November 12th, 2012

Pros and Cons of outsourcing mobile development

Over the past 6 years we’ve been working with businesses across the scale in terms of outsourcing with some outsourcing all mobile development, others partially outsourcing and yet some doing everything in-house with specialist training of their resources. Note that we are talking about outsourcing and not off-shoring in this case. Off-shoring will have a different set of challenges and opportunities.

Is outsourcing for you?
Will you benefit from outsourcing all or some of your mobile development? Start by asking yourself some questions:

  • Can you find sufficiently qualified mobile developers yourself where you’re business is located??
  • How long will you be able to retain the development team staff, i.e. what will your development team turnover be?
  • Will your team be able to handle the wide set of speciallist skills ranging from mobile user experience and design, native development in Objective C, Android Java and Windows Phone, HTML5 (HTML, Java Script, CSS) and XHTML across a myriad of mobile browsers, hybrid app development using HTML5 combined with tools such as Phonegap and Sencha, backend integration and middleware development, Quality Assurance across hundreds of target devices and appstore distribution?
  • How will you handle bigger technology shifts (e.g. from J2ME to iOS to HTML5)? Will you be able to train your team to keep up?
  • Is the cost of employing developers lower than outsourcing in the short to medium term? What is the long term cost difference?
  • What is the time to market for setting up your own team vs outsourcing the project?

Then specifically if you consider outsourcing:

  • Is mobile development going to be a core competency of your company?
  • Does your back-end infrastructure and processes support outsourced development?

Pros of outsourcing

  • Reduced time to market as resources can start instantly
  • Fixed cost for a specific scope and delivery reduces risk
  • Specialised mobile developers can leverage experience and learning’s from other projects and therefore avoid making mistakes
  • Outsourcing companies should have tools and existing components that will reduce development time
  • Allows companies focus on their core business and competency and leverage someone else for non-core activities
  • Access a bigger pool of resources during peaks, holidays, in case of illness or other incident that may cause your developers to be absent
  • More specialised skills, e.g. an outsourcing company can have different people focusing on different tasks/roles
  • Lower fixed monthly salaries and associated costs implies reduced risk for your business

Cons of outsourcing

  • Loss of control and intellectual capital over your services
  • Lack of ownership of IP (depending on contractual arrangements)
  • Dependency on another company for something that could be core to your business
  • Small changes could be expensive or take long to implement depending on transparency and trust with the development partner
  • Limited control over prioritisation of resources, e.g. your development partner may not always prioritise your projects first
  • Increase in cost per hour/man day vs hiring own resources (at least when excluding indirect costs for hiring, training and retention)
  • Teams working remotely across offices generally have higher overheads due to less efficient communication

So what is the best option for you? Only you can decide.

Stay tuned. Next week we will publish a guide on how to outsource your mobile development.

Disclaimer: DMI provides mobile outsourcing services to companies across the globe.

Tags: App development mobile websites

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