It’s December 24th. I’m staring at this year’s hottest gift, the Barbie Dreamhouse™. There are hundreds of pieces spread across the living room and instructions written in eight languages, none of which make any sense to me.
Time is not on my side either. My four-year-old will walk down the stairs in a few hours and I don’t think she’ll understand the concept of “assembly required” from Santa. So I dig in and prepare for a long night.
After watching several YouTube instructional videos and enlisting some family members (who worked for beer), we finish the project. It was stressful, time-consuming and certainly outside of my skillset. Seeing my daughter’s eyes light up in the morning was rewarding, but I’m not sure her reaction would have been any different if there had been an outsourcing option to build the pink monstrosity. She might have liked it better, in fact—we couldn’t get the elevator to work.
The in-house vs. outsource dilemma plagues businesses too, particularly when it comes to mobile development. Many companies are scrambling to generate mobile apps in-house, believing that it’s cheaper, easier, faster, more controllable and more efficient. If your organization is weighing this decision, consider the following.
Challenges of In-House App Development
Three main challenges arise when businesses attempt to keep all mobile app development in-house:
1. The skillset struggle is real.
Even with up to 15 developers working on their mobile app initiatives, 94 percent of organizations don’t have the necessary mobile development staff to tackle all of their needs. Almost half of software solutions architects and senior software developers say there’s a gap in the skills required for mobile development.
Android and iOS development require different and fairly complicated coding languages—Java for Android and Objective C or Swift for iOS. The average Android developer can’t just switch over to coding for iOS without additional training or study. Creating apps for both platforms effectively means two development efforts and skillsets.
2. It’s expensive and time-consuming.
A bare-bones internal mobile development team might consist of a mobile designer, one or two developers, a project manager and a quality assurance (QA) engineer. Even if you already have some of these folks on staff, you likely need to hire at least one person. It can take weeks to get the HR process rolling and find the right person, and even more time to get them fully on board (average of 3-6 months).
Recruitment and hiring don’t just take time. They take money. Consider the cost of advertising job listings, hiring recruiters, performing background checks and covering relocation expenses—not to mention the developer’s six-figure salary and the cost of technology, licensing fees, software certificates and more.
3. Developing mobile apps in-house can be risky.
If you decide to keep all of your mobile app development in-house, how can you be sure your team’s skills are top-notch? Are you savvy enough to differentiate between a decent coder and a mobile expert? Most people aren’t.
Scalability can also become an issue with an in-house team. What if your project scope expands? As we’ve already established, it’s not so easy to just plug in an additional coder. Accountability can also present challenges. Without specific mobility expertise, decision-makers may struggle to identify the nature and root causes of any problems that arise, leaving the project stalled out without a plan for moving forward.
Advantages of Outsourcing App Development
Outsourcing your mobile app development to a firm that specializes in mobile can be a very strategic decision—one that saves you time, hassle, and money while yielding a better-quality product. Here are a few advantages of letting someone else handle your mobile app development:
- Fixed costs for a specific scope and delivery.
- Less lag time: An outside team can usually start immediately.
- Synergy: An established team will have a solid working relationship with each other and with the required technologies.
- Accountability: A good mobile firm will give you a solid contract and scope of work, with clearly defined responsibilities and terms. If a mistake or delay occurs, you will have a dedicated account rep to address the problem. There’s a lot less to worry about.
- Access to plug-and-play features and modules: Many app features and modules are relatively standard. It’s how you use them that makes the app unique and special. An experienced app development team will have an existing library of these standard products already tested and optimized. There’s no need to build every feature from scratch when you can simply customize a proven solution. This saves time and money, while ensuring performance.
- Greater experience and expertise: Because of their focus on mobility, an outsourced team will be on top of the latest trends and technologies. They can share best practices gained from extensive experience and ensure that your app is in line with your vision and your target audience. A dedicated mobile expert can remove the guesswork and put your company and its app in the best possible situation to succeed.
- Options: You can outsource part or all of your app development. You can split the work, outsourcing iOS development while keeping Android in-house (or vice versa). You can use outsourced staff augmentation to fill gaps in your in-house development strategy. Or you can outsource the app discovery process, letting third-party pros develop your roadmap.
Ultimately, this decision comes down to cost and risk. Businesses are under intense pressure to maintain a competitive presence in the mobile space, and it’s natural to want to keep mobile development in-house. It just doesn’t make the best business sense. And your proverbial Barbie Dreamhouse might end up with a non-working elevator.