers and a steep uptick in sales for your company. Those things will likely be on your horizon if you find the right fit when hiring an mobile app developer and if you execute the planning process correctly.
What to consider when choosing a mobile app development company:
Chemistry And Communication
Lots of projects fall apart, not due to a lack of technical expertise on the part of a vendor, but because there’s not enough connection with the vendor. Avoid this situation when hiring a developer to build a mobile application by ensuring they can explain their process in an understandable way. Some clients assume the technology world is just confusing if they can’t follow development explanations. No matter your lack of tech savvy, however, you need to know exactly what you’ll be getting. A vendor should be able to communicate to you in terms that relate to your industry, and they should be able to tell you how their technology will support your company’s objectives. If they can’t tell you how they would solve a problem, or if they don’t answer questions in a way that makes sense, even to a nontechnical person, run — don’t walk — away.
A lack of clear communication at an early stage is likely to worsen as a project progresses. On the other hand, someone who can explain technical terms and marry them to business objectives in an articulate and understandable way will be an asset in the app development process.
Also, consider accessibility of company representatives. Being able to meet with senior team members and ask them questions in the beginning stages is always a plus.
Clarity In Mobile App Design and Project Scoping
A lack of clear project scope up front usually spells trouble. As you’re figuring out how to choose a mobile app developer, look for a vendor who makes comprehensive design and scoping the first step in development, and make sure they can tailor it to your needs.
Without these boundaries, most of your budget can easily go to supporting a dev team before you realize it. An example of this situation might be if a company begins development talks by describing an agile process followed by plans for integrating a dev team with design and development taking shape as you go. This process is inefficient because implementation comes before proper scoping and design, and with no up-front scope limit, you can quickly find yourself financially overextended.
Look For a Coherent Software Development Plan
As you’re coming up with your own requirements for how to hire an app developer, remember that a mobile app development company should be able to describe a coherent development process that’s not too thick or light for your goals. An enterprise with a large portion of its business riding on an app needs a more sophisticated, detailed process than a company looking for an uncomplicated, mobile creation.
For instance, a lower-budget, simple mobile app designed to help people connect is going to require relatively shorter timeframes for scoping, screen mockups, tech design and development. In this case, an appropriate approach might include a couple of days of working sessions followed by work from a dev team using agile practices. On the other hand, a new company launching a flagship product around which it plans to base all its operations might want to see a week allocated to each of these stages. One size doesn’t fit all in terms of scoping, so make sure proposed processes fit your needs.
And when it comes to solution design, look for a tailored approach, too. Although it can sound like a one-size-fits-all process, a good partner will customize the size and scope of the design to the nature of your app and your overall budget. Some projects can be fully designed with a day or two of focused effort, while other more sophisticated solutions could require 2 – 3 weeks of design work.
You’ll want to make sure a prospective vendor can fill in details about how the process will go after they’ve heard about your goals or you could find yourself doing legwork you didn’t plan on. For instance, offshore teams frequently drop the ball here. They can function inexpensively on an hourly basis, and their teams know how to code, but they often do only what you tell them, so the design process isn’t smooth. Suddenly, you’re the software designer and they’re just the implementers.
Verify Software Engineer Experience and Qualifications
Your potential vendor absolutely must be technically qualified. First, check to make sure they’ve developed other mobile apps and deployed them to app stores.
Check on their domain expertise — a partner with specific industry or domain knowledge is more likely to understand and identify industry or process-specific business requirements. For instance, there may be unique security or compliance requirements for your industry that need to be considered. They should also be able to demonstrate competence in building apps for the platform of your choice — iOS or Android. Although you may begin on just one platform, you might want to add another later, so make sure they can build for both in that case.
And include a step for verifying the references of the actual engineer who will handle your project. Just because the company produced a product in the past doesn’t mean the engineer they’re offering today has that experience.
Make Sure There’s Support For Your Live Mobile App
And finally, as you begin to make decisions on how to hire app developers, ask potential partners about maintenance on finished projects. Initial plans ideally end with a live app, which will need support. Verify that a vendor has such a program in place, and figure out what that support actually entails.
When choosing a support option, remember most companies require a retainer and a minimum six-month time commitment, but some firms are more flexible and can be more nimble in the way they deploy resources. Support can be costly, so take the time to make the right choice for your company.
It’s also a good idea to make sure your potential partner maintains a staff. Some companies, especially startups, will produce a project with contract resources, and when a project is done, those resources go away. These companies will not be good partners for supporting an app after it’s live.
Choosing A Mobile App Development Company
Remember that mobile app development requires team chemistry, a clear scoping and development processes, verification of technical qualifications and support after the fact. Considering these factors will help you identify the right partner for your project and stay on budget as you look toward launching your mobile app.
Ready to launch into a software development project? Check out this software checklist eBook below first.
Thayer TateChief Technology Officer
Thayer is the Chief Technology Officer at SOLTECH, bringing over 20 years of experience in technology and consulting to his role. Throughout his career, Thayer has focused on successfully implementing and delivering projects of all sizes. He began his journey in the technology industry with renowned consulting firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers and IBM, where he gained valuable insights into handling complex challenges faced by large enterprises and developed detailed implementation methodologies.
Thayer’s expertise expanded as he obtained his Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and joined SOLTECH, an Atlanta-based technology firm specializing in custom software development, Technology Consulting and IT staffing. During his tenure at SOLTECH, Thayer honed his skills by managing the design and development of numerous projects, eventually assuming executive responsibility for leading the technical direction of SOLTECH’s software solutions.
As a thought leader and industry expert, Thayer writes articles on technology strategy and planning, software development, project implementation, and technology integration. Thayer’s aim is to empower readers with practical insights and actionable advice based on his extensive experience.