No matter whether you are new to the mobile development sphere or a mature entrepreneur who knows exactly what kind of an app one wants, a question may arise — “How to choose the right app development company?”.
We’ve decided to create a detailed tutorial on how to evaluate contractors and find the best fit. Let’s break it into several steps.
Creating a list of app development companies. Step I. It’s all about general information.
OK, Google. Thanks a lot for your help. Now we have a list of dozens of app development companies. What’s next? Let’s take a closer look.
Pay attention to the country they are located in. If you want to find a cheap developer, then probably you should shortlist those from India. If you are looking for a combination of high quality and high price, consider the USA. If the task is to get an extreme mix of price and quality, consider Eastern Europe. For more information about pricing in different countries, see the image below.
- Company Type
Pay attention to the company type and choose the one you may feel most comfortable with. The types are:
They are the best option for long-term projects requiring huge teams and enormous financial expenses starting at $500 000 — $1 000 000 and above. This type of a software provider is good for a similarly large company developing a solution, for instance, for their internal use. It’s definitely a bad option for startups that are normally limited in budget, require flexibility and immediate adjustment to the turbulent market.
What distinguishes body shops from enterprise companies is the staff. As a rule, body shops don’t eagerly invest into their people, they have low rates, short or medium-length projects. The number of repeat clients is crucially low as these companies are unable to control all their employees. This entails poor quality for a low price.
Premium/ Boutique Providers
Companies belonging to the premium segment are extremely focused on quality rather than quantity. These companies have about 50 members in a team. As the entry threshold for the employees is extremely high and keeping “A” players in the team requires significant financial expenses, premium companies charge a bit higher than the average market value. You won’t find such companies at the labor exchange platforms like Elance or oDesk because they are not looking for clients. It’s clients who look for them.
6 years ago, when MLSDev company was established, we had to begin our business path with Elance. But then we realized that this way may lead to a dead end. We changed our business strategy and started to look for other options. This entailed visiting numerous professional events, contributing to open source projects, sharing our experience on technical blogs, developing our own project, etc. As a result, we got to Top 10 Mobile Development companies according to Clutch.co.
It’s a sort of companies that are not yet Premium, but at the same time are not bottom feeders. In here, you will find a great diversity of skills and prices. It may be a startup, a company of 2 people, a small team of designers or a mid-level game studio with 70 people. Such companies are just in a quest for themselves. Most likely they seal their deals on Elance, oDesk or similar.
I guess we all know what this means. These are the companies which are grateful for small favours. They may promise you a pie in the sky and endless expertise just to grab your project. But the fact is that these may just be empty words.
Think of your project type and technologies it requires. I recommend you choosing a company which specializes in certain skills (like native apps development) rather than in doing all kinds of things. As a doctor can’t be good at all spheres of medicine, an app development company can’t assure upscale quality when it comes to the development of everything. Narrow down the companies to those with a specific specialization.
- Company Website
Remember — the shoemaker’s child must not go barefoot. Carefully study companies websites, think of the impression you get from them, pay attention to how they work. It’s a must for an app development company to have a nice, modern and appealing website which has no bugs and runs smoothly. What you see is what you get. Go to our website, look at it and ask yourself what impression it makes on you.
The next step is a portfolio. It can tell you a lot: what type of service they deliver, whether they are detail-oriented, whether they love their projects, whether they respect their clients, whether they keep up to date with the latest trends and technologies.
You can take it a step further — google some apps from the company’s Portfolio. By doing a quick research, you can find out what is the fate of the projects they have developed. Narrow down the companies whose projects were successful. If you google “goPuff”, for instance, you will see what I mean.
- Clients Feedback
Poor quality, not understanding the project idea, missing deadlines, uncoordinated teamwork OR flexibility, contribution, pro-activeness and engagement. What would you choose? Are you happy with what clients say about their contractors? Shortlist those with a good reputation. By the way, I would highly recommend you to use Clutch.co if you are looking for independent feedback.
Creating a list of the app development companies. Step II. Shortlisting up to 10 companies. It’s all about getting to know companies better.
Now when you have a preliminary list of the potential contractors, it’s high time to get to know them better. Let’s start with analyzing client feedbacks.
Working with a newly created company is like playing a lottery game — there are 50% that they will make you feel happy and 50% that the end result won’t correspond with your expectations. Are you ready for such a challenge?
