All businesses planning to outsource app development need to consider different options to pave the best path to their goal. As a product owner, you need to ask
relevant questions. The more precise the questions, the more precise the answers
you get and the greater your chances to launch your app on time and on budget.

Most risks can be eliminated before development starts.

This post analyses how to outsource app development and achieve a win-win
working relationship.

Escape most common mobile app
pitfalls. Use the points
below to
figure out realistic answers about mobile development outsourcing.

Why (and when) to opt for outsourcing app development

When a company plans outsourcing app development, it is crucial to articulate
expectations. What are yours? Do you want to cut long-term costs? Add missing
expertise in a specified area? Expand rapidly to a new platform?

As a product owner, when you plan carefully, your chances of finding the best
team increase greatly.

It is equally important to figure out the beginning and end points of
application outsourcing (launch? app updates? migration?).

The following questions are essential because they directly affect
app development scope and timeline:

  • Are you starting from scratch or expanding an existing software solution?
  • Are you integrating it with your company’s existing solutions?
  • Will your app use smartphone hardware (accelerometer, Bluetooth, etc.)?
  • Do you already have some source code? Do you want to use it?
  • Are there any industry-specific regulations the development team must keep
    in mind?
  • How many users do you expect?
  • Do you want an app for internal use? Or do you plan to sell it?
  • Do you want to hire an outsourcing development team to complete app
  • Do you also want ongoing maintenance?

Some answers might reveal obscure but essential information for the future
development team.

At the initial stage, the product owner needs to determine the right
He needs to consult a person with a strong technical background.

Two examples:

  • Example 1

    A company has a Web app and an Android app. They now need
    a team to develop an iOS app. When building an iOS app, the development
    team must keep the architecture of existing apps in mind. They should
    avoid starting from scratch and designing their own. They must remember
    app synchronization and other important features.

  • Example 2

    Initially, a company needs to decide whether they plan on
    developing an internal app or an app for sale. The apps have different
    app architecture. A sudden pivot in the middle of the development
    process means major code base redevelopment. Avoid this costly and
    avoidable work on the project.

Choosing among many outsourcing app development options

The market of application development outsourcing encompasses the entire world.
There is a variety of offers in the market. Companies have flexible terms of
pricing, technologies, and cooperation models. You can choose a cooperation
best suited to project needs.

The choice of outsourcing app model depends on:

  • desired budget
  • planned timeline
  • scope of work

    – app only development

    – app development and maintenance

    – app development, maintenance, and regular updates

  • number of required features
  • amount of time product owner can spend on team management
  • team’s expertise in specific business domain and knowledge of specific
    in this domain
  • readiness to take on a partial project and coordinate efforts with another
    team (if

Make a list of priorities. Think what fits in with your priorities.

In-house development vs. mobile development outsourcing

The first thing that comes to every project owner’s mind is choosing between
the in-house team or application development outsourcing. Both can be great when
specifics and limitations are understood.

With an in-house team, you build the processes and adjust them flexibly. An
in-house team is available within the same business hours. Business keeps
project knowledge internally. Fewer people have access to sensitive information.

On the downside, an in-house team is expensive. Apart from high salaries and
benefits, it takes a lot of time to find, hire, and retain a missing specialist
this overheated market. Business needs to keep an HR department, think about
and bonuses for its employees, safety measures, and more.

In its turn, an outsourcing team is a faster and cheaper option. As a
business, you
do not pay for recruitment and onboarding. Also, a team from a cost-effective
can be 2 – 3 times cheaper due to lower hourly rates. Usually, a team can start
project fast. No need to wait until vacant positions are filled. Team size can
based on your needs: fast upscale, fast downscale.

However, outsourcing, too, has its downside. You will need to spend time on
communication and alignment. Expect delays if the team is located in a distant
region and the overlap in business hours is short. Clarifications and approvals
might take more time than expected.

You can get the best from both approaches by mixing them. Try team

means you can have two or more teams
simultaneously working
your project. One team focuses solely on its part of the work (e.g., outsourcing
development) and coordinates its activities with another team (e.g., with the
team focusing on API development.)

A hybrid team takes the best from both application development outsourcing
in-house development. You retain control over your software. You can upscale and
downscale fast and for reasonable costs.

Table - in-house, Outsourcing, Hybrid

Team engagement

When you outsource app development, you can choose the cooperation model that
in with your further plans.

Do you have no IT department right now but are working on establishing one?
Or do
you plan to continue mobile app development outsourcing?

Based on scope of post-launch activities, there are two main outsourcing app
development models:

Delivery team – team launches the app and
switches to the next project.

