Why hire an app agency for your app development

12 min read
October 13, 2021

As the mobile app market reaches new heights in 2021 and beyond, its challenges rise too. 

In an increasingly competitive landscape, just a simple app won’t cut it. To succeed, you need a product that truly stands out.

And while a unique app idea can get you started, proper execution is what will see you through to the end. The best way to ensure this is to partner with an app agency to handle development work for you.

You might be wondering: why go with an agency? Isn’t hiring a freelancer or in-house developer better and cheaper?

Not quite.

Here are seven reasons why you should consider working with an app development agency.

Experience and specialized knowledge

Probably the best reason to hire an app agency is that you can benefit from the team’s collective genius.

Contrary to what most people think, coding is just one of the many skills needed to create a successful app from start to finish. 

To illustrate this point, take a look at the typical stages involved in app development:

image 4

Source: DECODE

Keep in mind that the actual programming isn’t done until the 4th step, development. Other stages rely on other, non-coding skills. 

For instance, the design phase requires a variety of skills that contribute to creating an exceptional user experience (UX) and user interface (UI). 

In the remaining stages, you might need business analysis, copywriting, or project management expertise.

These diverse skills necessary to fully develop an app are the biggest reason why hiring a freelance app developer often isn’t advisable.

Sure, you may find someone with the ability to handle the entire app development stack, but those people are rare.

Also, no matter how good they are, no one can single-handedly perform every aspect of app development and still deliver a quality app on time. 

So at best, you’d probably need to hire and manage several freelancers to fill the gaps.

Conversely, with an app agency, you get a team of exceptionally skilled specialists that focus only on their area of expertise right off the bat. Thus, they’re better at solving your app’s biggest challenges and delivering the best output possible.

What’s more, if you get a reputable agency, they’ve probably worked on large projects from companies that are out of reach to most freelancers. As a result, they can infuse this rich experience into your app project.

William Skannerup, founder of Gentoo App and VeridenKey and one of DECODE’s clients, summarizes why it’s best to go with an agency quite nicely:

“What struck us the most with DECODE is the versatility of their engineers who were able to tackle every problem and respond to every challenge with diligence and persistence. Their UI/UX designer showed extraordinary creativity and was a source of excellent ideas. They were an excellent bunch to work with!”

That said, you can only reap these benefits if you hire an agency that you jibe well with

If you want to increase your chances of that being the case, at the very least, they should have an impressive portfolio with a few projects related to your app idea.

Budget-sensitive fixed-price contracts

While there’s the impression that freelancers are generally inexpensive, it’s actually cheaper in most cases to hire an app agency instead.

The reason is simple: they’ve worked on enough projects to give a fair quote on any project accurately. 

This is a huge deal since app cost is notoriously difficult to nail down. 

Getting it right relies on many factors, such as the complexity of the features, any potential custom designs, and whether it’s cross-platform

On top of that, the location of the development team can also dramatically impact rates.

To give you an idea, here’s a rough assessment from Business of Apps of how much apps cost to make based on complexity:

image 5

Source: DECODE

You’ll notice that the range varies wildly between categories. More importantly, you’ll also realize that it’s hard to classify an app based on complexity. 

After all, what are the criteria?

Simply put, it is not easy to give an accurate cost estimate for an app project if you don’t have experience doing it. 

What’s more, many contractual workers charge by the hour, so it’s in their best interest to overestimate the time needed to work on your app.

Moreover, even a simple miscalculation will cause costs to balloon unnecessarily.

Working with agencies eliminates this dilemma since most charge a fixed-cost contract based on the estimated time and manpower required to complete your app. Some are even happy to match your budget and find a workaround to deliver a quality app.

By not paying extra on overtime and additional work due to wrong cost projections, you tend to save more in the end.

Agencies provide more flexibility

Flexibility is one of the most overlooked benefits of hiring an app developer. This is more important than many think because many things can and do go wrong during development.

Despite everyone’s best intentions and careful planning, unexpected roadblocks can happen. 

For example, the market needs might change, prompting changes to app features midway. Or, failures during the testing phase may simply necessitate significant reworks.

Thus, if you want your project to be ready on time, on budget, and at the expected level of quality, you need flexible app developers. 

They should be able to adapt to change, respond quickly to challenges, and devise solutions to obstacles.

This is where an app development agency has a leg up over freelancers. 

As mentioned earlier, agencies have multiple team members, each having the expertise to tackle any problem the project will encounter. Furthermore, they also have the resources and systems to keep app projects on track despite setbacks.

More importantly, app agencies know that delivering a stellar app requires flexibility on three key pillars that affect quality: time, scope, and budget. 

This is otherwise known as the project management triangle

image 6

Source: DECODE

By knowing which one of these parameters to prioritize at what time, agencies can skillfully play with the other two to help deliver the app as intended.

For example, if the project’s scope is deemed flexible, they can smartly scale back on features or push for a minimum viable product

Or, if the app has a non-negotiable deadline (time), then the cost can be increased to help rush it to completion.

It’s this project management aspect that truly separates app agencies from freelancers. Let’s explore that side a bit more in the next section. 

Better service structure & project managers who oversee the process

One of the differentiators for app agencies is that you also get excellent project management on top of hard development skills. 

This role is often facilitated by a project manager that oversees your app’s development.

Project management is the glue that binds the development together and ensures everything is running smoothly. 

