May 14, 2020

Custom Software Development: Third-Party Delivery vs Delivering In-House With a Platform

Custom software development is nothing new, and the emergence of app development platforms has created new opportunities for companies across industries. They can now implement mission-critical solutions in ways that overcome traditional limitations.

The question of which is better –  third party custom development vs. in-house development through a platform  – has become a topic under widespread debate amongst decision-makers. This question is more relevant than ever given the growing demand for custom apps within high tech manufacturing, oil and gas, healthcare, and other industrial companies.

If you’re looking to invest in a custom app for your company, consider these 5 critical factors first.

  1. Bandwidth
  2. Timeline
  3. Customization and Flexibility
  4. Budget
  5. Support Options

1. Bandwidth

One of the major considerations when embarking on a new app development project is calculating your team’s projected bandwidth and the necessary time to set aside for training and learning.

With custom software development through a third party, your product team represents your end-users’ journey and experience, but a third party app developer does the heavy lifting. This method allows your team members to act as project managers, rather than as the developers and implementation experts.

With app development platforms, your team becomes the end-users in the development and design process. They not only create the user experience, but they are directly responsible for implementing it. The innovation of app development platforms is that they enable the rapid development of unique processes and workflows through automating development tasks and providing pre-built app components.

  • Consider the time and bandwidth necessary to train your team on a new platform and weigh this against the time it would take to get a third party up to speed on your app project. Also, consider the individual involvement of critical members of your team and their required level of involvement to complete the project.

2. Timeline

Factoring in your timeline is a critical piece in determining whether to hire a custom app developer or to invest in an app development platform.

Developing custom software from scratch has become faster and more efficient over time but this approach has the potential to take longer depending on your specific feature requirements and legacy integrations.

App development platforms provide a foundation that allows in-house developers to productively deliver  highly customized apps. This can prove more timely assuming you have dedicated training and learning time before kicking off a new app development project.  

  • Outline your product roadmap and define your non-negotiable deadlines. Ask yourself, When exactly do I need to have my app development completed and my product fully deployed? Consider what factors could potentially slow this development process down. Planning for this is key to the success of your project.

3. Customization and Flexibility

Your customization and flexibility requirements often go hand-in-hand with your existing business process automation (BPA).

If your goal is to implement multiple custom apps to improve operational processes, then making a transition to an app development platform can form the basis of your implementation strategy.

If you need control over finer details of your app, like implementing a unique UI,   and if you don’t have a dedicated in-house team to build and maintain your app, then working with an expert custom software development team may be an effective option to help you decrease your level of effort and increase your operational efficiency.

  • Keep in mind that the development path you choose will be largely based on your customization requirements. Stack rank the importance of all of your mission-critical functions and research these functions to make sure that you are accounting for all of them. This will save you time and headache down the road, preventing any unwanted surprises.

4. Budget

Budget can vary depending on a range of factors, which is why it’s important to consider numbers 1-3 (employee bandwidth and learning time, timeline, and customization and flexibility) before landing on budget.

If your goal is to empower an in-house team to productively deliver custom apps in order to meet growing demand , then an app development platform could be a great fit for your business.

On the other hand, if you need the guidance of experts and are facing bandwidth and timeline constraints then hiring a custom software developer to build your app exactly as you need it to be, could be well worth the price tag. While picking a primary development path is important, don’t forget you can always take advantage of both third party development and app development platforms. For more information on how to pick a development path and how to get the best of both worlds, attend our upcoming webinar.

5. Support Options

As applications are used, end users need support. As business needs evolve, apps need to adapt. The levels of iterations your app will need and your required level of support will  influence your decision to hire a custom development team  or sign on to  an app development platform.

Having a development team that can respond to urgent requests in an emergency is crucial for most industries. If your company already has that team or individual in place, that’s ideal! You are a perfect candidate for an app development platform.

If you don’t have a team in place that can respond and act accordingly in an emergency situation, then consider hiring a third party to provide these services.

  • App development platforms typically provide support to developers and self-help through developer communities but end-user support will be up to your team. Ask an app development platform about their referral partners and third-party vendors for specialized ad hoc software development services. Develop these relationships early on so you have resources in the event that you require assistance later down the road.

It’s Not One Size Fits All

Weighing outsourced custom software development against in-house delivery through app development platforms show that both approaches have benefits.. More often than not, projects require a thoughtful combination of custom software development and the pre-built foundation of an app development platform to meet your highly specific business requirements.

Regardless of where you sit, be sure to carefully evaluate these 5 factors before kicking off the development process. Careful research and evaluation will help ensure you have better outcomes and an optimized end-user product.

For more information on how custom apps can help grow and improve your business, reach out to us, or attend our upcoming webinar with Appit CEO, Amanda Moriuchi, and JourneyApps CEO, Conrad Hofmeyr, “What You Need to Know About The Platform for Industrial Apps.”


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