Mobile App Development: Hiring the Right Developers Near and Far

By Alison Diana  |  Print this article Print

The mobile application development market is sizzling hot as companies look for apps to help them connect with customers or even access their own back end systems at the office. Here's a look at the opportunity and what it takes to succeed.

 Near and Far

Some channel organizations and outsourcers turn to international locations for software engineers and developers, working with employees or contract workers around the world. In the case of Cazoomi, about 90 percent of its workforce is located overseas, Wilson said. All these developers are connected via a LinkedIn network, which is available to all Cazoomi clients, he noted.

For its part, Growth Acceleration Partners uses its office in Costa Rica as the site for near-shoring services such as application development; DataArt relies extensively on software engineers in Russia and the Ukraine, Alexei Miller, executive vice president of the software outsourcing company, told Channel Insider.

"We think it’s one of the best regions in the world, in terms of price to performance ratio," he said. "Our success 100 percent depends on whether we can find and keep the good people. And keeping them is harder than finding them. One of the problems our competitors are finding is keeping them. We are so adamant about keeping our turnover low. Stability cannot be over-estimated."

Other channel organizations—especially those serving privacy-sensitive markets such as healthcare, finance, and government—are sticking closer to home, according to McKinsey Quarterly. "Even with work that’s not bound by such regulations, it isn’t uncommon for up to 25 percent of all IT service tasks to remain in onshore or at least close-shore locations (close to the home market, though not necessarily in it), simply because that’s where skilled software technicians are found or can be quickly deployed," a recent McKinsey Quarterly article said.

Keeping IT Real

No matter where employees live, retention is a challenge for channel organizations looking to enter into or expand their app-development services, said Alice Hill, managing director of Dice. It’s a good time for software developers with mobile app skills, especially, she told Channel Insider.

"We’re seeing tech overall showing a real healthy recovery, and I think mobile plays a real part of it," said Hill.

Unlike some areas of expertise, mobile app developers cannot have a long legacy in this field because it is so new. So what should potential employers look for, beyond the usual human resource questions? Often, those interested in this career path have developed mobile apps on their own, if they haven’t done so for other employers or clients. Ensure there is a correlation between their past work and current needs, however.

"There’s a difference between a mobile app developer who can build a really good game and one who can integrate social media," said Hill. "Make sure they tie in to your category. Does that really apply to your business? Is a great game developer going to help you?"

Before opting to make any large-scale financial investments, solution providers interested in mobile app development may consider giving top internal developers time to experiment. This can lead to new revenue opportunities and is a strong employee retention tool, Hill said.

"If you have a big player in your company, this is a great way to give them a project, especially if there’s not an emergency to get an app out," she said. "They are always curious and always want to figure out new things. That’s always an opportunity for them. Boredom on the job is one reason people leave, especially good developers. They’re problem-solvers. You want to put them on new problems if you can."