In my previous review, I wrote about mobile application development considerations – from selecting a mobile application development company, development costs, how much capital required to have a mobile application built, plus where some of the capital should be allocated. I touched on UI/UX, API development, and backend consideration that can drive the cost up significantly.
In this article, I will help explain why the development cost can vary from one development company to another. Have you heard this term, I am sure we all have, “You get what you pay for”? Does this hold true for you? Have you ever purchased a cheaper widget due to the cost? Sure you have! How long did that widget last? How was the construction of the product? Did it fall apart shortly after it was purchased? Don’t get me wrong, there are some inexpensive products that last beyond the total life expectancy. And in return, you are pleased with the purchase. How did you feel if the product did not meet your expectations? Where you disappointed? Well, that is exactly the same premise when evaluating a mobile application development company — you get exactly what you pay for!
Allow me to explain. You talk to a mobile application company. They provide a proposal outlining the SOW (scope of work) with a price tag, say $15,000. $15,000 to you sounds terrific. You move ahead, sign the SOW, and development begins. In a few weeks or months, you receive the final product. Great, but what happens next is where are all troubles begin.
As a mobile application provider, we deliver all kinds of proposal, ranging from $45,000 upwards to $500,000. Our engagements range from a complete makeover of a website site or mobile application to creating a new website or mobile application. We also provide full UI/UX development, API development, and backend services.
Daily we are approached to take over an existing application development project. Why? Mainly, its due to the nature of the project, the complexity, complications, and the lack of communication between two parties, especially when there is a time zone issue and a language barrier. On paper, a $15,000 proposal seems like a great deal. Right? However, what separates a $15,000 engagement against a $100,000 engagement tends to deal with the development infrastructure in place and how it impacts cost from company to company. Below are examples why appdev firms will charge more for their services.
Company that Displays their Customers App
As you seek out a mobile application developer, I would review the company’s application portfolio and the list of existing and past customers. The quality of their work would be evident by taking a tour of each app. Check out the UI/UX (user interface/user experience). Does the logic flow, feel natural, and make sense? Does the app seem like it was created using a template or portray custom work? Does the mobile app developer have top tier customers, big logos, Fortune 2000’s businesses listed on their website? If they do, chances are they are a well-established company. Have they been ranked by independent research firms? Independent research firms provide an unbiased opinion, and typically are trust worthy. Check out their ratings on social media. Consumers will voice their likes and dislikes. Keep in mind, the more the awards, accolades, and top tier customers, the greater the cost of the applications development work.
I have been in the technology industry for 25 years selling turnkey solutions from top tier consulting firms. Companies will sell a solution without having the resources in place. After the sale, they scramble around trying to build the team/infrastructure in order to fulfill the deliverable, in this case the mobile app. Koombea has been approached numerous times by startup’s and established businesses asking us to take over a failed project. The de facto for app development is native development. Native development requires a specific understanding/skillset because the developer needs software and hardware knowledge. Software development kits (SDK) provided by Apple and Google set the framework like gestures, user experience patterns, and visual design. Apple and Google provide best practices to follow and offer a wealth of resources. Koombea’s experience in both practices results in top quality apps.
Of course, anyone can build an app. There is a wealth of resources on the internet and YouTube videos, but a “great” app is built by an appdev company who understand the mechanics, has a history of creating complex apps, understands android tables, and knows how to integrate new technology features. Koombea hires only the best top developers with years of experience. Each developer is required showcase their past development work. In return for their talent, Koombea pay’s top dollar for top developers. Our approach to team development and the belief that smaller teams produce over achievers, and It shows by the quality of web and mobile apps we deliver to our customers. Koombea’s commitment to hiring the brightest talent, does not equate to cheap engagements, but an engagement that delivers on its promise produce amazing products. Attracting top talent requires higher wages, resulting in higher engagement costs.
Mobile Application Experience
Just as important to hiring top talent is the experience behind the company. Is the company knowledgeable in launching successful apps? Does the company have a marketing strategy? Did the company create a landing page prior to launch? As the app continues to be developed throughout the application lifecycle, your landing pages will continue to evolve. During the strategy session, your mobile application developer should discuss your product roadmap. For instance, if you are in the process of launching version 1, the roadmap should be outlined for the next feature updates, the release of version 2 and so on… Furthermore, having the ability to deliver a mobile app in a short period is crucial to getting market penetration. Some appdev companies promise delivery in six to nine months. Koombea can deliver mobile apps within two to four months utilizing best practices of agile development — depending on the complexity of the app.