Dedicated team – team continues working on app
and updates after


Technological stack and focus
usually depend on company details,

  • general development companies
  • companies specializing in a specific industry (e.g., telemedicine
  • companies with specialization in a certain technological domain (e.g.,
    Reality, data mining)

General development companies have broad experience and low hourly rates.
Specialized companies have specific experience and higher rates (and
certain tasks more quickly). It makes sense to consider companies of both
depending on your requirements.

Here are the best scenarios for your project:

  • The company has launched a similar project
    recently. They know
    how to handle your project and can provide you with a precise
  • The company has experience in your industry
    – They need less time to get specifics of your business and correct
    their plan as soon as they dive deeply into details.
  • The company has worked on a variety of
    projects and can provide you with a relevant project map. The
    company might lack narrowly focused expertise but they are flexible
    and can learn fast.


Pricing directly affects the budget. A company’s hourly rate depends mostly on
location. Prices increase from East to West. Eastern-Asian companies are
US/Australian companies are most expensive.

Whatever destination you choose, you can negotiate on one of two main pricing

  • Fixed price
    – You agree upfront on project costs. Projects
    with clearly defined
    scope are better-suited for this.
  • Time and
    – You pay based on how much time the team
    spends on your project.
    This works for projects with flexible requirements.

For example, you plan to create a
fitness app
from scratch. You do
have an
in-house team. You have assumptions and might need to change requirements based
user requests. You will also need someone to make updates.

Your clear choice is completely outsourcing to a dedicated team. It is best to
choose the time and materials pricing model.

Can both approaches be mixed? Yes, as long as you keep balance between costs and
flexibility. If you do not want to keep up with costs and stay flexible, set up
monthly budget and ask the team to notify you in advance when they are likely to
exceed it. Any changes done are based on how much monthly budget remains.

Cost to outsource app development at a company

Costs of mobile development outsourcing for an app of average complexity could
vary between $16,000 to $80,000. Costs could easily skyrocket to $150,000 to
$200,000 for complex apps.

To help you see the big picture, let’s consider several app types. Below are
costs needed to develop a “typical” app:

table with data

Also add app maintenance. Its cost equals 15% – 20% from initial costs per year.
For example, if making a
social media app
costs you between
$48,000 and
$120,000, maintenance will cost you between $7,200 and $24,000 per year.

Steps to outsource app development to the right team

When you have a list of requirements and have outlined specifics of the project,
it is much simpler to find the right team for mobile app development

You can divide the entire process of finding a team into six steps:

  • stepSearch for professionals

    Use Google search. You can also consult online field guides such as
    the standard for “data-driven field guides for
    B2B buying and
    hiring decisions”. Set up search parameters based on your preferences
    (location, hourly rate, average review rate, etc.). Read reviews about
    company projects. This gives you a bigger picture on mobile app
    development outsourcing provided by companies.

  • stepList your top 10

    Select the companies that best suit your criteria. When you have a list,
    it is easier to do a thorough evaluation. Go through each company
    profile. Visit each website and learn more about them. Find out what
    businesses outsource app development projects to each company. If there
    are similar projects in the portfolio, the company could probably handle

  • stepShortlist five

    Now reduce the list to five. These are your candidates. You are going to
    outsource mobile app development to one of these companies. Your next
    step is to communicate with each of them personally and learn more about
    the companies and people who work there. Send your requirements and
    request a call with a project manager.

  • stepHold interviews

    Prepare a list of questions. Ensure the list and format are the same for
    all companies. You need to have the same format and questions to help
    your decision-making process. Set up a call with each company. Discuss
    project details. Listen to the company’s suggestions on project
    implementation. Ask questions and observe the company representative’s
    reaction to them.

  • stepRank companies

    After you have met with the companies, give them points from 1 – 5 for
    each criteria that matters to you (price, response time, level of
    interest, competence level, etc.). Give each interviewed company points
    for every category indicating both strong and weak sides.

  • stepSelect the best provider

    Now you have your top choice that suits your project requirements. You
    can start refining estimates and discuss details on cooperation.

What if your top choice cannot start the project when you want to start?

Where can you find a company for application development

The first step is crucial: finding and booking a reliable development team.

Try searching through the following platforms:

  • Clutch

    Again, Clutch is a great
    resource. You can
    segment search
    results based on multiple criteria. Get comprehensive information about
    a company from its profile, go to its website, or get in touch

    For example, this is what IT Craft’s profile looks like:

    Clutch - preview

    Still, the biggest platform value is verified reviews. Company managers
    conduct interviews with software development company clients ensuring
    trusted, accurate information is published.

