As entrepreneurs ourselves, we understand the desire to go it alone and manage an app project. If you’ve never done it before, you may not realize the scope of the project. With hundreds of app projects behind us, the Ventive team is happy to share some of our hard-earned tips about hiring mobile app developers.
Typically, there are three kinds of app development teams: a completely stateside team, a hybrid team with part onshore and part offshore, and an agency or team that’s completely offshore. Further, hybrid teams might rely on an agency offshore (outsourcing) or an individual offshore (contractor). Deciding how you want to structure your app development team will depend on your budget, your ability to manage a team, and your project needs.
Let’s discuss the different ways to hire and manage offshore developers in this article.
App Development Team Positions
Generally speaking, a development team is made up of the following people:
Product Owners- Tasked with managing client expectations and the overall project, a product owner (PO) keeps the project on schedule, meets milestones, and oversees the project’s budget.
Technical or Non-technical Product Managers- Usually separate from the product owner, the technical product manager (TPM) is responsible for managing the development team. Their technical expertise makes it possible for them to bridge the gap between the product requirements and the execution.
Design Team- Beautiful designs that make sense are no accident. UX research and visual designers design layouts that move users through an app or website with little friction. UX designers will improve design functionality while staying true to design principles. Visual designers are tasked with creating stunning and modern interfaces.
Development Team- Consistently the most expensive part of the project, developers take the final screens and write code, debug the product, test the product, and launch the application. App development projects may use a variety of development teams for different languages or segments of a project.
Marketing Team- Getting an app from the app store downloaded onto consumers’ phones takes more than thoughts and prayers. The marketing team is the essential last step that will create buzz around a product and make the entire investment worth it.
Developers are an integral part of the development process, but it’s important to build a strong team to support the design process too. If you’re considering jumping straight to hiring app developers, remember that design + development work together to produce a minimum viable product (MVP). Furthermore, supporting the application requires technical support engineers after your product is launched.
Moving From Design to Development
When a product has moved through a design process and is ready to ship a feature to the development team, stakeholders will need to decide how to structure that team. Whether development means an individual offshore developer or an entire offshore development team, there are some boundaries that need to be put into place to ensure the project moves smoothly from start to finish. (Side note, don’t send an entire application design to a development team offshore; it won’t work.)
While no business can operate in a risk-free vacuum, there are several ways to lower the odds that a company will have a headache or issue working with contractors in the long run. Contractors should agree to all of your expectations before you onboard them. Tasks will flow more smoothly when everyone is aware of what the project is about, how long they’ll be working, and the features they’ll be working on.
If you're an agile team, you'll report on your progress and find solutions for blockers together. If a contractor isn’t performing or working well with their team, it's time to let them go. For example, if they aren’t open to regular check-ins and scrums with their team, you should end their contract. Regular communication between the TPM and the developers helps a project meet milestones and progress towards completion.
Hiring Individual Offshore Developers
When hiring for software development roles overseas, it’s important to pay attention to a candidates’ skills and to be sensitive about the person’s culture. You should consider how they’ll fit in with your organization. Would they be happy working with your team? Make your focus on finding quality talent, not on creating a team as fast as possible.
If you choose to hire individual offshore developers, screen quality candidates who have the skills and experience specific to build a product. Interview for soft and hard skills to put together a well-rounded team that can work remotely.
You may also choose to expand your talent pool by tapping into overseas talent. Many companies go this route if they need a developer for a specific feature. Ventive prefers to hire long-term developers, give them regular hours, and build relationships with them. This kind of situation provides the developers with stable work and dramatically decreases turnover (and trust me, turnover is a real thing even amongst offshore developers).
While there is high demand for software developers, not every candidate will have what it takes. Contractors still need to understand a customer’s problems and follow instructions. It also takes discipline to work on a development team, as projects move quickly and constant collaboration is vital to complete tasks. Here are some other qualities we prefer in our developers:
Hiring an Offshore Software Development Team
Have you heard of the term “taping money to an idea, and throwing it over the fence hoping you get an app thrown back”? (probably not). By hiring a development shop, a business or startup will work with the team directly. If you go this route, TPMs need to be able to audit or review their code at any time. The development agency or shop needs to understand local laws and regulations, and the startup needs to understand and comply with the offshore team's laws as well (especially tax laws).
Keep in mind that startups that hire outsourcing agencies risk not knowing the internal pay structure or composition of the resources. This means offshore software developers may be underpaid, with the agency taking a large cut of their pay. Situations like this could lead to disgruntled contractors and a stalled project.
Whether you choose to hire individuals or a team, ideally it’s best to have candidates who are fluent in English and that agree to work overlapping hours to coordinate with the onshore resources. There’s nothing worse than having a local team face a major glitch or customer service issue while the overseas team members are asleep!
It’s also important to have a high-quality remote conferencing solution for communication. Should a company choose asynchronous or synchronous communication channels? It depends. Is the project on a tight deadline? Can a team place a 48-hour deadline on a project or task? Even though a company might be relying on the offshore software agency to build the product, POs and TPMs still need to speak with them regularly to keep up to date on the project’s progress.
Are Offshore Resources Really Cheaper?
One of the biggest reasons that startups turn to offshore resources is the cost. Depending on the country, overseas contractors could cost 40-70% less than the salary of an American software developer.
However, the quality of offshore developers can vary across countries. Areas with more robust tech industries, like Ukraine, are more likely to have experienced developers. Areas just beginning to build out their tech workforce, like the continent of Africa, are more likely to have junior developers in their talent pool.
An app developer’s rate shouldn’t be your only consideration when hiring for a software team. Churning out an MVP will get your product to launch, but as you add new features and updates, you’ll want to rely on a development team that’s familiar with your product. That way you’ll be still be able to scale up your product without waiting for an entirely new team to get up to speed on the project.
Hire an App Development Agency Instead
New projects come to the Ventive team in many different stages. Our clients may just have the seed of an idea or we might be called in to perform a project rescue.
Ventive’s full-service app development agency takes ideas through the complete product lifecycle every day. Partner with the best of both worlds and connect with our Boise-based office to chat with us about the development process. We can guide you through the necessary steps to take your business to its next iteration.