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Hiring an Agency vs Hiring Freelance Mobile App Developers

If you’ve been tasked with putting together a team to develop your company’s mobile app, you have a few roads to explore.

  1. Hire an in-house team of developers, designers and project management
  2. Hire a freelance developer and have in-house team members manage the project
  3. Hire a mobile app development agency

These three paths are each very different. Here I am going to compare hiring a freelance app developer to hiring an app development agency.

You can read this article I wrote about the cost of hiring an in-house app development team. There is definitely a time and place when it makes more sense to hire an app development team internally, rather than outsource to freelancers or an agency.

What You Need to Know When Hiring a Freelance App Developer

When your company hires a freelance app developer you get a team of one – the developer. If you haven’t managed a software build-out before, you may not know that building a mobile app requires more than just someone to write the code.

If you go the freelance route you’ll also need a UI/UX Designer with specific expertise in designing mobile apps (Apple has been known to reject apps with a substandard user interface).

You’ll also need someone who can test the app, other than the person who develops it. We call this Quality Assurance.

Most apps require a custom API and web admin to manage user accounts, data and other functionality – so you’ll most likely need at least a full stack developer in addition to the mobile app developer.

Without a doubt you’ll need an experienced Project Manager or Product Owner to coordinate with stakeholders at your company to create the vision and plan for your app and ensure it’s executed.

I caution you from thinking that an app developer is all that is needed to develop a mobile app.

What You Need to Know When Hiring an App Development Agency

When you hire an agency that specializes in mobile app development, you get the team without the headache. In other words, you won’t need to recruit, hire, train and manage the team. You also won’t have to task your in-house employees with taking on more work, especially work they may not be qualified to do.

A smaller agency team may consist of developers, a UI/UX Designer and Project Manager. Large agency teams will include many developers and a wider variety of specialists.

The agency will have the team you need and you’ll pay for them on a fractional, as-needed basis.

Hiring a mobile app development agency gives you one point of contact for all things related to the mobile app, and freedom from the complexities of managing the project and the people. Do you even have time for another job?

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between a Freelancer and an App Development Agency

1. What is your mobile app development budget?

If you have a budget under $25,000, it’s not going to happen via a mobile app development agency. If your budget is that size it makes more sense to look for a single freelance app developer who, as long as your needs aren’t overly complex, may be able to get it done for you at that price.

If you are working with a $25,000 plus budget it would be worthwhile to reach out to an agency, tell them about your project and see if it might be a good fit. Read this article we wrote about how much a mobile app costs.

2. What do you value?

Companies that value things like not having to manage the details in-house, a well-organized project, expert consulting, code that is secure from hackers, a custom-branded and user-friendly app design, will appreciate working with an agency.

If you value a low price and your app is basic, or you just need a mobile app prototype, you may appreciate working with a freelance app developer.

3. Do you already have a software team in place?

Some companies already have a team of developers, designers and project managers on their staff, but they may not have the specific expertise in mobile app development. In this case, it can make sense to simply hire a freelance app developer for a short term app development project. You may not need the agency’s UI/UX Designer, Project Manager or Quality Assurance if you have these people as part of your current team.

If mobile applications are going to be an important part of your tech stack, I recommend hiring this developer as an actual employee so they are around for ongoing development and support.

4. How soon do you need to start?

Agency teams are ready to go. Once the contract is signed and the deposit is made, your agency team can hit the ground running fairly quickly. A great agency will have systems in place to ensure that all aspects of the process are managed effectively for you.

Compare this to trying to put together a team of freelancers. It could take months just to find someone with the skills and experience you need. You’ll also need a process to test their app development skills. Do you have a technical person on staff who can interview potential hires?

 

Final Thoughts on Hiring an App Development Agency vs. a Freelance App Developer

Whether you choose to hire a freelance app developer, or an agency, will likely be most influenced by the budget you have to work with and whether you already have a full team in house.

If you have a healthy budget, you will appreciate the value an agency team brings to your project and the extra level of service provided.

If you’re with an established company and would like to talk to a mobile app development agency, please reach out and request a call with our team today.

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Sara @ Big Fish

Sara @ Big Fish

Sara MacQueen is the Founder and President of Big Fish - a custom software design and development studio in Florida and North Carolina. She was named one of "25 Mobile Women to Watch" and has been interviewed by local and national media for her expertise in mobile technology and business.