    Companies receive badges and rankings based on their performance in the
    system. Try different sorting criteria to refine your list.

  • Goodfirms

    This company is similar to Clutch. It also provides various rankings and
    does a comprehensive search through the platform. When accessing a
    certain category, users can look through the overview ranking or switch
    to the research section which is more illustrative.

    provides more options.
    Apart from written
    interviews, video
    reviews are available. Users benefit from buyer’s guides.

    Still, Clutch’s evaluation system seems to be more encompassing and

  • Upwork

    This is a renown platform for freelancers.
    You can hire almost any specialization here from all over the world.

    Use job success rating to select top performers. Owners of “Top
    badges care about their reputation to keep receiving contracts. You
    ensure professionals provide you with results on time.

    Companies are also present on Upwork that has their own profiles.
    is why Upwork can
    be a place where
    you find a provider
    for reasonable

Checking a company’s services and expertise

When you decide to outsource mobile app development, also check all the company

  • Go through the services section.

    See what service range a company can offer to you (e.g., in on-demand

    A great company can pick up your project right at the point you need
    It can:

    • translate a business idea into technical requirements
    • design a realistic roadmap
    • prepare app design and source code
    • extend your presence on platforms
    • help you reach missing deadline
    • optimize app infrastructure

    …and more.

    Make sure it provides services you need.

  • Look at the company’s portfolio.

    A company’s list of accomplished projects speaks best about its level.
    See what software solutions make the company feel proud. Go through
    challenges and wins on projects.

    For example, IT Craft has handled projects of different complexity,
    different life-cycle stages.

    Here are two projects for illustration.

    • itechcraft logo




      iOS app

      OrderPort is a mobile Point-of-Sale
      (POS) for wine businesses. This
      app makes it easy to manage
      different types of wine sales. It also supports
      tracking, analytics on sales rates, and
      The client wanted an iPad app. He had source code for part
      of the app. The IT Craft team started with an in-depth code
      review to ensure it could handle requirements. The team
      fixed errors and worked on preparing a detailed project
      specification for missing functionality. Then the
      development stage started. The app was launched and the team
      continued working on its updates and optimization.

      OrderPort is a mobile Point-of-Sale (POS)
      for wine businesses.
      The client had source code for part of the app. The IT Craft
      team started with an in-depth code review. The team fixed
      errors and worked on preparing a detailed project
      specification for missing functionality. Then the
      development stage started. The app was launched and the team
      continued working on its updates and optimization.

      • Swift
      • Objective-C
      • WorldPay API
      • ScanAPI
      • GooglePlaces
    • itechcraft logo




      Native iOS app

      eBillity apps make it possible to
      manage and approve employee’s timesheets. Employees can
      enter the time they spend on a task from any place, any
      device. eBillity app transfers information automatically to
      accounting or payroll software.
      The client already had a Web app, an Android app, and an API
      developed by another team. He needed to expand to the iOS
      platform. IT Craft’s task was to build a native iOS app
      using the client’s UI design and ensure the app synchronized
      smoothly with other parts of the system. After the iOS app
      was launched, the team eliminated bugs in the Android app
      and API helping improve the entire system.

      eBillity apps make it possible to manage
      and approve employee’s timesheets transfering information
      automatically to accounting or payroll software.
      The client already had a Web app, an Android app, and an API
      developed by another team. He needed to expand to the iOS
      platform. IT Craft built a native iOS app using the client’s
      UI design. After the iOS app was launched, the team
      eliminated bugs in the Android app and API helping improve
      the entire system.

      • Objective-C
      • CoreData
      • CocoaTouch
  • Check testimonials.

    Satisfied clients are willing to leave their feedback sharing their
    cooperation experience.

    For example, this is what Martin Berg thinks about working with IT
    Craft’s cross-platform development team:

Risks when you outsource mobile app development

Reality can be stressful. Especially, when it becomes distant from the imagined best-case scenario of app development for startups.

Unfortunately, risks are a part of any business activity. You can bump into them
when you outsource mobile app development.

Consider the following risks when preparing your plan. Discuss risks with the
team to test their reaction and the solutions they offer.

