The potential failures that come with outsourcing to mobile app development companies have already become such a tired cliché that a seasoned professional could easily write a tragicomedy play on the subject and it would become a smash hit on Reddit.
If you don’t believe us, search for horror stories on forums and you’ll quickly get the idea. It’s truly scary that it may take up to five years for a company to deal with an app they hired an outsourcing team to create – a lengthy period of time in anybody’s book.
Wanting to reduce costs by outsourcing app development, businesses sometimes fall into a trap of constant bugs and changes, sometimes even needing to re-do everything from scratch.
In ‘Software Without Borders’ author Steve Mezak states that more than half the cases of outsourcing don’t meet the client’s financial objectives. Why is that and how can you find a balanced solution that suits your idea and won’t cause massive time and cost overruns? As a starting point, proper communication, a high-performing team, and excellent technical management are the key elements to look for.
At MadAppGang we have a broad knowledge of the matter as we’ve been developing various projects for more than six years. Clients who have had a negative experience with other development companies often reach to us. We are ready to embark on their projects, as well as start new ones from scratch.
If you experience issues with the mobile app development firm you’ve hired, don’t ignore them. Reevaluate your cooperation with your development company based on the warning signs we describe below. If you can relate to any of them, maybe it’s time to fire the agency you’re working with.
The team doesn’t ask for details, doesn’t request regular feedback, and, in general, doesn’t seem to be particularly engaged in the process.
A key indicator of quality is how well a mobile application development company helps you shape your idea. To do this, they have to be actively involved.
You will see the level of involvement during the first few stages. A good team will give you advice and help you evaluate and improve upon the initial idea. You might be a talented visionary in possession of the most exciting mobile app solution idea, but you can never imagine the whole development process and all the minute details that come along with it. That’s what the app development team is for.
So, if the team you hired dived straight into the project without asking any questions or making any necessary specifications, they are probably quite inexperienced players who are setting you up for failure.
A professional team always has a number of solutions to every problem and takes your budget and time limitations into consideration. Skilled developers can always explain why they’ve chosen certain technologies and why they are more cost-effective in the long run.
At MadAppGang we’re devoted to creating a cooperative and communicative working environment. We know that making an app is essentially a creative process and we want both our team and our client to get stuck into it, keeping track and managing issues together during the whole project.
How can you stay on top of the app development process when the team you’ve hired doesn’t give you a clear idea of the scope of work? You can’t, and it’s a massive problem. Expect to participate in planning sessions and meetings from the outset.
You should be given a proper project estimation time; a rough calculation of the time needed for development. The primary reason why a team fails to deliver this is a lack of experience in the field.
While it’s impossible to predict every single detail and therefore exact timings, having a roadmap in place certainly helps. Which is why it’s crucial to discuss every step with a product owner before the process of development starts. Otherwise, the team you’ve hired might deliver the wrong product and you might have to put up with unnecessary delays.
According to Scrum methodology, the plan for a given project is divided into sprints (usually a two-week agenda), while sprint backlogs (lists of tasks) are, in turn, divided into small, workable actions. Repeatable sprint cycles constitute the plan, and you, as the app owner, should not only be aware of how these sprints are going but be a part of this process.
The time estimated for the project can change up to 100 per cent, particularly if new features come to mind, but when you see a functional app every two weeks and give your opinion on what it needs or doesn’t need, you will understand why the process continues the way it does and the numbers become less important .
This is not to say that the numbers are unimportant, they aren’t. And if you have a strict budget or a strict time limit to completion, the team you’re working with should suggest eliminating some features. In any case, it’s you who makes the decisions and sets the priorities.
At MadAppGang, we engage product owners in all aspects of communication and planning. You or your representative need to participate in initial sprint plannings to set priorities and in the retrospective meetings we hold at the end of each iteration. This allows you to see what was done and what needs improvement.
The most common reason for app development failures is poor communication. Carl Brown, the author of App Accomplished: Strategies for App Development Success, also claims that this aspect of development is often a key problem.
There are a number of communication issues you will face while working with outsourced teams, starting with time zone differences. While these issues can be managed by adjusting your schedules and establishing convenient communication channels (several is better), more profound problems are not as easy to ignore.
Dealing with a remote team is somewhat harder than dealing with an on-site one. The additional layers of intermediaries, such as project managers, also negatively impact efficiency. Managers that don’t bring any value to the project usually just hinder communication, causing delays and misunderstandings.
On the contrary, if you know all members of the team and have established good working relationships with them, you’re halfway to success already. This is the model of communication to aim for.
