By outsourcing web app development, you can reduce project costs, improve product quality, and shorten the time to market. These are just some of the reasons why companies are turning to external talent to handle their IT projects. But outsourcing is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. There’s a lot more to think about than the price-quality ratio. To get the best return on investment, you need to establish a thorough screening process and look towards a long-term collaboration that doesn’t end the moment a project is marked complete.

You need to look towards a long-term collaboration

Here are some of the most important considerations for developing a successful outsourcing relationship:

1: Finalize your business goals

As digital transformation becomes a key business driver in today’s technology-focused world, companies are placing great importance on innovation. But innovation is more than just a goal. It’s a complex set of evolving needs based on current market conditions and existing business systems and processes. A widespread lack of alignment between technological solutions and business needs is one of the main reasons most digital transformations achieve disappointing results.

When it comes to web app development, it’s crucial that you have a clear picture of what you want to achieve. There must be a clear business need for it in the first place. Before you start looking for an outsourcing partner, you should have a finalized concept. This should include a general description of your web product and a list of objectives associated with it, such as business goals and technology requirements. Software development and project management teams often summarize these factors in the form of a user story, which outlines the who, what, and why of the project. Here’s an example: ‘As a customer, I want a shopping cart that allows me to save items I can come back to later.’ This will allow you to develop a list of questions to ask in the screening process and establish a realistic budget.

2: Find the right team

In many circles, outsourcing is still considered as a way of doing things on the cheap with little regard to quality and support. While that can certainly be the case if you choose your partners based on their prices alone, outsourcing can help you overcome talent shortages by allowing you to tap into the best knowledge and experience in the sector. However, finding the right outsourcing partner is perhaps the hardest step of all. That’s why, before you start scouring the freelance websites, developer blogs, and B2B directories, you should make a shortlist of your requirements.

Finding the right outsourcing partner is perhaps the hardest step of all

One of the most important decisions is whether to outsource locally, nearshore, or offshore. Offshore is the most popular outsourcing model where price is the biggest concern, but it can also result in communications delays due to working across multiple time zones and reduced project oversight. Outsourcing locally, while undoubtedly the more expensive option, provides the benefit of complete oversight and easier communications. A local company will also have a better view of your target market and business needs compared to one the other side of the world. Nearshoring often presents itself as a compromise between the two.

3: Select the best service model

When you’re outsourcing app development, it’s critical you choose the right service model. All too often do businesses make the mistake of outsourcing a project only to achieve the bare minimum and end up with an app fraught with bugs and other issues. This is a common issue with outsourcing offshore or hiring freelancers on the cheap through the bidding platforms. In many such cases, there’s a complete lack of post-project support, which also means you have to find a place to host your app and manage all the maintenance and upgrades yourself.

In many cases, there’s a complete lack of post-project support, which means you have to host your app and manage the maintenance yourself.

Many service models are project-based, which means there’s a predefined goal that the team needs to reach within a specified timeframe. This is ideal for companies which have their own IT departments and are able to organize app hosting and maintenance themselves. But if you don’t have your own team, you’ll be better off choosing a dedicated outsourced partner which provides full-cycle app development and post-project support. This gives businesses more control over the process, making it ideal for those with very specific needs, such as integrating existing business systems or adding complex functions which need extensive testing.

You’ll also need to choose a suitable payment model. While the costs vary widely depending on whether you’re outsourcing locally or offshore and which service model you choose, you’ll need to maintain complete visibility into ongoing costs. Fixed-price contracts are ideal for those with limited budgets and where the scope of work is clear, but it can also be a major capital expense. The pay-as-you-go model, which is popular among agile software developers, offers much greater flexibility, making it ideal for more complex projects which need ongoing support or are hard to determine the scope of in advance.

4: Establish efficient communications

The most important component of any outsourcing relationship is also one many businesses get wrong – communication. By now, most of us are familiar with the barrage of complaints so many employees in IT have when trying to deal with a disparate team of developers around the world, none of whom who are able to work effectively as a team. Communications issues abound in such cases due to factors like different time zones, lack of local expertise, and a lack of familiarity with security and privacy regulations like the CCPA. While communications tools like Slack and WhatsApp can go a long way towards simplifying the process, relying on them entirely can result in serious inefficiencies.

The ability to provide quick feedback is essential

It’s important that you choose the right collaboration tools and establish communication needs from the outset. The ability to provide feedback is essential when it comes to developing web projects. If there’s something you don’t like about the direction of the project, it’s important the outsourced partner knows about it immediately. Especially in the early stages of the project, it’s strongly advisable that you hold daily meetings to ensure it gets started on the right track. Every project should start with a planning meeting that defines the scope of the work before meeting up at regular intervals thereafter to synchronize progress. Once each milestone has been reached, there should be a meeting to showcase the result and provide feedback.

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A simple glossary that I didn’t want to crowd the article above, so I saved it for the end.

The following are a list of terms used in this article and a definition for each. I felt this would be useful because the exact definition of certain terms in the app development and web development space have become blurry (see, it just happened right there).

App Development
Typically, when one thinks of "apps," they think of mobile applications that run on their phone. As the transition from laptop/desktop usage to mobile usage has increased over the years, the term "app" is increasingly become ubiquitious with any kind of application, even if it doesn't exist on the mobile device. An app with a great responsive design and that runs well in a mobile browser can often also be referred to as simply an "app", even though it is not a native mobile app to the phone itself. App development can refer to the development of either kind of these applications by an individual, web development company, or application development company.
Application Development
See app development above.
Development Services
The contracted services of a company whose expertise is app development, whether it be mobile app development or web app development.
Mobile App Development
See "Native Mobile App Development" below.
Mobile Application
An app that is the end result of Native Mobile App Development (see below) and can also be called simply a "native app" or "mobile app."
Native Mobile App Development
Refers to app development that is targeted exclusively for a mobile device and runs directly on that device without any "web" intermediary. Native apps typically run faster and can provide a better user experience than web applications run simply within a mobile browser.
Web Development
Typically refers to the development of applications that run in a web browser, which is quite typical these days. This term is not generally used to refer to the development of native apps for mobile devices.