Apr 27, 2017
Many agencies have clients who are searching for the perfect technology partner. Yet few know how to choose the partner that will do the best job for the client. In this article, you’ll learn precisely how to choose your perfect technology partner who can take your client’s app vision and turn it into a successful product.
We have done extensive research to put together a guide covering the six most powerful insights that will allow you to rank, rate and determine whether the technology partner & development agency you’re considering can do the best possible job for you and your client.
Contrary to popular belief, trying to save money by going with the most economical choice is never the best path to developing a popular app. Likewise, a developer has to be so much more than merely proficient from a technical point of view. They also have to insightfully understand your client’s business and the problem the new mobile app will solve.
By implementing these six, intelligent tips, your agency will eliminate the chaos that comes from choosing the wrong development partner and streamline the app development process by finding the perfect partner for you and your clients.
There are literally countless mobile app development companies out there today. You can find one in a couple of seconds. The hard part is finding the right one for the job.
Here are the signs of a bad fit for a technology partner:
What if I told you there’s a systematic way to objectively and accurately vet every technology partner with whom you are considering doing business? If that’s your goal, read on!
We’re going to cover in great detail the most critical factors your digital agency has to take into account when finding the perfect partner. After reading this article, you’ll be able to rank, rate and then confidently decide on the right technology partner for your app.
This is a step by step checklist of all the things you want to ask and the answers you should seek from a potential partner before teaming up with them.
Despite mobile app development being a huge business, most agencies fail to do proper vetting of their potential technology partners and often do not ask the right questions before engaging a potential partner.
There are literally thousands upon thousands of developers who want your money, whether it’s streamlined one-man shops or full-fledged operations.
Estimates for 2017 predict global mobile app revenue will be $77 billion, up from $58 billion in 2016.
The problem with this plethora of developers is that all aren’t created equally, and many aren’t good enough to deserve your business.
Despite this huge interest and investment in the mobile app development industry, it hasn’t gotten any easier to find the perfect development partner.
Unfortunately, this process involves more than simply putting something like this long-tail keyword into your search engine: “mobile app development company”.
The solution to finding the right development partner is knowing what to look for, how to ask the right questions, and being able to evaluate specific criteria for every candidate.
Although it’s tempting for a digital agency to hire a relatively cheap developer, they should think twice about that, as going with the lowest bidder usually results in sub-par apps.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.”
If you are talking to a prospective agency and their rates are really low, there’s a reason. And it’s not the quality of their people!
This is one of those situations where you simply can’t get good results by letting your desire to save money dictate the technology partner decision. Nothing good ever comes from giving your business to the lowest bidder; that’s a recipe for developing a sub-par app.
Instead, go with the developer who charges mid to higher rates. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it’s actually an indication of the marketplace demand for this technology partner’s services: The more an agency charges, the more likely it is that their work is good, and agencies are willing to pay more to retain them.
According to Applico:
“Finding a development firm to make a great quality app very quickly and with an inexpensive budget is a red flag. You get what you pay for.”
The other big factor is simply the reality of the marketplace. According to Savvy Apps, costs typically break down the following way, according to angel investor and venture capitalist analysis:
How much should an app cost on the US market:
Source: Savvy Apps: How Much Does an App Cost: A Massive Review of Pricing and other Budget Considerations
Now that you have a much better and more realistic idea of the costs involved in app development, it should be clear that it is definitely unreasonable to pinch your pennies when looking for a developer to partner with your agency to bring your client’s app design and vision to life.
Not only will that result in a sub-par app (because app development costs a certain amount), but the reality of market demand is such that you’ll easily have to pay in the six figures in order to have a reasonable chance of building a successful app.
Not to mention that choosing the wrong technology partners can damage your own company’s reputation because most agencies work on a white label model (you take all the credit for the work!).
Checking a developer’s references is critical to your app-building success. It’s vital to go beyond simply looking at their portfolio or reading a case study they provide you; you need to actually speak one-on-one with some of their past clients to get an accurate picture.
Any respectable technology partner will be more than happy to share their client contact information with your agency, so you can check their references. It’s downright suspicious, and a huge red flag, if they won’t or otherwise stall when you ask for references.
Looking at a potential candidate’s portfolio is good, but it’s merely a first step.
You should go beyond this overview to actually speak with their clients, so you can make a deeper and more accurate assessment. After all, your client will be spending six figures for a good-quality app, so you have to do your due diligence by talking to some of your partner’s clients firsthand.
Most technology partners will likely point you to some case studies and/or testimonials from their clients. Although these help—and we can’t stress this enough—they’re not enough. You want actual access to their clients because this is truly the only way you can verify with 100% certainty that the developer actually worked on the app its portfolio, case studies and testimonials claim it did.
According to Kim Lachance Shandrow at Entrepreneur.com, talking directly with technology partners’ past clients also affords you the chance to ask them how efficient the developer’s work was and how reliable they were, both crucial pieces of info you have to know.
Finally, you’ll also want to get around the issue of a developer only providing favorable references, which is a very real possibility. How to circumvent this? Visit the developer’s LinkedIn profile to determine whether you have any mutual contacts such as colleagues of former employees. This is one way to get a truly unbiased picture of a technology partner.
The technology partner you choose should have dedicated professionals on their team who are UI and UX specialists—not just people who are working part-time on an app from an offsite location. Evaluating the developer’s technical expertise will greatly help you in the long run.
This should go without saying, but it’s surprising how many agencies sometimes forget to evaluate this. For a developer technology partner to be worth your time and investment, their user interface and user experience skills should be very obvious.
