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How Many Mobile App Vendors Do You Need?

Head of Android Development, ScienceSoft

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Today's software development market is flooded with mobile application development companies, and their number is constantly escalating. However, Gartner states that by the end of 2017 the demand for mobile development services will outgrow the supply by 5 times. In this situation, finding a reliable, long-term vendor is indispensable.

Before you even start looking for mobile app development vendor and evaluate their qualifications, you need to know how many vendors you are planning to hire so that you could come up with a vendor management strategy. ScienceSoft is willing to give you some helpful insights on this subject.

Mobile development market: supply and demand scales.

Why vendor partnership at all?

Sure, you may just spare the stress of searching for a long-term vendor by going with the flow and simply looking for a new outsourced team each time you need to create a mobile application. However, by dodging the issue you create multiple challenges for the future you who will probably regret not having dealt with the problem once and for all.

One vendor

It’s absolutely possible and even advantageous to cooperate with only one app development company: in this manner, you minimize communication, which normally requires a lot of effort. Moreover, after your vendor’s development team creates a couple of your applications from scratch, the communication will become even easier as you both will know what to expect from each other.

However, searching for a single vendor may be a great challenge. When the scope of mobile applications you create now or may create in the future is vast, you’ll have to look for market’s brightest jacks-of-all-trades with a rich industry profile and years of expertise.

Vendor lock-in is also the case here. Naturally, you have the right to literally scrutinize the potential partner as the sole party you and your projects’ success will depend on. But even a strong and competent app development company whose work you are absolutely satisfied with might bring you trouble at some point. The vendor may unexpectedly refuse to work on some project, experience the lack of manpower or increase their prices – you never know what might happen, and this dependency always puts your projects at risk.

Two or more vendors

If you want to avoid the vendor lock-in, you have no other choice but seek multiple vendors. In this case, you have two strategic alternatives:

One vendor, complementary vendors and overlapping vendors.

Complementary vendors

As the name suggests, these are mobile application development companies with different, complementary competences. In fact, you divide the requirements you would’ve had for a single vendor among multiple companies so that you could distribute the work between them. You can, for example, have the UI of your app designed by one of your vendors, the application itself developed by the second company and the final result tested by the third one. Or, if you’re creating several versions of an app, one of you vendors can be a native iOS developer and the other one – a hybrid Cordova expert.

Finding several complementary vendors is rather easy and realistic in contrast to, say, chasing down one strong full-service development company: you will be far more successful to get hold of experts with a narrow specialization focus and high competences than those who truly and equally excel in everything. But unfortunately, with this strategy you still strongly depend on your vendors, whose competences are just too different for any of them to be substituted in case of emergency.

Overlapping vendors

As opposed to the previous option, here you have the luxury of freely being critical of each vendor’s work, even with the project implementation already in progress. By hiring two or more overlapping vendors, you cooperate with mobile app development companies who share competences and offer similar services.

A vendor constantly exceeds budget and time limits, doesn't meet your competence expectations or you simply can't reach consensus in communication anymore? You’re not only entitled but – what’s more important – actually can cut the ties and shift the responsibility for the ongoing project onto another company.

Additionally, if one of your vendors experiences manpower bottleneck, you can easily scale the team up using the other vendor’s pool. But there are even more perks that we’d like to outline separately.

Benefits of having 2 or more overlapping vendors

Though overlapping vendors should share their basic competences, it can be beneficial to have them differ in some particular aspects. Have a look at the following vendor combinations:

Overlapping vendor combinations

Local+Offshore

With offshore vendors from the emerging or frontier markets, you can significantly cut the development costs. But at the same time, cooperating with local companies, you can observe, analyze and evaluate both options and decide which one will be more beneficial and efficient for you. Maybe cooperation with an overseas vendor, with all their possible productivity lags and partnership maintenance costs, will be more money-draining than your collaboration with a local company. Or maybe it will be just on the contrary. You will see it.

Vertical+Horizontal   

If one of your potential vendors participates in a vertical market (for instance, specializes in mobile banking apps) another one may have a horizontal approach and develop finance enterprise applications for several industries. Normally, it means that more elaborate or demanding projects would be assigned to the first vendor, who knows the industry ropes and can guarantee the application’s quality. But there are exceptions when the skills of a horizontal vendor provide tough competition to a vertical expert.

Big+Small

Be your vendor a small or big company, you gain specific advantages from both. A large company grants you its reliability and rich experience in projects. The collaboration with a really prominent and well-known vendor can make you feel as if you have shared their great success. For a small business, you may mean if not the whole world, then a significant part of it. Being a small company’s cherished client – the one of probably not so many – you will definitely have discounts and individual attention.

Summary

From our expertise in mobile development, we can testify that selecting overlapping vendors is the most reasonable vendor management strategy. By partnering with companies offering similar competences yet different circumstances, you can compare them in the course of the projects and choose which ones will work better for you.

Looking for experienced mobile app developers who can create your app from scratch or get into gear on an existing project? You've just found them.