Mobile App Development

5 (critical) considerations when recruiting for mobile

29th September 2015

In our last blog post we talked about building a mobile development team in 5 easy steps, and for some, well, maybe it is easy! If you’re reading this then it’s a given that you’re considering the opportunities that mobile has brought to enterprise and what you need to do to take advantage of these opportunities. Maybe you recognize you need to keep up with the competition, or maybe there is no competition yet and you want to be first off the block. Maybe you just want to strengthen your customer relationships, streamline business processes, be more resourceful. Whatever you’re planning on doing around mobile, you’ve got big ideas, right? Today we’re exploring 5 critical considerations when recruiting for mobile app development projects.

While the enterprise application market is still in its infancy, it’s clear that mobility is critical for both employees and customers. Yet knowing that your organization has an opportunity to leverage the opportunities mobile brings is one thing. Making it happen is an entirely different ballgame. Who’s going to develop your Apps, start the ball rolling, Mobile App Management and re-testing, tweaking until they’re absolutely in the right shape to ship? Where is that expertise found, how do you go about even finding it? How can you be confident you nailed it when you amass your Dev team? What do you need to be thinking about and what do you need to do next? Well if you read on, you might just find out …

“This is an indication of the nascent state of mobility in most organizations, with many organizations questioning how to start app development in terms of tools, vendors, architectures or platforms, let alone being able to scale up to releasing 100 apps or more”

A 2014 Gartner survey on mobile app development conducted found that the majority of organizations have developed and released fewer than 10 apps, with a significant number of respondents not having released any mobile apps at all.

1.) The hiring process

By the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organizations’ capacity to deliver them, according to Gartner, Inc.

So when the time comes to develop your app, you’ve got a bunch of choices – you can either recruit and hire an internal team, or you can outsource the development to a team that you’ve decided will do the best job. Another option is to use a hybrid approach and use a combination of internal and external resource.

For companies looking for full control over their mobile app development activities, adopting and maintaining an in-house development environment can be really difficult to achieve given that owning mobile development capabilities are still relatively new skills for many developers (think UX and UI design, Visual design, Testing, QA etc), many of which could be more expertly and efficiently handled by an external team experienced in app development. In time, more companies will start to develop their own in-house mobile development capability. But right now, these companies are few and far between with most opting for a ‘mixed sourcing’ approach whereby some mobile initiatives are developed both internally and through external consultants.

If you’re considering internal development, you need to be aware that recruiting a team can take a considerable amount of time – between 6 – 8 weeks just to get your preferred hire on board, let alone the time it takes to ‘onboard’ them. And that’s just the developers – you can expect a longer process for finding the right PM and QA Lead. It’s an expensive business, and there’s no guarantee of smooth-sailing. How will you manage things should a team member jump ship, hurting your schedule and your budget? These are all things that need to be carefully considered before you decide on the best approach to take.

It goes without saying that it can take considerably less time to research potential external agencies to do the job for you (around a month) and can come in at a much lesser cost too.

2.) Recruitment process – how it usually works and what you need to consider

As we said, it can be time-sapping to onboard an entire mobile app development team. A two-month recruitment process is a considerable chunk of your schedule, and it’s the minimum amount of time you should factor into your project plan. Designing, developing and maintaining an app will introduce a series of new complexities into your company. Even for large companies, developing an app for a singular platform can be massively time consuming and expensive.

The fact is, demand for mobile expertise is vastly exceeding it’s supply. This makes it very difficult when trying to develop an app and get it to market quickly.

If you’re going the internal route you need to think about who you need on your team – developers, a project manager, the QA Engineer – minimum. IT’s a massively competitive market right now (and for the foreseeable future), so you’ll need to be on the ball in terms of sourcing the best talent. And keeping your potential hires interested while you amass the rest of the team. OK, so maybe you better make that 3 or 4 months – and by the way, while you’re doing all that, how’s the actual project going? Probably not so good …

3.) Costs – what they are and what you must include/consider

For an internal team, the recruitment costs can mount up pretty sharpish. You need to give careful thought to these because many of these costs are non-negotiable if you want a crack-team on board – here’s our (non-exhaustive) list of costs to consider:

– Advertising (specialist magazines, local press)
– Recruitment agency fees
– Referral fees
– Travel costs for attending interviews (this is the norm for coveted talent)
– Relocation costs (as above – why should I move if you’re not going to help with my costs!)
– Internal recruitment process – background checks, interviewing, reference-chasing etc

That bad news? You’ve still got your salaries on top of that. Ouch! The good news? External App agencies are going to come in A LOT less costly.

4.) Must-know risk factors – don’t leave home without knowing these inside out

OK, so as well as the recruitment timeframe, the costs that go with it, including the sleepless nights, as with most business processes, there are risk-factors that you need to consider before deciding if ‘internal’ is the way to go.

The most obvious, and the most costly risk factor, is the loss of one of your team members. What if they get a better offer from another company? What if they get ill? What if they just get fed up and leave? What if you made a poor decision when hiring a team member and then have to let them go? Well then you’re talking a ‘back to the drawing board’ approach because you’ll need to go out and star the recruitment process all over again – and in the meantime, your project’s ground to a halt.

The next biggie is the onboarding process for new hires – the riskiest factor being the time and resources it’s going to take to do the training. Another team-member? They’re already knee deep in your project and you don’t want to pull them off. But you may have to (who else will do it?) so the project needs to go on hold for a couple of weeks (hopefully not more!).

With an external team , the team is not your worry. and that’s got to be a big brownie point. The team’s already in place, is already synchronised seamlessly and has a wide and varied collective experience and usually comes complete with fallback talent who know the process ready to take the reigns if a team member goes down. No re-recruiting costs, no project hold, just business as usual.

Lastly, let’s not forget about restrictions around innovation – a real problem on some App projects as budgets and schedules mean that innovation gets stifled as your small, focused team keeps their attention on budgets and meeting schedule requirements. There’s no one else around to get creative, ideas have to go on hold because there’s no one to run with them, the work needed to make a good App an awesome App just needs to wait as everyone focuses on their own part.

With an external agency, the likelihood is that the team is already full of great ideas, with the scalability to take on any experimentation, testing and tweaking. Thinking creatively and innovatively is part and parcel of an agency team and that mindset is brought to all projects while still keeping the eye firmly on the ball and shipping on time and budget.

5.) The Dream Team – what your dream team needs to be and how to ensure it goes smoothly.

Build, operate, transfer represents an increasingly attractive option for enterprise companies looking to taper mobile expertise into their teams. It’s quick and helps to manage commercial and technical risk. We call this positive contamination because it enables you to diffuse mobile thinking into your organisation quickly. This helps you bring your app to market faster whilst building a mobile savvy team of developers.

The best way to get on board with a build, operate, transfer model is to use an external agency. They design, develop and launch your app by embedding a mobile team within your company. Once the app is launched and live in the market-place it can be continuously optimised based on real world user data and refined over time. Once you’re satisfied that the app is stable and your team are well embedded into your company culture, you can transfer the entire team so you have complete ownership. This is becoming an increasingly popular method for enterprise companies who need to get an app to market quickly whilst retaining mobile knowledge and expertise within your company.

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