Tips for choosing the right external development team

11 min read
December 8, 2022

There are currently more than 5 million apps on offer in the App Store and Google Play Store.

For a newcomer, that’s plenty of competition. 

To even stand a chance of breaking through in such a saturated market, you must launch better and more profitable apps faster than the competition.

Your best chance of doing that is with the right external development team.

Still, that’s often easier said than done.

Finding a development team with the proper experience, expertise, tech stack, work ethic, and communication skills—and within your project budget—is a tall order.

However, these eight tips can help increase your chances of success.

Think about the team’s location

Location often plays a crucial role in how easy or challenging it is to collaborate with your external development team.

Let’s discuss the three location-based outsourcing approaches available to show you just how crucial geography is.

The first one is onshore outsourcing. This involves hiring a development team in the same country as you but not necessarily in the same city. 

A good example of this is a New York client hiring a dev team in San Francisco.

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Source: DECODE

Sourcing your dev team from your home country has several advantages.

The most important one is that there are zero cultural and language barriers. Thus, communication is easier and with minimal risk of costly misunderstandings.

The other benefit is that you’re in the same time zone (or the time difference is minimal in the case of larger countries). That means it’s much easier to schedule real-time meetings.

The drawback, though, is the limited talent pool. If you only hire developers from your own country, you may not always get the cheapest or the best developers for your project.

To solve this, you can try another method—offshore outsourcing or offshoring.

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Source: DECODE

Offshoring is where you hire your development team from a faraway country. For an American firm, for example, hiring developers in India is a classic offshoring setup.

The main draw of offshoring is the wide talent pool. You’re free to hire any developer in the world, thus giving you a better chance to hire the best, most cost-effective talent for your team.

The trade-off is that offshoring presents huge challenges. Time zone differences, language barriers, and cultural and regulatory mismatches can make collaborating harder.

Luckily, there’s a middle ground—nearshore outsourcing or nearshoring.

In nearshoring, you hire a development team from a nearby country—ideally with a minimal time zone difference. 

A German startup hiring the DECODE team (based in Croatia) is a good example of nearshoring.

image 12

Source: DECODE

Nearshoring offers the best of both worlds. You get the benefit of a wider talent pool than onshoring. 

At the same time, you also minimize the language and time zone issues present in offshoring.

Now, it’s important to know that no outsourcing method is better than the other. Your chosen location will depend on your project’s requirements, budget, and cost. 

For more information on how to pick your external team based on location, check out our handy guide.

Do a background check on the team

Hiring an external development team is not at all that different from hiring a contractor or an architect. That means it requires extensive background checks.

First, determine if the firm is legit. The easiest way to know is through the company’s papers. 

For instance, in the US, you can check with the Securities and Exchange Commission or the local government for a business license. 


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You can also check with the Better Business Bureau for scam complaints against a business.

Also, be keen for signs of bad business when visiting their website.

One big red flag (especially for software dev agencies that should know better) is an insecure connection. 

This shows as an open padlock or red warning sign beside your browser’s address bar, such as the one below.

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Source: Primary Image

Now, if a service provider seems legit, check other people’s experiences with them.

The best way to do this is with online reviews. Most reputable agencies will include client testimonials on their website (both good and bad, if they’re honest).

You can also check third-party review sites like Clutch or Trustpilot. These are preferable because they tend to be unbiased, thus giving you a more honest picture.

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Source: Clutch

It’s best to pay more attention to negative reviews, even in highly-rated firms. These can tell you the possible flaws of working with them and if they’re acceptable to you.

Make sure the team’s services are right for you

Many clients make the mistake of hiring the best team they can find without considering if they’re even the right fit for their project.

For example, let’s say you have a fintech project. Would you hire the top developer in the world who hasn’t done a fintech app before? 

Probably not. That’s a big risk. You’d rather find a developer specializing in fintech.

That’s why you must figure out your app goals first before looking for a service provider. Then break it down into deliverables, milestones, and constraints such as budget and timeline.

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Source: Wrike

Once you have these insights, you’re in a better position to pick the development team that’s perfectly aligned with your requirements.

You’ll also know whether an external team or staff augmentation would work better in your situation.

To give you an idea, staff augmentation is better if you already have an in-house team and just need to boost productivity or fill skill gaps.

On the other hand, a dedicated team is advisable if you have no internal team and need to develop an app from scratch. 

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Source: Forbytes

Of course, a dedicated team is preferable because it gives you flexibility and versatility.

For example, when you hire DECODE, we pull from a pool of 70+ experts with various skills. That ensures your team has the right experience necessary for your project.

That brings us nicely to our next tip.

Consider how experienced the team is

Experience matters when hiring your development team. After all, when you’re seeing a doctor, you’d rather not see one with only a few weeks’ experience.

One easy way of gauging experience is to look at how long the team has been operating. You can verify this with their business registration or by checking online. 

Some companies also include a brief history in their About section.

However, tenure doesn’t necessarily translate to experience. 

