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BLOG: How to outsource your app development

Robert Strohmeyer | Sept. 12, 2013
Working with outside contractors can be challenging. Here's how to get great results from freelance developers and hired agencies.

Be sure to communicate clearly about the project timeline, the expected ship date, and any interim deadlines for various components of the project. Be clear, also, about how you and the developer will handle future support for the app. Is he or she going to be available to fix bugs for some period of time after shipping, or will those be handled under a separate contract? Get these details in writing. Neither you nor the developer wants any surprises on this front.

After the discovery phase, your developer will present you with some documents that capture the full scope of the project. Be sure to review this thoroughly, line by line, diagram by diagram, before you sign anything. These scope documents are a map to your project and what you can expect to see once all the work is done, and most contractors will charge you extra if you later demand features or design touches that aren't explicitly included in the project scope. If anything looks wrong now, speak up, and get it changed before you sign off.

Deadlines, deadlines
Once you've signed off on the project scope, your developer will get to work building your app. If it's a simple app, expect the developer to disappear for a couple of weeks and come back with some kind of working code. For more complex apps, you may have a series of deadlines for specific portions of the project. These details should be established in the project scope.

The key concern during this part of the process is to thoroughly examine whatever completed code you're seeing to ensure that it meets your expectations and complies with the scope of the project. Your developer should give you a thorough demonstration of the features you're looking at, explain them in detail, and give you an opportunity to try it yourself. Again, if anything seems off, be vocal about it now. It may well be that you're just seeing early code and that the developer is aware of some or all of the bugs or oddities you're noticing, but don't count on that.

Ship it!
In the 21st Century, there's no such thing as finished software. Apps need updates to stay ahead of the latest security threats, and users demand new features over time. Once your app ships, take a minute to knock back a glass of bubbly with your developer, and then start planning the next steps.


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