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How to Outsource App Development Effectively

08.05.2020 Daria Mickiewicz
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How to Outsource App Development Effectively

Someday, you may have an idea to launch a next-generation mobile experience that will make you famous. You’ll need to find an app developer to build an app. But how should you do that?

You may start by searching on Google, “who can develop my app idea?” or “outsourcing mobile app development.” You will certainly want to build your app fast and keep the quality high and the costs low. But what if are you still unsure how to outsource mobile app development?

Below, you’ll find tips on how to hire a mobile app development outsourcing company and make an MVP with an outsourced software development team. In this article, we also discuss common mistakes when outsourcing the development team and how to avoid them.

Let’s dive right in!

Tips for Hiring an Outsourcing App Development Team

Define Your Business Needs

Before you look for app development options and send “I want to develop an app” offers, prepare a complete definition of your project. This will help you specify requirements to outsource developers. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What specific business challenge would you like to solve?
  • Is your app idea clearly outlined?
  • Are all mobile app features and functions defined? Which standout features are required? Which additional features do you need? Is it going to be an MVP or a full-feature app?
  • What platforms will it be based on? Do you want a native or a hybrid app?
  • Will your app be free or paid? What is your app monetization strategy?
  • Should you outsource development or hire an in-house team?
  • Should you hire a freelancer or go with a company?
  • What is your budget?

Start Searching for a Potential App Development Team

Next, you should figure out what type of outsourcing mobile application development team you need. Should you go for an onshore, nearshore, or offshore team? The main difference lies in the geographical distance between you and your outsourcing service vendor. Your choice will depend mainly on your requirements and definitely your budget.

– NEARSHORING software development – when you live in Canada and have a team in the USA.

– OFFSHORING software development – when you live in Germany and have a team in the USA.

– ONSHORING software development – when you live in the USA and have a team in the USA.

Make a List of Candidates and Analyze Them

Mobile app development is a long process, so look for a reliable developer. Check the developers’ track records, contact details, and technical skills.

Define the following:

  • Do they have specific expertise, for instance with outsourcing Android development?
  • How will you communicate? Would you rather correspond over Slack, Zoom, or email?
  • How will you share documents—via Dropbox or Google Drive? Will you use Jira or something else to interact and submit requirements?
  • What is the difference in time zones? Could you have a meeting at any time?

Check Portfolios and Communicate with Previous Clients

Before filling in contact forms on app development companies’ websites, go through their portfolios, and look for experience related to your app development project. Verify their clients’ reviews and the duration of their experiences. You can also request a list of main clients to study their websites or apps.

Check the Team Size and Structure

Ask about the company’s development pool size and specify team members’ seniority level. Determine the amount of time the company would need to scale up the team assigned to your project.

Pay Attention to the Technology Stack

Identify what technologies the company is specialized in. If you are not sure what technology would fit your app, review their website or read their blog to see what they recommend. Also, do not hesitate to ask. A good app development vendor will recommend the best option for your project.

Select a Service Model

To ensure that you’re hiring the best outsourcing app developer for your project, consider another vital aspect—choosing a service model. There are three main options: project-based, dedicated teams, and outstaff working models.

Choose a Payment Model

Choosing from among fixed price or time and material payment models can be tricky. It is crucial to consider all the benefits and drawbacks of each model.

Collaborate with Your Developer

Communication is an essential issue, especially when it comes to outsourcing app development. Strong communication enables you to efficiently maintain a smooth development process. You will also need to choose the channels through which you’re going to communicate.

Ask Questions

Asking questions is key in offshore app development. You may ask the developer anything and everything related to your project. If a developer dodges a question, it can be a red flag.

Request a Project Plan

A project timeline allows you to boost the development process by dividing it into pieces. This helps reduce mistakes and prevent missed steps. If you’re not ready to provide developers with a project plan, you may ask them for one.

Where to Outsource App Development?

There are many ways to find and hire mobile app developers. Here are the most reasonable sources for finding app developers:

  • References from your neighborhood. Start your research with referrals from your neighbors, friends, and colleagues.
  • Job portals. You can also check well-known portals like,, and
  • Freelance websites.  If you need to outsource a developer with particular skills, you can search for an app developer through freelance sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, UpworkPeople Per Hour, AngelList, Guru, and Behance. Note, however, that freelancers may have the necessary skills, but they don’t have an established business. Freelancers are self-employed but some of them have a full-time job, and their job workload can influence your project quality.
upwork page tech blog
  • Social media to hire an app developer. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter enable direct communication with experienced candidates.