  • Delivery delaysThere are three possible sources of delayed delivery: inaccurate
    estimates, sudden changes of scope, and long approval times.Even the best development team might occasionally provide a wrong
    estimate. Still, a good, dependable team will also provide an
    explanation and a plan B.Regular deadline violations are a sign of a team’s incompetence. When
    interviewing a team, ask them about their routine in case of discovering
    the wrong estimate.Also, appoint a product owner—a person who responds quickly to team
    requests to ensure the team does not stay idle.Or you could be that person.
  • Higher costs than expectedYou can expect costs fluctuations in case of flexible requirements or
    change of scope throughout project completion. Developers might spend
    more time than anticipated but provide improved source code.However, huge cultural differences must be factored e.g., in attitude
    towards deadlines, transparency, or promises.Insincere companies might include hidden costs to the contract terms.Rule of thumb: avoid the team with the cheapest estimate, who
    to deliver everything but struggles to show how they will keep their
  • Irrelevant technologyChoosing the technological stack can be tricky. On one hand, the team can
    be experts in a certain technology providing a solution faster and for
    less. You launch software on time now. On the other, app updates and
    maintenance become clumsy costing you money in the future.For instance, we have completely redeveloped hybrid apps using native
    approach.The only advice here: share the bigger picture with your team where
    solution will be in 3 – 5 years. They may offer a more expensive but
    also a more sustainable path.
  • Inappropriate management / pricing
    A fixed-price contract makes it clear how much you pay when you outsource
    mobile app development. However, it works best on simple projects with
    clear scope. If you want changes, this will change the scope. The team
    will adapt and draw up an extra agreement extending timeline and
    increasing development costs.Prepare for flexible budgeting with time and material. In return, you
    can introduce changes to app requirements. But time and material may be
    redundant for simple projects where no increased scope is expected.
  • Vendor dependencyOnce a business has little knowledge about how its software works, the
    development team who knows project details could well become
    irreplaceable. They might lose motivation for technical excellence and
    lower the quality of their deliveries.Make sure you retain ownership over your system. Look for a team who
    provides you with a guarantee period, well-commented source code, and
    comprehensive project documentation.

How to outsource mobile app development: dos and don’ts

Outsourcing means less control over a team’s activities. This can be

Transparency is crucial. Regular, two-sided communication is the key to success.
It helps outsource mobile app development with minimum risks.

Below is advice on building workflow.


  • Always start small – Provide the team with
    a small pilot project and
    see how they manage it. This can be Software Requirements
    Specification (SRS), code inspection, or launching a minor feature.
    The goal is to test drive the team’s skills.
  • Maintain transparency – Ensure the team
    speaks openly on project
    issues. Issues can happen during an outsourcing app development
    project at any time. If the mobile app development team is not
    afraid to immediately log issues, solutions are done at the lowest
    possible cost. A cultural discrepancy can magnify issues. Ensure you
    are on the same page as your chosen team regarding transparency.
  • Share essential information – When working
    on a project, the
    development team must keep end users in mind—their preferences, and
    their habits. This increases the likelihood of designing an app
    users want and need.
  • Ensure knowledge transfer – Besides
    well-commented code, the team
    usually prepares project documentation and a wiki. This way, every
    new developer or new team can start working with minimal


  • DO NOT leave the team
    without a
    product owner – Every project needs
    a person who can make a timely, final decision on an issue. If not,
    app development loses its momentum. The risk of missed deadlines
    becomes reality.
  • DO NOT force the team
    to finish a Sprint scope at any cost – unless
    this is critical for survival of the business. When part of the
    functionality cannot be completed within a given timeline, it makes
    sense to extend its development time. The result of not following
    this rule will be technical debt and a crashing app (= high
    redevelopment costs.)
  • DO NOT ask for
    requirement changes on a fixed-price project – New
    requirements take more time. If you try to include a new scope into
    an existing agreement, the team will try to reach it within the same
    timeline. As a result, compromises are made. You might end up with a
    disappointing result. Hence, new requirements are only possible with
    a separate agreement and a separate estimate.
  • DO NOT make a serious
    mistake by not allocating time/money for code
    refactoring – Every app accumulates technical debt with time.
    Programmers need time to improve any source code they develop. When
    no time is allocated for this, app maintenance might become

When outsourcing app development, the fewer unknowns, the greater the
possibility for on time and on budget delivery.

Follow these DOs and DON’Ts.

Effective mobile app development outsourcing: A summary

Your success depends on choosing a team that meets your expectations. Think in
advance what is and what is not important for you.

Choose a company most comfortable to you based on pricing or cultural
similarity. By the way, Eastern Europe maintains a pleasant balance between
development costs and cultural similarity.

Make sure you go along this five-step path to outsourcing app development:

  • Determine aims and specifics of the future app
    development project.

  • Make it clear about the scope of work. Ask for help if
    you are not sure.

  • Find a team capable of providing you with these options.

  • Take an active part in the development process or assign
    a product owner to the project.

  • Ensure developers have time to improve code base and
    write documentation.

Thoroughly check a company’s background. Test a company’s skills with a pilot
before starting a big project.

Wishing you a successful launch!