Mobile App Development

5 essentials when hiring an app developer

30th June 2018

It’s hard work developing software in the age of mobile. There’s so much you need to consider. If you’re in the process of mobilising an existing piece of software that’s anchored in desktop or web, the process can seem entirely daunting. Retraining your existing team of desktop software developers is difficult as the skills and unconventional thinking style required to code for mobile are entirely different. Another option is to hire a new team of mobile developers. This can also be time consuming and expensive. Conducting interviews, selecting the appropriate candidates and embedding them in your team can significantly delay the deployment of your mobile app. There’s no doubt about it – hiring an app developer is tough.

Build, operate, transfer (BOT)

If you’re looking to spin-up a team of agile minded mobile developers, one option is to use an experienced agency and explore the potential of a BOT (build, operate, transfer) model. BOT enables you to get a mobile product to market quickly and taper mobile expertise and thinking into your team over time. This process is often referred to as ‘positive contamination’ and enables you to adopt a commercially and technically risk-managed approach to developing your first suite of mobile applications. If you’ve found this blog, the chances are you’re seeking a quote and timeline for your project based upon its perceived scope and complexity.

Agile v’s fixed cost app development

Creating a proposal for a fixed cost project is very different from integrating a team of developers into an existing agile framework. We’ve recently explored the benefits of agile and we find this is a great way of engaging with new customers. If you’re a software development manager using agile to manage an existing desktop project, getting into mobile is easy. We’re going to discuss how to procure agile mobile development services in a separate article, today we’re focusing on how to engage a mobile developer when you’re seeking a fixed cost for your app project. In either case it helps massively if you have a broad understanding of how much software costs to develop, how long it takes and how to create a structured brief.

How to hire the best app developer

Engaging an experienced mobile app development agency can be extremely challenging in either instance. Mobile development skills are in extremely tight supply and high demand. That’s why it’s fundamental that when you decide to engage with a mobile developer that you’ve thought about the essential components of your project. Here at Waracle, we’re regularly inundated with enquiries for new projects and we know what a successful mobile app development project looks like. All too often, we’re approached by potential clients that haven’t thought about their mobile development strategy in enough detail. That’s why we’ve covered the top five things you need to consider when engaging a mobile app development agency:

1. Understand what success looks like

You would never embark upon any journey without understanding where you’re destined to go. Undertaking a mobile project is no different. You must always start with the end in mind and establish how you measure the success of your app development project. Think very carefully about what you want the mobile app to achieve before you commission an agency. Ask yourself the following questions:

Is the app designed to create new revenue streams for my business?
Is the app designed to engage users or promote my brand?
Is the app going to replace or enhance an existing business process?

As mobile developers, we prefer developing apps that deliver tangible value for our clients. The best way to do this is to create something that enhances an existing business process, usually this means replacing a desktop/web based piece of software. This is a process of identifying a strong set of KPI’s and benchmarking them against existing business performance. We call this process ‘data driven development’ which entails creating an MVP and constantly enhancing its performance based on real-world data and feedback. It’s a highly energetic process and something that our staff and clients absolutely love. If you want to develop new revenue streams through your app, this can be extremely challenging, especially if you’re a startup company. But for established brands and businesses mobile can be a great way to generate new and potentially lucrative revenue streams.

Taking the right approach towards your app development project involves starting with the end in mind, identifying what success looks like and working backwards from that exact point. If you understand what success looks like, it will help to clarify your thinking before a single line of code is written and make it much easier for an app developer to provide a meaningful cost and timeline for your project.

2. Get buy-in from your stakeholders

It makes it very hard for an app developer to invest precious time and resource preparing a detailed quote for a project that hasn’t received approval internally from the relevant decision makers, so it’s essential you discuss your project with the right people. Before you try and establish a fit for the best app development studio to manage your mobile project, there are some points you should seriously consider. If you’re planning on developing a mobile app, you should have already conducted a stakeholder consultation and received buy-in from key decision makers within your company. If you haven’t discussed your project internally with key stakeholders, this is likely to delay your project start date and elongate the length of time your app will take to reach market.