Where to Find iOS and Android App Programmers

iOS Developer for Hire

Hire an iOS developer utilizing specialized sources like:

Android Developer for Hire

You can hire Android app developers on Upwork. Additionally, you can find developers through the following forums:

Proof of the Outsourcing App Development Company’s Expertise

A crucial issue in app development is to identify a reliable development team in the early stages of your project. We highly recommend you run a rapid eye over the company’s portfolio and pay attention to the following points:

  1. Recent mobile app development projects. Make sure that the company has completed recent app development projects related to yours.
  2. Pay attention to the technology stack. Make sure it will meet your company’s needs. Java, JavaScript, C#, Unity, React, Python, or PHP—which of these do they suggest for your app?
  3. Mobile app types they focus on. Find out whether the outsourcing team has ever worked on a project for an industry related to yours.
  4. Previous clients. Get references from clients who have had work completed that is similar to the mobile app project you have in mind.
  5. Time for the team’s scaling up. Ask about the whole team size and the number of projects they’re working on. If you decide to scale-up the project team, it would be good to have available developers able to join your app development project.

After the search is done, you will come up with a short list of app development companies and proceed to negotiation.

Choose the Best Organizational Model: Project-Based or Team-Based

Since you’ve decided to hire an outsourcing app developer, you will need to consider many details, including the working model. So, would you rather your team focus on one thing at a time until it’s done, or each person has a different role and complete their specific task? Let’s look at the different aspects of the following working models.


A project-based business model suits start-ups that do not have their own development team or lack project management experience.

Dedicated Team

If your midsize team needs assistance implementing part of a project or complex functionality, outsourcing a dedicated team may be your choice.

Outstaff or Extended team

The outstaff model is the best option for mid-sized companies or enterprises that need to hire a developer while staying under budget. It is ideal if your own employee can lead and monitor outstaffed programmers from a technical management position. It may seem like you will have a lot of extra responsibilities, but outstaffing is the most affordable model.

Model Your responsibility Vendor responsibility
  • Defined requirements your app must match
  • Responsible for technologies and tools used for the project
Dedicated team
  • Product or project management decisions
  • Project roadmap control
  • Higher-level project management
  • Task assignment
  • Team leaders
  • Project management
  • Task schedule
  • Project status
Outstaff /Extended team
  • Working process control
  • Project management
  • Vacation control
  • Working time regulation
  • In-team promotion
  • Salaries and payments
  • Team motivation
  • Provide outsourced developers

Which Payment Model Should You Choose for Your Project?

If you decide to outsource app developers under the outstaff model, choosing the most suitable outsourcing pricing model can be difficult. It is crucial to take a closer look at all the advantages and disadvantages of each model and how they might match your project. In this section, we will analyze the use cases and the pros and cons of the time and materials versus the fixed-price model for software projects.

Fixed-Price Model

The fixed-price payment model can be adopted when requirements, terms, and prices are highly predictable. In this case, you should be able to share your vision with developers to ensure appropriate outcomes.

fixed-price model

Time and Materials Pricing Model

The time and materials model involves a pay-as-you-go pricing model. You should start with a set of goals, clear specifications, and an approximate estimation. All these components can be modified during the project if required. You will pay for the time in hours spent on your project, plus the cost of materials.

Time and materials model

How Much Does It Cost To Outsource App Development

Now, let’s consider how much it will cost to hire outsourcing app developers. Geographic location, app complexity, and local market conditions can affect the cost of making a mobile application. Depending on the location of your app development team and the complexity of your app, the cost to build a mobile app may range from $25k to $250k.

Another factor is the complexity of the mobile app. Below you will find out how much app costs to make approximately:

Here are some average development cost estimates for the most popular types of apps:

  • Real estate app — $12,000 — $15,000
  • Banking/payment app — $40.000 — $70.000
  • Messaging app like Slack — $50.000 — $285,000
  • Dating app like Tinder — $50,000–$80,000
  • Social media app — $25.000 — $450.000
  • Food delivery app like GrubHub — $150.000 — $450.000
  • Chat app like Discord — $100,000 — $280,000
  • Travel guide app — $25.000 — $50.000
  • Taxi app like Uber — $60,000 — $100,000
  • Marketplace app MVP — $60,000 — $250,000
  • iPad drawing app like Procreate — $50,000–$150,000
  • Personal trainer and tracker app — $50.000 — $250,000
  • AR furniture app like IKEA Place — $70,000 — $150,000
  • Grocery delivery app like Instacart — $65,000 — $150,000
  • Food delivery app like Postmates — $80,000— $250,000

Please note, these are approximate figures for making a mobile app and the price cannot be accurately determined without specifications.

