Choosing App Development Services: Individual Contractor vs. Development Shop

Your business needs an app. You’ll need specialized help to build this app, but before that, you need to know what kind of help you need. Hiring the right person or company to build an app can be daunting. It’s also something that is best done right the first time.

Let’s begin with a very basic question: Do I need to find the right person or do I need to find the right company

You have a lot of options. Matching your business needs to the right development choice will get you the right work for the right price, so let’s examine the pros and cons of an individual contractor vs a development shop. 

Individual Contractor:

One person, who can take your app from architecture to visual design to programming to setting up a server and then making it all work together.

Pros:

  1. You will probably under-pay for some aspect of development. A single contractor will be doing many types of tasks, but an hour of app architectural design would normally cost more than an hour of bug-testing. Since the contractor probably gives you one average rate, some of their work will be a bargain.
  2. It’s easier to get on the same page if you’re only working with one person. If you already know exactly what you need, then you only need to make one person understand. An app development company may give you a project manager to translate your vision into different tasks and explain those to others, but that might be overkill if you already know exactly what needs to be done and just need somebody to execute.

Cons:

  1. You will probably over-pay for some aspect of development. If you are paying an average rate for all development tasks, you’re probably paying too much for some of the more basic tasks.
  2. It’s hard to find one person qualified to do everything you need. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses. When you hire a lone contractor, you are paying for them to use both their strongest and weakest skills. Finding somebody whose weakest skills are still good enough for your project will take time and discernment.

App Development Shop:

A team of people who work together to build your app, each acting within the area(s) of their own expertise to deliver an expertly-crafted product to fulfill your needs.

Pros:

  1. You will have the right people working on the right parts of your project. You can have a project manager to understand what you’re doing, an architect to structure it, and junior developers to write clean code that you can build from in the future.
  2. You have a whole team of experts to make sure you have a strong foundation. A team has more internal accountability and may be less likely to do slap-shod work that nobody else can build from or understand. If you think you will ever want to add to or improve your app, you need to make sure that there is more than one person in the world who could possibly understand the structure of the code.
  3. You can get projects done more quickly. This is common sense, but is worth stating. If more people are working on your app, they can finish it more quickly. If your deadline needs to be moved up, a development shop is more likely to be able to apply additional resources and get it done.

Cons:

  1. You have to trust the company you are working with. If you don’t have enough experience building apps to feel comfortable with just a single contractor, you need to find a company that is capable of taking your project from idea to reality with less input from you in between. That’s a big responsibility and you should find a company you feel good about. 
  2. Big development shops only want big clients. Smaller development shops are definitely an option for almost any size app, but the big development shops mostly work with large corporations. Keep an eye out for our upcoming article on how to know what size development shop is right for you!

An Important Choice

What type of development provider you go with is an important decision to make, but also very dependent on your situation. Review your options, and keep these factors in mind to make the best choice.

1 reply
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