Mobile App Development Services: 9 Key Questions to Ask Your Potential Provider
Price, level of expertise and estimated time! These are the 3 main criteria that any organization planning to have a mobile app built use to evaluate potential mobile app development services providers, right?
And yet, the cost of development sure isn't just about the money. Take time factor and commitment, for instance! They, too, get reflected in your bill. A suspiciously short time estimate might be a signal for you that they'll be skipping a crucial step or two from your app's development process.
Also, a “large” team might be a numerous team of enthusiastic and hard-working... junior developers only.
So, how do you properly evaluate your potential mobile app development partner? How do you know for sure whether their services and level of expertise are enough to help them deliver you a mobile app that meets your requirements entirely?
Gaining in-depth knowledge about their team members and collecting reviews from former clients are just some of the key steps to take during your “investigation”.
And since no other “evaluation method” could beat an open face-to-face talk, here are 9 essential questions to ask your potential provider:
1. "What's Your Specific Workflow?"
In other words: how do they usually approach their mobile app projects?
What's their work strategy? What key phases does it include (or exclude)?
Everyone's “boasting” with their adoption of the agile development these days, right? Make sure you go beyond the standard talk about the agile approach and ask them to name the specific phases included in their process flow.
A good workflow would need to include at least these 5 crucial steps:
- preliminary research on the type of app to be built, along with all its particularities and specific functionalities to be implemented (analyzing the target audience here included)
- a feasibility study
- the prototyping phase
- the UI optimization phase
- the MVP building phase
Do dare raise an eyebrow if your potential “partner in crime” strives to convince you to go straight to MVP.
It's an alarming sign that they're not the professionals that you might want to handle your brilliant app idea.
2. "What Technologies Does Your Team Have a Deep Expertise In?"
Another crucial question to dare asking your potential app development services provider whether:
- you've already started working on your app and you're now just outsourcing some aspects of your project; it's vital that this team should be proficient in that particular technology that you're currently using in your project
- you haven't yet started your project and you haven't yet chosen the mobile app development technology(s) that will be powering it either; it's crucial to know then how easily this team of mobile app developers can adapt to a new technology along the way
3. "How Many “X Technology” Developers Are On Your Team? Juniors or Seniors?"
Expertise, hard to quantify, but crucial for ensuring that the resulting app will live up to your standards!
Therefore, once you've dug through their never-ending list of technologies that they have a hands-on experience of, go deeper with your “investigations”. Identify just how many developers are familiar with your required technology.
Are they mostly junior or experienced developers?
And, most of all, do dare to ask for some sort of proof of their seniority levels. Some “blind” CVs or even samples of older code would be perfect.
4. "What Would Be Your Time Estimation on My Project?"
And time sure is money!
Do keep in mind that the average time invested in a mobile app development process is of 4-6 months.
Compare the time estimate that this potential mobile app development services provider gives you with this “average time” for developing an... average mobile app.
Next, ponder on their estimate a bit:
- if they commit themselves to delivering you your app faster than their competition, then you might want to put their offer on top of your list
- if their shorter development time is counterbalanced by a higher price, don't rush to take them off your list!
A higher price might as well be a proof of the seniority level in their team. As well as of an efficiency-boosting workflow that they may be leveraging within the company.
5. "Does Your Portfolio Include Any App Development Projects Similar to Mine?"
And by “similar” I definitely do not mean “identical”. Are they familiar with your industry?
Have they implemented the same functionalities in some of their previous app development projects? Such as integrating a particular payment gateway, for instance?
Have they been working mostly with start-ups or enterprises?
6. "Any Former Clients' References for Your Mobile App Development Services?"
Why should your “research” be any different than that of a potential customer? Someone looking to make a purchase, who usually conducts a multi-leveled research: forums, customer reviews etc.
Therefore, one of the key criteria when evaluating your mobile app development services provider is their former clients' references.
Dare to ask for such recommendations and read client reviews on research company sites, such as Clutch.co, for instance. They do a wonderful job combining multiple evaluative metrics for identifying the leading companies in various industries (interviewing former clients being their no.1 research technique)
Ask questions about some of their past projects: the challenges they faced, solutions that they've come up with, time invested in those projects etc.
7. "How Much Will My Project Cost? And What Does The Price Tag Cover?"
For putting a price tag on is equally important as knowing from the very beginning precisely what services your “bill” would include.
Speaking of which, here are some of the fixed aspects that you should make sure that will get included in that price estimate:
- research & preliminary consultancy
- UX prototypes, mockups
- mobile app development
- project management
- all infrastructure costs
Also, a key parameter to use when you're “weighting” their cost estimate is the seniority level of the developers that will be assigned to your project.
Since their proven experience and expertise would automatically influence the price.
If the given price is suspiciously low, you might want to question those developers' overall level of expertise. Which, in the end, might lead to longer development times.
So “cheaper” might turn out to be... more expensive actually.
8. "What Files Will I Be Given Access to During the Project?"
Transparency is a strong indicator that this might just be the mobile app development company that you want to partner with.
Don't hesitate to ask about the files that you can access during the project. Wanting to know what's going on, at every stage of your future app's development process, is only legitimate.
And speaking of the files that you should be entitled to have easy access to, let me mention just a few:
- time reports
- weekly updated staging and production environment
- source code
- test environments/demos
- the project management's dashboard itself (whether it's Jira, Taiga or maybe Trello that they're using)
The more involved you'll be in the process, the quicker you'll detect issues that you dislike or simply specifications that you'd like to create. And the more chances will be for the final product to meet your requirements entirely!
9. "How Do You Communicate With Your Clients Throughout The Projects?"
And probably this is precisely the question that you should be starting your “interview” with.
- communication tools they'll be using (Slack, Rocket)
- what project management boards
- what time you can contact them at, their overall availability and response times
- the calls' frequency' how often you'll be getting in touch with the team working on your project
… is vital. Zero or poor communication and timeliness risks to turn all expertise, efficiency-enhancing workflow, conveniently low price and short development times into... nothing but “details”.
What if you want to make some recommendations? Or to inform the team about some late scope changes?
What if the team itself needs further clarifications from you?
Now it's the perfect time to express your expectations when it comes to this part of your future collaboration: communication.
And also, to have your doubts if the potential app development services provider doesn't seem too open to implementing your suggestions. To committing itself to frequent calls and so on.
The END! These are the 9 crucial questions to ask or the 9 things to look for in a new mobile app developers company that you consider collaborating with.
Would you have added a few more? If so, what other questions?
What is your own criteria when you're evaluating potential development teams in order to assess if they're the right fit for your app project?