Many businesses discussing the idea of outsourcing focus so heavily on cost reduction that they miss out on other potential benefits. While cost efficiency is definitely a benefit when outsourcing development to a third-party specialist, organizations can expect much more from highly specialized agencies.

Setting a baseline for custom app projects
Before getting into some of the potentially underappreciated benefits of outsourcing, it is important to set some baseline expectations for the strategy. A Computerworld report summed up the risk-reward situation for custom apps simply, highlighting a few key points:

  • Custom solutions often allow mobile-specific functionality that is invaluable in today's marketplace.
  • IT should remain a strong partner when alternative groups take on development, such as citizen developers.
  • Organizations must carefully analyze custom apps down to the component level to make sure any open source code is tested for vulnerabilities.

These three tips pertain to any custom app project – regardless of whether it's in house or outsourced – but they also highlight key issues that come up when outsourcing. Third-party specialists often have the nuanced mobile knowledge and industry partnerships needed to create powerful user experiences. Clear communication between IT leaders and the agency is critical to keep projects focused. Clear quality control is also necessary so all parties understand expectations and can comply with those demands across the life of the project.

When these basic principles – specialized development skills, good communication and quality control – are in place, organizations can generally expect outsourcing to reduce costs compared to in-house development. Companies can also reduce the workload on internal IT teams and accelerate time to production. These core benefits are fairly straightforward. Here are three primary advantages of custom third-party development that aren't quite as apparent at first glance:

Hand holding a smartphone with app icons bursting out from the screen.Custom development can be essential as businesses respond to demand for mobile apps.

1. Clear workflows
Dev teams typically operate within some sort of process structure, be it agile, waterfall, scrum or the like. In many cases, enterprise IT departments spend most of their time on maintenance and administration and may not have an easy time transitioning into a more formal methodology when it comes time to launch a custom app.

According to a Techaeris report, most agencies create teams that are capable of working within highly nuanced workflow methodologies. In many cases, an agency will be willing to comply with operational methods that you prefer or provide an alternative. Either way, the process will be formalized and structured to create a clear framework for the work. Having such visible and methodical workflows in place can have a lasting impact on the project by establishing clear rules that can govern ongoing work, including updates and changes.

2. Specialized skills
The IT skills gap is a well-established issue. While there may be some industry debate about some of the specific details, the overarching trend is clear: Many businesses are struggling to find the combination of staff skill sets they need to keep up with contemporary technology demands. This problem can be particularly acute when it comes time to create a custom mobile app.

"Third-party development studios can provide skills you may lack in house."

Each mobile operating system presents its own challenges, especially if you want to make an app that is native to each platform. Furthermore, many development tasks, ranging from user interface design to new code creation, can require vastly different skill sets. Third-party development studios can provide skills you may lack in house, alleviating the human resources-related burdens that come with custom development.

3. Consulting
Many third-party custom app development providers also offer IT consulting services. This can prove invaluable as you work to evaluate the market or operational implications of an app and work to understand the full scope of a project. For many companies, creating a proprietary app is a rare occurrence and a fairly new requirement, so getting strategic help can be essential.

Furthermore, the skills gap we mentioned earlier can extend to business and IT executives. An SAP survey on digital transformation found that just 41 percent of respondents believed their IT executives had the business skills needed. A similar trend is happening in reverse, with just 34 percent of those polled believing business leaders had the tech competency necessary to support projects.

You may not be taking on a full digital transformation effort with a custom app, but chances are you have a similar goal: to engage users more effectively across the technologies they are using most often. Your leaders may not be able to understand all of the nuances of a project, but strategic consulting from a third-party partner can help your leaders make more informed choices and drive innovation.

If these benefits sound interesting to you, contact us to learn more. MC Services offers a full suite of IT consulting and custom development services alongside Apple support and training.