Outsourcing development of your app

Don't get screwed. Outsourcing development and finding a trustworthy partner can be hard.

It's not pretty, but it's true. 🙈 #

Most of us wonder, "is this company going to screw me?" when we receive a quote. It doesn't matter if it's for a home improvement project, pest control inspection, or an app. Trust doesn't come easy these days.

We don't like it - and we’re lobbying for more transparency - but we get it.

The good news is, development is something you can outsource, without losing your shirt...if you follow a few tips. 👇

Start simple. 🛴 #

In the very beginning, you rarely need an app. You need validation.


Image by Henrik Kniberg.

There are plenty of no-code prototypes you can use to gauge customer interest. If these prove your idea has merit, then you're in a position to consider an app.

Build up funds. 💰 #

Software development is expensive. If you're sure you need an app, and a no-code prototype has gotten you as far as it can, you'll need a lot of cash for a custom MVP.

Our prototypes start at $10k and most of our MVPs come in around $50k-$75k.

Be wary of too-good-to-be-true price tags. It's a tactic we'd never use, but some agencies deliberately underbid and increase prices later.

Define what you're building. 🛠 #

You don't have to pick out a programming language, but you should know what the app does and for whom.

To define that, clear some time to work through the process we use with our clients. You can do it in a day without knowing any code at all.

Know your outsourcing options. 1️⃣ 2️⃣ #

Unless you're onboarding a technical co-founder or a team of developers, freelancers and agencies are your main outsourcing options.

1️⃣Freelancers are usually cheaper than agencies and many of them are extremely talented. If you need multiple domain experts, however, it's difficult to find someone that can do it all or will manage a team for you.

2️⃣If your project could benefit from a project manager, UI/UX expert, and/or a designer, consider an agency. Having a whole team of professionals at your disposal is a big benefit.

Ask hard questions and recognize red flags. 🚩 #

1. How do you price your projects?
If they don't have a defined pricing strategy, that's a red flag. They probably way underbid or way overbid.

2. Will a dedicated team work on my project?
"No" is a bad answer. A project that's constantly handed off (or around) will be a disaster. 😨

3. Who will manage the project on your end?
It needs to be a person, not a software. 👨

4. What will you do if something is harder than expected?
Get confirmation that they'll notify you ahead of time about increases to your budget.

6. Who is your ideal client?
If you don't match the description or their portfolio, prepare for road bumps. 🚙

7. Can we do a weekly check-in?
They should be open to your accountability. 📆

8. Do you do discovery or scoping sessions?
The best agencies and freelancers charge for this (we do) and that's fine. It's a big concern if they don't do this at all, though. Big projects should start with detailed definition. 📝

9. What do I do while the app is being built?
They should have some direction for you here.

10. How many projects do you take on at one time?
With freelancers, you want the number to be small. With agencies, the number will vary according to how many people they have on staff. You don't want to be one of a hundred customers, but it's rarely a good sign if you're the agency's only customer.

Lastly, ask yourself if you like the person or team you're considering. You'll be working closely with them for several months. You should trust them and enjoy their partnership! 💫

p.s. We wrote a longer guide to this topic - How to outsource development without losing your shirt - on our website. Check it out for a lot more insights along these lines. 💥

"Get the important things right." - N.P. Calderwood

Want to see us cover a topic? Have major startup questions or sticking points? Email andrew@builtbykrit.com