As the client, you are motivated to to get your app completed. To you, the sooner the app is released, the quicker your revenue stream begins or even increases. Time is money. Having developed web and mobile apps since 2009, we believe we have mastered the development process, and years of experience to delivering the best app possible. Our guys thrive on creating the best iOS and Android app. They eat and sleep mobile app development. To some developers, the weekend is for fun and games. To our developers, the weekend is for fun and games, including completing customer engagement projects.
With experience, comes Discovery Workshops. Discovery Workshops are the best investment a company or startup can make. During the Discovery Workshop, we ask challenging questions. Sometimes, the hardest questions are the ones that stirs conflict between different stakeholders. Each stakeholder or line of business typically has their own interpretation of an ideal app or an idea on how they are going to address a business issue. We have experienced strenuous situations that called for intervention. We enjoy creating conflict. These is where some of the best ideas materialize. Once all the pain points are discovered and addressed, a wish “list” is created. We gather all the facts, then go back to the offices where the real work begins. We create a business plan to meet the desire needs and wants. Only an experienced development company can create this type Discovery Workshops. As the saying going, not all developers are created equal. The experienced ones provide significant value, but at a high price point.
Do they follow Best Practices?
Of course there are application development company’s building apps for less than a $1,000. They probably tell you they have a structured format in place. A great development company like Koombea has a documented process — Agile development and hold a CMMI Level 3 certification. Agile development took years to refine. Today, it is considered by all industry consultants the de facto for best practices. Christine Mulligan from SDTimes wrote an article titled “Agile is becoming the de facto standard for software development”. The benefit of following best practices includes “enhancing software quality and delivery predictability; improving business and IT alignment; improving project visibility; and reducing project risk. The benefits organizations are seeing after implementing agile are still the ability to manage changing priorities, increased team productivity, and improved project visibility”. Having a thorough process insures the rights questions are asked thus limiting and/or avoiding mistakes and increasing the flow of creativity.
Koombea is constantly retooling and refining all development processes. As new tools, libraries, and frameworks are introduced, our development team continues to explore the new features and the possible benefits to the customer. A company who is committed to best practices – Agile and CMMI, will provide significant value to its customer thus garnish a higher fee for software development.
Where is the development company located?
I have written about offshore and onshore development companies in my past articles. Those who seek an offshore company will benefit from the development cost. Offshore firms charge a fraction of onshore, US based development firms. I have seen development fees for as low at $40/hr. Onshore, US based firms charge anywhere from $60/hr. to upward of $250/hr.
Offshore firms will always beat out US based firms, especially when they are located in Russia, Greece, India, Poland, Brazil, Bulgaria, and Ukraine. I have also experienced some of the aforementioned charging fees close to onshore, US based companies. These appdev firms are the big boys of their country. The detriment to hiring these firms are the time zone barrier, the language barrier, and the cultural barrier. Many of these firms require micro-management. I’m not sure about you, but do you want to deal with these types of barriers, plus worry about the deadline you are working toward? I would not! In short, a local based company, or a company who is within one or two times zones, will typically charge a higher development cost.
Will a $15,000 App Solve the Same Business Issues as a $100,000 App?
Can a $15,000 app address the same business issues as a $100,000? That depends on who you ask and whether the app is a standalone or a complex app? Does it require the API to be developed or API integration, and require a robust backend? All the information I presented is subjective to interpretation. But one thing I can tell you, from all my years in the mobile application development area, the engagements I lost due to price, circle back around seeking help. The original $15,000 engagement, now will cost the client, the $15,000 plus the new engagement cost.
I have seen $75,000 engagements flop as well. Clients who within 3 months, pulls the engagement because they get frustrated with the offshore/onshore company’s competency. Many times, the mobile app never gets shipped. The only thing the customer receives is the source code. As a mobility consultant, we will evaluate the source code. Make recommendations. Many times the source code is salvageable. Other times, the client has to digest the fact that they will have to start over. Koombea will do everything possible before they making this recommendation.
No matter how much you spend on application development, ensure you do your due diligence. Investigate all resources. Check for best practices. Make sure the application development company has a list of references to check. Don’t let them provide “their” recommended list. Create your own list from the list of logo’s they have posted on their website. The effort you put into researching and evaluating application development firms, the more you will avoid frustration, time, and ultimately, money.
Where do you stand on a $15,000 app verses a $100,000 app? Can you justify the additional costs? Do you want to conduct business with a company that has thoroughly thought out processes, procedures, implemented the necessary infrastructure, and hired top talent to produce amazing products?