- Lean approach
Remember — a reliable company is not trying to grab all of your money and make you leave. It’s much more profitable to make you feel happy by developing a successful project. For you to boast to your friends about your great app asap, they will do everything possible to release it into the market fast. Thanks God, in the USA there is a guy called Eric Ries. He did a great job — invented the lean approach which presupposes the development of an MVP and thus a quick entry into a mobile market. Most likely, you will be offered to try this. The idea is really good.
- Development Methodology
Reliable companies stick to modern development approaches which allow them to build software efficiently and productively. They understand that the technical world is changing rapidly. They are capable of adapting to the changes quickly.
- Project Management
Continuing my previous point, I can say that you won’t need to do any micromanagement working with an experienced software development company. They will do everything for you — conduct daily meetings, manage the team. All you will have to do is to confirm that they are doing the right thing.
You may think that the price for a reputable software company is too high. But don’t you think that they may develop your project much faster than those who claim on cheaper rates? Don’t you think that a company that invests into its staff, will deliver a software with no or fewer bugs than the one which has high staff turnover and doesn’t really care about their expertise? Haven’t you ever thought that cheap rates are basically illusion? Remember — you get what you pay for.
Software companies that respect their clients, respect their clients’ time. They understand that your project is not the only thing you are engaged with. You may have other responsibilities like family, day job, business, whatever. They will do everything possible to set the best time for communication with you.
- Skype Video Calls
I was astonished when one of my clients told that we were the first who activated a video camera during our Skype call. He told that he was discussing his project with 4 other companies and no one had done this before. At our company this is something we do every day, with every client. Because we want to see your eyes when speaking with you. Because it’s such a great pleasure to speak with a person who is inspired by his project. This inspires us as well.
Of course, they will speak your language or at least English. This is a must-have for an international company.
Creating a list of the app development companies. Step III. Shortlisting up to 3 companies. It’s all about investigation.
Now when you have only 10 companies on your list, we need to shortlist them up to 3. Let us not waste time!
- Internet Presence
Software companies with an established reputation don’t spasmodically code whatever apps. They are mature enough to share their experience by contributing to open source projects, being published on various technical blogs. You will definitely meet them at highly tailored development conferences. They are not afraid of demonstrating their code skills by contributing on GitHub.
- Own Products
Software companies with an established reputation have an overwhelming desire to express themselves and do something useful for others. They are good at understanding the market trends and what users want. With that being said, they will most likely have their own projects.
Reliable companies will do their best to make your cooperation as transparent as possible. They are willing to spend as much time for you to clarify what you are to expect from it as you may need. They are open and willing to share any information you may request about the way they work and estimate projects. They will walk you through the development stages again and again. They will be constantly asking for your feedback on their work. Not just to check the box, but because they really care about you and your project.
- Waiting Line
As a rule, such companies have a constant flow of projects. Sometimes it’s not so easy to get an available slot for your project in their schedule. You may have to wait. Do wait. Because it’s worth it.
Creating a list of the app development companies. Step IV. Choosing the right company. It’s all about feelings.
Business is personal. Who will dare to argue with me?
No matter whether you are buying milk at a supermarket, or having your vehicle washed at a carwash, or ordering an app. You deal with people. And you are buying attention, care and value that those people can bring. You must admit that having been treated awfully at a supermarket, you won’t return there maybe never in your life. It doesn’t matter how good their milk is or how nice the milk package is. Right? Think of what you buy — just services or something else?
I’m always telling my clients — there is no success without trust. If for some reason, you don’t trust a company, just remove it from your list and proceed to the next one.
- Understanding of Your Project
Sometimes clients think that asking them questions about their projects is bad manners. Completely disagree. OK, sure if your specs are just crystal clear, then maybe. But as a rule, by asking questions development companies try to make sure that they didn’t get the project concept wrong. In such a way they are trying to avoid any misunderstanding in the future.
- Involvement in Your Project
One of the most important aspects, in my opinion. If the team shares your excitement about the project, don’t doubt — they will really do their best to hit it out of the park.
Like love happens to a couple, chemistry happens between a team and a client. And nothing else matters :) If you feel like that particular person or a team is really good, reliable and able to take care of your project, trust your feelings and let it go.
Choosing the right company to work with is not an easy task. Be ready to spend some time on getting acquainted with potential contractors. In my opinion, it’s better to carve out some time for a proper procurement process and find the right team, rather than start working with the first company found on Google or somewhere else, and feel disappointed afterwards.
I hope chemistry happened and we were able to help you find the best fit.
The article How To Choose An App Development Company was written by Lilia Udovychenko, Senior Client Relationship Manager at MLSDev and was first published on MLSDev blog.