An app is just as strong as its app development team. So before you decide to build an app for your business, build yourself a strong app development team.
That succinct statement however, hides layers and volumes of detailed research and careful decisions. Where do you even begin to build an app development team? Where do you find app development experts with the technical prowess, business understanding and management finesse? Who and how many team members do you even need? Questions abound. Let’s find us some answers.
Building an app development team is a process. And every process has steps and stages. So let’s break down the process of building an amazing app development team and give you a step by step guide to finding the right people, bringing them together and getting the job done!
The People in an App Development Team
|iOS/ Android Developers
Depending on the size and complexity of your app, you may need more developers or designers for your app. But for the most part, a basic app development team must have these people:
A project manager is many things – the conductor to a riveting opera, the oil to a well-oiled machine. Basically, a project manager is the key point of contact for the development team and clients. Acting as a crucian point of contact between the developers/designers and you, the project manager is who keeps the communication going so that everyone is on the same page.
Some of the key responsibilities a project manager needs to handle include:
- Understanding your project and unique requirements, and conveying them to the development team so everyone has a clear vision
- Assigning tasks, roles and responsibilities to each team member
- Being the chief communication link between the team and you
- Keeping the development costs within your budget
- Adapting any changes to the original app development plan
- Managing issues and risks
- Meeting deadlines and maintaining quality
- Create and follow the Gemba walk checklist to ensure ideal work progress and measure KPIs regularly.
With such a versatile set of roles and responsibilities, it is needless to say that a project manager needs to have stellar leadership skills and a good grasp over communication, people skills, time management, critical thinking, diplomacy and creativity.
The project manager also needs to be proficient in project management methodologies like Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, Kanban and more. Being at ease with project management tools like TeamGantt, Asana and Confluence is equally important.
Interview questions to ask a project manager
So when you go out looking for a project manager, here are some of the questions you must ask, to veritably assess their skills and capabilities as a project manager for your app:
- How do you define your role as a project manager?
- What is your leadership style?
- Have you ever had a project that did not meet the time and budget deadlines?
- Tell us about your best and worst project.
- What escalation path do you adopt when an issue arises?
- What project management tools and methods do you use?
- How do you handle team conflicts?
- Have you ever had to deal with scope creep? How’d you do it?
- How do you handle underperforming team members?
- Tell us about the last project you worked on.
The knowledge and confidence displayed by a project manager while answering these questions will help you decide if she/he is a good match for your app development project.
Once you have a project manager, you need a designer to help you visualize what your app will look and feel like once it is made. You need a designer to build you a prototype that you can show to your investors. You need a designer to show your developers what they need to do. You need a designer to make your app look good and your customers happy. Bottomline – you need a damn fine designer.
Primarily of course, a good designer build a sophisticated user experience that gets the app to do what your users need in the simplest manner possible, with the fewest click required, and to look great while at it. From laconic and intuitive navigation to engaging and delightful colors, layouts and micro-interactions, the designer is the one who adds magic to your app’s functionality.
A good designer listens to your briefs and creates accurate user personas. Then, she/he drafts the basic wireframes and users flows to depict how the app moves from screen to screen.
Then comes the creation of app prototype – one of the most crucial parts of app development. A prototype in as close as you can get to seeing your app in action before writing a single line of code. You can use this prototype to show your investors the merit of your idea. You can use the prototype to gather preliminary user feedback that will help you make critical changes and guide the way forward for development.
So now that you know how important a UI/UX designer is to your app development team, here are some of the qualities you need to look for when hiring an expert designer for your team:
- Creative thinking and a flair for aesthetics
- Proficiency in design tools like Figma, InVision and Sketch
- Current knowledge of UX research, Wireframing, UI Prototyping, Interaction Design
- Some familiarity with coding to promote better coordination with development team
- Experience working on a variety of apps with at least some similar to yours
- A portfolio of excellent designs
That portfolio might be the biggest give here, one that ultimately helps you decide if this is the right designer for your app development team of experts. However, you will want to ask some inquisitive questions to find out if the designer is a good match for your project. So here are
Questions to ask your UI/UX designer
- How do you develop user persona and how does that guide your design?
- What is one problem you have solved with design that benefitted the user even though it was barely visible?
- How do you define your role in an app development team?
- How do you ensure smooth handover from design to development?
- How do you handle designer/developer differences for the overall benefit of the user?