Without it, the app is at a higher risk of going over budget, failing to launch on time, or failing altogether, as this infographic from KissFlow shows:

image 7

Source: Kissflow

It’s therefore surprising that only 58% of companies see the value of proper project management, according to a study by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Unfortunately, freelancers can’t offer the kind of comprehensive project management that drives app success. Also, If you’re hiring multiple contractual workers, you’ll be the one to coordinate with each one.

As you can imagine, this setup can quickly become a logistical nightmare that eats up your precious time.

Agencies, on the other hand, are built from the ground up to provide management services.

That’s because their entire business model relies on it. Agencies typically juggle multiple projects simultaneously, and that requires excellent project management to survive.

Project managers are also essential to keep clients in the loop. For example, at DECODE, we assign a team lead to every project we do. Aside from managing the development, they’re also the point of contact for the client’s online meetings and status reports.

Your app will go through thorough testing

As mentioned above, signing on an agency ensures that a team of specialists will be dedicated to every facet of your app’s development. One of the most crucial of these aspects is testing.

The importance of thorough software testing can never be overstated simply because it’s impossible to create an app that’s 100% free of defects.

Even the most skilled developers building apps for top companies like Apple and Boeing aren’t immune to fatal glitches.

Still, hiring an app agency is the best and easiest way to ensure that your app gets the thorough testing it deserves.

For instance, DECODE always dedicates QA engineers to every project that does nothing else but subject apps to a rigorous software testing regimen. Plus, we have our own testing app – Shake

And because an agency oversees a project from start to finish, they can implement a continuous testing approach. This refers to the practice of testing through every stage of the process in a way that doesn’t disrupt the development process. 

Tricentis illustrates the process beautifully in this image:

image 8

Source: Tricentis 

By testing early and often, QA teams can find more bugs earlier in the process, which costs significantly less to fix. These savings help lower overall development expenses. 

Rigorous, continuous testing is simply impossible if you hire individual freelancers because it requires a dedicated QA team and a high degree of coordination.

Furthermore, since freelancers work individually, testing will often be rudimentary and fall to the old hand-off approach, creating bottlenecks that will delay your app project.

Agencies operate on a higher security level

A dedicated agency team can also boost your app’s security. This is because agencies tend to implement more advanced security practices compared to lone developers and freelancers.

Nowadays, cyberattacks are on a considerable rise. Not even the threat of a global pandemic is slowing them down.

In fact, the world saw a significant increase in cyberattacks and phishing schemes during the health crisis. It’s currently growing at a rate of 15% and is projected to cost companies worldwide a staggering $10.5 trillion by 2025.

Unfortunately, relying on standard solutions and third-party platforms for your app’s security is usually ineffective. 

Olexandr Leuschenko of Ciklum sums it up like this:

“The issue of security in mobile app development is often underrated, and engineering teams might rely on the standard levels of protection provided by Apple and Google. In reality, however, it is the developers’ responsibility to secure the applications they are building.”

Hence, it’s vital that you work with developers who have the best security practices in mind. And going with a freelancer is risky since many contractual developers don’t have robust security knowledge unless that’s their specialty.

Indeed, your safest bet is to go with a reliable agency with a track record of developing secure apps. These firms will have the dedicated cybersecurity experts, experience, and resources necessary to ensure your app’s security.

For instance, DECODE has a stellar history of creating successful Fintech apps, where security is arguably critical. Therefore, we use the best technology and comply with strict regulations like EU’s PSD2 to guarantee apps with the highest security levels.

Ongoing app maintenance support

App maintenance is arguably the most critical part of the app development process and the real determiner of an app’s success or failure.

The truth is that working on an app never truly ends because the whole ecosystem is changing all the time. New iOS/Android versions, security vulnerabilities, APIs, and patches—the list is endless!

Competing apps can also force you to introduce or rework features to make them fresh and relevant to your users.

Then, there are also new bugs and issues that your users may discover in use. And some app types, such as ecommerce stores, are naturally more maintenance-heavy than others.

decode agency photo by sanja tusek 52 50209515841 o 1

Source: DECODE

Ultimately, app maintenance is vital to keep your retention rates up, churn rates low, and new user acquisitions high. Unfortunately, in a saturated market, not updating your app can quickly make it obsolete. 

That’s why you should have app maintenance in mind when shopping around for a developer. And when it comes down to it, agencies provide some of the best app maintenance support.

It all ties back to an agency being a one-stop shop for your project. Many firms, us included, believe that the real work of an app developer begins after the launch. That’s why we offer and prefer to manage app maintenance for all our projects.

By the way, as a rule of thumb, according to the Business of Apps study we’ve quoted earlier, you could expect to spend 15%-20% of your total development cost on annual app maintenance.

Don’t just hire any agency you see

We hope we’ve made a strong case on why hiring an agency is crucial for the success of your app.

Of course, your results will ultimately depend on which app development agency you choose. Make sure they have the best talent on board, a stellar track record, as well as a willingness to prioritize security and invest in your app long-term.

Now, if you still don’t have an agency in mind, why not give DECODE a try? 

With our extensive experience and successful projects under our belt, we might be an excellent fit for your project. So contact us today, and let’s find out!

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Written by

Mario Zderic

Co-founder and COO

Mario makes every project run smoothly. A firm believer that people are DECODE’s most vital resource, he naturally grew into the role of People Operations Manager. Now, his encyclopaedic knowledge of every DECODEr’s role, and his expertise in all things tech, powers him to manage his huge range of responsibilities as COO. Part developer, and seemingly part therapist, Mario is always calm under pressure, which helps to maintain the office’s stress-free vibe. In fact, sitting and thinking is his main hobby. What’s more Zen than that?

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