Mobile app development – offshore vs onshore

17 March 2014

So you have a great idea for a mobile app…but where do you start?

The first question you’re probably asking yourself is whether you should get your mobile app developed here in Australia or find an offshore developer.

The benefit of offshore development is glaringly obvious – it’s cheap, or so it seems.

The golden rule in software development is that if something is particularly cheap, you need to ask why. But they only cost $12 an hour you say; surely it’s a win either way you look at it?

While the price tag may be favourable, communication problems and lack of quality control can see your “budget” app very quickly turn into an expensive headache.

It is important that you and your developer arrive at the same understanding of what you need and what’s technically feasible.

Language barriers are an obvious obstacle, but you should also be aware of potential cultural barriers as well.

For example, in some cultures it doesn’t matter what you ask, they will say “yes”, as to say “no” is the height of rudeness.

You only find out a month later that they in fact didn’t understand your requirements at all, but couldn’t tell you.

Another problem can be quality control. Most companies in Australia should have fairly good testing processes and in-house quality control.

This is vital to make sure your app works the way you want it to.

Unfortunately, with offshore development, dealing with communication issues and managing your own quality assurance can mean that it takes a lot longer to develop, leaving you with up to thousands of dollars more to pay than the first price tag.

The benefits of onshore development and using an agency are that they are usually set up to deliver high-quality apps in a timely manner.

Before deciding on an agency, there are a few things you should ask.

Who are their developers – are they onshore or offshore.  If they are offshore, who quality-controls the work?

Test their work. There are a lot of companies out there that want to be in the mobile app space but don’t actually have any experience, or in-house expertise.

It is unfortunate but quite common that companies offer mobile apps, but actually outsource all work.

A third option, which combines the benefits of both onshore and offshore development, is to hire a locally based development company to do the design and technical app specifications, and then have it act as a consultant for you in the offshore development process.

This can help with making sure your app is structured properly and looks the way you want it to, but also allows you to realise the cost savings of offshore development.

In conclusion, mobile apps are a useful tool for increasing sales and improving exposure and interest for businesses.

There are a lot of options for developing your app, but take care in choosing the right developer for you and your product, and be aware of the traps involved in hiring offshore developers.

Molly Taylor

Managing director at Code Heroes

Code Heroes has experience developing high-end marketing, property development and business processes apps.

With experience in digital marketing, producing digital apps, mobile app strategy development and start-ups, Molly is well-positioned to advise on mobile apps and how to get started.

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