- What are the biggest factors you consider when developing for different categories of users?
Those answers will give you enough of an insight into the designer’s minds, creativity and problem solving skills, telling you if he/she is the expert you need for your app development team. With that done, you can move on to the next pivotal element of your team –
Developers are the people who bring all the design and the ideas to life. They’re the ones who master the programming languages and write the code that makes the app work.
The two primary app platforms – iOS and Android – use different languages and entirely different technologies for developing and publishing an app. Which means that the same app needs two entirely unique development cycles if you wish to have both Android and iOS versions of your app, which you should. Both these platforms are extremely large markets and mission out on either one is ill-advised.
So, you need at least one iOS developer and one Android developer on your team. If you have a larger, more complex app, you could choose to increase that number.
Alternatively, modern technologies offer cross-platform solutions that allow you to develop just one app and publish it on both iOS and Android, and other smaller platforms too. If you choose to go that route, you will need a developer proficient and experienced in cross-platform technologies like React, and Flutter.
With a cross-platform developer too, there are always some components that need to be written native to iOS or Android to make the app more authentic. So you may need a cross platform developer with some knowledge of iOS and Android, or actual iOS and Android developers on your team.
So, you need to hire at least one Android and one iOS developer. You may also need to interview a cross-platform developer, and that’s another blogpost for another day. For now, here are the qualities to look for in an expert developer for your app development team:
- First, obviously, you need a developer with ample technical experience. He/she must have worked on diverse projects, with at least some apps similar to yours.
- Look for developers with a robust knowledge foundations. This does not mean you must only hire a software engineer from MIT. You could go the opposite end and hire a self-taught developer just as easily. Just remember to assess how much they value knowledge of the core principles of software programming – languages, syntax, architectures, algorithms and more.
- Just as important as technical knowledge are other skills. Look for developers who like to tinker and try. Those that are eager to learn new things, try quirky solutions and add value to the project are the ones who differentiate between a good app and a great one.
- Look for leaders. You need someone who does more than just what’s needed. You need someone who thinks outside the box, finds ways to better things, writes more concisely, adds more efficiency.
- Find a team player with a good attitude. You could hire the class topper with magic fingers, but without the right attitude, this person may not be what you’re looking for. You need a developer who is willing to learn from mistakes, collaborate with team members and accept feedback gracefully.
- Look for people who are passionate about coding. Coding is far from easy and takes a lot of patience, creativity and passion. Without that, you will get cookie cutter solutions that affect your app adversely.
That sure is a long list of qualities to vet, but for a true team of experts who can build a great app for your business, you need the right people.
A backend developer is the one who manages all the important backend functionalities like server architecture, cloud storage, operational logic. Security and more. Apart from a robust technical knowledge of backend processes, a backend developer needs to have plenty of experience and good communication skills.
Some of the main responsibilities of a backend developer include:
- Enabling efficient data exchange. This includes storing data securely, displaying it to the right user and keeping it secure while in transit.
- Building the operation logic that governs app function
- Using right APIs across devices
- Managing payment systems, checkouts and in-app purchases
- Building app architecture and framework
- Working with integrated development environments, databases and collaboration services
To get all of this done efficiently, you need a backend developer proficient in programming languages like Java, .Net, Python, Ruby, PHP and more. In addition, they must have adequate experience using code versioning tools like Git.
After (sometimes, while) and app is developed, the role of a quality assurance or QA engineer is to make sure the app does exactly what it is supposed to, without any errors, bugs or problems. In modern agile development methodologies that develop in iterations, a QA engineer tests the app after each iteration. Any bugs or potential problems need to be detected, reported and fixed at the earliest stage to ensure the development stays on track and all phases can be completed within time. That is why the role of a QA engineer is crucial to the success of your app development project.
Some of the key responsibilities of a QA engineer include:
- Running automated and manual tests at regular intervals
- Tracking bugs throughout the test cycle
- Recording test progress and documenting tests
- Identify any potential threats users might face in the future
- Develop testing protocols and define standards to ensure timely release
Look for QA engineers who have proficiency in testing tools like TestComplete, Selenium and Robotium, as well as bug tracking systems like Jira. Look for someone who displays keen attention to detail and dedication for quality.
