If you have a business, then a mobile app is something you need to have these days to compete in the market. With the sudden shift in trend and everything now becoming digital, we are living in times of smartphones and smartphone apps. They are a great business and publicity tool for you, and a way to ease their lives for your users. Smartphone apps enhance your reach, make you more available to your users, thus bridging the gap between consumers and providers.
Now, once you have decided that your business needs its app, then comes the second phase- Getting it developed. Big companies have dedicated in-house teams whose only job is to develop a particular solution for their business and keep improving it. But you might not be such a big business that you could hire a full-time development team. And you may not be a very technologically inclined person either, so you may not know anything about codes and layouts and servers. So what do you do? You hire an app development company to develop your app for you.
But outsourcing is a tricky business. There are a lot of options in the market, and all of them claim that they are the best in the industry. So naturally, a newcomer will not know much about how to check if the development firm he has chosen, is a good one or not. This will lead to messy partnerships with hidden clauses which will eventually lead to a sub-optimal end-product and a sour experience.
So to make sure that this doesn't happen to you, we have created a list of ten questions which you must ask a development firm before you hire it.
So let's dive in!
1. What is your portfolio?
While expertise is rudimentary, the experience is equally important. A well-trained workforce which has not yet been tested in the market cannot create a good end-product. So always ask a company for their portfolio, their past customers and the products they have delivered. Good and trustworthy companies will not miss any chance to show off their work and accomplishments. But if a company is unable to provide you with a portfolio, then it's a red flag, and you should not partner with them.
You can also visit the company's website to have a look at their past works and see reviews of their apps on app stores. You can also check sites like Clutch which work exclusively to bring users close to development firms.
2. What is your app development process?
Though you don't know anything about the technical aspect of the mobile app development process, you need to be involved in the planning and execution process. Ask the development firm you're thinking about hiring about their privacy and codes& ethics guidelines related to their projects. Ask them what is the time frame and try to know if the firm is dependable or not. Mobile app development process can be a very long process, and it is only prudent to expect difficulties on the way. So you need to be sure that you can depend on your development firm to deal with these difficulties and provide a good product.
Having an in-depth knowledge of the company's development process will make you feel more confident in their capabilities. Furthermore, it will help you prepare for any needs they might have from your side as well. Also, always make sure that you hire a firm which operates on the Agile framework.
3. What are the app development services you provide?
Having an app built is just the tip of the iceberg. From testing to bug-fixing and updating an app, there are countless other aspects involved with the app development process. Furthermore, your app will need proper maintenance once it has been released. So whichever company you hire, make sure they at least provide the following processes:
a. Actual app development
b. Business analysis
c. Quality testing
d. Successful launch
e. Post-launch maintenance
4. Do you provide a dedicated workforce?
At a time, development firms take multiple projects. And while they provide a good product, sometimes somethings need to be changed. This can be due to a user request, security concern or to accommodate some new need.
So if the development firm is working on too many projects at the same time, then its workforce will be stretched too much, and they might not be able to help you in this situation. This is not good for your app obviously. So you need to find a company which can provide you with a dedicated workforce which will be flexible to changes and will be able to modify your released app.
5. How crucial is our involvement?
It doesn't matter if the development firm is the best in the business, you cannot give up all the control of your app. It is your idea and for your business, and you need to be involved in the development process. So clear it with the development firm if you will be included in the development phase and will your inputs be respected? Will you be able to make contact with your TL and will they listen to you if you have some changes in mind?
Without your involvement in the development process, there is no guarantee that your vision will be respected and the end product will be satisfactory.
So clear all of it beforehand, make it abundantly clear to the development firm that you need to be consulted, updated and your opinions need to be respected before you hire them.
6. What is the mode of communication that you prefer?
Developing an app is a recursive process, there will be a lot of back and forth between you and the developer. Changes and tweaks will be required to be made in the app. So you will need to be in contact with the developers constantly so ask them what form communication they follow. Most firms conduct video conferencing where the entire team sits with you and discuss issues. These firms could use platforms like Skype and Google Hangouts. Furthermore, a good company will use some Project Management tool like Trello, Slack, Jira, etc. and will provide you with access to the development progress details over there. So make sure the firm you hire, can communicate with you on a constant basis.
7. Can you provide us with an estimated project deadline?
This is a crucial question. Try to get an exact answer for this question out of a company before hiring them. Also, try finding if they will start working on your project right away or will they get to in some time. Keep in mind that good firms have multiple projects going at the same time, so they might not be able to get to your project right away.
8. Do you provide Post-launch services?
Releasing an app, as we have already discussed, is just the beginning. There are all sorts of phases after that. No app is perfect when it is first launched. It needs bug fixing; it needs updates, and etc. So ask your app development firm what sort of services they provide after the app launch.
Make sure that they at least provide these three services before hiring them:
a. Bug fixing
b. Post-launch support
c. Cost per each new release
9. Do I own the code of my app?
Your place in the power hierarchy should be clear with your development firm. You are hiring them to make an app for YOU. Thus you should be the one owning the final product and its code. Make sure that your development firm doesn’t con you.
10. What are your payment terms?
Many say that money should not be a driving factor while getting an app developed. The quality of the product is all that matters because it will generate good ROI. But they are wrong. Money is always a factor. So before you go hiring a development firm, discuss your budget properly and see if it is sufficient enough. If the budget is too small, and the firm will take a substantial amount of it as its development fee, then a tiny part will be left for your app development, and that will lead to an inferior product.
Also, understand what their payment policies are. Learn whether you will be paying the money on milestones in the project development phase, or do they ask for the entire payment beforehand. If that is the case, try searching for a different firm because it increases the risk of being conned.
App development is a big and costly process which carries the burden of your success and dreams. So choosing the right development firm is vital. Make sure that you take your time, research all the players in the market thoroughly and then hire a development firm. In the end, all the money in the world cannot save your app from dooming if you don't have a skilled, experienced and flexible development firm backing it up.