How to run a Very Good app development team

Learn how to staff up a high-quality app development team and set these professionals up for ongoing success.

February 12, 2024
February 12, 2024
updated on
February 20, 2024
Guest Contributor

Custom app development has become an area of focus for companies of all types. Even if your business has never considered developing an app before, it could be an ideal moment to start. Your own custom application is a great way to connect with your customers and is therefore extremely valuable.

This demand for app development, with every business turning into a software company of sorts, comes with a few added requirements. You may find yourself assembling a software development team for the first time in your organization's history.

When pursuing your app idea, should you hire internal talent or outsource some functions? What kinds of roles and responsibilities should your new personnel take on? How can you set your product managers, designers and engineers up for success with the way you organize their workdays?

Fortunately, finding the answers to those questions doesn't have to be overly challenging. With the right combination of technology and expert input, you can get started building and running the successful mobile app development team of your dreams.

Want to see how a well-trained team works on a specific design assignment? Check out how we develop apps for wearable devices.

How Do You Pick a Framework for Your App Development Team?

You should have a development framework in mind for your app before hiring engineers for your team, rather than staffing up and then making your choice. Why? Because your framework will determine what programming language your app will use, as well as the ideal organizational structure for your efforts. The person to make the choice should ideally be a knowledgeable director or seasoned engineer. If your company doesn't have someone on staff who fits that description, you can focus on bringing them in first, then build out a supporting team.

If you choose to code a native app for each of your targeted platforms, you'll need to assemble multiple teams, each specializing in one device or operating system. Skipping a platform simply isn't an option today, especially when it comes to mobile operating systems — releasing just an Android app or an iOS app means leaving out a huge potential market. Barring cases when you're developing for a very specific group of devices, like company-issued smartphones, you'll need to target both of the major mobile operating systems, at the least.

The Multi-Platform Approach to App Building (and Team Building)

This requirement to target multiple platforms, along with the added value of releasing additional versions of the app for the web, MacOS, Windows, Linux or a wearable device operating system points to a new option. Multi-platform development, using a framework such as Flutter or React Native, simplifies the team-building process. There's no iOS developer or Android developer role in this unified model; everyone is on the same team.

Read more about the different multiplatform frameworks to build your app.

Working with just one team and one codebase allows you to unite personnel under one roof, breaking down the silos that keep them from communicating effectively. This unified structure can bring about a whole new mindset — rather than trying to get one version of an app to work, the experts are pouring their efforts into building a great product users love to interact with.

Working with a single codebase means training all engineers in the use of one chosen programming language. Such a training engagement can prepare the team to work together, build powerful software and maintain the application over time.

Interested in educating your personnel for multi-platform app development? Schedule training.

What Are the Different Models of App Development Teams?

Remote work has changed everything. That statement applies across industries and around the world, and app development is no exception. When it comes time to build a successful mobile app development team, you can choose between in-house, outsourced and hybrid models, getting the exact combination of skills you need for your project.

Your options for creating a software development team include:

  • Hiring and training in-house talent: If you see app development as a core piece of your business moving forward, it may be worth hiring your own app designers and developers. Finding specialized training for these new hires helps them work together effectively and follow best practices. This model grants you the maximum level of control and oversight, though it does add permanent salaries to your books.

See how we help companies deliver their apps by sharing best practices and training teams in Flutter

It's worth noting that successful app development is not a short-term project. Even if you manage to launch your new app relatively quickly, there will be a need for ongoing updates as your people address bugs and follow the feature roadmap. You can invest in third-party training to bring your internal app developer group in line with cutting-edge best practices.

  • Supplementing internal talent with third-party experts: Software developer skills shortages are a natural part of software development today. After all, with so many organizations seeing the value of custom app development, it can be challenging to find enough designers and engineers to fill out a team.

    Even if your team isn't shorthanded,  leveraging the expertise of third-party consultants, designers, and developers can play a pivotal role.  External contributors can bolster your team by fulfilling specific tasks - such as shifting to a new framework or preparing for launch — or by taking on a more flexible, open-ended role. One common strategy to maximize value is to work with third-party experts during the intensive building of a new application, then turn the long-term management of the software over to your in-house team.

  • Outsourcing development: Working with a full third-party mobile app development company is an option for companies of all sizes. Whether you're a small business that wants access to a full-scale mobile development team without making numerous hires or a large company in search of a ready-made engineering unit, you can turn to outsourcing.

    Working with experts who understand app design and engineering best practices is a critical consideration when forming a partnership with a third party. You should make sure you're working with top software developer groups to give your app the best possible chance of sustainable, scalable and future-proof success.

Once you've decided the balance between in-house and external app building, it's time to set the parameters for your project and oversee the team members as they get to work.

Learn how the VGV team builds enterprise apps with Flutter

How Do Responsibilities Break Down within an App Development Team?

The size of your overall mobile app developer group will depend on factors such as your targeted platforms, intended audience and chosen development framework. The more people are involved, the more chances there are for misalignment and miscommunication — a unified team with a small group of subject-matter experts can outpace multiple teams with dozens of members, while also keeping app development costs low. You must manage the team composition carefully, however. Too high a concentration of experts can result in bottlenecks around processes such as code review.

An application development team is based on the collaboration and communication between a few different roles. Each of these is important to the overall finished product, and it's worth giving them the tech tools and guidance they need to cooperate and share information.

  • Product manager: Lays out the vision for the application and keeps the rest of the team on task, taking responsibility for the direction of the project.
  • Product designer: Works on elements that make up the user experience, including the user interface, ensuring the app is visually appealing, satisfying to interact with and intuitive for its users.
  • Development engineer: Performs the actual coding work in the relevant programming language, putting together the app's unique functionality. May be broken down into specialties like frontend developer, backend developer and QA engineer.

While these groups have distinct responsibilities, they'll ideally work toward a highly unified goal based on the initial app idea and plan for the mobile application. If there's a deficit at any of these roles in your business's local talent pool, it's a good idea to invest in training, third-party consulting or both.

Learn more about our day-to-day mobile app development process.

How Can You Keep Your App Development Team Productive Over Time?

It's important to remember that a dedicated app development team's work doesn't end with the build phase. The scale and maintenance phases of operating your custom mobile application are critical times, and the continued effectiveness of your team will make or break the software's long-term prospects.

The key decision to help your team succeed over the long term is often made back at the very beginning: When companies choose to embrace multi-platform application development, they provide an easier road for each mobile app developer.

The process of studying bug reports and user experience feedback, then iterating and performing QA app testing, is dramatically easier when there's a single unified team focusing on one codebase. Freed from the need to coordinate across functional silos, engineers can keep up with patches while also working away at new features to follow the road map.

Ongoing training and employee education are also essential for the continued success of mobile development teams. Even an experienced app developer or app designer should learn new tricks and discover the latest best practices in their fields, especially considering the speed at which software development is changing and evolving.

Your efforts to keep your team strong over the months and years after launch can pay off in continuing engagement based on a positive user experience, maintaining a strong bond between your brand and its audience.

Get Started Forming Your Ideal App Development Team

Starting a new project from scratch isn't the only time you can benefit from staffing up a new dedicated app development team. Shifting complex app components to a new framework can also go well when handled by a fresh group of experts. Even ongoing maintenance for existing software can benefit from having extra expertise on call.

Whether your ideal model is outsourcing, consulting or a fully in-house team building strategy, you can get started right away. If you're not certain which approach is the best fit for you, it may be time to reach out and discuss the matter with our expert team.

Want to delve deeper into the ins and outs of the mobile app development process? Contact us — we're always happy to talk!

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