Developers can also fail to ask the right questions or to suggest better solutions, and this might lead to a result that doesn’t satisfy your requirements. Working with an outsourcing mobile app development firm, you may lose the advantages that come with rapid communication and just-in-time requirements, which are essential for making a good app.
Direct communication is a great solution. Face-to-face meetings are a great way of keeping up to date and increasing your trust in the firm. Regular calls make the process more collaborative and adaptive.
Such daily standups are part of the Scrum process that we follow. Because our company is based in Australia, MadAppGang can communicate any issues swiftly and directly, eliminating the problems you will face while dealing with outsourced developers.
If you’re not given any prototypes or are not being updated and invited for discussions, it’s a troublesome sign of unreliable mobile app development services.
You should be a part of the team and have an opportunity to give feedback regularly. The delivery process should be well-structured and clear to you. Regular delivery of working software (it’s normal for you to see a functional app every two weeks at a minimum) is a key indicator of the work done. Professional teams should also show a high level of integrity, always engaging several people who are able to perform the same functions.
All work processes including code review, standards of code, tools in use, and documentation templates should be recorded in detail. This is primarily done for internal use, but a founder can always ask to see these records, even if they may seem very developer-specific. We would hazard a guess that if processes are not documented, they simply don’t exist.
If a team doesn’t follow the principles set out by Agile, there’s a potential for change requests (proposals to modify the scope of the project introduced by the client) to cause massive issues by cropping up at inopportune times. Every change is an extra payment and an additional procedure.
Scrum methodology makes the process of dealing with changes smoother. A team divides the project into epics (parts of the work which achieve a specific goal, for instance, making a feature) and then discusses their expediency and priorities with the client.
Developers should also give a metric to estimate the complexity of tasks – such as story points which define the difficulty of implementing a function.
At MadAppGang we like to get the founder fully involved in the process. We integrate the principles of Agile such as the prioritising the tasks and repeatedly adapting the project. Even though it’s an industry standard now, not all companies who claim to build their work abiding by Agile and Scrum methodologies actually do so.
Crucial moments and information should not be left unclear. If you don’t know where the code is stored, how the tasks are managed, and which tools the developers use then you’re out of touch with your own project.
A mobile app development company should always share these things with you: the tools the team implements, the ways artifacts are given to you throughout different stages, and access to Jira (or other relevant software) where the tasks are kept. Remember that the documentation, designs, and code are your property. You need to have full control over the source code and the database.
Since we work with task-management software built on Scrum principles, we guide our clients through every step of the development process. App owners are involved as much as we are so that they’re able to review and comment on the process.
Inexperienced teams will probably cause all of the problems above. You’ll suffer from poorly managed communication and won’t have a realistic timeline and a well-planned development.
It may even happen that you’ve made a deal to work with experienced mobile app developers (seniors) but then the agency switches your app to juniors instead. Which brings us to the point that it’s of vital importance to learn about the company before you start working with them.
If a team doesn’t suggest metrics for measuring success than it’s also a bad sign. If they fail to follow the strategy and the plan they’ve shaped, it’s an obvious indicator that you should probably fire the firm.
Reliable developers follow foreseeable patterns and they can always tell when certain features will be ready. This is not about setting super-accurate terms, but if a team can’t predict their work schedules at all, the process is likely to be very chaotic.
For a high-performing team, nothing seems impossible. At MadAppGang we once managed to deliver an app in a record six weeks by boosting productivity inside our team and by properly ordering and prioritising tasks. Owing to the available technology and our experience with using it, we were able to create a fully functional version quickly.
We live in a world where a new mobile app is made every day, and users have very high expectations when it comes to functionality. There’s not only an excess of ideas but also stiff competition between developers.
What you should keep in mind while thinking about how to choose a mobile app development company is that the process should be highly collaborative, and you, as a founder, should be actively involved. You should have access to every step of the process and you should be treated as if you’re a part of the team – which you are.
Cost-cutting is an integral part of choosing mobile application development services, but it shouldn’t come into conflict with quality. Focus on value rather than on price, as hourly rates themselves don’t guarantee a thing.
It’s vital to do some prior research on the agency. Their technology and resources may be behind the times, or they may not understand current trends and the culture of your target regions. Fix a meeting with a team before making an agreement. If it works for you on a personal level, it’s an additional motivation. If you know the members of the team and their competence levels, it’s easier to build strong and cooperative working relationships.
Get in touch with us if you want to discuss your ideas or if your app development process got stuck. We can help you out of any development rut you’re in and get your project running smoothly again. Or if you’re looking for a reliable and experienced team to get you from start to finish, drop us a line and we’d be happy to go over your project and plans with you.
05 April 2019
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