So, how much does app outsourcing cost? You will also need to consider the average hourly rates of iPhone and Android developers.

iOS/Android App Development Costs and Hourly Rates

Now you need to narrow down the region of reliable software companies to help you grow your idea into an effective product. Google searches such as “mobile development company USA” or “outsourcing app company Europe” may come in handy at this point, but it would probably be a tiring exercise. Instead, let’s consider the following table:

Region iOS platform  ($/hour) Android platform  ($/hour)
North America 150 170
Australia 110 110
UK 70 70
South America 50 40
Eastern Europe 35 35
India 20 25
Indonesia 11 12

Cost of a Developer Team to Create an App

Of course, you may hire one developer to build and publish your app. However, to provide a better user experience and the highest app quality, your application should be developed by a team. A development team can make the process much faster and produce higher quality work.

You should also note, the more complex your application will be, the more people will be involved in the development process.

Developer Team

In the table below, you will discover the duties and rates of development team members.

Team member Duties United States Latin America Asia
Business Analyst Assists by identifying tech and business requirements before proceeding with development costs. $110 – $205 $45 – $55 $15 – $25
Project manager Responsible for the successful initiation, planning, design, fulfillment, monitoring, controlling, and closure of a project. Clears up misunderstandings within the team to avoid pitfalls and ensure that deadlines are met. $135 – $240 $55 – $70 $15 – $35
UI/UX designer Responsible for the design and implementation of all user digital experiences. $80 – $165 $40 – $50 $10 – $25
Mobile app engineer Develops and publishes mobile applications, adhering to all the peculiarities described in the specification. $100 – $165 $35 – $65 $15 – $35
Back-end developer Responsible for server-side app logic as well as the integration of the front-end elements. $120 – $155 $60 – $80 $15 – $35
QA engineer Monitors the application’s stability. Performs regression, load, smoke, and other types of tests. Ensures that UI and app components comply with the specification. $80 – $170 $30 – $50 $10 – $20

The Cost of App Design

Mobile app design includes visual design, UI, UX, logos, icons, branding, wireframes, etc. But what factors influence the app design cost? Let’s take a closer look.

 app design cost

Cost by Key Mobile App Features

Outsystems, a low-code platform, released a report titled “State of Application Development 2019/2020.” Outsystems concluded that 55% of mobile apps require only 4 months for development. However, it is increasingly evident that mobile application development typically takes 5 months or longer.

Why, you may ask? There is a simple reason: it essentially depends on the features set and mobile app design.

We have analyzed common app features in terms of time and cost. For estimations, we have used hourly rates varying from $25 to $50. Let’s take a closer look at the following table, which provides a summary of these features.

Feature Dev. timeline (man-hours) Cost ($)
User login 20 500-1,000
Push notifications 20 – 200 1,000 – 10,000
Navigation< 10+ 250-500
Portrait / Landscape view 20 500-1,000
Media content 20+ 1,000+
Geolocation 50 1,250-2,500
Google Maps integration 20+ 1,000+
Chat / Messaging 80+ 2,000-4,000+
Ads 20-50 1,000-2,500
In-app purchases 30 750-1,500
Payments integration 50+ 2,500 – 5,000
Synchronization between devices 50+ 1,250-2,500
Streaming 30+ 1,500+
Multi-language support 15 hours 350-750
Offline mode 40+ hours 1,000-2,000
Database 30 hours 750-1,500
Phone sensors usage 10 + hours 250-500
Doze / Standby mode optimizing 50+ hours 1,250-2,500
Customization 35+ hours 1,500+
Search 10+ hours 250-500+
Data encryption 20+ hours 500-1,000

App Maintenance Costs

Now we will identify the cost of maintaining an app. Generally, app maintenance costs vary from 15% to 20% of the development price. For instance, if your app development cost is $200k, then app maintenance will cost approximately $40k per year.

App maintenance and post-release support involve:

  • Bug fixes
  • Performance increases
  • Code optimization
  • Support of in-app updates
  • New feature additions
  • Third-party services support

 Project Stages and Supervision

Usually, the application development outsourcing process includes the following stages:

  • Idea formulation and research
  • Specification and design
  • App architecture and development
  • Testing and finalizing
Project Stages

When you begin app development outsourcing, we recommend identifying outsource app development risks, technical details, bids, vendors, need for an NDA, overseeing terms, and a list of features.

Note, one of the factors that go into outsourcing app development costs has to do with app quality. That’s why you should control and monitor the process. Regularly check the code and try features out for yourself. Feel free to speak up if something is bothering you. It’s your money, isn’t it?

Best Practices for Outsourcing App Development

Perhaps you have researched many topics on Quora or Reddit to find best practices regarding outsourcing app development. However, to help you make the best decision, we have collected lists of best practices and ways to prevent mistakes.

