Outsourcing your app to an agency? Don’t just talk to the sales team.

If you’re planning to build a custom app, and are interviewing developers/agencies to help you build it – do your utmost best to get a direct conversation with the people who will ACTUALLY be working on your project. Never make your decision if you’ve only spoken to the sales team (including the CEO). This is EXTRA important if you’re talking to friends.

Key people you should talk to are:

1. Project/Account manager – You will be working with them the most, and if they’re the “single point of contact” then they are also the single point of failure. Imagine an hourglass with a broken/obstructed neck – you can imagine how smooth the sand will flow with that. Hint: Not Smooth.

2. UX team – “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. Too often I see people spend 20% of their time/effort in designing/planning, and 80% in development. You have an idea in your head, but you lack the technical skills to translate that into an app, so you rely on the agency to understand your idea, put it to paper, translate it into a design, and build it. More importantly, you rely on them to think of the things you don’t know about, such as “what if the user wants to delete their own account?”, or “at what stage of the checkout process do we force the user to create an account?”. That’s why the UX team is critical, because they (amongst other things) create the final prototype of your app before sending it to developers to build. The prototype helps you clarify your idea, and helps you spot holes in the design that you can address before development. The absolute last thing you want to hear from your agency, midway during development, is “oh, you wanted to be able to export customer data? You didn’t tell us, that’s why we didn’t build it”.

Never judge an agency based on their past clients or screenshots of the final product, and certainly not based on the depth of your friendship with them. Instead, go DEEP; ask for a case study on how they interviewed the client, user interviews, validations, assumptions, see samples of the User Journey, and the final prototype that’s made before development.

The future of your business is literally in the hands of the agency – make sure these hands are strong.



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I run Pixl.my, a managed hosting service in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

This is a place for me to pen my thoughts.

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