The 8 Most Critical Mistakes in Outsourcing Application Development

Published: December 28, 2017

13 min read

Last updated: May 2, 2022

Outsourcing is a pretty typical way for startup-owners and CEOs to save company’s funds, fill a gap in their indoor team or find a specific expertise. Yet, if you want everything to go smoothly & perfectly, you should know what the main mistakes in outsourcing app development are and how to avoid them.

Outsourcing is a perfect way to get rid of a technical headache by bringing in professionals who solve such tasks on a daily basis. This partnership can last for years and become a significant factor in your project’s success or failure.

Yet, it’s possible to avoid bad scenarios if you are aware of the biggest app outsourcing mistakes and know tips and hints which will help you to make the right choices in tough situations. Together with our clients, the Stormotion team has in one form or another faced and solved all the issues listed below so we really know what we’re talking about.

If you're new to outsourcing, we kindly recommend you to get started with the following guide:

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[How and Why] Outsource Your Mobile App Development?

🗃️ Mobile App Development Pitfalls at the Stage of Team Selection

When you entrust your app development to another team you need to be 100% confident that they are the perfect match for you. Outsourcing isn’t about picking any random team to work on your project. On the contrary, a careful preselection process may be the most important task that you have to do on your own.

Your success greatly depends on your team

Your success greatly depends on your team (image by Andrew McKay)

That’s why we decided to start our research with the preparation stage. And top app development pitfalls to avoid here are:

  1. Poor market research when launching your startup.
  2. Difference in time zones is neglected.
  3. You put the price tag ahead of everything else.
  4. Failing to do a proper research before selecting a team.

Let’s take a closer look!

Mistake # 1: Poor expertise/market research 🔎

What’s the problem?

We in Stormotion receive a lot of requests to create different apps not only from established companies, but also from idea- or MVP-staged startups. Often they sound like “we want to build a mobile app like…” and here goes the name of Uber, Snapchat, Instagram or any other well-known application.

Sometimes this works out and such apps manage to find their niche in the market. For example, the most typical pattern here is when you take a popular app, create its clone and scale it for use in your specific area or for a specific target audience.

Make sure you did all the preparations

Make sure you did all the preparations (image by Vic 🍕)

Yet, even more often these “million dollar idea” startups fail because there already were almost the same apps on the market, the founders overestimated their marketing-development capabilities and competitors turned out to be too strong. This may be one of the biggest mobile app development mistakes for young initiative companies but you will be surprised how easy it can be solved.

Our advice:

Even before you start looking for an agency, make a market research and get some expertise in the field. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What value will the app bring to my users? Do they need it at all?
  • Are they ready to pay for that value?
  • What is the predicted LTV of my users?
  • Are there any similar apps?
  • What will make my app to stand out from the crowd and what are my USP’s?
  • Who are my competitors and what can I learn from them?
  • What is my sales and marketing development strategy?

Otherwise, you may fail even with a perfect (from the technical and UI side) app.

Mistake # 2: Difference in time zones is not taken into account 🕰️

What’s the problem?

The app development involves an intensive communication between the client and the hired team or even between the development team of the client which is located in one country and a hired team which is located in another country. So this issue is often true for any kinds of clients: young and small startups, separate departments of the big companies, agencies that are looking for outstaffing services etc.

This issue occurs because there are always questions that appear on both sides: your developers may require some details from you, you may require some clarifications or project updates from them and so on.

If you work while your team sleeps, and sleep while your team works you will probably face holdups and will have to move the deadline. This app outsourcing pitfall is especially important for short-term projects or the ones with strict deadlines.

Our advice:

Either try to hire a team that is located in your or a neighboring time zone or adjust your schedules to easily and quickly get in touch with each other if needed. However, if you have chosen a team from a different time zone, make the best out of it - give them all they need in the evening, let them work while you sleep and observe results of their work in the morning!

Adjust your schedules to overcome the difference in time zones

Adjust your schedules to overcome the difference in time zones (image by Che Harvey)

This task isn’t as impossible as it may seem. We in Stormotion have cooperated with clients from different parts of the world - Italy, Brazil, Germany, America. For example, one of our clients had a set up Agile Scrum Team in Canada, which is working on the iOS part of the project and our team helps them with the Android part.

We’ve adjusted our schedules and this immediately solved all issues with the project management. The positive experience of this partnership proves that it’s possible to adjust schedules and work productively despite the difference in time zones.

Mistake # 3: Putting the hourly rate ahead of everything 🏷️

What’s the problem?

Every company tries to optimize its expenses but sometimes it can go too far. There is nothing wrong with trying to lower the development costs until the hourly rate becomes the main determinative when choosing a team for cooperation. However, do you know the sentence: “avaricious pays twice”? The cheapest option is often not the best one, so in a long-term perspective you could spend a lot of money on fixing mistakes made by an unskilled and inexperienced team.

