An important part of app development is finding the right team to do the work. You could hire a few developers in-house, but that’s not practical for most companies due to the overall cost of employees and the investment to manage them. Plus, if you don’t have plans for ongoing new development projects, once the project is launched, you may not have enough work to justify keeping an employee. So when it comes to app development, most companies look for an outside vendor. That’s only the first part of the decision, however. You have to pick a type of vendor before you even start vetting individual developers and development companies, and each type has pros and cons. So as you consider your options, think about the full spectrum of your needs and resources, beyond just the project budget. To help you narrow down your choices to one category, we’ve listed out some pros and cons of each type of developer.

What to Know About Overseas Developers

Outsourcing to development companies overseas comes with the obvious cost benefit. Non-USA companies (and companies based in the US who hire foreign developers) often bid projects significantly lower than other options. They also come without the expectation of an on-going partnership, so if you’re looking for a one-time project, they could be an option.

Now, all that said, the lower price tag does come with some drawbacks. Working with overseas developers has its challenges. They may not be able to grasp your larger vision for the product, and they may build you a version of their standard software with limited creativity. Additionally, that nice low cost may end up being higher than expected once you factor in the additional time needed to prepare and manage the project on your end. There’s also the probability of time differences and language barriers making communication difficult. The largest drawback, however, is your inability to monitor quality. You probably won’t know who is working on your app, and what his/her qualifications are. The lower cost may end up costing you more in the end if the product doesn’t work and needs to be rebuilt. Tech support for future updates and regular maintenance may not be an option either.

That sounds a bit harsh, but that’s what we’ve seen in our 15 years in the industry. We’re not saying NEVER go with an overseas developer, but we would advise a hefty amount of caution.

What to Know About Local Development Companies

Partnering with a local company still saves you from an in-house hire, and it can provide you with additional services that may be missing from your team. Well-established companies are typically able to handle multiple projects at once, so their availability is probably high. Depending on the company, they will likely offer project management, UX design, graphic design, integrations with your existing software, and 24/7 tech support. You are also likely to build relationships with the team, or at least the people who will be working directly on your project. Communication is easier, especially if you are close enough to meet in person. You are more likely to get a high-quality product in the end, as you can check the qualifications of the team members and ask around locally for reviews and references. Local development companies are a great choice if you are looking for a partner who will commit to your vision and support your software over time.

Naturally, for all of that, you can expect to pay more. There’s also the risk that smaller teams may suddenly get busy and not have the staff to keep up with every timeline. Also, if the company is fairly new or specialized, they may not have a broad portfolio of work to prove their quality.

What to Know About Freelance Developers

Now, a freelance developer has the benefit of solving many of the problems of both overseas and local companies. They typically come at a lower cost, but can still be local and vetted for quality. A freelance developer with a solid portfolio and background can be a good option, especially for smaller, one-time projects. They are typically flexible when it comes to timeline and payment schedule, so if that’s important to you, freelance could work well.

The downside of hiring a freelancer is that you only get one person. That means availability is a challenge because one person only has so many hours in a day, and if a bigger project comes along, yours may get pushed off. One person has to juggle an entire business by themselves: sales, design, development, and support. There’s also no back-up developer, so when your developer gets sick, has a family emergency, or goes on vacation, there’s no one to cover. And if you need to call tech support, you may not get through. For their own sanity and productivity, most freelancers do not offer 24-hour availability.

You’re also paying for only one set of skills: potentially no UX design, graphic design, or project management. So it’s important to identify the specific skills needed for your project; freelance developers, like other individual developers, will have strengths in certain areas and weaknesses in others.

So, there you go: a brief summary of a few app developer options. As you consider your options, list out your priorities and requirements for cost, communication, timeline, quality, additional services, and tech support and maintenance. And consider all those factors from a long-term perspective as well. Software is a big investment, so doing it right the first time will save you time and money for years to come.