So you’ve been tasked with developing a mobile app and need to build a team quickly. One thing is certain – hiring awesome mobile developers is tough business. It’s not a hit and run job – mobile should already be central to your long-term strategy. Imagine the long-term benefits of accessing the right mobile capability rather than dwell on the immediate effort required to build an effective team. Consider a build, operate, transfer (BOT) model whereby you outsource your development, get your mobile product up and running quickly and taper the expertise into your team over time through a process of positive contamination. Using an agency can be an awesome way to achieve this in the first instance.
Here are 10 things to consider when building a mobile team.
1. Demand is high
Demand for all software expertise is fierce. The unemployment rate for software engineers is less than half of the national average. This makes assembling a highly skilled team very difficult. It’s estimated that for every software engineer there are five jobs available. It’s not a case of posting your vacancy on job boards, you need to stand out from the pack. Using an agency to build, operate and transfer mobile capability can be the fastest way to get started.
2. Supply is low
Since Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, demand for mobile app development expertise (particularly iOS) has rocketed and continues to grow. IT focused companies cannot keep up with demand. The result is an enormous backlog of mobile apps that need to be created for enterprise. You can try to assemble a team, outsource mobile capability or adopt a hybrid model that leverages both of these approaches.
“A full 85% of enterprises have a mobile application development backlog of one to 20 apps; 50% have a backlog of 10 to 20 mobile apps” (Channel Insider)
3. Build to retain
Mobile developers move jobs frequently. They follow big salaries, corporate perks and generous holiday packages. If you’re serious about acquiring and retaining a talented mobile team, you need to cultivate an environment they love to work in. The best mobile development teams focus on two things: working with smart, like-minded people and doing on great stuff. Sell the benefits of working in your team and foster a culture that enables them to expand and learn new things.
4. Focus on the team
Effective mobile development teams understand the importance of a collective work ethic. The best mobile apps are created by cohesive development teams – not individual rock stars. You need to convince them you’re a cool company working on cooler mobile projects. They like beer and pizza too.
5. Listen and learn
Offering a periodic performance review or satisfaction survey can be attractive and shows you care, but doesn’t do the full job. Try to provide a platform that enables mobile developers voices to be heard if you want to be an attractive employer. Some software companies conduct weekly ‘brown-bag’ sessions that provide the development team with a platform to share ideas. Nurturing great talent in this way will actively enhance your own commercial interests.
“Talented mobile developers are extremely difficult to source and supply is becoming tighter all the time. Software focused businesses will need to be increasingly creative when pulling together a team. It’s fundamental that your team are properly equipped to deal with the demands of mobile development in a corporate environment.”
Neil Campbell, Director, Recruiter & Career Advisor – Woodhaven Search Ltd
6. Developers need praise
Mobile developers want to help your company do better business. In return, you need to remind them consistently how amazing they are. Take time to know their names, their likes, dislikes, favorite sports team, what pets they have, their kids names and whether they have a preference for iOS or Android. Protect them from politics and bureaucracy, enable them to do amazing work and consistently tell them they’re great human beings.
7. Culture is king
Cultural fit can be more important than salary. Working in a cool environment with great people and taking a pay cut can be more attractive than earning top dollar inside a large, faceless corporation. Factoring ‘brogrammers’ and ‘rock stars’ into your squad can be damaging and disrupts team dynamic. You need to foster a culture that focuses on team performance rather than specific individuals. If you want to be noticed in the right circles, send your developers to events and conferences so they can evangelize your team and methods. BBQ’s, go-karting and/or foosball tournaments are also a good place to start.
8. Size does matter
Mobile developers love agility. They like to have freedom in their coding and working for a large company can be stifling. Whilst the big boys can offer better pay, you can compensate for this by letting them focus on what they love. Great mobile development teams don’t need to be managed aggressively or constantly told what to do. Red-tape and bureaucracy is a complete switch off for top software talent. Use this to your advantage.
9. Make a difference
Mobile developers want to make society better. This sounds incredibly cheesy but you must demonstrate that the projects you work on are adding real value. Developing mobile software for healthcare or clinical trials helps to save peoples lives and this can be a major selling point for your company. But cool stuff doesn’t necessarily mean saving lives. Developing a mobile cloud storage facility for a local charity or school is also very cool.
10. Developers love agile
We covered this exact topic in a recent blog post. The fact is – agile development and mobile are a match made in heaven. Mobile development projects move fast. They’re uncertain and liable to rapid iteration. Developers are able to produce mobile technology faster than you can create documentation for the project. Mobile is about developing a minimum viable product that can be put to market quickly. It’s about continuous deployment, split testing, actionable metrics and pivoting. Being truly agile is very difficult but it’s a mindset you must adopt if you want to attract the hottest mobile talent.
Consider a build operate transfer (BOT) model that enables you to rapidly taper mobile expertise and thinking into your team. One option is to build your own team from scratch. This is expensive and the recruitment process is arduous – especially when you need to get a mobile app into the market fast. Finding them, retraining them (if required) and keeping them motivated is hard work. The second model involves outsourcing. Outsourcing doesn’t help to taper mobile thinking into your development team. This can be a great model for a short-term fix but won’t help in the long-run if mobile is a central component of your overall strategy. We’re going to explore this in more detail in a follow up blog post.
Waracle develop mobile apps for the UK and USA’s biggest brands. We’re obsessed with mobile and constantly looking for new development and optimisation talent. If you think you’ve got what it takes and want to work in a fastest paced, dynamic environment, contact us today. Alternatively, if you’re a business or brand looking to develop a mobile app, let’s start the conversation now.