Summary

Whether you’re a startup taking your first steps into the business world or a brand expanding your product portfolio, picking the right mobile app development agency or product studio will define the outcome of your journey.

Being a full-stack product studio ourselves, we’ve rounded up the 7 most important checkpoints that our clients have taken into consideration before choosing us as their product partners.

1. Understand what the agency or product studio stands for

Getting to know a future partner as well as you can is always a smart business move, regardless of your industry or niche. Picking the right mobile app development company to help you build your product is no exception.

Do the usual first: jump on a video call early in the process, as that will tell you more than a series of email exchanges. Chat with the people from the agencies you’ve selected and allow them to challenge you. Moreover, visit their office if it’s feasible for you. By doing this, you’ll see the environment the team is working in. Is it nice? Is it comfy? Is it the right vibe? Would you be happy working there yourself? You can tell a lot about people by the way they maintain their surroundings.

Meet the people that will be working on your mobile product. The greatest danger in this stage is that you are charmed by some salespeople who sell you the moon, and then you’re thrown into a team that you can hardly communicate with and who struggle to deliver.

The solution for this is that you spend a bit more time understanding those people and having real conversations with their delivery teams. Have a chat with them and see what they’re like. Pay close attention to what they’re saying verbally, as well as non-verbally. Would you hire them? Would you enjoy working with them?

We really believe that communication and having the right people on the team are as important as them being able to code and design well. A lot of the custom products we build require work and decisions that are taken together with you as a client. That’s why the right vibe and a team you get along with are essential.

When trying to figure out how to select the best app development company for your project, ask yourself some essential questions. 

  • Are they friendly or formal? 
  • Are they product executors or product strategists? 
  • Can they really understand your business model or only your technical specs? 
  • Can they make you see your business’ blind spots or they are only focused on saying ‘yes, that’s possible?’

The answers to these questions will give you very different perspectives on your potential product partners. Do everything in your power to get a good sense of what their agency character is like and match that to what you expect in terms of style and communication. That’s because sometimes, even though the product team is really good, you cannot really find the right fit. 

2. Do your homework and due diligence

The mobile app development agency you’re looking into surely has a portfolio available on their website, so you can get a glimpse into what they’re all about. You could even kindly ask to chat with some of their former clients, to understand how they worked together and how the team delivered. Any serious product company would gladly share references and show you some products they’ve worked on. 

It’s vital to know what other projects this team has worked on and how they handled them. This is both a way of knowing what capabilities the agency has, as well as seeing how they implement those capabilities. Past clients will either confirm or “re-assess” the agency’s pitch; it’s that simple. How other people talk about them can be quite telling on how they deliver. You can look for them on platforms like Clutch (to see how previous clients described their experiences together) or Glassdoor (to see how past or present teams rated them as an employer).

3. Check out the agency’s product capabilities

As you’re checking out the website and portfolio of a mobile app development agency, take a good look at the core product capabilities they promote. What do they feel they’re best at? If they’re smart, they’ll stick to the capabilities they actually have.

Make a list of what you need and look at what the studio is offering. If the two align, then you might have found a good match. Have a sit-down to establish that both you and the product studio are going into this wholeheartedly and that neither of you has puzzling expectations.

As we’ve already mentioned, you should check out an agency’s previous projects. It’s important to assess if the team is capable of understanding the precise challenges you and your business face. If they don’t, working together would be a waste of time for both parties.

Check out our offerings and product capabilities here.

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4. Look for consistent processes that work

Remember we advised you to visit the agency and get to know the people that will do the work? We still stand by that. 

Not only will you see that the office actually exists, but you could learn something about the developers’ level of expertise, for example. Do they have senior people who really understand your challenges? A senior team will always cost more, but that will usually bring a lot more ROI at the end of the day. So, be mindful of what you actually count as success. 

The product development process is quite important when working with a remote team, as that will give you an understanding of how things will happen and when. But people are the core of all this. An experienced product studio should be able to guide you in making the right decisions regarding product roadmaps and priorities and guide your focus on being effective in your product planning. Their product managers should feel like your internal team, bringing you clarity, transparency, and peace of mind that things are in control. 

5. Prioritize transparency and flexibility

Transparency is key, especially when working with a remote mobile app development company. Both you and the product studio should communicate openly and consistently. It is important for the agency to understand what your plans are and what you think you need, because only from those elements will they be able to provide value to you. 

You will need to share designs, product documents or pieces of code, in order for them to start understanding your vision and how they could help. Signing NDAs is business as usual in this space if you feel the need to get that protection, but the more important element is to actually treat the product studio you chose as a partner. 

6. Recognize and place value on expertise and experience

When trying to find the best mobile app development agency to bring your idea to life, you want to hire a team with expertise in defining, building and scaling products. Do your due diligence and filter well, but after you choose a team, trust their advice. Most likely, they’ve seen many products that had similar challenges and they’ve seen countless mistakes done by founders like yourself. 

Allow the experts to share their thoughts and opinions openly and honestly, even if they might disagree with you. The people working on your app have its best interest at heart: they want to see the product succeeding just as much as you do, since it is a clear statement of their capabilities and professionalism.

Get to know us and our team here

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7. Know that you’ll get what you put in – including money

We all want more for less and faster. But when it comes to developing mobile products, you can hardly cut corners by ‘building cheap.’ Cheap is always too good to be true and it will bite your fingers later. 

You know how it goes: you pay less and you believe you made a bargain, but what you get in return is lower quality or slower delivery, and that hurts you. You still paid your money, but you didn’t receive your goods. Now you need to find another solution, from a position where you have (even) less money, more paranoia and higher expectations. That’s a difficult game to play successfully. 