The same is true in reverse. Too high hourly rates can’t be a guarantee that you will get a top-notch result in the end. So what’s our advice on avoiding such mistakes in outsourcing app development?

Our advice:

Pay attention to the hourly rate but don’t overestimate its importance. A low rate doesn’t mean you will eventually save so don’t consider it as the main determinative.

Think about a range of hourly rates which you can be comfortable with, e.g. $30-$50/hour. And after you have filtered the potential candidates by this factor, switch to other aspects. There are far more important criteria than the hourly rate.

If you are an idea-stage founder and have a limited budget - plan your feature deck carefully, so that your MVP comes to the market and you still have funds to support it.

And if you are a company which already has a product and feature roadmap, just make sure the chosen team fits into your budget plan for the year and concentrate more on the tech and soft-skills of the chosen agency.

Always ask for the portfolio and domain expertise of your candidate - hiring an experienced and professional team will save you more money in the long-term perspective. But doing this in a wrong way is one of the app outsourcing mistakes. Read on to learn how to avoid it!

Mistake # 4: Hasty approach to choosing a team 🐇

What’s the problem?

Outsourcing mobile app development isn’t about selecting one random team to create or support a mobile application for you. Your ultimate goal is to find the right partner for your project.

You may hire an agency that has a lot of different awards, bright case studies and testimonials from well-known industry leaders thinking that it’s a perfect match for you. But then something didn’t work out and you can’t get why.

Take your time and do your research

Take your time and do your research (image by Godesignme)

This issue, as well as many other mobile app development pitfalls, may have different roots. For example, the company has excellent experience in one industry but isn’t able to offer any expertise in the field of your interest. What is to be done then?

Our advice:

Do not rush to choose your development partner: take a closer look, study all the strengths and weaknesses, think how the guys fit your specific project. Don’t be afraid of intensive communication. Many important things will become clear only after you talk to the team, ask your questions and answer theirs.

Here are 5 main points to consider:

  • Portfolio & Expertise: has this team ever created apps in your industry? Do they have proper experience and expertise?
  • Team Members: don’t hesitate to ask who specifically is going to work on your project. What about their background and experience? Moreover, this part is important when signing an NDA because it also should be signed by each individual team member.
  • Timing: how many hours a day/week are the developers supposed to spend working on your project? If you’re looking for a full-time team, make sure that developers aren’t involved in several simultaneous projects.
  • Emotional Conformity: although you aren’t looking for a wife or a husband, emotional conformity may play a great role in the future relations with your partner. Does your communication flow easy? Are you on the same page? If no, a long-term partnership may be unpleasant for both sides.
  • Questions: this may be the most important part. After you have pitched your project and needs to the candidate, be quiet and listen. Listen to the questions which the team is going to ask: are they general or has the team really understood my needs? Do they get my business aim? Do they understand who my users are and how my company is going to bring value?

After you have pitched your project, be quiet and listen. The questions which the candidate asks about your project - are far more important than their impressive portfolio.

Read Also

How to Select an Agency for Your App Development?

⚙️ App Development Pitfalls To Avoid During the Working Process

The second group of mobile app development mistakes often drops out of sight. As we already mentioned, sometimes people erroneously think that after signing the contract all responsibility lies with the development agency. Yet, project management and communication processes are essential for successful cooperation.

App Development Pitfalls To Avoid During the Working Process

So the main app outsourcing mistakes that may occur at the second stage are:

  1. Unclear requirements that lead to unjustified expectations.
  2. Underestimated importance of communication.

Let's review them!

Mistake # 5: Unclear requirements ➡️ Unjustified expectations

What’s the problem?

One of the trickiest parts when outsourcing mobile app development is to make responsibilities of both parties crystal clear. Don’t assume that developers can read your thoughts and always perfectly know what you’re thinking about. Otherwise, you can find yourself in the situation when the quite logical things (to you) are not obvious to them.

Eventually, the result may not beat your expectations and you will be disappointed with it. Well, believe us: developers don’t want it too.

Our solution:

Agree together with your team on the essential points of your partnership and what metrics will define your success. This includes:

  • terms of payment;
  • deadlines (at least an approximate one) for each sprint;
  • milestones and sprint-flow of the project;
  • tech and business requirements to the app from your side (essential features, BackEnd if needed, platforms compatibility etc.);
  • design details (who provides wireframes and mockups);
  • specifications of the submitting process (who will upload the app and future updates to app stores);
  • who will do the QA testing.

Read Also

Project Discovery: What is it and Why Do You Need it?

When outsourcing mobile app development there’s usually a project manager or business analyst who makes sure that requirements from both sides are fulfilled. This lets developers do what they can do best - create apps, and don’t spend too much time and efforts in discussions.