A better way is to look at their portfolio or case studies. They illustrate how the team tackled the project, including the challenges they faced and how they solved them. 

This gives you a much better idea of their experience and work philosophy.

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Source: DECODE

Alternatively, you can also look at the experience of individual team members. Many agency websites (like DECODE) list the bios of their founders and key members

Reading these can give you a sense of how skilled or experienced the team is.

Ensure the team has the right tech stack

Aside from experience, the tech stack of an external team is also crucial. In other words, the technologies they use should fit with your project’s requirements.

Using the wrong technology can impact the stability and safety of the app, so you need to discuss this with potential developers before hiring them.

Also, different projects would require different tools. For example, some programming languages (like Java) are better suited to certain niches (like fintech). 

The choice of tools is something that ought to be planned ahead.

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Source: Apxor

Another critical thing to consider is knowledge of information security and privacy. 

Your app could be prone to data breaches and hacks if your team’s cybersecurity know-how isn’t good enough. 

Lastly, it would be best to decide whether you want to go with a native or cross-platform app. That way, you can hire developers specializing in a particular OS (Android or iOS).

Evaluate the team’s software development methodology

In software development, methodology is everything. It dictates many things, from the speed of the development process to how adaptable it is to change. 

Thus, it should be a big factor when choosing your external dev team. 

Note that different methodologies have their strengths and weaknesses. It’s best to pick one based on the project requirements and your preferences.

For example, let’s look at the traditional Waterfall method, where each development phase must be completed before moving on to the next.

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Source: Synopsys

Most people shun this method because it’s slow, costly, and doesn’t allow returning to a previous phase. 

But the Waterfall method is straightforward to implement, making it great for simple projects with clear requirements.

Here at DECODE, we prefer the Agile methodology.

In this approach, development is divided into sprints. Each sprint is like a mini-development cycle that includes every process from designing to testing. 

At the end of every sprint, the app is reviewed and tested. Any feedback gathered is applied to the next sprint.

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Source: DECODE

The beauty of Agile methodology is that it allows teams to iterate rapidly, helping them refine the app over time. 

It’s also a great approach for clients who want regular updates on the project’s progress.

But again, there is no definitive right or wrong methodology. The key is to discuss it with your external team and determine if their methodology feels right for you. 

Look into how the team communicates

Communication is one of the most crucial yet often overlooked aspects when choosing an external development team.

See, skills and experience alone won’t cut it. Your working relationship will still fail if you can’t talk to your remote team clearly and efficiently.

Thus, it would be best to look at your external team’s communication methods and see if they align with how you want to communicate.

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When considering a team’s communication style, you should look at synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (non-real-time) methods. 

Both are important when collaborating with remote teams.

In particular, look at their communication tools and how they use them.

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Source: Doist

The team should have proper communication protocols, which is the hallmark of a highly effective team. 

For instance, they should be willing to provide regular updates if that’s what you want. At DECODE, we use Google Meet for weekly calls and Slack for quick, informal messages. 

Nevertheless, at the same time, we’re also flexible and will adapt to whatever platform the client is already using.

Check how the team prices their services

Pricing can make or break your project, so it’s important to discuss it when hiring an external dev team.

But before doing that, you need to be clear about your project’s budget. This gives you the upper limit on what pricing you can accept. 

But at the same time, be flexible. If a higher price means better quality, it’s worth considering.

Now, you want teams that will price your project fairly. That means they can justify the fees they charge based on the project’s scope, technological requirements, and timeline.

Be especially wary of teams that charge hidden fees. Make sure to clarify what the final price would be and put it into writing.

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Source: Leobit

Also, consider geography. Developers from some countries (like India) will generally charge less than their North American or European counterparts. 

If your external dev team charges higher than others in their region, make sure they can justify it.

Lastly, consider the payment scheme your external team supports.

There are generally two options—time and materials and fixed price.

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Source: Adoriasoft

In a fixed price model, you and the external team agree on a predetermined price at the start of the project. This model works best if your project has rigid requirements.

But in software development, that’s rarely the case. That’s why we prefer the time and materials model

Here, you pay your developers based on the actual hours they put into the project. It’s a fairer approach, especially when requirements change over time. 

Again, no payment model is better than the other. It depends on what your project needs.

Need the right external development team?

We hope this cheat sheet can help you pick the right development team for your project.

And, while you’re at it, why not give DECODE a try?

You’ll find that we check all the boxes—extensive experience, a strategic location in Eastern Europe, on-point communication, and the right technical skills.

Interested? Get in touch with us today, and let’s talk about your project!

Written by

Marko Strizic

Co-founder and CEO

Marko started DECODE with co-founders Peter and Mario, and a decade later, leads the company as CEO. His role is now almost entirely centred around business strategy, though his extensive background in software engineering makes sure he sees the future of the company from every angle. A graduate of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, he’s fascinated by the architecture of mobile apps and reactive programming, and a strong believer in life-long learning. Always ready for action. Or an impromptu skiing trip.

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