Ask the Experts

Should I Develop In-House or Outsource?

I’m looking to build a mobile application for my company. I have an in-house web developer that isn’t too familiar with mobile apps but said he can do the work. I’m wondering what are the pros and cons of going with this route versus hiring a development firm to do the work for me. Also, I’ve been doing a little bit of research and it looks like I can save money by having my app developed overseas, is that a good way to go?

Choose the Option That Best Works For You And Fits Your Budget, But Remember You Get What You Pay For

Well this is quite a loaded question and one that pretty much everyone tackles at some point during the planning phase of a website or mobile application. With each option, in-house, local developers, and overseas developers there are advantages and disadvantages that need to be carefully measured to see which route you want to take.

Developing Using In-House Resources


  • Can easily project manage the entire project
  • Utilize existing resources to save on additional expenses
  • Can put as many resources as you have to build it quickly
  • Comes out of operating budget as opposed to project, marketing, or sales budgets
  • No cultural boundaries
  • No question on who owns your source code


  • There is a steep learning curve to move from web developing to mobile developing
  • You will either need to manage the entire project or find a PM
  • Additional resources may be required, such as designers, extra developers developers, testers, and others
  • Can be very difficult to keep the app updated and maintained if in house developers tend to come and go through hiring attrition
  • In-house resources typically have a lot on their plate, they are often shifted around to work on other projects and/or more “profitable projects”
  • It is difficult to get an industry pro to learn development
Hiring A US-Based Developer


  • You can find a firm with experts in the design, development, and promotion of apps
  • Can easily maintain the app: solid professional development firms tend to have low turnover on staff, so the same developers are there to keep the app updated for future releases.
  • Much easier to get a developer to learn your industry than a industry pro to learn development
  • Can expect prompt, speedy response times
  • Dedicated project managers keep projects going – Time to market is short as developers are project driven and would like to keep projects on track
  • Little or no cultural boundaries
  • Bound by US laws in case things do go south, much easier to protect your source code and intellectual property
  • Communication is generally easy when within the same, or close time zones


  • Cost can sometimes seem higher, however many times we get feedback that offshore development teams take so much longer to output a final product
  • Can be risky if you choose the wrong development firm. Make sure you own all rights to the code that is written and any content generated
Using an Overseas Development Firm


  • Upfront cost savings
  • There is an apparent limitless supply of developers available


  • Typically a large time zone difference creates a lag in communication
  • Not bound by US laws, problems are difficult to resolve
  • Large cultural differences can pose a problem with creating the app
  • Lack of creativity when it comes to designing, developing, and problem solving for your app
  • Have little accountability or ownership for your app
  • Directions have to be very thorough, developers are primarily writing code for what is presented, not offering up solutions to any problems that arise
  • We’ve heard many “nightmare” stories of projects taking forever with little to show for it and no source code provided

Overall Thoughts

We are a “US-Based Developer” so there is an obvious bias towards that options, however taking a project in-house can be a viable, and workable solution if you have the proper resources and project managers to do the work. It can however take longer as your resources may be pulled away for other projects. I can say that building the Advice section on our site took a few months longer than I had hoped because the development team working on it was pulled away countless times to work on our own client’s work.

Many clients we work with initially started with an overseas firm and after months and months of frustration came to us looking to help them. Sometimes we are able to use some of the code that has been done overseas, sometimes we can’t, it all depends upon how well the app was architected, and how well the project was managed.

All in all, there is a decent trade-off on going with any one of these options and you can find success stories and horror stories for each option. I urge you to consider your options carefully and remember the old adage, You Get What You Pay For…