The demand for custom applications is skyrocketing as more organizations depend on mobile devices to support operations and reach customers. However, a CIO Dive report citing a Gartner study pointed out that many businesses are becoming aware of the need to develop custom apps, but struggling to create solutions themselves. This sentiment came up in an Entrepreneur story as well, as the article explained that the specialization and complexity of mobile apps are creating challenges for businesses. However, the potential for revenue opportunities and customer engagement is too great to ignore.

Custom programming and development providers can be particularly useful in this situation. Many enterprise IT teams are made primarily of operations and system administration experts, not developers. Because of this, there is a bit of a skills gap in the mobile development sector. Third-party specialists can overcome this gap by bringing expertise to the table for your business, but creating custom apps is still a complex process that shouldn't be handed over to just any development partner. Instead, organizations should look for these three attributes in any organization they consider working with for development:

"An app can only be successful if it is properly aligned with business needs."

1. A willingness to collaborate
If you're looking for a partner to help with custom development, you need the third party to be the experts, but also listen to you. An app can only be successful if it is properly aligned with business needs. Because of this, any development partner must take the time to get to know your organization, analyze the problems you are trying to solve, work with your users to identify what makes sense for them and develop the app with your requirements in mind.

The need for collaboration extends throughout the entire relationship, not just figuring out the technology specs and operational requirements behind an app, website or database. Deploying apps and making sure they get off the ground is also critical. A partner that is focused on collaborating with you and working toward mutual goals can ensure your projects are aimed in the right directions and work to execute strategies from start to finish. Neglecting collaboration can lead to unfocused, potentially sloppy solutions.

2. Technical expertise across competencies
A development project is about more than just writing code. A good project requires experts who are skilled in:

  • Handling data integration across a wide range of backend systems.
  • Customizing and updating legacy code as needed.
  • Performing QA testing to root out any bugs or user experience flaws.
  • Designing graphical user interfaces that provide attractive and intuitive frontend systems.
  • Establishing data workflows to keep data safe and organized.
  • Overseeing project teams to ensure development stays on schedule and within the budget.

These skills require teams of developers that can work together to create a cohesive solutions, and it is the kind of organizational expertise that many businesses lack within their in-house IT teams. This is particularly true as longstanding business app design principles are changing quickly as the industry focuses on mobile development.

3. Interest in creativity
Every business problem is a little different and each organization needs apps and services that meet its specific brand requirements. Getting a custom app that is, for all intents and purposes, a "paint-by-the-numbers" solution may allow for a quick app rollout, but it limits its potential value creation. Out-of-the-box IT solutions are disappearing as technology and business become intertwined, and companies need custom development partners that are willing to get creative and work to solve problems in new and intelligent ways. This process begins with collaboration, but it ultimately hinges on design and development expertise that allows the creation of an app that simply and elegantly resolves business issues instead of introducing new complexity into the situation.

At MC Services, we've built our brand around these development ideals. We believe that businesses have an opportunity to embrace technology in new ways, but to do so, they need to bring creativity and a culture of excellence into the equation. In-house development teams often face too much pressure, maintenance work and proximity to longstanding IT problems to bring new ideas to the table. This isn't to say that companies should ignore their dev teams, but instead that they should seriously consider the unique value a third-party specialist can bring to projects when a culture of collaboration is introduced into the partnership.