Yet, if you’re outstaffing a team member for your project, this responsibility lies on you or your internal project manager. Thus, make sure that there is always a person that handles any questions and misunderstandings.

Mistake # 6: Underestimated importance of communication 😶

What’s the problem?

Development isn’t just a pure coding process and nothing else. You will get a questionable result if you aren’t on the same page with the team about the vision of your product.

Stay in touch with your team

Stay in touch with your team (image by Marina Rakhimova)

Chaotic feedback process is also among mistakes to avoid when outsourcing app development. Inconsistent and unorganized feedback is difficult to monitor. Thus, it may slow down the development and will require more time and resources from you.

Without establishing a regular feedback channel you won’t be able to plan properly and at one day you will just lose the understanding where your money is flowing or “why you paid for a table, but received a WC-door of gold” if you know what I mean.

Our advice:

Try to use different channels of communication (messages, Skype calls) to always keep up with the latest updates on your app and be ready to provide developers with all the necessary information.

A good practice is to arrange meetings with your team on a regular basis. For example, when using the Scrum approach, it may be the Sprint Plan Meeting, Sprint Retrospective and a short written 10-minute daily standup. If both the client and the team are involved in these activities, the difference in time zones will never be a problem.

Make sure you speak one language (literally and metaphorically) with your team or at least with the project manager. Communication breakdowns may put you in a high-risk zone without a way out.

🏁 Mobile App Development Mistakes at the Final Stage

Last but not least. There are a few mistakes in application development which you may face after releasing the first version of your app. We decided to highlight 2 of them:

  1. Poor marketing.
  2. No after-release support plan.

Here’s what I mean and how to avoid it.

Mistake # 7: Poor marketing 🗞️

What’s the problem?

This app outsourcing pitfall is typical for the companies that were totally concentrated on the development part but neglected the marketing side.

The importance of pre- and postrelease marketing is often underestimated. Even the most interesting and well-built app needs strong marketing before it reaches the top and starts hitting million dollar revenue.

Pay attention to your marketing strategy

Pay attention to your marketing strategy (image by Lily)

Without a proper marketing strategy your app will remain at the bottom of the app store because people just don’t know about it. Therefore, you won’t be able to monetize your app, gain traction and a cashflow from paying users and prove its business effectiveness and ROI to investors. And you will stay with a well-built but unprofitable app.

That’s not your aim, right?

Our advice:

Draw up a marketing plan with pro’s and pay as much attention to it as to the development.

Define your target audience and combine different marketing strategies to achieve the best result. The growing popularity of your app will be a good sign to continue development and enhance your app with other improvements (for example, new features).

Mistake # 8: No after-MVP plan 📝

What’s the problem?

As we already mentioned, the postrelease stage can contribute to the success of your app not less than any other stage. Yet, many startups spend all their efforts and budget to build an MVP but don’t have any plan how to act afterward.

There are many questions that occur at this stage and often agencies aren’t prepared to answer them:

  • What are my priorities at the after-MVP stage?
  • How to increase LTV?
  • What is the most efficient way to improve the app?
  • How to lower the cost of user acquisition?
  • What should I do to achieve better financial results?

Without a detailed and clear plan you won’t be able to successfully pitch your MVP to investors and raise enough funds for the next round of development.

Our advice:

Add analytics to your app. It will help you to define the most used features of your app and the ones that are not popular with users.

Don’t be afraid to get rid of the features that don’t increase LTV, attract users or bring benefit in any other way. And, on the contrary, constantly improve the most important features of your app to increase its performance.

And always pay attention to feedback from users since it’s a great way to define the strong and weak sides of your app.

Read Also

How to Prioritize the Feature Development after You’ve Built an MVP

💡 Conclusion

Let’s briefly remind what was on our list of top 8 mistakes to avoid when outsourcing app development:

  1. If you’re a young idea-based startup, do a market research before starting app development.
  2. Adjust your schedules with the future team to benefit from the difference in time zones.
  3. Set a range of hourly rates which you can be comfortable with, but don’t consider this as the most important factor.
  4. Before making the final decision, carefully review all the candidates.
  5. Set clear requirements (a good project manager can help you to handle this).
  6. Arrange meetings with your team on a regular basis and try to use different communication channels.
  7. Take care of your pre- and postrelease marketing program.
  8. Prepare an after-MVP plan beforehand so as to have a clear strategy when your MVP is released.

They say that the wise man learns from the mistakes of others. That’s why we decided to share our experience with you and help you avoid the most common pitfalls when you are outsourcing your mobile application development. Keep them in mind and everything is going to be just fine! 😊

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Stormotion client Pietro Saccomani, Founder from [object Object]

They make the whole business work for us, and their improvements are fundamental to our operations. They’re reliable, honest, and willing to try new things that will help us. We appreciate how flexible and easygoing they are.

Pietro Saccomani, Founder