Enterprise mobility solutions are becoming a necessity in many industries. Studies suggest, mobility apps can increase productivity by 30% and bring value in terms of better employee satisfaction. Still, with little expertise in mobile applications, developing one in-house might not be a cost-effective venture. That’s when outsourcing comes into play.
An average enterprise mobility solution takes 6-9 months and a lot of cash to develop. The stakes are high, so it’s vital to choose a company that can deliver a high-quality product on schedule. A nearshore vendor in a country with a large talent pool and reasonable prices is a viable alternative. We have four tips to get you started.
01: Choose a trusted nearshore vendor
Software outsourcing market is crowded. Numerous companies seem to offer similar services. Such a broad selection forces you to look for valuable differentiation points. Here is where you can start:
- Focus on companies with at least several years of successful development of enterprise mobility solutions.
- Look for companies with industry recognition awards.
- Check outsourcing community websites and look for favorable reviews.
This is only the first step of your screening process, but it can be a great time saver. Outline several candidates and, next, check if they match the size of your project.
02: Match project size with vendor’s capabilities
Choose a vendor that fits your project’s objectives and size. This way you stay on budget and on schedule. Service providers that deliver full-cycle solutions will probably have little trouble delivering separate parts of the project. At the same time, companies that never delivered complex enterprise mobile applications can find it hard to deal with large-scale ventures. Big projects call for vendors with experience in end-to-end software development.
Full-cycle development of enterprise mobility solutions
For large-scale projects, managing multiple nearshore vendors often gets tough. Splitting responsibilities, tracking progress, and coordinating various teams can hinder development process and increase time-to-market. This is especially true for enterprise mobility solutions with a big number of constraints. So in most cases, it makes sense to delegate the entire product development to a single vendor. There are many success stories that speak in favor of such approach.
Consider a project carried out by N-iX for a German-based B2B service provider SCHAD. In 2013, they wanted to build a new Mobile Work Management system. SCHAD’s clients operate in diverse industries, including automotive, logistics, air freight, retail, and more. These industries are very different when it comes to mobility needs. Therefore, SCHAD needed a highly flexible enterprise mobility solution with multiple mandatory requirements:
- An application that integrates SCHAD’s SCADA and CMM systems with IBM software.
- Robust back-end infrastructure for consistent data synchronization. The application had to handle large amounts of data when users switch between online and offline modes.
- Flexible, highly customizable mobile application.
- Support for dozens of devices.
- Legacy system support.
A large number of requirements makes splitting the project between multiple teams extremely hard. App design, development, and testing become more and more dependent on each other, forcing the team to stay agile throughout the process. Several teams are usually not flexible enough.
Outsourcing a complex project to a single nearshore vendor makes much more sense. In aforementioned SCHAD’s case, N-iX followed an iterative approach to create a high-value product in line with customer’s requirements and project’s timeframe. As a result, SCHAD acquired a highly customizable self-contained solution that offers seamless synchronization between offline and online modes. See the complete project story here.
Outsourcing stages of development
In some cases, you want to outsource only certain stages of production, e.g. application design, testing, etc. In 2015, Bitlog, a company that serves logistics industry, needed to redesign user experience (UX) of their new warehouse management solution. They had a mobile app in place but wanted a skilled UX team to enhance its user experience. The project had very specific goals and deliverables:
- Application accessed on iPads, iOS support only.
- All possible user flows for the development team.
- Intuitive UI, easy to understand for warehouse employees.
Outsourcing UX design turned out to be a success. Bitlog team was able to focus on its core competencies, while N-iX created and polished UX for the mobile application. The two companies extended and deepened their cooperation after the initial project. N-iX team designed and developed the next generation of the application with the added iPhone support. See the complete project story here.
As soon as you identify outsourcing service provider that matches your project’s size, it is time to interact with vendor’s business and technical experts.
03: Demand for technological excellence
Enterprise mobility solutions usually call for broad technological expertise. A complex end-to-end product might utilize diverse technologies both for back-end and front-end components. Consider an aforementioned SCHAD project, where N-iX team used AngularJS 1.x, Apache ActiveMQ, IBM Maximo, Java 8, PhoneGap, Spring 4, and other technologies to build a single application.
Look for nearshore vendors that have experience with a large set of technologies. It is possible that a potential outsourcing partner does not cover some vital tools. In that case, make sure they can scale the team and easily source specific experts upon project requirements.
04: Look for experience in enterprise mobility solutions
A mobile application is the upper layer of every enterprise mobility solution. The app is what end users actually work with, so you cannot underestimate its importance. Therefore, try to clarify certain features of the mobile application with your potential nearshore vendor.
Before the project’s start, you should have at least some basic understanding of the required device support. Keep in mind that additional platforms increase development and testing costs. At the same time, neglect some key devices, and it will greatly reduce the value of your product.
At the end of the day, it is the liability of the outsourcing provider to define the exact set of targeted platforms. After you outline the purpose of your enterprise mobility solution, vendor’s specialists have to be able to suggest targeted platforms. The purpose of the future application usually dictates device support needs:
- If end users work in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment, it is reasonable to support as many devices as possible.
- Multi-platform support is also vital for products that target diverse industries. When you need a highly customizable enterprise mobility solution, it is hard to predict what devices the end-user will use. For instance, in line with the SCHAD project, N-iX team used PhoneGap framework to develop a multi-platform mobile app.
- Some applications are best fit for devices with a particular screen resolution. This characteristic largely limits the number of supported platforms and devices. Your vendor’s team should be able to identify this factor before the development kicks off.
- Mono-platform support is suitable for small- to mid-size projects with very specific goals. If the application targets a particular platform, there is a much smaller number of supported devices.
User experience (UX)
Robust back-end infrastructure and seamless synchronization of big amounts of data are extremely important. Still, sloppy user experience can undermine good back-end functionality. According to studies, companies abandon enterprise mobility apps after the first use in 78% of cases. That is largely due to the poor user experience of these applications.
Great UX is essential for the top-notch enterprise mobility solutions. Ask the vendors about their experience in delivering effective and functional user interfaces. Request some samples to take a closer look at the mobile apps they created. Examine the layout, ease of navigation, and content of the app. Great UX is usually easy to identify.
Finding a reliable nearshore vendor to develop an enterprise mobility solution is not an easy business decision. You need to research the market and ask the right questions to isolate a suitable service provider. For more info on mobile-enabled solutions, check our enterprise mobility page.