The marketing manager’s guide to hiring an app development team

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The Mobile Mentality

Marketing managers don’t just build apps. They build bridges between their companies and their consumers. App development is about more than just getting short-term value out of a passing fad — it’s about understanding the 21st century consumer.

Enterprises are eager to claim their territory and it’s no surprise why. By 2017, the app market will have become a $77 billion dollar industry.

Today, it’s not enough to just build an app — you need to build something truly innovative and valuable if you expect to run rings around the competitors. Unfortunately, the current breakneck speed of app development hasn’t made marketing managers’ jobs any easier. Take too long to develop your product and you run the risk of losing customers to nimbler competitors.

As the digital media and e-commerce landscapes continue to shift, it’s becoming clear that enterprises need to work their way into people’s smartphones if they expect to build any sort of true influence.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. With the right approach, you can outmaneuver the competition and create something truly great.

It’s a Hard Knock Life For Apps

As a marketing manager, you know firsthand how quickly the industry has evolved. Social media refuses to slow down, SEO is changing with every Google algorithm update, and figuring out how to best develop your community can turn into a massive game of guess-and-check.

Your job has consistently become more complex, and you don’t have the time to sit around dreaming up the perfect app. Still, you’re expected to produce an effective product that’s as visually impressive as it is analytically effective.

To make matters worse, your dev team is beyond overloaded. All the project management in the world won’t change one simple fact: they just don’t have the time to crank out apps and updates on top of their current workload.

Large Self Serve Marketplaces

So, do you turn to freelancers from large online marketplaces like Upwork or Freelancer? You’re on the right track, but there’s one massive issue here: you’re gambling with the company’s money. The team may seem reputable enough, but you’re assuming every facet of their operation will run smoothly.

For starters, these types of sites attract can mediocre talent, almost by design. Their payment model encourages a ‘race to the bottom’ where the cheapest freelancer wins.

Here’s something we all forget on occasion: there’s a reason talented people are expensive. They’re generally experienced, disciplined, and a pleasure to work with. Free-for-all online marketplaces attract people who don’t value their skills very highly — and probably won’t value your business either.

Even if you manage to find a ‘diamond in the rough,’ you’ll still have to deal with one of the most common (and disastrous) issues in outsourcing: communication. Inconsistent responses, time zone issues, and a slew of cultural barriers are just a few of the problems you’ll face.

Speaking of communication, you’ll almost certainly end up micromanaging most (if not all) of the development. After a while, you’ll probably start to wonder why you didn’t just build it all yourself.

Communication, reliability, and efficiency will be the building blocks of your partnership with any outsourced team. Now, it’s conceivable you could find a team worth your money. (It’s unlikely, but anything’s possible.)

But why take that risk in the first place? You’re not interested in gambling with your company’s money. You’re interested in results.

Finding the Ideal App Team

Being a marketing manager means you already have one dev team to keep on track. The last thing you need is another group of folks to manage. You need a system that delivers results without demanding your absolute attention.

The reality is, you’re not going to have much success using the typical outsourcing marketplaces. While they may be an easy place to scout potential hires, these avenues are unreliable when it comes to cultivating talent.

So how will you go about finding the ideal team for your job? First, you’ll need to compare your options. Resist the urge to go with the first team the blows you away — emotional decisions and business don’t go well together. Take the time to ask plenty of questions and determine what the team’s thought process looks like. Patience and research are the watchwords here.

Do Your Homework

Be sure to do your due diligence and speak to previous people who have worked with each member of the team. If they cannot supply references then that’s either a red flag or a sign of inexperience. Don’t hire inexperienced teams unless you’re willing to subsidize their training (by paying them to work on your project).

And yes, it’s in your best interest to seriously question the lowest bidder. While they might be the cheapest, they may not be able to deliver when it comes to creating a high-quality project. If they aren’t able to put your mind at ease, walk away and consider your other options.

Once you’ve significantly narrowed your options, set clear milestones for your potential team. They may be working independently, but reviewing your vision for the app with them is always in your best interest. Be sure to run these milestones past them and establish whether or not they can execute on everything you need.

These may seem like minor steps, but they’ll help separate the disciplined teams from the ineffective ones. Take the time to carefully choose the right group of people and you’ll make outsourcing that much easier.

Speaking of outsourcing, we’ve managed to gather some of the most talented minds in IT right here at Gigster. Our teams have built apps for everyone from Google to Facebook. If you’re ready to work with a company that specializes in agility without sacrificing quality (and we’re pretty sure you are), get a guaranteed price quote from our product managers — it’ll just take a few minutes.