App development process – an overview
Now that you know all the people you need on your team, you need to figure out how to build and organize this team. Let’s begin with understanding a simple overview of the app development process. For ease of understanding, this can be divided into 5 stages as follows:
Stage 1 – Discovery
Discovery is the stage at which you have a long chat with your project manager to discuss app goals, define core functionality, identify target audience, decide on features, plan the development cycle and basically set the roadmap straight.
By the end of the discovery stage, you should be able to create a wireframe, mockup or a low-fidelity prototype – anything that helps you visualize the end product tangibly. At this stage, your project manager’s skills must heavily complement your vision.
Stage 2 – Validation
Now, you need the help of both your project manager and your UI/UX designer to conduct some preliminary rounds of alpha and beta testing and validate your idea. Is it saleable? Would people be willing to pay for these features? Who are your competitors? How do you outcompete? Those are the kind of questions you seek answers to at this stage.
This involves conducting surveys, some user interviews and data analysis. Your project manager helps with the user research, interviews and competitive analysis. Your designer helps carry these interviews forward with the Lo-fi prototype and uses the response feedback to build a medium-fidelity prototype.
Stage 3 – UI/UX Strategy
By this stage, you could be using a high-fidelity prototype to define your user experience strategy. Before an app goes into coding, the design defines how the users will interact with the app. From deciding which button goes where to ensuring smooth navigation, this is the stage where you and your UI/UX designers make key decisions.
Stage 4 – Development
Once the design is finalized, the app goes into development where you iOS and Android developers will write code that will make the app do what it does.
Stage 5 – Testing and review
Once the development begins, right from the first iteration, testing begins too, where your QA engineer checks the code for bugs and errors. In Agile environments, the development and testing go together so that errors can be reported and fixed early on. This keeps the project on track for the launch date as well as minimizes cost thanks to early fixes.
Different ways of hiring your app development team
So, now that you know who you need and what you need them for, it’s time to answer the important question – how do you hire this perfect team of experts?
Do you pick each one out and build your team from scratch?
Or is there a way to hire a complete team?
Do you hire an in-house team, or just contract someone to do the job?
Let’s take a look at all the different hiring models for an app development experts team and you can decide what works best for you.
In-house team of app developers
This would be a way to hire full time developers who are dedicated members of your workforce and work exclusively for you. These would be working on-premise if it wasn’t for covid-19 pushing everybody to work from home.
An in-house team of app developers has many merits. You can take your time with them and make unlimited reviews. You can change plans anytime you like, make improvements throughout the app’s lifetime and micro-manage every aspect of app development, if that’s your style.
However, if your business isn’t primarily about apps and that you have minimal need for developers once the app is launched, an in-house team can become a growing expense with nothing to do.
Pros: In-house teams offer undeniable quality and accountability
Outsourcing to an app development company
There are app development companies who have already done all the vetting and have hired some of the best designers, developers, managers and QA testers. Instead of spending weeks, maybe months of your precious time hunting for the perfect team members, you could instead hire an app development company to develop your app and outsource your entire project to them.
Not only does this get you a an already built, pre-vetted team of developers, designers and others who are good at working as a team, but also, you can pay them for the app project and let them go once you launch. Outsourcing app development is beneficial to businesses thanks to no overhead costs to deal with as opposed to an in-house team
Pros: Cost effective, pre-vetted, less time spend hiring
Cons: Harder to micro-manage, language and time-zone barriers may exist
There are other options for varying kinds of app development needs.
You could hire a freelancer if you need an individual specialist for a short time, for a specific kind of task.
You could choose outstaffing. This means you could hire any particular specialists you need to complement your existing team.
You could hire a dedicated team that could include designers and developers working under a project manager. This team could work with your in-house team for the specific duration of a project and offer their expertise.
Where to look for app development experts
Whether you decide to hire an app development company or need individual app development experts, some of the best places to start looking for great professionals include:
Specify your needs using the right search keywords and use ratings and reviews to prepare your first shortlist. After narrowing down to a few suitable candidates, you’ll want to interview the candidates as well as try to speak to a few past clients to really find out how good they are at what they do.
That right these, is a detailed treatise on building the strongest app development team for your projects, hiring app development experts is a process that takes time, but done right, makes all the difference in your final product. So cut no corners in your research and make sure you choose the right people for the job.
Moveoapps has built its team of experts after years of research and experience. We’ve worked together now for over a decade and completed 200+ successful projects. You know what we’ve built aside from fantastic apps? Great relationships! Contact us today to find out what our team of app development experts can do for you.