When you’re examining a developer’s portfolio, look for apps that not only look gorgeous, but also have killer UI and UX. As part of your evaluation, look for these features, according to InVision’s advice:
Source: InVision, UX Design Tips for Your App, Part 1.
When talking to a technology partner, ask whether there are dedicated UI and UX specialists on the team. These people should be talented professionals with an amazing track record rather than someone working part-time from some corner of the world.
Since your client’s app will live and die by the technical side of things, it’s going to save your agency and your client time and money if you thoroughly evaluate your technology partner based on the technical skill of their team during your decision-making process.
While it can be tempting to only focus on the app itself, the ideal technology partner will also intimately understand your client’s business and what problem its app is trying to solve.
When looking for the perfect partner, agencies can fall into the trap of going with the developer who just wants to understand their client’s app—and nothing more.
After all, they tell themselves, building the app is all that matters. However, technology partners can’t do justice to your client’s app vision if they fail to take the time to understand your client’s entire business.
Look at it like this: Your client’s app is a product being built and designed to solve a specific problem.
Maybe it’s for better productivity; maybe it’s for better personal health.
Whatever that problem is, the app won’t be successful unless the developer fully understands what problem needs to be solved. The developer can only do this by fully understanding the client’s entire business beyond merely looking at tech aspects such as coding.
When bidding for new business, experienced technology partners will ask you questions about your client needs.
As Williams Heilmann of HTML Panda puts it, developers ought to fully understand a business’ workflows and the service that it provides, so that the app is built to complement what the business does.
Intuit Quickbooks’ business blog backs up this claim by stating that technology partners:
“…should ask questions about your needs that demonstrate they understand your problems and goals.”
A great technology partner won’t just focus on the technical side of things. They will be well-rounded, with an equal appreciation for the business needs that surround your client’s app.
It’s not just about asking questions; it’s asking the right questions to an app developer that makes all the difference. Go beyond the basics, and ask them about how they really do business so you get a better sense of how you will work together.
Don’t ever think you’re being too pushy or hard to deal with by asking questions. Asking questions is how smart people get the information they need to make the best possible decisions.
In the context of finding that perfect technology partner, asking the right questions is the only way you’ll be able to tell whether the prospective partner is a great fit. So, how can you determine what it is appropriate to ask?
Go beyond the mere basic issues: timeline, costs and scope of the process. Essentially, your questions need to broach topics that cover the finer details and points of app building.
Note how all these questions target the inner workings of the technology partner you are considering. That way, you can have the best information at your disposal to make the right decision. For instance, if all the development work is outsourced to workers in a remote part of the globe, where part-time workers will hack away at your product, you’ll likely reconsider.
As ThinkApps’ Benji Hyam puts it, asking the right questions will spare you any unexpected problems down the road—which may throw your development schedule into disarray.
Sometimes, the best solutions are right there in front of you. If you use an app that you currently enjoy because of its spectacular design and user experience, then it’s a smart move to contact the company behind the app directly, in an effort to discover the app’s developer and get in touch with them.
You use many apps in your life, both professionally and personally. Chances are good that you have several favorites, and you may even be particularly impressed with one or two of them. Maybe it’s their user experience or interface; maybe it is just how aesthetically pleasing the app looks with its colors and design.
Whatever the specific reason, it can pay off to go straight to the source by getting in touch with the company behind an app you admire to ask them directly about the developer who built it.
It stands to reason that an app with a great design and UX will have a solid developer behind it, so why not just ask about it?
First, start off by doing a Google search for any information on the developer behind an app you admire.
If that doesn’t yield good results, take it a step further by talking directly with the company publishing the app. Send them an email, or get in touch with someone from their team on LinkedIn. Write them a note telling them how appealing you find their app and inquiring who developed it.
A great resource you should also consider is Clutch.co, an online B2B review side where real, verified businesses share their ratings and reviews for the top firms they did business with. Take a look at the Robosoft profile on Clutch. It includes information around our company & vision, our rates, our portfolio and 8 unbiased reviews from our previous clients. Every respectable technology partner in the US who has been in business for a while and has done great work in the mobile app development space will be listed on the Clutch platform!
When you have done extensive background research on a company you intend to do business with, you immediately have a good lead in finding a solid and capable developer, with whom you should talk to gain greater detail.
In this article, we wanted to give you a step-by-step process on how you could rank, rate and then confidently decide on the perfect app development partner.
While app developers abound, sadly, many are questionable in terms of quality and performance. Additionally, it can get challenging to sort through all potential candidates to find the perfect developer for your client’s app. Remember, an ideal technology partner will actually both understand the business and have the technical expertise in its team to pull it off.
The challenge is made easier when you consider several factors.
First, understand how much you should spend for a high-quality app; don’t do app development on the cheap. Doing so ensures greater app-building success.
Second, never go in blind. Always ask for references and talk to your developers’ previous clients to get a sense of their ability and reliability.
Third, look into the technical expertise of your developers’ team. They should be UI and UX specialists to ensure proficiency during the development process.
Fourth, make sure the technology partner understands what your client wants to do with their app and what problem the app will solve. Getting an understanding of the client business model will help them develop the perfect app that complements the client’s vision.
Fifth, don’t be shy about probing the developer. Ask the right questions to spare your agency and client many headaches down the road.
Finally, use the most obvious options when you’re trying to find the perfect developer. If you can get in touch with the developer of an app whose design and UX you already admire, that greatly helps to identify a potential, solid app development partner.