Once you’ve consulted the key decision makers within your company, and discussed the feasibility of developing a mobile app, then you’ll be ready to consult a reputable agency and kick-start the process of establishing how long it will take to make and how much it will cost. That way, when you’re dealing with an app development studio, the person in charge of sales and business development will have the confidence to invest time and energy preparing a detailed quote that accurately reflects your project requirements.

The quality of information you get back will be directly related to the quality of information that you give to an app developer at the front end of your proposed project. Fluffy ideas are non tangible and very difficult to articulate in terms of a fully formed proposal document with costing and timeline.

3. Create a detailed RFP

If you’ve identified a need for mobile capability within your business, the first thing you need to do is to adequately define the scope of your project. Simply having a vague requirement for mobile expertise isn’t enough. In terms of defining the scope, the tighter you can make this in terms of your needs as a business and the features you expect your app to have, the easier it will be for a mobile development agency to create an accurate costing and timescale.

Essentially what you’re trying to create is an RFP (request for proposal) which should contain a concise (yet relatively detailed) summary of your app project. You’ll need to describe which areas of your business the mobile app will affect and detail any existing software components that the app may need to interact with.

If you have all of this information documented when you approach an app development agency, it will dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to establish a cost and timeline for your project. You should consider the technologies you’d prefer to use based on your business requirements. Is it a native app or HTML5? Are you targeting iOS or Android? How quickly do you expect your app to scale? There are many other questions to consider before engaging a mobile agency but it’s essential to cover the basics first.

If you’re roughly in the market for an app but unsure how to start the ball rolling, check out our app readiness test to establish if you’re ready to undertake a project. If you’re unsure of how to put your RFP together, help is at hand, but gathering the appropriate information can be extremely time consuming.

4. Be realistic about your timescales

You cannot fix a start date for your project unless you’ve completed the previous three steps. You need to understand what success looks like. You need to get buy-in and support from key stakeholders and decision makers within your company and create a detailed RFP around the proposed scope of your project. Once you have all of these bases loaded and ready to go, then you’re in a position to think about a start date.

It’s essential you have a realistic vision of when you’d like your project to commence. For an app development agency, balancing resource is a constant challenge. If you commit to a start date, it’s the agencies responsibility to ensure that all of the required resources for the project are available and ready to begin on the agreed start date.

5. Think about your budget

When it comes to establishing a budget for your mobile app project, it helps if you have experience of how software development projects work. Having an understanding of the complexities of software development will enable you to create a realistic budget for your project. You need to be able to demonstrate how your software will work and develop a realistic budget based on the scope of your project, the technologies you intend to use and the length of time you expect it to take to develop your mobile app.

Marketing your app is extremely important. In fact, designing and developing a mobile app for your company is only one part of the overall process. All too often, companies invest in mobile technology without considering how to promote the app. You should consider ASO (app store optimisation), which analytics tools you should be using and how to manage the the backend of your app.

Here are some additional questions you should always consider before engaging with a mobile app development company:

Which platforms will your app run on? (iOS, Android etc)
How many screens is your app likely to have?
How will you manage your app users? (social integration etc)
How will you engage with users of your app?
What type of data will your app store? (Images, video etc)
Do you need to integrate an existing data source?
Will your app need to integrate data from any existing 3rd party API’s?
Will you require a web portal to manage your app?
What level of app security will you require?
Will your app need to use location data?
What kind of app analytics data do you require?
Will you need to scale your app?

Creating a detailed proposal for an app development project is time consuming, especially for a fixed price project. If you’re already operating within an agile software development/project management framework, it’s easy for us to develop a costing and ‘bolt-on’ mobile expertise into your team. Agile is a totally different story, by definition, companies seeking agile development services reduce many of the barriers associated with getting an app into market quickly. This is something we’re going to cover in more detail very soon – watch this space!


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