  • Trendy but unique. Find resources for mobile app design inspiration like Mobile Design Inspiration, Dribbble, or Behance. But keep in mind that your app should bring something new to the app design community.
  • Security mindset. Reports of hacker attacks and data breaches have made the issue of security paramount. This has necessitated improvements to endpoint mobile app security. Your app should protect user privacy and defend users against fraudulent actions.
  • Know your target users. Your mobile app should always be familiar to your users. It could be an improved version of an app they have used before or something new. Either way, you can share your app idea and collect feedback in the early stages.
  • Software development agreement and documentation. Documentation allows you to keep track of all aspects of your application. Mainly, it should focus on development, maintenance, and knowledge sharing with other developers.
  • Legal matters. You should know the basic rights and obligations of the license you are going to use. If you care about patenting or trademarks, you should hand this issue over to your company’s legal department. It might be helpful to seek advice from a law firm in the country in which you outsource app development.
  • Be smart and have leverage. One of the most effective approaches is to save a portion of the payment until after you accept the final product. If anything goes wrong, you will have leverage over the developer to fix post-release issues.

Common Mistakes to Avoid While Outsourcing Mobile App Development

Now it’s time to consider how not to outsource mobile app development. To help you build a flawless mobile app, we’ve reviewed the most common mistakes people make when hiring offshore developers.

  • Put all your eggs in one basket. App programmers cannot be both designers and marketers, although they should be familiar with best practices, particularly with UX/UI trends.
  • Ignore time zone differences. Asian outsourcing companies will work for a smaller fee than their Western counterparts. But be sure the language barrier and time difference don’t affect the result.
  • Project manager is not a project manager. Managing all the processes by yourself is a blunder. A project manager is interested in how the project develops, and not just the end result. They act as a liaison, transferring messages from your side to the development team, enforcing deadlines, and overseeing.
  • Launch an application without testing. Functional testing allows you to determine whether your mobile app will work well before deployment.
  • Hire an app developer based on price. Quality doesn’t come with the lowest price, and the best price is not always a success factor. Usually, cheap rates tend to come with poor-quality work. To avoid that, you must check the following:
    • Communication and language skills
    • Internet connection speed
    • Tendency to overwork employees
    • Multiple developers on one account

Does an NDA Protect Your Idea from Being Copied?

You may ask developers to sign non-disclosure agreements before you reveal your business ideas to them. You may think that an NDA will prevent app developers from using or publishing your ideas. However, NDAs aren’t a silver bullet.

So, make sure that the NDA you prepare is safe and reliable, and includes all the following elements:

  • Definition and exclusion of “confidential information”
  • Parties’ obligations and responsibilities
  • Time period
  • A specific choice of law, in case the parties are from locations with differing state laws

When used correctly, an NDA will definitely provide protection for your ideas. It can be a good option for protecting valuable information and intellectual property. However, note that the law specifically differentiates between an idea in your head and a concept that has been represented in a tangible form.

What Are the Best Countries to Outsource App Development in 2020?

Eastern Europe is one of the most beneficial destinations for outsourcing, with an average hourly rate of $30 to $70. In comparison to Asia, there are only slight cultural differences from the US. Countries like Georgia, Poland, and Bulgaria can provide you with a large pool of tech experts for projects of any complexity.

Although Latin America offers services at low prices, the region has only just started to build a pool of tech-savvy experts. The most popular Latin American countries for outsourcing are Brazil, Mexico, and Peru.

IT giants like Google or Microsoft prefer to outsource software development to Asia. However, note that big tech companies hire in-house managers and other experts from Asian cultures, but mid-size companies often encounter cultural differences that can be difficult to overcome. The main outsourcing countries in Asia are India and China.

Countries to Outsource App Development

Many notable tech hubs in the US provide high-level IT services. However, extremely high prices for education and a lack of software developers make outsourcing to the US too expensive for many.

Convenient time zones and similar cultural practices make Canada an attractive outsourcing option for US companies. However, outsourcing app development to Canada is very expensive.

Takeaway Points

Now, you’re probably wondering, “Should I outsource my app development?” Well, let’s see. Whether you are a start-up, mid-, or large-sized business, outsourcing app development allows you to decrease costs, boost your team efficiency, and release the project on time and budget. However, to gain all the benefits of outsourcing app development, you need to choose a reliable team. Below, we provide a short checklist:

  • Start with a small project or MVP development.
  • Negotiate with your outsourcing development team.
  • Conduct interviews properly.
  • Check the developers’ portfolios, tech stacks, and reviews from previous clients.
  • Provide detailed specifications.
  • Select engagement and payment models.
  • Contact your teammates regularly.
  • Ensure that legal issues are covered.
  • Run a usability test.
  • Don’t pursue options that are too far or too cheap.
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