When you choose a better product studio, you know you will pay more, but the chances that you will receive solid solutions also increase exponentially. Choosing an experienced mobile app development company that’s a leader in its vertical, has years of business under its belt, dozens of happy clients and a great team doesn’t come cheap, but it brings predictability and reliability. When our clients ask us about these areas, we always tell them that the risk (to not be around in the next 3-5 years) is always on them, as it’s more difficult to grow a product business than it is to grow a solid services business that delivers consistent work. 

Money-wise, you should do your research beforehand and be very clear on what your limits are, as no one has the time to waste on ‘negotiating’ something unclear. You need to understand what you can afford and therefore, what you’re asking for. At times, even though we have a great fit, your timeline or budget constraints would not allow us to work together.

7 Reasons to choose Tapptitude for your next mobile product

Let’s say you’ve gone through all the major steps to try and select a mobile app development company for your next project. Now it’s time to take those suggestions and apply them to each company you’re looking at. Here’s why we think Tapptitude should be on your short list, and why you should give us a shout about your product plans. Who knows, we might even be able to help. 🙂  

1. We’re more than a development team

Tapptitude is a product studio working with funded startups and international brands looking to build mobile-first products. Let us break that down into its components:

+ the ‘product’ piece means that we’re more than a development team; we’re actually a full-stack product team, with product managers, UX and UI designers, testers and product strategists, around a very solid front-end and back-end development team;

+ the ‘studio’ piece refers to the type of approach we have when building products: we are committed to helping founders and product innovators build products that will become sustainable businesses. That means that we step in a lot in advising our partners on how to validate their ideas before investing in development, how to build less and test faster, looking very closely into how their business model is fit for their industry and how to think scalability before we write any line of code. Being design-driven and with a lean startup approach, we look at the digital products we build not from a development perspective, but from a performance perspective.

2. We see the client as our partner

We partner up with the people we’re working with, giving them both advice and a solid focus on delivering great design and code. We’re a product team passionate about working with smart entrepreneurs who want to tackle real problems, and who understand that a great product is a lot more than nice designs and a code that works. We’re the type of product team that steps in as a partner and does everything possible in order to build the right thing at the right time, sustainably. That means that we do a lot of consultancy gigs and workshops with our partners, and they’ve voted us the best mobile studio in Romania and one of the top in Europe for years in a row.

3. We build products with attitude 

We have worked on a variety of digital products, most of them scalable, full-stack mobile products. Our typical clients launch their first product with us, like a quick-to-launch MVP, then we accompany them as product partners as they build their full products and scale them into sustainable businesses, typically longer than 3 years. Our product portfolio shows only a small part of the stories we have around what we’ve built in the last 6 years, but we’d love to tell you more. 

How other people talk about a team can be pretty telling on how that team delivers. You can look for them in platforms like Clutch (to see how their past clients described their experiences together) or Glassdoor (to see how their past team rated them as an employer) to see what others have said about us over the years. 

4. We design end-to-end digital products

Tapptitude started in 2013 as a product-focused mobile development team, specialised in building high-quality native mobile apps on iOS and Android. During the last 6 years, we’ve evolved quite a bit, into a full-stack product team, covering the entire spectrum of expertise needed to define, build, and scale a product, from product strategy, UX & UI design, mobile, web and back-end development, testing and product management. 

We’ve had the great chance of working with amazing founders during these years and being at the hearts of many products enjoyed by millions of users every month. We’ve learned a lot from these experiences and now we’re in the position to share our product knowledge in every new project we bring onboard. 

5. We plan before we build and build for scale after

As a full-stack mobile development company, we are equipped to deliver our clients an integrated set of mobile development solutions – product scoping sessions, mobile product development, UI/UX design, strategic business setup, and marketing activities. We do everything in-house, as our team is at the centre of the value we provide.

Working with us starts with a Product Discovery Workshop, where we’ll discuss the client’s idea in the smallest details: product specifications, the needs it’s supposed to resolve for the target audience, and how it’s supposed to evolve on the market.

6. We believe communication is the cornerstone in making things happen

We do a lot of calls with people who reach to us with their product plans. That is an investment we saw necessary to make early on, as it brings us in a very clear communication space and allows both sides to understand what it would take to work together. Lately, if someone doesn’t commit to such conversations, we chose to not move on with the process at all.

In these calls, we discuss problem vision and product vision, the context and constraints our possible partners have got, expectations on delivery, budgets, working style, and so on. We’re very transparent and sometimes can sound harsh on what is possible and what’s not, but doing this for almost 7 years has given us the confidence that we know our product game pretty well.

Typically, if your product is not fully defined with at least final wireframes, the next step after these initial conversations is a product workshop. We tend to do those sessions face to face, but lately doing them online in smaller video sessions has become a standard. People who go through these sessions are totally transformed on how they think about their products, how they design their validation strategies, and about their overall understanding on what it means to create a product that can boost a business model.

7. We know that constant feedback keeps things growing 

We’ve been told that we’re a very straightforward team, with people who speak their minds and constantly share their views on the product choices you’ve made. We expect the same from you as a partner: tell us your expectations, your concerns, give us feedback when needed, and always explain your product choices. At the end of the day, we’re here to help your product grow, and that only happens when smart people work well together on an ongoing basis. 

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Gabriel DOMBRI
Gabriel DOMBRI Product Strategist & CEO

A marketer with focus on growth and passionate about products, Gabriel worked as Digital Marketing Strategist in London until 2015, where he also launched Startcelerate, an investment platform for startups and IT companies. Since 2016, he is CEO @Tapptitude, the Full-stack Mobile Product Agency.

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