The Cost of Mobile App Development – part 1
Mobile apps still all the craze?
Although the era of carpet bombing the Google Playstore and the App Store with gimmicky apps every other day is now thankfully behind us, mobile apps have their practical applications and can be useful when replacing commonly utilised web functions with more native, device-specific features and functionality. Rather than indiscriminately creating and launching apps, developers today are more focused on the usability of the tools they are creating, and rightfully so. App stores are littered with little-used or little-of-use apps that are either faulty, hard to use, providing minimal utility, or simply deceitful and pushing nothing but in-app purchases.
Developing apps in-house
Assuming you have done your research and as a result deemed the development of an app for your business a good idea, you are now faced with two choices: in-house development or outsourcing development. There are advantages and potential pitfalls associated with either option and we will take a look at some of them here. In-house development is usually associated with longer development times, higher cost and potentially lower quality, unless you have full-time mobile app developers on staff who are experienced, up-to-date on their skills and are only coding for apps all day long. Outsourcing, on the other hand, can save you money, time and hassles, but is also riskier and offers less control over the process if you don’t have the internal resources to closely manage and follow up the project from your side.
How much does building an app cost?
This question certainly warrants a complex answer and is highly dependent on multiple parameters, including the scope of the app development project, how complex, sophisticated, full-featured, reliable and secure the app needs to be, how many external systems or web platforms/applications need to be integrated, what kind of a database, authentication and hosting will be used, whether the app should be hybrid, native or web-based, how much testing will be done before launching it, and who will develop it. Different developers have different hourly/daily rates and these tend to vary in proportion to the quality of the work produced. Outsourcing to India may be tempting but requires willingness to assume the risk of unreliable partners dropping out in the middle of the project if a more profitable one comes along, as well as not documenting or following conventions when writing code. Testing is another issue with low-cost offshore developers, as well as project management, customer service and communication. It is often the case that certain issues, disagreements or misunderstandings only come to light late into the development process, at which point fixing them may require a sizeable change in direction, add-on costs or quality compromises.
That being said, the cost of launching simple apps has dropped considerably and today can be done inexpensively, whether outsourcing to popular offshore destinations or going for established developers in Europe or North America. When it comes to more complex, business-critical applications, however, relying on an inexperienced or a budget provider may end up costing you more in terms of not only budget but also time and last but not least, peace of mind.
Questions to ask when selecting an app builder
Working with experienced, established development companies with references and a number of happy customers in their portfolio can make a huge difference with regards to your sanity. There is nothing more frustrating than finding out your app project isn’t on track when you thought all was going according to plan, or that it will not look and behave as intended when launched. Take time to carefully research your potential partner, ask for case studies of successful apps they have built and try some of them on your own, to make sure you know exactly who you are working with.
When it comes to the more tactical aspects of app building, it is critical to understand your potential partner’s project management methodology of choice, which is directly linked to the project timeline. Whether they are following a mostly agile/scrum framework vs. the more traditional ‘’waterfall’’ approach, or a mix between the two (sometimes referred to as ‘’scrumfall’’), the way they work can have a direct impact on what milestones are delivered, at what intervals (referred to as ‘’increments’’ in scrum) and by when.
Last but not least, having a clear picture of the budget cannot be stressed enough. Working without firm agreements in place can result in some potential surprises if you aren’t paying close attention to the day rates of all analysts, project managers, designers, developers and testers working on the project.
Having all these terms agreed to in a written contract before any work commences, is essential in ensuring any potential misunderstandings or disagreements will be handled in a proper manner, with the appropriate legal framework in place to protect your interests.
Even if you have managed to launch your mobile app relying entirely on your own efforts, it will still be necessary to update and maintain the code base for your app, following mobile operating system updates, new designs, UX and GUI, new terms and conditions and other factors that may render the operations of your app slower or, altogether, unusable. This also comes at a cost, as your in-house developers need to allocate precious time to stay up-to-date on Android and iOS developments and requirements, in addition to updating the application code and resubmitting the new versions for approval and inclusion in the mobile app stores.
Leave it to the pros
Unless you are in the business of developing software and mobile applications, this is still a job best outsourced and left to the pros. When it comes to enterprise applications, companies that specialise in complex business operations, like PegusApps, can come in handy. Developing consumer apps vs. more sophisticated enterprise or B2B apps isn’t at all the same matter. Along with the different user journey and interface considerations at bay, reliability, cyber security, ERP and other system integrations, along with database management need to be well thought out and implemented.
Read our Insights next week for part 2: a detailed insight on PegusApps’ opinion and approach towards App Development.
Copywriter: Ina Danova