Although it may appear cheaper in the short term to outsource the development of mobile projects to offshore firms, over the longer term it's likely to cost far more than using an onshore firm.
Sixty-three percent of IT and business executives from large enterprises surveyed believe that projects handled by onshore/nearshore third-party partners are of higher quality than those handled by offshore firms according to a recent Forrester Consulting research study commissioned by CapTech: Onshore/Nearshore Services Thrive in the Age of the Customer, released May 2016. The Forrester study recommends that businesses consider onshore or nearshore partners mandatory for digital transformation projects, including mobile application development.
I believe that quality is more critical in the mobile world for numerous reasons.
High abandonment rates. Few customers or prospective customers stick around after a mobile app crashes. A survey by Compuware found that seventy-nine percent of smartphone users would retry an app only once or twice if it failed the first time. Only sixteen percent would make more than two attempts. A total of eighty-two percent of consumers would be less likely to use a mobile app or would switch to a competitor's app if they had a bad experience with a mobile app, according to Compuware. Seventeen percent would announce the problem on social media.
Bad reviews. Not only do shoddy apps drive away customers and prospects, but they also get bad reviews, which further undermine sales.
People increasingly take stock of online reviews. Eighty-eight percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations, according to survey results reported by Searchengineland.com. A study by Northwestern University found that people who read negative online reviews tended to purchase less from the businesses that received these reviews.
The Top Five causes of bad reviews of mobile apps? Freezing, crashing, bugs, draining the device battery and bad performance, according to Apigee Inc. All five of these problems are directly related to code craftsmanship, once again underscoring the importance of quality. Poorly built apps are more likely to freeze or crash, the bugs are harder to find and fix, and the apps are more likely to drain the battery and deliver sluggish performance.
Intimacy of the interaction. For growing numbers of people, a smartphone is a constant companion, and most of us have formed an intimate relationship with that companion. The phone not only contains photos of friends and family, but it also provides immediate answers to our questions. There's also a tactile element to the relationship, which contributes to the sense of intimacy.
When a mobile app doesn't look or feel right or doesn't behave as expected, the problem is magnified because of the intimate relationship we have with the device. We tend to be more disturbed than when something less intimate and important (for example, a Web browser or a PC) lets us down.
Moreover, as the quality of phones and the apps on them has increased during the past decade, our expectations have risen as well. While a particular business may not be competing against Uber, for example, the quality of the Uber experience has raised the bar for all businesses.
Speed. As developers work on a mobile app, they tend to collaborate intensively with designers and testers to polish the look and feel of the app. The development team typically modifies code, gets feedback from the designers and testers, fine-tunes the code, seeks additional feedback and makes additional tweaks - and so on - until the feel of the app is perfected. When the teams are all working in the same room, these cycles can often be accomplished in a matter of hours or minutes, giving the business faster turnaround times and greater speed to market.
When the teams are twelve time zones apart, with some offshore and others onshore, the developers may be asleep when the designers are at work, and vice versa. That doesn't lend itself to rapid turnaround times and collaborative communication, which are critical in a fast-moving market.
The Forrester study found that many businesses experience delays when they outsource work to third parties. A total of thirty-nine percent said the complexity of the application and/or technology ecosystem is the most common cause of such delays; thirty-seven percent cited lack of communication. Both can clearly be issues when work is sent offshore.
The Forrester study noted, however, that "companies should not accept that project delays are standard operating procedure when working with a third-party provider. A provider's inability to navigate complex technologies and deficiencies in staffing and project management can extend timelines."
Customer experience. Mobile apps have become the most heavily used of all digital channels available to business customers. Apps that undermine the customer experience will give a rapidly growing number of customers a negative perception of the brand.
Imagine a bank that elects to save money by installing a new branch in a run-down trailer instead of building a higher-cost, higher-quality facility that conveys an image of professionalism, solidity and security. Scrimping on mobile apps is equally self-defeating.
The Forrester study found that sixty-five percent of U.S. firms that have used offshore firms have wound up moving projects back onshore. Among the top reasons: security concerns (forty-seven percent); late projects (forty percent); poor communication with offshore staff (thirty-six percent); and poor quality (thirty-one percent).
Start-up time. Apps that load slowly cost businesses money. Every 100 milliseconds of app load-time decrease sales by one percent, according to Apteligent Inc. If it takes a full second for your app to load, you've cut your sales by ten percent.
High-quality code and technical design can help ensure that mobile apps are responsive. That, in turn, can prevent sales losses and keep your customers happy. Happy customers not only stick with the brand, but many also write positive online reviews - more reasons to use high-quality onshore developers for mobile projects.
As mobile become the primary channel that customers use to interact with your business, it is increasingly important that the mobile experience be outstanding. An initial focus on user experience is a required start to creating an outstanding mobile app. Following up with a focus on quality visual design, app development and testing is likewise required for an outstanding mobile app that engages and retains your customers. A well-engineered mobile strategy is your best opportunity to delight customers and win long-term advocates for your brand and the Forrester research shows that US firms grounded in agile and solid architecture are increasing the likelihood of project success.
 Onshore/Nearshore Services Thrive In The Age Of The Customer: Selecting The Right Partner For Your Company's Digital Transformation, May 2016. A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of CapTech. Base: 300 IT and business professionals of U.S. enterprises with 1000 or more employees responsible for decisions related to third-party service providers.